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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have two male rats, both 2.5 years old. Recently I noticed a marble-sized lump on one of them, on the side of his face beneath his ear.

I know I won't be able to afford surgery, so what can I do?

I have no one to talk to about this...people don't take it seriously because they are rats but I am very upset. My rat with the tumor (Rupert) is so sweet, I can't imagine losing him. He loves exploring and being pet, and has never bit me or anyone else.

I know they have a short lifespan and I should have expected this, but it's hard. He has a brother, Ben, who is very shy and doesn't really like being held or pet. I am afraid how Rupert's inevitable death will affect him.

Some articles I read suggest having the remaining rat see and smell his companion's dead body, so he can process it. Is this a good idea? Right now even thinking of Rupert dying is difficult but I need to know what's coming.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Rupert's behavior hasn't changed; he's still energetic and eating normally. Will this change soon? I don't want him to be in any pain.
 

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When did you notice it, how fast did it appear/grow? Can you see his teeth, do things look alright inside his mouth? Checking to make sure it isn't an abscess or tooth problem.

The behavior won't change, but the effects of the tumor will occur. It sounds like he might have http://ratguide.com/health/neoplasia/zymbals_gland_tumor.php

I did not allow my rats to see the body, I couldn't take it. I could barely see the body. You just want to make sure they don't slip into depression -- much like humans, they can over eat, refuse to eat, become reclusive and lethargic...
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I noticed it the day before yesterday, and didn't see it before then but I can't remember the last time I did a thorough check. I usually take him out of his cage and pet him a little but he's more the type to be fidgety and want to run around.

It's right beneath his left ear, not very close to his mouth/jaw. I couldn't get him to open his mouth but there doesn't seem to be a problem there, from what I can see.

Thank you for the information. I was planning on having him put to sleep when it starts to cause him pain...I am afraid, though. I want to be there to make sure he isn't too scared, but I'm worried I won't be able to handle it.

My other guy is so shy... I can see him becoming depressed after his brother dies. Is there any way to prevent it? I plan on giving him more attention, even if he doesn't seem to like it very much.
 

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Well for the next week I'd pretend it's an abscess, to see if you get lucky. http://www.ratforum.com/showthread.php?25177-Abscess-Treatment-Outline

After that I would just monitor his quality of life, ability to be independent, and any pain. You can't really regret putting to sleep too early (only wonder) but putting to sleep too late does weigh heavily. My state doesn't allow the owner to be present when a certain type of anesthetic to be used (and the alternative is slower) so I've not been present for the event. However, prior to the event I give them anything they want and hold them close and just talk to them.

For the one left behind, I would try to socialize him prior to the event so you have each other. You can, if you are sticking with rats, get a pair of young boys now and introduce them to your current pair so when his friend leaves he has two others.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Update on tumor.... it hasn't grown and he shows no signs of discomfort. however, two days ago i noticed what looks like a scab forming on the tumor. i tried to clean it today (warm water and cotton balls) to get a better look, but nothing was coming off. i'm not entirely sure it's a scab. there doesn't appear to be any blood. what could this be?
 

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It could just be that he was scratching at it, or maybe it's an abscess. I don't have any personal experience with them, but you should read through the stickied post about 'em.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Another update....I'm not so sure the growth is a tumor. It hasn't grown, but it's hardened and seems to be detaching from the side of his face? It used to be a sphere shaped growth that moved separately from the skin, but it's not like that anymore. I noticed pus today and have tried cleaning it a bit, but he gets fussy. It almost looks like I could pull it off (but of course I didn't).
Can abscesses be big? It's still about the size of a marble.
 

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Do you have a vet you could take him to, ideally one who's accustomed to treating rats? If it's an abscess (yes, they can get quite large) then he may need antibiotics.
 
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