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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
one of my rats is sneezing very frequently about once evry 30 seconds, the other is fine. The one that keeps sneezing is a male dumbo about 7 weeks old. I dont think he has an RI because there is no discharge from his eyes or anywhere. I'm pretty sure it's something in his envionment. I keep them in my basement, which isny terribly dusty and isn't a storage basement. It is however fairly moist down there, and there is some mold on the walls. I have a feeling thet it could be their bedding though as when I take hime out of the cage the sneezing has decreased slighty, I use Great Choice brand aspen shavings. Anyone have any helpful advice?, Thanks!
 

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Hi,
I am sorry about your rat sneezing. :(

For starters, you definitely need to get your rats out of the basement away from the moisture and mold. Rats should be kept in an area where you spend a lot of your time, so they can see you and feel like they are part of the family. Rats like to be around their people. Do you have a nice spot in your living room or some place where you spend most of your time? The mold and moisture is not good at all for your ratties.

You also might want to try using some fleece/flannel or similar fabric for bedding instead of shavings. Shavings can carry a lot of dust. Fabric is wonderful because it is about as dust free as it gets.
If your ratty is sneezing that often, then something is obviously irritating his respiratory system.
 

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Hey wtimkey, :)

Welcome aboard. I'm thinking about your symptoms.

Vlad is right on the money with getting them out of the basement. Of all rodents, rats are notorious for having the frailest respiratory systems. I've got two sons who are asthmatic. I have found that I have to keep my rats in the same healthy air environment as my sons: Low stress, Clean fresh air, clean, low particle/allergen environment, and temperature/moisture controlled. Otherwise with their weaker immune systems they invariably come down with the sneezes. Rats in the US also carry something called Myco which is an organism that constantly attacks their lungs. It's the biggest reason their respiratory systems are so frail.

Her tip about using flannel as bedding can't help but improve things too, though I'm leaning more towards the mold and possibly even the moisture (depending on how chill it gets) being the trigger.



I also think that your rat might very well have the beginnings of an upper respiratory infection (URI). They don't always have red discharge. Mine seldom do unless they are very sick. The only treatment for a URI is vet prescribed antibiotics. It will never go away on their own, but instead get down into a rat's lungs and become pneumonia which is a killer.

If moving your rats to a better air environment , and eliminating as much particle dust as possible doesn't help within a day or two, I'd jump on taking him to the vet and getting him checked for a URI.

Something you can do to monitor his breathing is to hold his body up to your ear like he's a 'rat phone' and listen to both sides of his body. If it isn't clear breath sounds-listen to your other rat too for comparison-and if you can hear audible popping, squeaking, snickering, then get him to the vet right away. You're dealing with a clear URI.

Here's a site that has rat sounds to listen for that are not healthy:

http://www.joinrats.com/gallery/11128370_reY4p#801108532_uBgFS
 

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Absolutely, I agree with Story...getting the rats away from the mold and moisture immediately is THE most important thing to do, as your priority, and fabric/low dust bedding next. But yes, the ratties are going to suffer in that type of environment.

And Story is right too about an URI not neccessarily showing signs as far as discharge goes. Both of my boys had URI problems and I never really saw any discharge from their noses or eyes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
okay so

step 1: remove from basement
step 2: replace bedding( do you mean a special type of fabric bedding or acutual washable fabric
step 3: take to vet!
thnks guys
 

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You're very welcome.

To answer your question: Washable fabric...specifically felt, fleece, or flannel, which are the fabrics of choice because when they are chewed they doesn't create snags or frays that can trap a rat's toes or other body parts and cause injuries.


I get mine in the remnants section of Joanne's fabrics. Flannel will be 50-90 percent off there always, and you'll get at least a yard of fabric which is plenty to line most cages, and you can get creative with scissors and safety pins or bulldog clips to line the smaller shelves and ramps. I lucked out and hit their summer flannel sale this year and got a years + worth of bedding @ 90 percent off. Whoot!

As they chew it up, you can cut it into smaller sections for snuggle blankets, or even smaller to fill up a 'digging' box for them to decorate, play, or sleep in.

It's all washable-separately from your other laundry of course. Most people just use a low scent baby detergent and double rinse, or you can even use vinegar in place of detergent.

Me, I wash it on hot with a bit of bleach once to sanitize, and then run it through about 3 times in hot water and vinegar to purge the bleach scent (which is hard on their lungs) and clear out any remaining ratty funk. But most people would rather just skip the bleach for safety and waste less hot water.
 

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Also, if you are in a pinch and want something low dust for right away, old cotton t-shirts and thick pillowcases, etc. are great. I also use old towels (hand towels, bath towels, etc) as well, but you do need to be careful about what types of toweling to use, as the kind with little loops can get easily snagged on your babies' toenails!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
thanks guys for showing your concern! I moved them up to my room and out of the besement (hopefully my mom will be okay with it). I will replace the bedding tonight and look at breathing problems. If by any chance my little guy does have an URI can it be easilly fixed, or fixed at all? and will it shorten his life at all?
 

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Whether a URI can shorten their lives, it really depends, but technically no.

Rats have an invasive organism in their lungs called mycoplasmosis or myco. It constantly attacks the tissue in their lungs (and reproductive/urinary tract/organs). Rats genetically blessed with stronger immune systems can fight off this organism better and never get sick. Good breeding helps. The poorer a rat's natural immune system, the more likely the myco will gain a foothold and cause inflamation and flare ups. This opens the rat up to secondary infections like URI and pneumonia.

Preventative care on your part is the best medicine. If you'd like more detailed tips, I'll be glad to gather it together for you, but in short:

Good nutrition
Clean cages
Low stress
Temperature control
Good quality air

Once they have developed a URI, you'll need to take him to the vet and have the vet prescribe oral antibiotics which you'll give them for a month ideally, though some vets out of ignorance prescribe it for less.

