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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I work at a pet store, and three weeks ago we noticed one of our rats had his head tilted to the side and was doing barrel rolls instead of walking straight. We figured he had some sort of ear infection or neurological issue, so he went to the vet, who prescribed him 10 days of baytril and meloxicam. He improved a fair bit during this time, he still has his head tilted to the side and moves cautiously, but he has full limb use and is eating and drinking well on his own with no signs of dehydration. Our vet has now told us that unless his condition worsens, that he is fit to be adopted out to a home by the end of the week. Its his opinion that if he did not show greater signs of improvement on the meds that he probably had a stroke, and that his condition will remain this way or will gradually improve a bit.

I'm wondering if this sounds like an accurate diagnosis, or if we should have insisted on a more rigorous treatment of antibiotics, or if he should go to another vet for another opinion? I'm also wondering if, because of his head tilt and unstable walking, if it would be more humane to consider euthanasia, or if rats have lived long full lives like this before? I've also noticed he grinds his teeth on occasion, is this normal or a sign of pain?
My main concern with him being adopted out is that he will go to people who don't understand that this rat will likely need more vet visits and will need special care, and he'll end up at the shelter or getting needlessly euthanized.

I've been considering adopting him myself, as I'm prepared to take him to the vet if need be and care for him to whatever extent. I have a guinea pig cage (a little under 4 sq ft) lying around in my basement. Would something like that be an appropriate house for him considering his condition? I also was wondering about the possibility of him getting rat friends in the future (this information I feel would be relevant for myself or if someone else took him home). Because he is infirm, would it be a bad idea to ever attempt to add another rat?

I really want what is best for the little guy, he is extremely sweet and I don't want to condemn him to a poor quality of life or to a home where his needs wont be met.
 

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He actually shouldn't need further vet appt. it sounds to me like a bad inner ear infection and he is left with the resulting damage. Tilts can stay. However, he will need time to get used to the problem so a guinea pig style cage is great. I actually had one as my first rat cage and just made shelves. You can nab some hardware cloth and create levels using zip ties. It makes the most of space, though hammocks could be an alternative. As to friends, there's no reason he couldn't have simply based on his health. A friend may help him recover or nurse him while ill.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
That's great to know! He is a male rat, I've heard buying a younger male makes introductions easier, is this true? Or can an adult male be introduced to an adult male? I know it all has to be done slowly and a quarantine period is a must. Is a cage that size (about 3.75 sq feet of floor space plus about 20 inches of height) enough for 2 rats or would an upgrade be required?
 

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As long as you use the vertical space, it should be sufficient. Boys need about 4 sq ft for a pair.

As for intros, a male whose older introduces to a young (3 mo or younger) male easiest.
 

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Is he alone now, or caged with others? If he's with others, it may be easiest to bring a friend he already knows home with him. It'll be less disruption for him, and you'll get to skip the quarantine and introduction process.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
It's our policy to isolate injured/sick animals (he was on the sales floor, people get extremely angry at us if they see a sick animal in our care, tend to assume the worst in us). He was isolated awhile ago though, his brothers were all sold.
 

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This deifnitly sounds like residual scarring to his inner ear. He should adapt to it and be able to be a fully functioning fit rat. In my experience these rats often do very well in a tall well set up cage. They are just as able to climb and fling themselves around. They are more likley to have the odd fall so its important to put lots of hammocks and/or a springy layer of substrate on the floor, so that when they fall they dont get hurt. Otherwise they can behave very normally.

ONe rat i knew had so severe residual scarring that when you held her she struggled to orinetate herself so would roll a bit until she found her feet. Despite this she managed in a large open cage (SRS with no middle in it, same as a fully opened up critter nation) with a group of 7-8 very boisterous girls and still managed to be the boss.

I would think that the gunea pig cage would be ok short term (though check the bar spacing as they are often too wide for very young rats) but would be looking to move into a taller cage as he learns to adap to his condition, or make a frakencage by sticking a taller cage on the top and creating a two teer cage.

In terms of friends, i dont know how old he is, but if he's under 3 months then just stick one or two of his male litter mates in with him. They will get along very quickly with minimum fuss. If he's a fair bit older then i would introduce him to 2 young babies. 2 works best because if they are babies they will be hyper and if there was only one he would be plauged with demands for play time and get fed up easily. This was they will have each other as playmates for the hype play and can spend there quieter time with him.
 
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