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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
About a week and a half ago a friend and I decided to save 10 feeder rats from a immenent death from a local at-home breeder.

3 of the rats were about 2.5 weeks old (had eyes open and pretty active) and 7 were about 1 week old (eyes closed).



We have been feeding every 3-4 hours at this point...the 3 older ones are on normal food and water. The 7 babies are the ones having issues. We have been feeding/helping them excrete them on schedule for over a week now and the babies are suddenly having issues.



They just opened their eyes about 2 days ago and now one just rapidly became ill and died. within a few hours. about 2 hours later another one passed away. They were all healthy and thriving..eating well. Now most of the babies are acting ill. Not moving much..seperating themselves from the group and their color is terrible! The will even have blue/grey blotches on their bellies.



I am wondering if this is megacolon...the 3 older ones from the other litter seem unaffected...the 7 babies have not been defecating as often (or at all) but, I have seen baby feces in the cage..I have seen the 3 older ones grooming the babies and I think they are stimulating them...



I dont know what else this could be with such a rapid onset of literally a few hours.



Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
 

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If it was megacolon, it usually onsets a little later and is characterized by unthrifty babies from a young age, with a VERY distended stomach.

I've always had trouble with feeding formulas to any baby animal. Mother's milk is the best thing for them. Perhaps had you put deposits on them the breeder would have been willing to retain them for you until weaning, as taking a baby away from mother is often deadly for them.
 

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Sounds like the at-home breeder was a feeder breeder or a BYB about to cull? NO mom to stay with sadly.

It is very very hard to raise young rats especially ones that came from a neglected background. This will happen, they will do fine, then die....its awful but you have no idea whats going on in themat the genetic level. :(

You do your best, use a soy milk human formula, or a puppy/kitten replacement milk, get them to eliminate, etc...are you still trying to help them eliminate? The older babies may look like they are trying but its not working, especially with the bellies looking like they are.
 

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Still, I think the babies would have had a chance if they had stayed with the mother. I don't know why a person wouldn't hold them for you till weaning with a deposit, unless they needed them euthed soon or at that size for their snakes.

The symptoms are odd and the only thing I can suggest is to get one to the vet when it first starts showing signs of being off. It really does NOT sound like megacolon, which usually shows up as a distended belly and stunted size at this age, but they normally show symptoms for a while before death. However, the symptoms could be from using formula. Anything but mother's milk isn't ever really very good for baby animals, especially powdered formulas.

I would offer a little bit of LIVE CULTURE yogurt which will introduce beneficial bacteria to their gut and help them digest effectively. Normally they would receive this from being in contact with their mother as well. You can also use products like Probios, Probiotics, or the like.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thank you for all your input. At this point 4 of the 7 have passed.


This breeder only breeds for snake food. These babies would have been dead at this point anyways. He is a backyard breeder and is pretty insensitive about whether they live or die. He would not have held them for a deposit.


Although, I do realize that mothers milk is best...I felt like we didn't have much of a choice. We wanted to get them out of there. We are feeding soy-based baby milk..they are still eating, not as readily though. I do still help them excrete but, still no defication.


This definately seems like something genetic to me because the ones that were 1 week older (who were still on milk when we got them) are thriving and having no issues.


The only other thing I have noticed with them is that they don't seem to be getting bigger. At this point they should be slightly larger and with a better haircoat. I am sure this is something genetic going on.


This breeder is driving me crazy. Although he runs a "clean" (in the hygenic sense) operation..they don't care about genetic issues. They just breed until the mom gets too old then they kill her. If a rat dies they just throw it out. If it's sick they just kill it by unprofessional means. :(


Also, about taking them to a vet...I live in a very small town..and there is no exotic/pocket pet clinic around. I am a registered vet tech..so, I know lol.
 

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raising baby rats can be so difficult, make sure then are warm enough i put a little warm water bottle rapped in a wash cloth in the den with mine and they would snuggle up against it like it was there mother. i tried soy on them and i dont know if it was an alergy or what but they started getting thin pretty fast. i am alergic to dairy products so i bought goats milk from a local farmer. when i was talking to her she told me that many animals can drink it and it works very well. even shared her success story about when she raised a bunch of orphined kittens who loved the stuff. i tried it on my ratlets and they grew quite plump over time. i also tried adding baby vitemin added rice cerial witch they seemed to love aswell. so i dont know maybe you should try it. it worked for me
 

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Sounds like they were just too young for you to keep alive. They are so tiny at that age and they cannot thrive without mom. I've been in an emergency situation before where I had to care for a litter of babies whose mother sadly died, and after talking to several vets and orphan animal caregivers, realized it was way too much for me to handle. So I went to the pet store, and ordered a lactating mother rat.


I don't mean to sound rude, but, it seems that all that happened was these babies suffered until death for weeks, as opposed to dieing for a purpose.


I would hope you don't plan on "saving" any more baby rats any time soon...
 

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Well, like she said, sometimes its better not to try to save.
Unless baby hamsters are at 8-10 days old there is no saving them...just extending time and pain.

Its very sad...but its true. Dont take offense.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I appreciate all of your comments and support. I certainly feel like this was a genetic issue, as all of these babies died suddenly only a few days away from being weaned.



These babies were about 2.5 weeks old when they died. and I think they were capable of thriving if they did not have a genetic issue. I absolutely DO plan on saving more. Although, it is a very difficult job to feed them every 2-3 hours and all the other "motherly" duties...it definately has its rewards...I feel that these babies lived at least a week longer because of us taking them in..instead of being thrown in a freezer or in a snakes mouth.



