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My rat Bug is less than 3 months old, and over the course of just a few days, he's developed about four abscesses. I got him from a feeder bin when he was just a month old. One abscess has a head, and is under his neck. Two are close by, one of them behind his ear and slightly lower, the fourth is in his testicle. I'm not completely sure if the others are tumors or abscesses, except for the one with the head. Ill try to post pictures tomorrow, but he doesn't like to be turned over on his belly. I also would like to know if, because he's so young, it was the result of poor breeding, or something that was my fault that I could have prevented. Thanks in advance for any and all help/advice!
 

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No, abscesses are not genetic, they are usually caused by bacteria or infection from a trauma. Basically, an abscess is the bodies way of blocking the rest of the body off from an intruding infection, hence why they are filled with pus. I wouldn't blame yourself, these things can happen by accident and randomly, as long as you're keeping their cage clean and have no sharp edges that can cause wounds etc then you're doing everything right. But the fact that he's getting them all over his body is slightly off for abscesses. You may want to get him to the vet just in case it's something like tumours (not saying that it is, but better safe than sorry!), but do the other lumps on his body resemble the abscess he has on his head? Usually you can see the pus in the abscess if it is one. Good luck and hope he's okay :)
 

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I will share my experience on the matter. My boy Finn got an abscess under his eye when he was very young - about 2 and a half months old. I suspected it was a result of nightly squabble but was not 100%. For several days we tried to apply warm compresses to it to see if it would come to a head and it never did. It was not clear whether or not it was pus filled. We took him into the vets when it was quite evident that it wasn't going to be clearing on its own and the vet used a laser to open it up and drain it. On initial check up, he could not find any bite marks but when he was making the incision, he said he saw one upon closer inspection. So basically, the boys had a squabble and a tiny bite turned into an abscess. I do not know if Bug is being kept with other rats or if they fight but something to consider. At this point, I would say a vet visit is overdue and might be able to shed some light on what is happening. Pictures of the 'abscesses' might help too.
 

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Abcesses are complex, whilst they are not generally linked to genetics at all you can get a genetic susceptability, perhaps as simple as down to a weaker immune system or a tendency towards a certain kind of abcess (say glandular abcesses). I've seen it where certain family lines do get more abcesses than unrelated rats in the same enviroment. You can also ahve an increase in the chance of getting abcesses (and cysts) in certain varities, in particularly rex or hairless rats (i expect some of the other coat mutations are the same). These are due to the increased chances of developing ingrowing hairs.

Your boy sounds very young to have all those abcesses though, they are more typically an older rats problem. Those locations do suggest that they might be from fight wounds, but regardless many rats get bites and they dont become abcessed. I would put him on a course of amoxycillin and ask the vet to take a sample of the gunk and have it analyzed. It is likley that there is some bug around at the moment, it could be from a bad batch of bedding or food (i've had that once in my group) or from an infection all your guys have, but he is susceptable gentically. WEll worth getting checked out.
 

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Wow, well I never knew that. So although they aren't on their own a genetic issue, but they can be more likely to get them due to poor immune systems from poorly bred lines? That's pretty interesting, unfortunate for the poor ratties, but interesting!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I have a vet visit scheduled for tomorrow, and I'm not sure what brought about the abscesses because when he got the first one, he wasn't housed with another rat. I recently rescued another feeder baby, and he's only about 4 weeks old. I've never seen them fight, but they play frequently, wrestling and such (its super cute bc Bug is nearly twice his size but he lets the baby flip him over and "win" XD). It cant be their bedding because it's fleece, and their litter is shredded newspaper. I'm not sure if the new ones are abscesses or not, but I'm hoping they are easily treated. Leaf (the baby) doesnt have any so far, but I'll definitely be keeping a close eye on them both.
I'm a bit suspicious that it might be the food, because I feed them half and half Oxbox and some Nat Geo rat food that gave my older boy bloodied urine! I figured it wouldn't hurt them because I unfortunately had to completely switch my older boy's food and fed him 100% Nat Geo bc i ran out of oxbow. I'm throwing it away today (off-topic, anyone recommend a good seed mix?). Never buy that food, ugh.

Also, thank you so much for the advice, everyone!
 

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Wow, well I never knew that. So although they aren't on their own a genetic issue, but they can be more likely to get them due to poor immune systems from poorly bred lines? That's pretty interesting, unfortunate for the poor ratties, but interesting!
I wouldnt say poor breeding as such, I'd like to count myself as a pretty ethical breeder who trys to work away from problems and yet my current line is showing a tendency towards abcesses at the moment (but not any other illness, for instance my 2013 litter are turning 2 next month and are all still with us, doing well and have had a few abcesses across the litter of 5 so not looking bad at all). To me abcesses are a pain in the bum and id rather breed away from them, (and we will be doing now we have another years data) but secondary to life threatening conditions like cancer, respiratory problems and so on. Its one of the challenges of breeding, there is no perfect rat, you just select the best you can and avoid picking those with the same faults using as much data as youve got.

the.wee.fellow - the other thing it could be is some sort of odd systemic infection, though i would expect him to be more ill than he looks. It could also be swollen lymph nodes or something odd going on with them or his glands, they can also result in multiple abcess like lumps
 
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