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A few weeks ago I posted about a lump I thought I felt on Ouija. Whatever it was, it's gone now. I'm going to assume it was just a very concentrated scab of some sort (they just finished treatment for mites, scabs are healing nicely).

However, Ouija's been acting a bit weird the past couple days. He doesn't act sick, still has bursts of energy... but sometimes he just seems slow. He's just over a year old now, and from feeder stock. I'm wondering if maybe this is just what happens when they start getting older.

Ouija was always the "I'm gonna explore every single thing" type of guy. But now he seems a lot more calculated about everything he does. It's almost as if he's trying to figure out what will take the least amount of oomph from him to do something.

I'm just wondering - is it normal for older (though a year old isn't old for some rats, it can be for others) rats to start slowing up like this? He doesn't seem to be ill. Still eating, drinking, and willing to play - just a lot more mellow.
 

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What you describe, "slowing down" sounds completely normal. In my experience, rats will start to slow down at around 1.5 - 2 years. It really depends on the rat. But yeah, older rats lose their vigor and mellow out considerably, often preferring to just sit in your lap and be petted. As far as when a rat slows down, it really depends on the rat and how it was cared for.

If he's really slowing down and getting weak or clumsy, you might want to take him to a vet. But a loss of "oomph" is probably just general aging, and Ouija may live for quite a while longer. I've always been amazed at how long the old, slow rats can hang on.

You might also look for changes in the coat related to old age. The coat will look thinner, duller or scruffy on an older rat.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
That makes me feel a little better... but more concerned all at the same time, to be honest. His fur is much thinner, though it's not duller and it still lays flat. But he's just so young - he's only one year and one month right now, maybe a little less or a little more.

He's my favorite of the four boys... and actually not the oldest. Tarot is certainly older, he's much bigger and scruffier and just looks old already. But Ouija has always been lively and young, it's just a big shock, you know? :(

Is there anything different that needs to be done for him, diet-wise now? Does he need special considerations in anything else? I know it's not suddenly, boom, he's old and everything needs to change... but are there things I should start trying to alter?
 

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Nope. He isn't at the stage where he needs a special diet or cage set up just yet. I would advise you to keep treating him as you normally would. An active life even when your rat begins to slow down is healthy and optimal so I would keep encouraging him to go out and explore/use the wheel/whatever exercise you provide. Rats tend to start slowing down after they hit the big first so it isn't that concerning to notice a change. If the change is drastic, I would worry but it does not sound like it is.
 

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Well my boys are about 11 months old now just about hitting a year and my always kind of shy guy has slowed down a lot. Now his free range time usually consists of sitting in my lap. His brother is still going pretty strong though and runs around a lot before we sit together. It probably depends on the rat of course.
 
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