Spaying and neutering.....when and why?
If you have read my website at all you will know WHY you should spay your female rat. If you dont know already, you need to go to my page on tumors.
In brief, spaying your female rat before the age of 6 months (Ideally, between 3 and 5 months) will help prevent the growth of mammary tumors after menopause, which is between 14 and 18 months of age. What this page is about, however, is what you should know about spaying before you allow any vet to touch your rat.
Always make sure your vet is properly equipped to operate on a small rat.
This is when its critical that you have gone over my page about safety and surgery.
Neutering and when to do it
I dont usually suggest neutering with the exception of the following reasons:
1. Aggression and yes, you will know when its true aggression. Not only does the male want to bully every rat around but he wants to bully you as well!!
2. To live in harmony with females or with several males. A large colonly of males get along better when they dont have testosterone flying all over the place!
When I say large colony, I am talking 5 or 6 males or more. Three is usually the number I prefer when keeping intact males together.
3. Medical problems such as undescended testicles or testicular abscess, which can be a medical emergency in many cases.
Other than that, I dont suggest it to control urine marking or to keep their fur nice and soft etc.... its not worth the risk of any surgery becasue you want your rats fur to stay soft like their baby fur rather than getting a bit more wiry nor do I condone surgery to control urine marking.
Ok so its not the most pleasant thing to have your rat pee on you but there are a few reasons WHY they do it and it doesnt have alot to do with being intact. Even some females will mark you with urine. Its a rodent thing! Rats mark with urine for a few reasons. One is due to their wild cousins. Wild rats live underground in tunnels and travel by night. Any seasoned rat owner will know that rats have bad vision as it is so when they are venturing out and about in the tunnels they leave their urine markings so they can find their way home again. They can tell alot from urine too. The sex of the rat, the age of the rat, even if she is in heat or not. Another reason is to mark their territory. Its said to be one of the highest compliments to have your rat mark you with urine!! Really, its true!
This means they accept you and like you, you are welcome as part of their mischief. I would take it if I were you, it takes alot for a rat to trust you! Just keep some unscented baby wipes handy and stop being a sissy about being peed on. Except in cases of urinary tract infection, urine is sterile for the most part, when it first comes out anyhow. You wont melt !
The earliest you can safely neuter a male is from 10 weeks and older. A young rat has less of a chance developing an abscess after neutering which results when the Vet leaves excess fat in the scrotal sac. After some time, this excess skin becomes necrotic (rotted) and causes an abscess. This is more common in older males or males that are a bit more chubby. Younger rats have less of a chance of having the excess fat surrounding their testicles which is why it is said to be easier for a young rat to recover from a neuter than an older rat. However, if the rat is neutered through the abdomen, there is less of a chance of developing a scrotal abscess at all.
What to ask your vet:
1. Ask what type of anesthesia will be used. It should be isoflurane or sevoflurane.
2. Ask about scrotal neuter or abdominal neutering. I prefer scrotal neutering since recovery time is faster.
3. Ask about pain meds and antibiotics. I INSIST on both, and so should you!
4. Ask about keeping them over night for observation. I suggest this if the option is available after any surgery no matter what the procedure is.