American Fancy Rat & Mouse Association

This article is from the Winter 1998 AFRMA Rat & Mouse Tales news-magazine.


The Stuffy Nosed Rat

By Pat Bromberek, Portage, WI

His name is Reddy and he is a ruby-eyed Champagne buck. We got him in July 1996, and he appeared to be full grown so we really don’t know how old he is. Neither do the Animal Shelter people where we got him from.

The Start of Reddy’s Problems

About 2 months later he developed an acute head tilt. We were gone for a week and before we left he was fine. Our pet sitter never said there were any problems with the rats. When something does develop, they always take the sick rat to the vet, so we surmised this head tilt occurred shortly before we got home.

I really was shocked to find him like this. No warning signs, unless they were when we were gone and the pet sitter failed to pick up on it (if there were any). I gave Baytril along with Panmycin and his head tilt improved. It never completely went away. He has been fine since.


About a month ago I found him gasping and running around in his cage in a panic. I took him out and held him, not knowing what triggered this attack. Placing his chest against my ear I heard no rattling or whistling in his lung area. All the rattling was in his nose!!

Placing his nose against my ear all I heard was a very loud rattle and also an extremely stuffy noise. He was so stuffed up that he could not breathe!!

I thought perhaps he choked on something and it (the phlegm) backed up from the lungs and up into his nose. He was gasping and I was at a loss as to help him. “If his lungs sound clear, why can’t he breath through his mouth?” I questioned.

Act Fast

I had to act fast so I got some VetRx which is a liquid inhalant intended for use to relieve wheezing, stuffiness, and sniffles in rats and other small pets. I thought, “If the congestion was limited to being only in his nose, this medication should open up the passages and the lung areas if they are stuffy.”

Sneezing rat

I shook the bottle and applied several drops of the liquid directly around the nostrils and surrounding areas of his nose. It took several applications, but all of a sudden he began to sneeze several times and his stuffy nose problem cleared up! He looked up at me, a very relieved me, and began to groom himself. I listened to his nose and chest areas and both were clear.

Other Incidents

Since this initial episode, there has been two other incidents and the results were the same. I’m wondering also if he’s had spells like these when were not home. I really believe the VetRx helped him though.

It’s been several weeks since Reddy’s last attack. His lungs are clear (as always!) and he has no stuffiness or rattley nasal problems. Does anyone out there see their rat in this tale??

Author’s Note: The preceding article is one I wanted to share with all AFRMA members because I truly feel this respiratory problem my rat has is one some member’s rats may also have. I’m hoping someone knows what it is and can give some advice on how to deal with it. VetRx can be purchased through the Goodwinol Products Corp. 800-554-1080. I still believe this saved Reddy’s life.

ED. NOTE: We were very sorry to hear of Reddy’s troubles. While we have heard of incidences where rats have displayed some of Reddy’s symptoms, none seem to match with the experience you are having. If anyone has experienced a similar problem, or has any advice, please send it to the Editor and we will forward it to Pat. VetRx is a natural product which some people have found to be useful in helping congested rats and mice. It is similar in effect to Vicks Vapor rub in humans. It is also very useful when introducing new rats and mice together. It has a very strong odor, and a small drop placed near the nose and tail of each animal hides new scents, and makes introductions go much more smoothly. Some people prefer vanilla, but it is not as strong.

Answer from Carmen Jane Booth, D.V.M.

I have requested the product information and safety information on VetRx from Goodwinol Products Corp.

The symptoms of upper respiratory congestion is consistent with MRM and many of the other upper respiratory diseases of rats. But it is possible that he (Reddy) may have had some food or other material in his nose that was preventing him from breathing through his nose. I have seen pathology slides of the nasal passages of rats with respiratory diseases and the passages frequently contain abundant mucus and cellular debris. *

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Updated February 13, 2015