American Fancy Rat & Mouse Association

This article is from the WSSF 2011 AFRMA Rat & Mouse Tales news-magazine.

Beginners’ Corner

Orangish Splotches On Rats’ Tails; Rat With White Bumps On Ears; Pine Christmas Tree/Medicating Sick Mouse; Cancerous Mouse Behavior; Rat With Bad Breath; Administering Medication
Orangish Splotches On Rats’ Tails

Jade Porter, facebook
Q What’s with the orangish splotches on my rat’s tails? Is it something I’m feeding them?

A Try washing them to see if it comes off. What kind of bedding are you using? Are there any boxes or nesting material that has this color on it? Diet would not normally do something like this—more likely it is something in their environment. If you give them food that is heavily pigmented such as berries, that might stain them. Karen Robbins

Rat With White Bumps On Ears

Jayme Erickson, facebook
Q I have a rat who has developed white bumps on his ears. What is this and should I be concerned? Thank you.

A Well, the most absolute answer would be to have a vet determine what it is. It’s best to have the vet see it first hand to be certain and give you the appropriate treatment. Let me refer you to an article on the AFRMA web site that has similar problems with those rats Please remember, this is not a diagnosis, a vet would be our recommendation. Amy, Camarattery

Pine Christmas Tree/Medicating Sick Mouse

Shanelle Ramelb, facebook
Q I have a question about my pet mice. I have two little girls I absolutely adore. This will be their first Christmas. Will having a pine Christmas tree in my apartment hurt them? I would move them as far from the tree as possible, but I’m sure I’d be able to smell the tree no matter which room I was in. Is it OK for them to be exposed to the smell? Is there a certain level that’s OK? Thank you for any help!

A This is a great question. I believe it’s safe to have a tree in the house, and I’ve never seen any negative effects from it. The risk from pine shavings is from the direct exposure of living on it. They are in contact with it and breathing it 24/7. As long as the little ones are in an area away from the tree, I don’t think their first Christmas will have any negative effects. However, if you hear them sneezing a little more than normal, just move them further from the tree. Enjoy the holidays! Carol Lawton

Q Update: Thanks for the advice! Unfortunately, one of my girls got sick over the weekend, and we haven’t even gotten a tree yet. The vet prescribed liquid Baytril, and I’m having no luck getting her to take it. Any advice on this one? I have tried giving it to her straight, and adding it to everything she usually loves, including her regular block food, cheerios, yogies, banana, strawberry/banana baby food, and peanut butter. For a couple of days she took it mixed in strawberry yogies—I softened them, mixed the medicine in, and then stuck in the fridge to reharden. For some reason that doesn’t work anymore.

A In the past 20 years, I’ve tried just about everything. Baytril has a very strong taste, and I found it to be very difficult to give to my animals. The best thing to do is just be tough and squirt it in their mouth. They get a full dose that way. You can try mixing in a little corn syrup, but that just makes the dose bigger. Carol Lawton

Cancerous Mouse Behavior

Hannah Wright Robinson, facebook
Q I was wondering if anyone can give me some advice. I have a mouse who has cancer—two large tumors that cannot be removed but she is on drugs, steroids, and chemo to stop them from growing. All of this is as under control as it can be as my husband is a small animal vet but, do mice gang up on sick mice and try to drive them out or do they help like rats and look after their cage mate? She lives with two other mice but spends a lot of time alone now, and last night I heard a small squabble break out. They have a HUGE cage with lots of different sleeping areas but I don’t want her to be picked on and don’t know if I should have another cage ready just in case. I’ve never had a sick one before so need some advice. Thanks.

A Your mice are very fortunate to have such a caring keeper. My experience is that female mice are very caring when a cage mate is sick or has a tumor. Only at the very end have I seen any signs of rejection, and they aren’t really rejecting her, just keeping their distance. It makes sense because in nature, a dying mouse could draw unwanted attention from predators.

