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Discussion Starter #1
My son was just changing the cage and found both girls dead. They were the same age, not skinny, not fat and didn't have any discharge from eyes, nose, ears.... Why would this happen? My poor son, who is 14, is devastated. They were pet store rats, same litter. Any insight would be appreciated.
 

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How old where they?
 

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6 months ish. I just took apart the cage and found 1. the water bottle didnt seem to be working easily and 2. found a desicant pack(the fresh pack thingy), but it wasn't nibbled. Poor girls, poor son. We are just heartbroken.
 

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So very sorry for your loss...dehydration can be very fast unfortunately :( But they usually show signs of lethargy and stress first.
 

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have you added any new animals to the house or used any unusual chemicals recently? I once had an entire tank of freshwater fish die off because my parents purchased a rug and pad... Apparently the fumes from the pad killed them (no warnings were on it). Something like that might be the cause... If you found one desiccant pouch, perhaps there was another in the cage that they ate? I'd assume you'd find evidence from that, like torn pouch, etc. They would also probably show some signs of odd behavior.

Another option might be stroke or heart attack, although I'd think it rare for both to die of it the same time. I had a 6 month old supposedly healthy buck that had a stroke and had to be euthanized suddenly.

I'm sorry for your loss.
 

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My coworker recently rescued two sibling babies from a feeder bin. One was running on her wheel like she always does and when she hopped off she dropped right there and was gone. The next day her sister was found passed away in her hammock. She thinks it was a defect or genetic issue. I am very sorry this happened, whatever it was.
 

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Thanks everyone! My poor boy is still upset. Sunday night he wouldn't even sleep in his room. We were in the process of setting up a SCN, and he had just gotten it completed. Just heartbreaking. He still wants the cage in his room, so I'm thinking he may want to get new babies in time. Hubby and I were sad, but the hardest thing has been to try to help son. Thanks again everyone.

No, nothing new. He did do some 3d printing, but had his window cracked and his door open for ventilation. But, he has done it before plenty without any issues. Just don't know. Next time around there will be 3 water bottles and fleece bedding instead of care fresh.
 

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I'm so sorry for your loss. :( Unfortunately, some rats just have bad genetics. I had a friend who got a little girl from the pet store. Totally healthy, super active and friendly, and 3 days later she had a seizure and died. :/

I really hope you and your son decide to get more ratties. It is incredibly hard to lose them, but the joy and happiness and fun they bring while they're alive is well worth it, in my opinion. :)
 

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Always have two water bottles in your rats cage. It is not unusual that a water bottle stop working because the little ball inside the drinking tube gets stuck. It mostly happens right after cleaning your bottle, but really can happen anytime. It happened to me once, and my poor baby was left without water for about 12 hours. Since then I always put two water bottles and check if they are working properly.

So sorry for your loss. The is so heartbreaking.
 

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I'm so sorry to hear this. I also had a rat die very suddenly when he was only a few months old. We could never figure out why. Since others have had similar experiences, I'm thinking that there may be a number of genetic defects that can kill them quickly.

Again, sorry for your loss.
 

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The same thing just happened to my wife and I. I freaked out for a while, but I've come around to realizing that might have not done anything wrong and we might not ever know what happened... which is definitely scarier and sadder than knowing that it was my fault, but knowing what was wrong.

I'm going to put my science teacher hat on and point out that Ponderosa is probably right. The rat reproductive strategy is to have pretty huge litters. My understanding is that it isn't all that uncommon for a doe to have more pups than they have nipples, which actually isn't all that common in the animal kingdom. When you produce a lot of babies, you're less likely to weed out those kinds of genetic defects, because for the one or two babies that get it badly enough to die young, you might have ten or more babies in the same litter who are just carriers (if they have it at all). Contrast this with humans; if you only have one baby at a time, you're likely to weed out those kinds of kinds of problems. If every baby represents a significant portion of your chance to pass on your genes, if one quarter or one eighth of them get sick, well, you're in trouble and there's a good chance that the negative trait (and your line) will die out in a couple millennia.

This is complicated by the fact that genes are stupid complex, and you get all sorts of weird situations, like a gene that's good for you if you have copy of it but kills you if you have two copies, or something. Again, having few babies tends to simplify this situation; you just can't afford to have too much junk like that in your DNA if each baby represents a significant biological investment.

I doubt that this is terribly comforting, though.

I'm glad your son has the resilience to want to get back on it. Pets like rats are a bittersweet experience - we are so much of our lives, and as much as we love them, they are so little of ours. That makes our responsibility to them even greater, I think, but it also gives us a peculiar relationship.
 

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That happens a lot with pet store rats. It happened to me with a rabbit I got from Petco 10 years ago. It got the lesson and will never buy a pet at a pet store ever again.
 
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