American Fancy Rat & Mouse Association

This article is from the WSSF 2006 AFRMA Rat & Mouse Tales news-magazine.


Can Parrots Pass SDA to Rats?; Cardiac Problem in Rats

By Carmen Jane Booth, D.V.M., Ph.D.

Can Parrots Pass SDA to Rats?

Question to Karen Robbins
Q Someone asked me this question a while ago when SDA was going around in their part of the country. They wanted to know if the SDA that parrots can get is the same as what rats get and can they pass SDA to rats? They had gone to a rat show and someone had a parrot on their shoulder walking around the show.

Also, they had used dexaphosphate (?) 0.01cc/pound for the SDA symptoms on their rats and said it cleared the symptoms right up. Any insight into this?

A SDAV is Sialodacryoadenitis virus and is caused by a corona virus that infects rats, not birds. SDAV is a morphologic description name because it causes inflammation in the salivary and lacrimal glands in rats as well as rhinitis, tracheitis, and pneumonia in young rats.

Upper or lower respiratory disease in Parrots is not caused by a corona virus. The causative agents in parrots include bacteria (mycoplasma, candida, chlamydia, fungi (Aspergillus sp.), parasites, and viruses such as Herpes virus.

Anti-inflammatory steroids such as Dexamethazone sodium phosphate can be used to alleviate inflammation; however, they suppress the immune system and can exacerbate bacteria infections unless the patient is given concurrent antibiotics.

Cardiac Problem in Rats

Ruth Bowie, e-mail
Q I had two rats that I took about 6 months ago from a woman who could no longer keep them. One of them just died because of an enlarged heart. The vet said cardiac problems are common in rats. I was giving her oral medication twice a day to keep the fluid out of her chest but he said he couldn’t do anything about the enlarged heart and it was terminal. I’m concerned about the other one now. I don’t know if rats mourn the loss of a companion like dogs and cats do and whether it would be better for her to introduce a new rat or just leave her alone. Also, she is very overweight. She was when I got her but has gained even more weight. She weighed exactly a pound 2 months ago. The vet said to feed her one-third less than she had been getting but since the two rats were together, I don’t know how much of the food she was eating. I’m feeding her a little less than ¼ cup of grain type rat food now with small snacks of carrots, broccoli, pieces of banana or grapes. She seems to always be hungry and I don’t know if it’s good to put her on a diet now when she’s stressed out about losing the other one.

If you have any suggestions, I’d appreciate it. Thank you.

A Here are what the books state: Cardiac problems are frequently seen in conventional rats particularly after 1 year of age. Lesions are more common in males than females. The incidence can be as high as 25% in some strains. However, even though lesions may be present at necropsy, most rats do not have clinical signs of cardiac insufficiency. The basic lesion may include an enlarged left ventricle with microscopic changes in the heart muscle of degeneration, inflammation, and fibrosis.

My experience is that most rats succumb from cancer or Mycoplasmosis before they have any clinical signs of heart disease.

Regarding the introduction of a new rat, it really depends upon the temperament of the two rats. Her size is excessive and her food requirement is much lower than ¼ cup a day. *

Updated March 19, 2014