Bucks should be strong and muscular while does should be lean and thin. When you pick them up they should not feel pudgy or even bony. Balance is the key here. Just like us, rats tend to favor the most unhealthy foods like sugary snacks and fatty foods so they will eat it if you give it to them. However, if you don’t ever give them such foods then they don’t have any chance of eating it and they won’t get fat. Your rats obesity is 100% your responsibility. In addition to a healthy diet, it’s key for them to get enough exercise as well so their one hour a day of free playtime is key. Their cages also need to be full of fun activities for them to get some exercise on.
Rats do not have menstrual periods so it you find one of your rats is bleeding from the vulva, then there is another issue at play. This is usually a sign of a uterus infection or a tumor. The treatment here includes antibiotics or spaying, both of which are effective. This is a major surgery and some rats do not survive since it is so stressful to them.
Rats are very susceptible to the weather, and more importantly, to temperature. When things get too hot rats tend to suffer greatly and can become prone to heat exhaustion and dehydration. Rats use their feet and tail to help regulate their body temperature so if there is a small bowl of cool water for them to wade in, that makes life more bearable. Of course it helps to prevent them from becoming too hot in the first place so if you can place their cage in a cooler spot or give them a fan, that would also help a lot. Keep their cage out of direct sunlight no matter what.
To treat many rat ailments, antibiotics are usually prescribed. However, it’s very important to follow their instructions very carefully and also take the advice of a good vet. It seems that rats and small pets are developing more and more bacterial infections as the years go by. The reason is thought to be that bacteria strains are becoming resistant to antibiotics. Modern science is revealing evidence that our beloved antibiotics are in fact a double-edged sword that should be used with care. Not only are they likely to be promoting resistant bacteria, but they also harm the health of the patient taking them over the long term. The reason is because antibiotics kill all bacteria. They don’t distinguish between good and bad bacteria.
In the guts of rats, just like us, there is an ecosystem of both that coexist in a harmonious balance. This ‘flora and fauna’ of our gut helps us in a myriad of ways such as acting as our immune system, creating serotonin (our happiness hormone), creating certain vitamins and minerals and aiding with digestion. When rats are given antibiotics a large portion of these are killed off, leaving it with a compromised immune and digestive system. If the use of antibiotics are a must, then make sure to give your rats some probiotics before and after to help nullify some of the bacteria-killing power of them. Probiotics are a great supplement to promote gut health. This can be given even when your rats are perfectly healthy throughout their lives and there are no side effects at low doses. It can also be an effective immune-booster during times of stress such as moving house, getting new owners or a partner dying. A good brand to get is called Entrodex and can be added to the rat’s drinking water when needed. Many people believe live yoghurt is a great way to get probiotics but the fact is that they are almost entirely killed off by the gut’s digestive juices so there is little point. Good probiotic supplements are designed to be able to resist the gut’s acidity and multiply fast enough in the gut to have an effect.
This needs to be done under strict supervision of a veterinarian. Of course it’s vital to see the course of antibiotics right till the end and not to stop half way through. This is because before the end of the course is reached, the bacteria being treated is most likely only half killed off. If it is allowed to regrow before it’s taken care of, it can return even stronger and highly resistant to those specific antibiotics. Ask your vet about potential ways to minimize the effect that antibiotics will have on it’s gut flora. They might suggest a cycle that includes a break in-between or even two low-powered course one after the other. Like with any illness, a rat that tends to get infections frequently should never be bred from.
There are some other great natural alternatives to antibiotics out there that do a great job with a minimal amount of nasty side-effects. One such remedy is known as Echinacea. This is a herb that has been proven in studies to reduce the risk of infections in humans by about 15%. Adding some drops of the tincture to your rats drinking water can give their immune system the added support it needs to get through a potentially harmful infection.