Archie the Rat

This website is dedicated to our beloved pet Archie. He is loved, he is missed.



Why a rat is a really awesome pet

Respiratory Infections & Warning Signs

Medical Care & Nebulization

Tips for caring for a sick rat

About Chronic and Fatal Illness in Pets

Links for more rat care info

About Us




Here are some helpful tips for caring for a sick rat:

- Get a GOOD VET: Many vets won't take small animals, and some vets take them and shouldn't because they don't know what they're doing. Find a specialist, ask around, find out who the pet stores use, who the emergency clinic recommends, get a vet who really knows about rats. It makes all the difference.

- CAGE MATES: A sick rat's cage companions may try to bully or fight with the sick rat. This is instinct. Also, the rats will spread germs to each other if they stay in close contact. If one is sick and the other(s) are healthy, get a second cage for the sick one until he recovers. Archie had a little $20 cage for vet visits and quarantine, and when he got really sick he stayed in that little cage for the rest of his life. I let him out all the time so he got lots of exercise, I made him a hammock out of an old pant leg, and I made him a house out of an empty plastic coffee can. It didn't cost a lot and it kept him safe and cozy. Also it was easier to keep clean - very important (see below).

- HEAT LAMP: Especially if you keep your house cool, a heat lamp is very good for a sick rat. I got one at the pet store for under $15 and a dark purple bulb for around $8. The dark bulb stayed on all night and didn't keep us awake, plus I could see Archie in the faint purple glow and check on him without turning on the bedroom lights. Keep your heat lamp pointed to one side of the cage so he can be in the heat or move out of it as he wishes. Keep the cord clear of the cage - rats love to chew cords.

- CLEAN the CAGE: Urine creates Ammonia which is very hard on the respiratory system so keep a very clean cage for your sick rat. Make it a point to clean up any pee that you see on the shelves. A small quarantine cage is much easier to keep clean for the sick rat - it's smaller hence easier to clean, plus there's only one rat in it so it doesn't get dirty as quickly.

- CLEAN the WATER: Make sure your rats always have fresh clean water. Clean the bottle with hot soapy water, especially the spout thingy since that's what they are touching with their germy little tonges. You can also use a Q-tip to clean inside the spout. **Always test to make sure water comes out - sometimes the ball gets stuck in the spout and water won't be accessable.

- FOOD: If your rat is not interested in his usual lab blocks, make sure he eats. You can do this by feeding him Cheerios and blueberries and vegitables until he regains his appetite. If you have multiple rats in the same cage, your definately should separate the sick one (see CAGEMATES) but, if not, at least feed the sick one separately since he won't feel like fighting the others for the treats.

- STEAM ROOM: If your rat is having difficulty breathing, go to a bathroom, close the door, turn on the shower very hot and stay in there with your rat for about 10 minutes. This may help him breath. The steam supposedly helps to break up congestion in the lungs. I never thought this helped Archie, but others recommend it and maybe it will help someone, but be careful that he isn't suffocating since the steam may make it harder to breathe. If your rat is gasping, a steam treatment might be a good idea, but really you need to get to the vet or emergency clinic ASAP.

- STEAM VAPORIZER or HUMIDIFIER: Again, the steam thins the phlegm in the lungs and nose so it can be expelled more easily. If you use a humidifier, make sure it has a clean filter so that you are not releasing a lot of mold and mildew spores into the air.