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Our six month old hooded rat, Peter, died suddenly yesterday, sometime in the early morning. His two cagemates are perfectly healthy (they visited the vet today for a confirmation), and prior to his death he was showing no symptoms. He had been out playing happily on our bed (where he usually plays), and could not have been exposed to any toxins. We were absolutely devastated to find him on his back when we woke up in the morning.

We did not have a necropsy performed because we were too distressed at the time to imagine his poor little body all dismantled (irrational, I know), but we also didn't suspect any infection. The vet suggested complications from mycoplasmosis as the cause of death, but Peter had never showed any signs of respiratory infection, and I just can't believe that a totally latent disease could kill a relatively healthy young rat.

Initially, we suspected that Peter may have had a congenital heart defect, and simply had a heart attack during the night. We noted that he was always smaller than the cagemate his age, and about the size of the cagemate two months younger. His coat had also remained soft and fluffy like a young rat's. He had a small hump in his spine, a hard little lump at the base of the tail, and one of his eyes protruded farther than the other.

Could this have been a pituatary tumor which didn't clearly effect motor-function, but caused hormonal disruption and sudden death?

If anything similar has happened to any of you, do you have any answers? Anything helps! Thank you!
 

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I wouldn't say PT, but I would not be surprised about the heart. I usually think of heart attack or stroke with young rats. All else that was wrong with him just leads me to beleive that not all was well with his physiology. :(

I am sorry for your loss. :'(
 

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i have two smaller rats (stopped growing at 5 months completely) and one has really soft fur. i always thought that she was just a silky but i hope its not a sign of anything now. they are both 11-12 months old and happy and healthy. i did ask the vet about their size thing though and she suggest liver splints or shunts. she has seen it in dogs and cats and unless something sets it off the only side effect is that they stay fairly small in comparison to other animals their age and type. however this can lead to liver and or kidney failure. mind you its rare and she has never seen it in rats before though she also admits she hasn't had many rats under her care either. so it may have been that though i would still suspect heart defects or other congential problems from the description of his physique.

i'm sorry you lost him so young but really sudden death is relatively rare so please don't let this tragedy stop you from getting more rats in the future
 
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