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Discussion Starter #1
About 3/4 months ago my boyfriend and I went with our friend/neighbor to a local breeder, and we each got a pair male rats.. There was several Obvious differences between our boys and hers.. for example I had an easier time socializing and bonding with our boys. They had quite a difference in size even though they came from the same litter. Her boys were very skittish, and would refuse to have hardly any human interaction, the only interaction they had was with her other 3 male rats.. (I had thought it had something to possibly due to her having a larger cage.. And other rat babies)About a week ago, Stud (one of the baby boys out of the litter we had picked out together) had a sudden and silent death.. I thought it might have been possibly from a fall since she didn't see/hear any coughing/sneezing. Two days ago now Spike (the second baby boy she had gotten) died as well. The cause of death is unknown.
She had brought up how it might have something to do with the litter that we had gotten from the breeder.. this is my first time being a rat momma, and I won't lie, I'm so afraid for my boys health.. I've been checking them when I spend time with them but it's difficult to check their eyes, nose, and breathing while they're the most comfortable hanging out inside my shirt where they feel safe. The only sign that has worried me was Philo sneezing twice separate times yesterday evening...
I apologize for the length but if anyone has experienced something similar or have any helpful thoughts or suggestions it would be greatly appreciated. Also thoughts on if I should advise my friend to take her other babies to the vet to get a check up Incase they caught anything and are at risk as well..

82 Posts
IMO two sudden deaths is very suspicious, and I would advise your friend to take their remaining rats to the vet to be checked out ASAP, and for you to take your rats to the vet as well if you are at all worried they are sick.

Respiratory illnesses are not the only ones that affect rats, and sneezing is not the only symptom to look for. So just because the babies who died didn't sneeze doesn't mean they weren't sick with something- and just because one of your babies did sneeze once or twice, doesn't mean they have a respiratory infection.

Here's a basic health check you can do at home: Health Guide: Basic Health Check

Hopefully your friend has told the breeder about these deaths, because it is entirely possible that their stock is also sick with whatever the babies succumbed to and should also be vetted. If the breeder has already been told and didn't seem to care, that's a sign that they are not ethical and should no longer be supported.

Did your friend quarantine their new rats before exposing them to their colony? Quarantining is very important, it not only protects the existing rats, but the new ones as well. New rats will have no immunity if there is a low-level infection of some sort already in the colony, and babies are especially vulnerable because their immune systems are still underdeveloped.

The deaths being from a fall is possible, but unlikely. A rat falling to their death typically only happens once as a freak accident, not twice, and usually results in partial paralysis which is not immediately fatal. However it's very easy to guard against falls and I suggest you modify your cage if you're at all worried, as well as encourage your friend to do the same. Levels, platforms, hammocks, etc should have no more than six inches of height between them until the rats are older.

Other types of injuries- fighting, a heavy object landing on them, etc- leave pretty obvious signs as to what happened so I would discount them as possibilities.

If their babies were a slightly different size and less social than yours on the day you picked them out, it is possible that it was simply natural variation within the litter. If they became less social and didn't grow as quickly only after being bought by your friend, then I would question the care she is providing. If introductions weren't done well it may have stressed the babies to the point of weakening their immune systems, and if they were not getting adequate nutrition- either because of the type of food provided, or because the other rats bullied them away from getting enough- their growth may have been affected.

I know it's awkward to consider that a friend isn't taking very good care of their pets, and I'm not suggesting that you start accusing them of anything, but IMO it is another possibility that deserves to be considered.

9 Posts
That is very weird... It could be something to do with their litter or their environment. Maybe get at least one of the siblings checked out for underlying health issues. Also is your neighbor interacting with them often? Could they have eaten something outside of their cage that caused them to die? Is there something in their cage that could have caused harm(heavy objects, choking hazards, wrong bedding)? It just seems strange that there would be no evidence of the cause of death in both cases.
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