Separating sick rats?

All topics on health, physique, vets, and medication
Post Reply
Charlieandfriends
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed Jun 24, 2020 2:04 pm

Separating sick rats?

Post by Charlieandfriends » Wed Jun 24, 2020 2:08 pm

Hi,

I have a fairly large group of rats where some have had respiratory infections, whenever they have had symptoms we take them to the vets who prescribes antibiotics but also recommendeds separating sick rats. I have done some reading around the topic and the general consensus seems to be that this isn't necessary as the other rats will already have been exposed and it will stress the sick rat out more.

Does anyone have any experience of whether this is needed?

User avatar
[cub]
Posts: 875
Joined: Mon Sep 05, 2011 2:04 pm

Re: Separating sick rats?

Post by [cub] » Thu Jun 25, 2020 10:20 am

Most of the time separating ill rats isn't needed, no.

In an established colony of pet rats, almost all respiratory infections are flareups of bacteria that normally live in the rat respiratory tract, usually Mycoplasma pulmonis. Pretty much all pet rats have these bacteria in their upper airways already, and most of them don't display any symptoms from this most of the time.

Flareups of these endemic bacteria can be set off by stress (e.g. moving home), poor ventilation (e.g. living in a tank), excessively dusty or insufficiently absorbent substrates (e.g. sawdust, fleece), or excessive particulates in the air (e.g. smoking). So if your rats have frequent respiratory issues, it's worth looking at their environment to see if there's anything you could change to see if it makes a difference. Some rats are just more prone to respiratory flareups than others, though, and will occasionally get whiffly no matter what you do, particularly ones from a pet shop background.

The only time when you should (and indeed must) separate sick or potentially sick rats is if you're taking in new rats from a source that is high risk for novel infectious diseases. There are some very nasty respiratory viruses that circulate in the wild rat population, and they sometimes make their way into domesticated rat colonies, particularly in the large-scale commercial rat breeders that supply many pet shops, and also the smaller scale "backyard" and "feeder" breeders that often advertise on Gumtree and the like.

Some of these viruses transmit readily through the air, and have long incubation periods (where infected rats show no symptoms but can nevertheless infect other rats), so if you are taking in new rats from such a source, you should separate them from your existing rats as much as possible for a few weeks, preferably in a completely separate building (so as to have a separate airspace), and change your clothes and shower after visiting your new rats and before attending to your old rats.

If you've not brought in any new rats from a questionable source though, then it's almost certainly a flareup of a normal bacterial infection and you can just leave the sick rat in the cage with the others.
Poo-shoveller to: Calyn (NLA32), Zephyr Nyahir, Zephyr Zymandis, Zephyr Blasto.
Fondly remembering: Zephyr Mick Jagger (Edgeworth), Din (NLA28), Zephyr Donovan (Phoenix), Xeltan, Lita (NLA32), Lia (NLA28), Zephyr Delanynder (NLA28), Falere (NLA36), Mirala (NLA36), Zephyr Opold, and Rila.

Charlieandfriends
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed Jun 24, 2020 2:04 pm

Re: Separating sick rats?

Post by Charlieandfriends » Thu Jun 25, 2020 12:19 pm

Thanks for the detailed reply!

I rescue all my rats so many have come from iffy backgrounds and its likely that most of the owners who had them previously got them from a petp, hence the large amount of RIs I seem to be seeing. They are all hemp bedding and the cages are spot cleaned and and any hammocks etc changed frequently.

Of course when we bring new rats in they have quarenteen in a separate airspace :)

I just wanted to have some other opinions around this topic as it seems there is some conflicting information. For standard RIs I see no reason to separate but obviously as it is what the vet advised I thought it was worthwhile checking

User avatar
[cub]
Posts: 875
Joined: Mon Sep 05, 2011 2:04 pm

Re: Separating sick rats?

Post by [cub] » Thu Jun 25, 2020 3:16 pm

Excellent; it sounds like you're doing everything well. :D Most vets don't have much experience with or knowledge of rats and I've heard of quite a few advocating separating sick rats, probably because they don't realise that it's likely to be a bacterial species that the entire colony already has. If you're taking on lots of rescue rats, it might be worth seeing if there's a vet near you that's got more rat experience. :luck:
Poo-shoveller to: Calyn (NLA32), Zephyr Nyahir, Zephyr Zymandis, Zephyr Blasto.
Fondly remembering: Zephyr Mick Jagger (Edgeworth), Din (NLA28), Zephyr Donovan (Phoenix), Xeltan, Lita (NLA32), Lia (NLA28), Zephyr Delanynder (NLA28), Falere (NLA36), Mirala (NLA36), Zephyr Opold, and Rila.

Charlieandfriends
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed Jun 24, 2020 2:04 pm

Re: Separating sick rats?

Post by Charlieandfriends » Thu Jun 25, 2020 3:45 pm

That's great :) glad to have the feedback! Although they are currently with an exotic vet at the moment I haven't been pleased with all the treatment received so might have to do a bit of shopping around as I want the best for my babies :)

User avatar
[cub]
Posts: 875
Joined: Mon Sep 05, 2011 2:04 pm

Re: Separating sick rats?

Post by [cub] » Thu Jun 25, 2020 6:52 pm

I've definitely heard of exotic vets being shockingly clueless about rats so yes it's worth shopping around some more! Even though exotic vets are meant to get a lot more training and experience in non-cat/dog/livestock species, that's still a huge range to cover and some clearly still end up with little knowledge of rodents in particular. I get the feeling that a lot of the exotics focus is in avian and reptile medicine, as there are some expensive species there that many owners are willing to spend a lot of money on. Quite a lot of people go to "normal" cat/dog vets who happen to have experience with rats, myself included.
Poo-shoveller to: Calyn (NLA32), Zephyr Nyahir, Zephyr Zymandis, Zephyr Blasto.
Fondly remembering: Zephyr Mick Jagger (Edgeworth), Din (NLA28), Zephyr Donovan (Phoenix), Xeltan, Lita (NLA32), Lia (NLA28), Zephyr Delanynder (NLA28), Falere (NLA36), Mirala (NLA36), Zephyr Opold, and Rila.

Charlieandfriends
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed Jun 24, 2020 2:04 pm

Re: Separating sick rats?

Post by Charlieandfriends » Fri Jun 26, 2020 2:05 pm

I know, it is tricky finding someone who is experienced enough with rats! But that's a good suggestion, I'll have to have a look around my area a bit more maybe to find someone who has experience in rodents :)

Post Reply

Return to “Health”