Please read before proceeding:
The photos on this page are very disturbing and may be too much for sensitive viewers and bleeding hearts as well. I even have a hard time looking at a few of the photos as it breaks my heart to see the rats have large masses growing on their tiny precious bodies, some of the masses are as large as the rat itself, which really breaks my heart too.
However, please do not be quick in judging the owners of these rats. If you do not understand the circumstance surrounding the history of the rat please do not be hasty in judging the rat owner and asking why they allowed it to get so large before removing it etc....
There are stories behind almost every photo posted here. The first rat you see is owned by a wonderful girl that takes great care of her rats. Sadly, Miss Honey has had several tumors removed over the past few months. The last tumor she had was different from the others and was growing at an astonishing rate. Her vet did a biopsy on it and the results proved it to be a nasty fibrosarcoma. Removing this tumor would only cause her to be uncomfortable trying to heal from the surgery but the tumor had spread to other areas. The truth was, Miss Honeys condition was terminal and she had just a few short weeks to live. The decision was made to keep her comfortable and happy and the minute her owner noticed that she no longer had the quality of life she should have, she was put to sleep so she could earn her wings and halo with the other sweet rats that have passed on.
Some people live in places in the world that have very few vets that are educated in exotic mammal care and therefor they refuse to work on the rat, offering to put the rat to sleep as the only alternative. This means leaving the rat owner the decision to either keep the rat comfortable and happy until they start to show signs of not being very happy any longer or put the rat to sleep because it looks like they are miserable. The truth is, these tumors do NOT hurt the rat. There are no nerve endings in the mass so there is no pain involved. Many times, these large nasty tumors look much worse than it really is.
Also, there may be health reasons why the rat cannot be put under anesthesia. We all know that mycoplasmosis can cause lung disease and when your rat has lung disease, the risk of anesthesia triples. Also, if the rat is 3 years old and its obvious the surgery may be more dangerous than the tumor itself. There are many factors to consider before having tumors removed, which is why we should not judge people for their decision before we know the circumstances.
However, if the rat is healthy and the tumor is operable and the vet is skilled in small mammal surgery, it is our duty as a rat owner to provide what is best for our rat. The rats comfort and quality of life is what matters and it is up to us to be sure they are not suffering no matter what.
Below are rats with large tumors.
Both can be removed depending on the age and health of the rat.the size and location do not matter and the tumors are operable.
Tumors that look like an abscess!
Little pretty "Kate" with an unfortunate ruthless mammary tumor!!This is a badly infected tumor. You can see the pus and necrotic tissue. This rat has respiratory issues and therefore surgery is too risky for her.
If your unfortunate enough to have a vet that is not sure about rat care yet tries anyhow, please listen up. This is important info for all rat owners to know about.
Not long ago, a reader wrote in and sent along a photo of her daughters rat, Renee. Renee had an ongoing battle with a stubborn abscess, as per the Vet. He did numerous surgeries trying to debride the abscess but it kept filling up again. It was at the point Renee was beginning to get sick from the bacteria in the abscess and the vet said there is a good chance she would end up with sepsis, which means the bacteria enters the blood stream, which can be fatal, esp in small rats. Soon as I looked at the photo of the lump on Renee (and once I shook off my anger at the Vet) I let her know that her daughters rat does NOT have an abscess, but instead, it was a mammary tumor that had abscessed. The reason it would not heal is because it was a tumor that had grown from mammary tissue and had become infected. The vet had been putting this poor rat in danger each time he dug at the mass. Talk about a Vet that has no business seeing rats, this was one prime example. So of course I offered to give her names of other vets that were experienced with exotic animal care including rats, and right away the new vet took one look at the mass and confirmed what I had already said: Mammary tumor that abscessed and it must be removed at once in order for her to safely recover, which she did, by the way, and I am happy to report she is doing just fine now. Scary that I knew what it was just from a photograph when a person that has years of college under his belt was so clueless, which is why its vital you educate yourself as much as you possibly can.
Last week, a reader wrote in about her rat, "Rat-O" and included a photo. After looking at the photo for a bit, I also had a strong suspicion it was a tumor that had abscessed. After giving her the name of a vet in her area, which is The Westminster Veterinary Group located in Westminster, California, it was also confirmed that it was indeed a tumor that had become abscessed and needed removed right away. The surgery, performed by Dr. Nicole Dielo, who has a strong interest in exotic medicine, was a total success. Rat-O was kept over night for observation and nursing care and was released to go home the next day. He is recovering nicely at home with his owner, Natalie..
UPDATE: Pathology reports show that Rat-O indeed had a cancerous growth removed. The bad news it is the type of sarcoma that may have originated in the liver, spleen or other vital organs and there may be cancer cells still in his body. We are hoping for the best and keep our fingers crossed Rat O remains as happy and healthy as he is today, September 2, 2009.
Meet Rat-O! This is him without any nasty lumps on his sweet furry body!!!!
Changes in vision or hearing.
Problems balancing or walking.
Changes in mood, possibly making the rat more aggressive, but also can make the rat clingy as well.
Weakness in the limbs, paralysis.
A brave little rat named Macey!
Meet Macey! A very brave little rat who lived very far from the United States, in Latvia, which is located in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. Macey was the very first pet that his owner, Stan, had ever had. He had to wait until his adult life before having a pet and he could not have chosen a better companion to have like he found in Macey!
Macey was two years and when he developed a mass on the side of his face. As the mass grew, it started to grow up over the rats eye. Despite this mass, brave Macey did not seem to be the least bit disturbed by the mass and continued to eat and drink and carried on normally.
Stan, had pursued several Vets for help, only to be told that the mass was basically inoperable due to various reasons.
The truth is, the Veterinarians in Latvia are not as educated in small mammal medicine like they are in the United States and so for that reason, they were, in my opinion, intimidated by the large mass that was taking over Maceys face.
I contacted a very good friend of mine, who is also an excellent Vet and is also very knowledgeable in rat health. He offered his professional opinion and advice to Stan to pass on to his Vets. The mass, as per the Vet, said looks very much like a possible hemangiosarcoma which is a rapidly growing and highly invasive form of cancer.
Regardless, it looks very aggressive and the vet was afraid it will eat into Macey's oral cavity very soon.
He suggested a vet that would use surgical laser and felt this needed removed before it gets into the oral cavity or the rat won't be able to eat. If there was just no Vet found that was willing to operate, it was suggested that the rat be put on prednisone and also a broad spectrum antibiotic such as trimeth-sulfa. Since we are unfamiliar with the method of veterinary care in this country, its difficult to communicate what should be done medically, but we were hoping that Stans Vet would be on the same level as we are and would be able to consider using the technique desribed in the email that was sent to Stan from the Vet here in the US.
The next day, Stan took Macey to the Vet and the Vet agreed to doing the surgery.
Sadly, Macey did not make it past the sedative that was used at the beginning of surgery. As of this writing, I am unsure of what type of sedative was used or if isoflurane was going to be used when it came to gassing the rat down or what other drug was considered to be used for anesthesia. The point is, it was time for this to be removed but it was also time for Macey to go to the rainbow bridge. These tumors are not uncommon with our pet rats and it is important to seek medical attention immediately. Sadly, there was a misdiagnosis at first with Macey and once the mass grew, no vet felt comfortable doing surgery. He will be sadly missed by his owners and never ever forgotten.
Mass on side of face starting to invade the eye and nose.