Auditory Sebaceous Gland / Zymbals gland
*Warning: Photos may be graphic to some viewers.
I have been bombarded with emails from readers about a nasty mass on their rats face that eventually opens up into a nasty ulceration and grows and grows, never responding to treatment. Some vets are even perplexed by this mass.
The mass that your rat may have is known as zymbals gland tumor and it stems from the auditory sebaceous gland.
What is it and what will it do to your rat?
The Auditory sebaceous gland, also known as Zymbals gland tumor, is bad news. Often this tumor is mistaken for an abscess and the vet may operate, much to his frustration, with it just returning and growing bigger, eating away at the rats face and jaw.
The first sign of zymbals gland tumor is a mass that forms just below the ear, in the side of the face, but can also grow under the rats jaw as well, extending up into the side of the face. The mass may burst and there may be infection with pus and even foul odor. This often causes relief for the rat owner and vet thinking it was simply a nasty abscess. However, as time goes on, the open wound doesnt heal right and it continues to get bigger and bigger causing symptoms from head tilt, head shaking, bleeding in the ear, malocclusion of the teeth and also severe disfiguring of the jaw. The malocculison alone may be severe, and the rats teeth may need to be cut down very low, and the rat at this point needs to eat soft foods, even baby food. As the condition worsens, the owner may need to feed the rat from a syringe. This indicates poor quality of life and the proud rat would, if he could speak for himself, would probably prefer to earn his wings than to suffer.
These tumors, unfortunately, are found to be malignant and prognosis is poor. The vet may want to insert a drain into the area to try to keep it from getting infected but the best thing to do is keep the rat comfortable and promote quality of life for the rat. Once the tumor starts to cause malocclusion and the rat cannot use his jaw and thus in turn cannot eat, the most humane thing to do is euthanize him.