Rat Forum banner
1 - 15 of 15 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
12 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone! I have 3 rats. 2 are healthy and social girls, but my newest rat (a boy) is having some trouble adjusting to his new life with me. I will try to add every detail that could relate to the problem, so this might be long (bear with me!!!)

I purchased this rat, Owen, from a pet store. When I asked a worker if I could hold a rat, she actually let me in the back to pick out which one to hold. Owen was the only one who did not try to bite or run away. The thought of such a sweet rat being a feeder was disturbing to me. I knew it would be difficult to socialize him and that he was probably sick, but I took the plunge anyway. After taking him home, he was shy, which I expected. The problem arose the first time I had to pick him up so that I could clean his cage. He did not try to bite or run away, but he screamed and squealed until I held him close to my chest.

Owen is estimated to be about a year old he is currently an unaltered male, which unfortunately means he is living alone. When I got him, I thought I could get him neutered in a month after his other illness cleared up, but it has been 4 months and no luck yet. I am aware that solitary rats are usually very stressed and I have begged my mom to let me get him a friend, but she won't have it. My vet also suggested that I keep him away from my other rats (although I have introduced them on a few occasions... but he didn't seem thrilled because my girls just kept trying to make babies).

I ended up bringing him to a vet who is experienced with rats. He was constantly sneezing and scratching himself. It got so bad that he actually scratched his ear open! Owen had lice, which was treated. The vet gave me antibiotics for his sneezing (twice), but he has not gotten better. The vet also noticed that when she picked him up he screamed. He also sometimes did it while being touched/pet. She said she had never seen anything like it. If you know why he is screaming (besides being stressed/not wanted to be touched) please let me know! I just haven't heard of other rats doing this.

Here I will attach a video of a (wild) rat making the same noise. Please be aware that the rat in this video is under deep stress and it may be upsetting to see!

I also have questions about his bruxing! I often take him out of the cage while I am on the computer, reading, etc. I just set him on my lap and gently pet him. He does not try to bite/run away from my hand. He just sits and bruxes very loudy. I have read that bruxing is a sign of happiness or stress, but I can't tell if he is enjoying my petting or if he wants to go back to his cage! I find my other rats easy to understand, but Owen is so confusing! He will also sometimes breathe loudly.. almost like wheezing when I pet him. I am aware that he currently has a respiratory infection, but I think this is more of a behavioral thing than a health issue.

If you have a similar issue, feel free to comment about your rat! This could be a very helpful discussion to some people, I think.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
270 Posts
RATS DO NOT BRUX BECAUSE THEY ARE HAPPY. It's more like crying. They do it when they are extremely upset. If you give them a tiny treat and act like you're going to give them more, but don't, they'll run around "bruxing" and looking for more treats. If you pin them in one place and scratch them without letting them escape, they'll brux. If they're feeling very sick, they'll brux. I can't believe people are still telling new rat owners that bruxing is a good thing. That's like telling a new mother that her baby cries when it's happy.

"But if the rat was unhappy about me petting him, he'd just run away!" is your obvious response. No, rats seem genetically programmed to freeze in place when something is grooming or stroking them. Ever noticed a rat that isn't happy about being groomed but isn't running away?

I'll wager your rat is slunk low into your lap and squinting as you pet him. Rats do that when they're depressed. They seem to have a defeatist attitude about it, possibly because you're so much bigger you can fit their whole body in your hand.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
270 Posts
Regarding screaming, I have a rat that screams in some situations. He's very ​​fussy (our 70 year old vet said he's the fussiest rat he's ever seen by far) and screams when the vet holds him or when we're applying ointment to his bumblefoot. Each rat has its own personality, and some are fussier than others. However, if he's scratching that much, his skin is very raw, so he's probably screaming because being picked up is incredibly painful.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
953 Posts
I'm thinking similar to Cyrix, if he's that itchy, his skin maybe very sensitive. You may want to ask your vet for something to ease the pain. Either a pain medication or lotion. If your girls are not spayed, don't let them hang out with each other. It takes like 5 seconds to get a female pregnant.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,287 Posts
Can you post a video of how he is when bruxing. I disagree with Cyrix that it is purely a bad thing, I see plenty of positive and negative bruxing over the years and it very much depends on there body language at the time.

The screaming and itching is an odd one, what does is skin and fur look like, does this happen more if you brush hi coat backwards or forwards, does he flinch or tug his skin when stroked. This will help work out if its a behavioural issue or health issue.

I should add what did you use to treat for lice and how long?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I am so surprised! I can't believe everyone has been telling me that bruxing is a happy thing :( When you say bruxing do you mean like rubbing teeth together? Sometimes it's more like a chuckling sound (reminds me of a squirrel idk).
I have a vet appointment this week, so I will ask her about an ointment or pain reliever.

Thank you for your informative response!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
383 Posts
I am so surprised! I can't believe everyone has been telling me that bruxing is a happy thing :( When you say bruxing do you mean like rubbing teeth together? Sometimes it's more like a chuckling sound (reminds me of a squirrel idk).
I have a vet appointment this week, so I will ask her about an ointment or pain reliever.