I'm sorry, but I do take offense when someone is telling me that I basically tortured baby rats for over a week when that is absolutely not the case. The 3 older babies (by 1 week) were on formula for over a week..and they were fine. Please be careful with your comments as you obviously did not throughly read my posts about age and time frames. I was not trying to save pinkies, as I would think THAT would be an almost impossible task.



On a brighter note, we found very loving homes for the 3 older babies! At least they will have a happy ending.
 

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Get onto those 20 posts! I can't wait for pictures!
 

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Most babies that are under 2 weeks will not make it without a mom. The week-old's barely had a chance. They will seem like they are thriving and just die...I doubt it was genetic, its the way of life, and happens all the time.

I would stick with the older bubs...they are much more aware of their surroundings and their own life, and are likely to make it and able to be adopted out as wonderful and lucky pets. The young ones will break your heart. My vet told me that a girl kept going to reptile expos and pocketing week old babies and bringing them to her. Even with all her expertise very few made it. I would look into getting a lactacting mom next time you want to try with teeny weenies.
 

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I appreciate all of your comments and support. I certainly feel like this was a genetic issue, as all of these babies died suddenly only a few days away from being weaned.



These babies were about 2.5 weeks old when they died. and I think they were capable of thriving if they did not have a genetic issue. I absolutely DO plan on saving more. Although, it is a very difficult job to feed them every 2-3 hours and all the other "motherly" duties...it definately has its rewards...I feel that these babies lived at least a week longer because of us taking them in..instead of being thrown in a freezer or in a snakes mouth.



I'm sorry, but I do take offense when someone is telling me that I basically tortured baby rats for over a week when that is absolutely not the case. The 3 older babies (by 1 week) were on formula for over a week..and they were fine. Please be careful with your comments as you obviously did not throughly read my posts about age and time frames. I was not trying to save pinkies, as I would think THAT would be an almost impossible task.



On a brighter note, we found very loving homes for the 3 older babies! At least they will have a happy ending.
I never claimed that they were pinkies. I am well aware of the growing stage of baby rats and what they look like at one week old.


I stand by what I said before.


It's not wise for you to "save" week old baby rats again, seeing as you couldn't keep these 7 alive. But that is just my opinion.


I guess I could be considered a "feeder breeder", but I, on the other hand, actually care about ALL of my rats. :) So when I hear something like this, it just seems like a waste to me.


Good to hear that the 3 older ones survived.
 

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feeder baby rats often dont make it and baby rats in general have a very hard time serviving without a mother, i was able to do it, but i was also able to spend all day with them and feed them every hour (home schooled and didnt have a job at the time)
its best to not try to save baby rats unless you have the litter an the mum dies, then there is no other way. but if they are feeder rats even if they servive they probably dont have much of a chance of living healthy lives even if they make it past the infant stage. its best not to cause yourself the heart ache and them the extended pain.

im glad the older ones found good homes
 

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I know this thread is several years old, but I just wanted to post and say that this happened last night to my two babies, and this has been the most relevant post I have been able to find.

I work in a lab and basically the babies were going to be euthanized or I could take them. I took two boys because we have an older boy and I was going to introduce them so they would all have cage mates.

The boy we have now is 13 months old, and I raised him under the same circumstances...got him when he was 11 days old and he made it, just fine.

The two boys we got were 10 days old, because that's when the mom was euthanized. I think they were probably on the small side because she wasn't eating a lot, and so they weren't being fed enough. But we had them well maintained until they died, at 16 days. We had a heating blanket under the cage and made sure it never got too hot, we fed them every 3-4 hours and stimulated them to go to the bathroom (they always peed, usually pooped once a day).

Their fur was coming in beautifully and they had just opened their eyes on day 14 and 15. They were crawling around like normal, then all of a sudden one of them went pretty limp and just started gasping every 5-8 seconds. Like you described, his color was almost turning blue/gray! Then only about an hour later, he passed. About 15 minutes before that rat passed, the other baby acted the same way.

My husband and I were devastated and had no idea what was going on. I had had a female in the past who was choking for a few hours, but I read that they usually work that out for themselves. She did and was fine. I thought maybe the baby was choking and acting a little more limp because he was so small, but I definitely don't think it was that, especially since there was no drooling and the other one died so soon after as well.

I am sorry I don't have any answers to contribute to your questions, I just wanted to let you know as I read your thread the same exact thing happened to me. It was so sad and discouraging. They seemed to be so healthy and happy up until their last hour (literally). I eventually would like to rescue some more rats, but I am afraid something similar will happen :(

If you happen to read this, I just was wondering if all the other babies ended up surviving (the ones from the other litter). I just ask because luckily we didn't introduce our older male to them (we wanted them to get a little bit more independent/have their eyes open before we tried in case he was a little aggressive with them)...I wouldn't want him to potentially catch whatever they had.
 

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Raising orphan babies is incredibly hard to do. You don't know if mom had enough colostrum in that first few days, which would give the babies the immunities they needed until they were old enough to develop their own. If they were already thin and not developed you have no idea what was physiologically wrong with them. They may have aspirated their food, developed a URI (what type of lab stuff was being done here...behavioural, medical, etc?) and their undeveloped immune systems couldn't handle it. The ones that make it are miracle babies in my eyes...I am so very sorry for your losses :(
 
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