Mycoplasmosis in your pet rat
Who can resist the adorable face of a cute little pet rat? Having rats as pets is becoming more and more popular nowadays. So we decided to share some information on a common ailment found in pet rats.
Dr Orsilla van der Veen, one of our very kind veterinarians, has a special interest in most exotic pets. When speaking to her about treating pet rats, she mentioned that the sick pet rats that she sees at the Clinic usually either have cancer or a Mycoplasma infection. We want to warn all new pet rat owners about the signs and symptoms of Mycoplasma infection.
Mycoplasma pulmonis bacteria are present in the upper respiratory and reproductive tract in many healthy rats. These rats then act as carriers of the organism, spreading the bacteria during close contact (mating / nursing their young) or as aerosols through the air. They can also contract the bacteria during the birthing process. Usually symptoms will stay hidden until periods of stress. The main symptoms that are seen are those of respiratory distress.
Examples of stressful events in a rat’s life:
- Death of cage mate
- Dirty cages
- Inadequate nutrition etc…
What are the symptoms of Mycoplasmosis?
- Nasal + ocular discharge. This discharge can often seem bloody. This is due to a pigment called porphyrin.
- Respiratory distress- characterised by laboured breathing which can lead to death
- Poor appetite
- Weight loss
Take any rats that are sneezing for a check-up at the vet. The sooner the treatment starts, the better the prognosis. In general you never really completely get rid of the infection, but you can keep it under control and keep the animal comfortable. Stressful situations can cause flair ups of symptoms and will need to be treated as soon as they appear.
Here are a few helpful hints to try and prevent Mycoplasmosis:
The mainstay of prevention is to adopt good husbandry practice in order to eliminate the stressors that precipitate the disease such as:
* Avoid only having a single pet rat. They are less stressed, more social and generally healthier when they are in small groups of the same-sex.
* Feed a good quality rat pellet e.g. Burgess or Versele-Laga. You can also supplement with home cooked meals
* Do not use aromatic bedding like pine shavings or scented litter. Bedding should never by overly dusty.
* All new additions to the family should be in quarantine for at least 2 weeks.
* Prevent overcrowding
Although we are do not have a specialized exotic veterinarian at our Clinic, Dr Orsilla van der Veen has a special interest in bunnies, rats and certain exotic pets. Feel free to phone for assistance or advice prior to making an appointment
This March we offer 20 % on the following Exotic pet procedures:
- Bunny & Rat castrations
- Avian DNA sexing
- Grooming: beak, wing and nail clips
NB! Booking with Dr Orsilla is essential