Thank you for your informative response!
I may be wrong on this, but I believe what you describe is chattering, which I've read as happening when a rat is stressed out, which sounds like it may fit your poor little guy.

You're doing the best you can with him. It's better than him rotting away alone in the back room of a pet store.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,287 Posts
I am so surprised! I can't believe everyone has been telling me that bruxing is a happy thing :( When you say bruxing do you mean like rubbing teeth together? Sometimes it's more like a chuckling sound (reminds me of a squirrel idk).
I have a vet appointment this week, so I will ask her about an ointment or pain reliever.

Thank you for your informative response!
Honestly it isn't neccesarily a sign of stress of pain, its a sign they are feeling something intently. There's quite a few different things they use in this way like quivering, boggling and tail wagging. You need to be able to read the rest of your rats body language to tell.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Isamurat - https://instagram.com/p/8B_imdoEH5/ here is a video of the noise. I no longer pet him on his face because he seems to enjoy it more (or hate it less?) when I stroke his lower back. His fur looks healthy to me, you can see a few more images of him on my instagram. He does have a bald spot, but he has always had that. It almost looks like a burn scar. I treated him for lice when I first got him a few months back. I was given revolution and I applied a dose every 3 weeks. He doesn't scratch as much as he to, so I'm not sure if his skin would still be raw. I don't pet him against the direction of fur growth because I read that it can be uncomfortable. He doesn't tug or flinch when I pet him. He seems to just sit calmly.

Here is an image of him sitting on my lap grooming himself.


I will add that I can now tell that he looks stressed in that video. He wasn't comfortable with me then, but he has gotten better. He will climb around my lap and sometimes sit on my shoulder when I take him out. Also he sometimes falls asleep while I am petting him.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,287 Posts
Yep he’s tense and a little annoyed in that video, I find that big bucks tend to prefer to be scratched firmly around the shoulders kind of held the other way against the fur growth (some rats dislike it, but it kind of depends how you do it!). Dominant lads in particular get annoyed by too gentle fussing, they turn into floppy bruxy licky monsters when I do that. It’s a bit of an acquired skill though, I have tried and failed to teach a fair few people where the “buck spot” is, but have found about 80% of all bucks love it when I scratch them like that lol (I regularly judge pets at rat shows so I’ve got a good sample size lol).

I’d be tempted to get a skin scraping done of the bald spot, it may actually be a fungal infection of some sort, ringworm for instance shows up as bald spots on rats.

In the photo he does look fairly settled, it can be hard to tell with grooming through unless you see them before and during, as some rats anxiety groom (its why many do it as soon as they get to the vets, well after they’ve pee’d on the table)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Yes he is still sneezing. He has been on antibiotics twice and has not improved. I don't know what to do. I have a vet appointment this weekend. Hopefully once he is healthy he will like me more. Also should I avoid picking him up if he is screaming? I want to take him out of the cage, but it seems when I try to scoop him up and I touch his stomach he just squeals!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Ismurarat - He does lick my hands sometimes when I pet him, which I thought was a good sign. Next time I manage to get him out of the cage I will try to find that buck spot lol!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
270 Posts
Yes he is still sneezing. He has been on antibiotics twice and has not improved. I don't know what to do. I have a vet appointment this weekend. Hopefully once he is healthy he will like me more. Also should I avoid picking him up if he is screaming? I want to take him out of the cage, but it seems when I try to scoop him up and I touch his stomach he just squeals!
Your typical vet will do a 5-day regimen of Baytril and that's it. In my experience that's not nearly enough to heal up a respiratory infection. What meds/dosing schedule have you used in the past?

If the screaming is due to pain or discomfort it might be better to hold off until he's been examined. If he's just shy... well, there are lots of threads about helping your rat get more comfortable with you. You can try starting with basic trust exercises, e.g. hold out some baby food above one of your hands so that he has to walk partially onto your hand to reach the food, but make sure to do some reading and get some ideas on how best to build up a connection with your rat.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,287 Posts
I would get him examined, screaming when your touching his stomach is an extreme reaction, rats can be talkative (so as you handle them they might make little pips or squeaks but not actually flinch, tense etc, they are just vocalising), they can also give fear squeaks and annoyed squeaks (or the slightly longer squeal in protest) when picked up, the first being common when they don't know your there say. Actual proper screams don't happen unless there is serious pain or severe fear.

For ref I define a scream as a long drawn out harsh squeak, typically accompanied by a tense or struggling (or sometimes frozen) rat.

Licking is generally a sign of affection, however as with everything on its own you cant take it as definitely being that. Its all about the rest of the body language. For example I have been licked frantically by a rat in extreme pain, they were very much asking me to make it stop (at the time I couldn't, its really heart breaking), the same rat would lick me without the same tension etc just because he loved me and I loved him, or to say hello, or to wash me etc, he was a licky monster.
 
1 - 15 of 15 Posts
Top