American Fancy Rat & Mouse Association

This article is from the WSSF 2013 AFRMA Rat & Mouse Tales news-magazine.


Rat With Seizure

From Jozzette Hagemann from one of her customers.
QWe got our baby boys from you toward the end of October. Zero is the White Rex Dumbo and Ash is the Blue Rex Dumbo (both males). They’ve grown and are the sweetest things ever!! We handle them quite a lot and their cage is in my home office so I visit with them all day long while I’m working. I’m writing because of an incident that concerned me with Ash this morning. We had placed them both in a small carrier while my son cleaned their cage. They had both burrowed under a towel and when I took them out, Zero was active and great, but Ash was almost catatonic. It was like he was asleep with his eyes open. Limp and soft. When I held him, he started sucking on my soft t-shirt sleeve like he was sucking on his mommy. Then he started jerking and having spasms and even squeaked like he was scared (like he just woke up startled? Or was in pain?). I put him in the cage because it felt like he was panicking and would jump from me. He just sat in the cage, sitting rigid and not moving for a while. I picked him back up and held him and he was super quiet again. He peed on me and it was wet, but there was also what looked like white stuff with the pee. Could he have a bladder infection? Does any of this sound familiar to you? They eat well (they eat a lot!!). They get the KayTee Forti-Diet blocks, fresh vegetables every day (baby carrots, apples, broccoli, spinach, etc.), and “treats” (seed mixes, raisins, and little crunchy treats).

Also, they have begun to fight quite often and sometimes it looks pretty nasty. They’ll tussle and bite at each other and squeak then settle down again. Not sure what that’s all about either. We’ve never had two males together before, and we have not had them neutered. We’d rather not have them go through that if we don’t have to and it didn’t seem to be an issue—unless the fighting is from that?

Would like to hear your thoughts. It was just a very strange episode with Ash (the Blue Dumbo Rex) that frightened me today. Oh, also, his skin/fur is “loose” like he’s lost some weight, although I see him eating all the time. He did refuse a raisin and apple and another treat this morning when I was trying to see how bad off he was. It was just odd.

Just in the last 15 minutes they’ve gotten into another big fight, and I can see that it is Ash (the Blue one) who is aggressive toward Zero (the White one). Zero has a sore/scab on one of his back legs that looks pretty recent. Ash is nudging into Zero’s “space”—pretty much looks like he wants to mate or something but he’s really being dominant. Is this a hormonal thing? Do we need to get them snipped?

Let me know what you think. Thanks

Answer by Karen Robbins
ASounds like he had a seizure or convulsion. See the article “Porkchop: A Rat with Epilepsy” opf_porkchop1.htm for one member’s dealing of a rat with epileptic seizures. Not sure what the “white stuff” in the pee would be. My suggestion is to take him to a vet.

As far as the fighting, it could be from his other problem or hormones. A vet would be the best one to determine if he should be neutered. In the meantime, you should separate them to keep Zero from getting any more injuries from Ash.

Re: Epilepsy and Seizures in Rats by Carmen Jane Booth, D.V.M., Ph.D.
AEpilepsy and seizure are not the same thing. Seizure is defined as uncontrolled electrical activity in the brain, which may produce a physical convulsion, minor physical signs, thought disturbances, or a combination of symptoms. The type of symptoms and seizures depend on where the abnormal electrical activity takes place in the brain, what its cause is, and such factors as the patient’s age and general state of health. Seizures can be caused by head injuries, brain tumors, lead poisoning, maldevelopment of the brain, genetic and infectious illnesses, and fevers.

Epilepsy is a disease where the patient is predisposed to seizures and the neurobiological, cognitive, psychological, and social consequences of the seizures. In simplistic terms: having a seizure is an event, and epilepsy is the disease condition involving recurrent unprovoked seizures.

In fully half of the human patients with seizures, no cause can yet be found. This is similar for dogs and cats where in the absence of trauma, toxin, tumor, or disease, there are no pathologic changes in the brain pointing to a specific cause (etiology).

If an animal is walking abnormally that looks wobbly, that is called ataxia. If an animal has a head-tilt or walks in a circle, that is called torticollis.

Therefore, if a rat or mouse is having a seizure, it may or may not be epilepsy. What is more important is that the seizure is treated where possible. The animal should be examined and treated by a veterinarian. In the case of heat stroke or fever-induced seizure, emergency cooling the animal down by water or ice packs (larger), can stop the seizures until you get the animal to the veterinarian. You would have to know that the animal is over heated.

In rodents, in my experience, seizures in young rodents is genetic and due to neurologic problems in the brain. Some conditions respond to medication, some do not. In older rodents, the cause is usually a pituitary tumor and euthanasia for humane concerns is the best option. Most pet rodent owners are careful to keep their pets from being exposed to toxins or poisons. However, in the event of exposure, the veterinarian needs to know what the pet ate to determine the appropriate treatment. Some animals have triggers for seizure. One dog in veterinary school would have a seizure when you shined a light in her eyes. Two dogs I have treated in recent years developed epilepsy after age 8. Both did well on antiseizure medications for a couple of years before I helped them over the rainbow bridge for other terminal disease processes unrelated to the seizures. *

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Updated March 30, 2016