The squabbles could be due to the changes in the social structure of the group, particularly if the female with cancer was dominant. In any case, if you feel she is being picked on, it is important that you remove her from the group. She doesn’t need any additional stress while going through chemo.

My very best wishes to you, and I hope all goes well with your little one.

Update: I gave this some thought last night and came up with another idea. There is a possibility that the chemo and other drugs have altered her scent. In humans, chemo frequently effects our skin and body oils. Rather than smelling “chemically,” cancer patients often have no body scent at all.

In the end the result is the same. Regardless of the cause, separating her to keep her safe is really the best option. Carol Lawton

Rat With Bad Breath

Q I need your expert advice. Yesterday, Candy’s breath was very smelly. Today it wasn’t as bad. So I had my son hold her so I could look in her mouth. Both of her big bottom teeth are rotting out. It is brown-black at the jaw line. Is there anything I can do? I put her on antibiotics and started feeding her soft foods. Do you think she can survive? Any help would be great.

A Sounds like you are doing everything you can with the antibiotics and soft foods. I can’t think of anything else—just make sure she gets a variety of foods. If you have a blender, you could take regular food (veggies, fruits, cooked pasta, chicken, salad greens, etc.) and puree. Also, cooked oatmeal with lab block powder mixed in and made soupy with milk, soupy rice cereal, softened dog kibble, crumbled bread soaked in milk, etc., all made into a soupy/gruel mix so she won’t need to hold the food and eat. Depends on the cause whether the antibiotics will clear things up. Karen Robbins

Update: Candy didn’t want to/wasn’t able to eat so I made an appointment to have her put down at the vet’s. He checked inside her mouth and found her whole mouth was rotten! Top teeth fractured, bottom teeth broken off with roots showing—basically her mouth was a huge abscess. He couldn’t say the cause of it though, just a freak thing.

Administering Medication

Hev Smith, facebook
Q Can you tell me any alternative way to administer Tetracycline to a small mammal? Other than by oral choice whilst feeding. A paste on the cracker? Just wondering, got inventive . . .whatever works. One little cutie [rat] I chose as a pet, Cheeko, will not have it in food, and I avoid adding to water. Is there any magic tricks I should know? It’s painstakingly slow to get all that she needs to help her lungs! Thanks in advance.

A There are many things you can put medicine in to get your rats to take it—some work for a while, then your pet may decide not to eat that food any more, at which time you would need to try another kind of food. The best bet would be to just squirt it in the side of the mouth so that way you know they got the entire dose. If you are not good at scruffing the rat with one hand (holding it by the skin on the neck/shoulders like a mother rat or cat would pick up a kitten) and putting the eye dropper in the mouth with the other hand to administer the medicine, get a helper to hold the rat for you. It’s best to be quick about it for minimal stress on your rat. Give them a really yummy treat after.

With putting the medicine in food, it is less stressful—the rat thinks it is getting a tasty treat, and as long as the rat can’t taste the medicine, you should be fine. The foods most commonly used to hide medicine are peanut butter on a cracker (add some apple juice to the peanut butter to thin it out so your rat doesn’t choke on it), a little bit of peanut butter mixed with jam, mashed banana, yogurt, baby foods, corn syrup, pancake syrup, jam, Nutri-cal, juice, mashed avocado, etc., either plain or on a small piece of bread or cracker. Another idea from a rat fan is to put it into a little Vanilla Boost (drink supplement; their rat ate it right up). Another food that you can try is pudding (rice, banana).

For medicines you can add to the water, add some apple juice, Tang, honey, or syrup to help mask the medicine taste and to make sure they drink enough. Use a small water bottle so you can change it daily.

Or you can simply put the medicine on the animal’s nose, feet, or chest so they will lick it off. Make sure you give the medicine the full length of time the vet prescribed.

Hope she gets over her illness soon. Karen Robbins *

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Updated March 7, 2014