Nearly all pet rats carry a bacterium called Mycoplasma pulmonis that normally lives in the mucosal cells of their respiratory tract. While mycoplasma is typically inactive, in some rats the bacterium causes a respiratory congestion that leads to pneumonia. Clinical symptoms of sneezing, nasal congestion, eye squinting and face and/or ear rubbing increase as the rat ages, according to the Rat Health Guide. As the disease progresses, signs may include “rattling moist breath sounds, labored breathing, gasping, chattering and coughing.” Because mycoplasma disease is considered chronic, it is important that owners learn how to alleviate the symptoms and keep their pet rats comfortable.
Things You'll Need
- Medicine dropper
- Prescribed veterinary antibiotics
- Respiratory humidifier
- Clean bedding
- Heating pad or heating lamp
Have your rat examined by your veterinarian. The vet may take a nasal culture to determine if mycoplasma is causing your pet’s disease and recommend the appropriate medications.
Use a medicine dropper to administer the proper dose of veterinary antibiotics for as long as your veterinarian recommends.
Shelter your rat’s cage by placing it in a warm room away from drafts.
Direct humidified air from a respiratory humidifier into your pet’s cage by tenting both the cage and humidifier with a towel.
Clean the cage and replace bedding daily. The ammonia smell of old urine irritates the rat’s respiratory tract and exacerbates the infection.
Consider separating your rat from his cage mates so he won't have to compete for food.
Place a heating pad or heating lamp set on low in your pet rat's cage, close to the sleeping area, to keep him comfortable.