That one time may be all the trouble you have for most of their life. But some sickly rats will end up on a lifetime regimen of AB's. Eventually in such rats, the Myco does shorten their lives. Their lungs get scarring from so many infections and it's like when a human gets emphysema with age.

Myco and the accompanying URI's shortened my sickly boy Zmei's life by about six months to a year.

I've had others who had one URI and it never reoccurred.

Anyway, keep us updated and we'll be happy to continue to help you out in any way possible.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thans again for all your help!. I replaced the bedding with flannel(an old tshirt). It didnt seen to help much from what i have noticed. I havent noticed anything odd while he is breathing, do rats have allergies?
 

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Rats can't see very well, so when they are put in a new location they explore like mad, sniffing the air. This can result in a temporary increase of sneezing for a day or so. Also, if your home is very dusty/smoky/strong perfumes they may sneeze more.

Other than that...I'd say (hesitantly) ye-e-a-ah, they can possibly develop allergies like most other animals. But that's never my first or even second choice. The beginnings of a URI is a much higher probability, and should always be eliminated as a cause before considering allergies.

I'd give him a day. If it hasn't cleared up, take him to the vet. It's much easier and MUCH cheaper to treat him in the early stages rather than after it's gone into his chest (pneumonia) and possibly his ear canal (ear infection/head tilt).

Just to give you a feel for cost, in my home state of Alabama (low on the cost of living scale):

Vet office visit can range: $15-60 dollars
Antibiotics for one rat for a month: $30-60 dollars.

Call around to find for vets in your area who have experience with rats (many don't, and won't treat them), then compare rat vet prices before going with a vet.

I called around in my area. Of 75 clinics within driving distance to me, three claim to know rats. Of those, one was an exotics vet who charged me 80 dollars just to look at my rats and charged me $60 for antibiotics. The second one charged $10 for an office visit for rats (he loved rats and gave owners willing to come in discounts to encourage them to seek vet care when they otherwise wouldn't), and charged me $30 for antibiotics. The third vet treated rats, but after asking around, I found she was very iffy in her skill. She charged 30 for an office visit, and 35 for antibiotics.

So the point being, it's very worth it to check around and ask questions before going. Often vet techs don't like quoting prices over the phone without talking to the vet, but I always say I'm not looking for exacts, just a broad price range for comparison. I usually prompt them by saying "It'll be no more than, say...what 50, 100, 500?" They usually thaw out and will give me a straighter answer then.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I don't think it is a URI because his breathing isn't labored at all, and I have noticed that the other one is sneezing a bit too, now that I have seen them overnight when they're more active. I will give them till the end of the day to do a final assesment, I replaced the bedding with an old flannel t-shirt that was too small for me, it has helped a bit. So if they're still sneezing tonight would an air-purifier help? Sorry for all of these questions, you have all been a real help!
 

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From what I have heard, air purifiers are a great thing to have. I don't think I have heard any negatives to this on the forum (unless I am wrong, and if so, someone can correct me!)



So you have your boys in your room now and out of the basement, yes? Sneezing can be so hard to pinpoint because often when rats are in a new environment and adjusting to new housing, and the stress of being new to their home, etc, can all cause sneezing.



As some other people said also, there can be so many factors, such as mold, allergens in the air, perfumes, air fresheners/incense etc. Also remember that any fabrics you use for your boys should be washed in fragrance free laundry detergent. I use All Free and Clear detergent for all of our laundry and also use it for our rat boys' laundry.



Never worry about asking too many questions! There are SO many things to learn about the care of ratties, and people that ask a lot of questions are doing so because they care about their rats and want to be good rat parents, so that is always a good thing! Ask away! :)
 

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Air Purifiers...I think it would depend on the kind. I know a lot of rat owners who keep filters both for their rats and themselves (because they have so many rats). Something with a hepa filter is good. Beware some of the fancier gagety ones. I remember Bose put one out a few years ago, and while the air always smelled so 'fresh' it was because it was putting out ozone. I almost bought one for my asthmatic sons. Thank goodness I didn't because it would have caused all kinds of irritation to their lungs.
 

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How long have you had your rats? Mold is a nasty one for humans and for people, so give it a few days and see how he is then, if you don't hear any breathing issues when you rat phone them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
It has been more than a week and the sneezing has only decreased slightly. I will try to get my parents to let me take them to a vet. If they do have RIs they will probably get baytril for a month right? Another problem is that I will be going away by car to canada. I have a friend who is willing to take care of them. How is baytril/Enrofloxacin given to rats
 

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I am sure you will get some good advice on dosing your rats with medication as there are several members on the forum who have a lot of experience with medication questions.

The rule of thumb to ensure the best for a rat's welfare and to ensure they have a good home is to make sure all members of the household are not only unified with the decision to have rats, but also that everyone in the household understands that all pets need to have access to veterinary care when needed.

Did your parents not know you were adopting rats or did the neccesity of possible veterinary care not come up when you were planning to adopt rats? I was not sure why your parents would be possibly opposed to your rats getting medical treatment?
 

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Hello, I agree about getting them out of dark, damp, and most likely bacteria-ridden environment. Unfortunately, rats tend to be too small to give any kind of human doses of meds so I would stick with trying to keep their living area (and yours!) extremely clean. Also, what helps my pets has always been a good air purifier. The AirPurifierSource website has a bunch of good ones. Make sure your air conditioner vents and filters are clean as well as the carpet. Remember, the smaller the animal, the easier it is for them to suffer from physical ailments, so be careful!
 

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Excellent post, Alrighty. :)
 
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