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Discussion Starter #1
I noticed that one of my boyfriend's boys is avoiding using his right back leg. He's just as mobile as usual, running on his wheel and climbing all over the place, but he's not using that leg. At one point he tried to scratch himself with the bum leg and it was a very pathetic sight, because he couldn't extend it.

At first, I thought he might have badly sprained or broken his leg, until I saw his pathetic attempt to scratch. I'm starting to wonder if he had a stroke? (He's 11 months, bred from petstore rats several generations ago).

I examined him, and he still has feeling in the foot, it's slightly swollen, and there are no lesions or bruising.

Any ideas?

Also, what do vets do when you have this type of problem in a rat? It's not like you can put him in a cast (although I've heard of people binding up the foot to the body), so would she just say "Sorry, too bad?" after giving him an x-ray?
 

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what kind of cage does your boyfriend have? when i first had rats i didn't cover the wire cage shelf and my ratties sometime got their feet stuck in between the wires and some swelling occurred. Try putting ice on the swelling and a little bit of pain medicine (baby tylenol) the ratty should be fine if this is what happened. My guys usually healed in about a week if not less
 

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A break usually swells up very badly. Sprains happen often and the rat just deals until its healed. If he's attempting to use it then its not too bad. If it was really bad it would be swollen, red, fluid engorged (for a closed fracture), or pulled up tight into his body.

If its only a little swollen and he is forgetting and trying to use it its most likely a sprain and will heal quite quickly.

If its bad enough you could give a little painkiller (metacam is good for that and for reducing inflammation of the tissues or even infant liquid ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) can be used carefully). Most times I don't use painkillers because pain is there to remind us not to use the affected body part.

A stroke would affect all of him and very unlikely at 11 months. He would be wobbly and limp, confused, lethargic and possibly have head tilt etc., so don't worry about that one.

Most vets cannot do anything for a broken leg or foot, they might give you painkillers or if its an open fracture they might do something more extensive or even have to put the severely injured rat to sleep if its shattered...all depends on the severity of the fracture. Sprains/strains heal all on their own.

How long has he been limping or not using that leg?
 

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yeah, i wouldn't worry too much about it. sounds like a sprain or strain (i always forget which is which, but you get the idea, :)) and that should heal fine in a couple weeks. start to worry if affects his movement, or gets more swollen, etc. if you wanted you could try to tape his leg in a flexed position up to his body with some medical tape (it's less sticky, won't pull hair as much), but if he's still moving around fine, i wouldn't worry about it. a vet visit is probably not useful though (think how small all those foot bones are!), so i wouldn't fret about getting him to one asap.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the quick replies & in-depth info.

The cage is a big birdcage w/ 1 inch bar spacing. The bottom is a rubbermaid container. Their "shelves" are oatmeal & ice cream containers. However, the wheel is wire. He does run a lot, so he could have gotten it stuck in the mesh.

I just noticed his limping this morning, and I'm pretty sure he was okay yesterday. And the leg is pretty tucked up to his body, so he's barely putting any weight on it at all. The swelling isn't too bad, but it's definitely a bit swollen.

I'm glad to hear it's probably just a strain, and since he doesn't seem to be in pain (since he's running around like his crazy little self, playing, climbing and running on the wheel) I'll refrain from giving him painkiller. It just really freaked me out to see him walking on three legs this morning!

Also, since the culprit was probably the wire wheel, I'm wondering if I could line the wheel with stick-on shelf liner to prevent this from happening again. Or, maybe that would make it too slippery? My girls have a wire wheel, too, and several of my friends on my campus do too. Maybe it's time for a wheel-modification party!

I've heard Wodent Wheels are awesome, but money's tight and I don't want to take away from the vet fund.
 

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if you were going to put some covering on it, i'd put it on the outside side of the wheel so they can still grip the wheel's mesh, but not fall through. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #7
The stickiness would become SO gross SO fast. They all seem to think the the wheel is the litter box - they all pee full bladderfuls while they're scampering along. Maybe a fine mesh screen would work better.
 

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It might not have been the wheel but a slip off of the side of the cage or shelf. Think of humans...we step down off of a curb and turn our ankle....same deal. I have the mesh running wheels myself with no problems. :)

If it keeps happening then consider rat-proofing your cage.
 

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I weave duct tape in and out of the holes in my guys wheels. That way there is no chance of them screwing with it too much and the holes are still filled if you put it on the outside there are still holes there with sticky stuff in the middle of it.
 

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Wrapping it in vetwrap would be a great solution :D. It's easy to grip and cheap to replace.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I just googled vet wrap, and found a bunch of bondage sites. lol!!!

That does sound like a good option.

However, this is the first time any of the rats have had any type of foot problems, and they've been on wire wheels their entire lives. I'm wondering if it is truly necessary to wrap them. But maybe it's better to be safe than risk them getting hurt again?
 

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Depends what kind of wire wheel you have. I have a wire mesh whell, which is the only safe type, the type with just the bras is pretty bad for any type of pocket pet.
 

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That should be fine then ;). Is there anything else he could have hurt himself on? Do you have towels in the cage, or wire ramps he may have tripped down?
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Nope, no wire ramps or towels. The boys are avid climbers and like to hang upside down from the top of the cage, so they jump/climb everywhere.

Today he's limping less, and using his foot more, but it's still tucked up. A few more days and he'll be back to his old self. (He just jumped down from a kitchen counter, ugh, that can't be good for healing. Time to go back to the cage.)
 

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he could have just landed wrong when he was jumping around. its not unheard of. heck, i did it myself years back and popped out my knee. it only takes a slight miscalulation. from what i've read it seems like the cage is safe. if it wasn't i would have guessed you would have seen problems with the other rats or more problems befre now withlimpng and injuries. on the plus side if he\s jumping from kitchen counters he must be feeling better! *grins*
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Yeah, the cage is safe, from what I know.

And he never lost energy, or changed his habits - just did everything with the leg tucked up. He's always a bouncing barrel of craziness... and the lack of balance with three legs just made him look a little drunk. ;)
 

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that would do it. don't suppose you have any pictures of this nutball to share by nay chance? it'd be nice to see who we're talking about.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
This is an old photo of boyfriend showering with rat, and the only one I have of Mephy.

The boyfriend has since quit doing this, because Mephy came down with pneumonia soon after the last shower they took together.

And Mephisto is a very appropriate name; he definitely has the devil in him. ;)
 

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