Tired Rat
May 28, 2004 3:05 AM   Subscribe

One of my rats is suddenly very lethargic. Normally she is very excitable, but now she moves slowly and falls asleep when I hold her. She is 18 months old. What can I do? Should I call a vet? I am very worried.
posted by malpractice to Pets & Animals (12 answers total)
Call your vet, because a really sudden change in behavior is typically a warning sign of some kind.
posted by Dreama at 3:41 AM on May 28, 2004

Yeah, what dreama said. I don't know about rats specificly, but small animals, especially rodents, tend to have high metabolic rate and thus if there's something wrong with them, things can get worse quickly.

Of course it's quite possible it's just some nasty flu-ish thing, but the peace of mind alone should be worth the vet costs with this kind of behaviour.
posted by fvw at 3:58 AM on May 28, 2004

The main problem is we don't readily have access to a vet here, especially as it's 11pm. She's not interested in food, or anything we try and offer her by eye-dropper. I'm planning to stay up tonight with her, and get her to the vet as soon as I can in the morning. If anyone can suggest anything that might help her to be comfortable until then, it would be greatly appreciated. (I'm the not-so-good parent - I'm not sure whether I should be keeping her warm, or cool, or whether a sponge bath is in order).
posted by malpractice at 4:08 AM on May 28, 2004

Unless she has a fever or is shivering (do rats shiver?) I don't think any temperature coddling is necessary. Make sure she has access to fresh water and try to get her to drink some if you can. Also, try not to make more of a fuss than necessary, if they sense you're worried and/or changes in their schedule, they get put off too.

Also, this might not be the best time to reveal your MeFi nick to them…
posted by fvw at 4:12 AM on May 28, 2004

Thanks for your advice. I shall be avoiding any possibility of malpractice - I don't think surgery on my pet rat would be a good way to start my (highly improbable) medical career!

I'm thinking that tonight I shall just have to keep an eye on her and hope for the best.
posted by malpractice at 4:45 AM on May 28, 2004

rats are wonderful pets. but 18 months is (at the low end of) a normal life span. "keep an eye on her and hope for the best" (and enjoy the the memories) is really all you can do.
posted by danOstuporStar at 5:45 AM on May 28, 2004

What does she look like? Is her fur sort of standing up on end? Can you tell if her eyes look puffy or swollen? Any possibility that she could be pregnant?
posted by LittleMissCranky at 7:40 AM on May 28, 2004

She may have cancer. Rats seem to get the big c at the drop of a (very tiny) hat.
posted by bshort at 8:41 AM on May 28, 2004

I've had rats and mice as pets. They've all only lasted about 18 months. They all also developed benign tumors which grew really quickly and would have eventually cut off air supplies if I didn't have the vet euthanize them. Apparently that's very typical. It's sad, but you may have reached the end of the line.
posted by dness2 at 1:15 PM on May 28, 2004

My roommate used to keep rats, but stopped because of the emotional trauma involved in seeing a pet die every 2 years or so. At 18 months, maybe your rat isn't about to die immediately, but she may be an old rat now and slowing down accordingly.

Rats can be wonderful creatures, but until someone breeds them to have the lifespan of cats, I refuse to deal with the heartache.
posted by tdismukes at 1:28 PM on May 28, 2004

She isn't pregnant - she shares the cage with one other rat, who is also female. She seems to have perked up slightly over night, but she's still quite poorly. We're taking her to the vet this afternoon. Poor wee thing - I hope it's not the end of the line, since she's a lovely pet.

Thanks for everyone's help. :)
posted by malpractice at 3:57 PM on May 28, 2004

Good luck malpractice. This brings back memories of my own lovely pets. I still miss them. I moved up the chain to more long lived animals to get the nice bits for a longer time, but I still wish I could have a mouse or two around. It wouldn't work anymore though...
posted by dness2 at 12:33 PM on May 29, 2004

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