How to Treat Bumblefoot in Rats at Home

Bumblefoot is painful for pet rats and can be lethal.
Bumblefoot is painful for pet rats and can be lethal. (Image: Jupiterimages/ Images)

Bumblefoot is a painful and distressing condition for pet rats. It is essentially sores on the feet, usually caused by bare-wire floors in the cage. Bumblefoot makes walking uncomfortable and in some cases leads to infection and even death. The first step in treating any rat ailment is to take your pet to a veterinarian. Afterward, treat the afflicted animals at home until the condition clears.

Things You'll Need

  • Cardboard
  • Plastic ramp
  • Sugar

Examine your rats’ feet on a regular basis. Any redness, bumps or swelling is a preliminary sign of bumblefoot. Growths mean the condition has advanced. Make an appointment with a veterinarian who has experience with small rodents. Get a recommendation for such a vet by contacting a local fancy-rat society, animal sanctuary or rat (or other rodent) breeder.

Remove the cause of bumblefoot immediately. If the cage has bare mesh on one or more levels, cut sheets of cardboard to fit and lay them over the mesh. If you suspect the rats running up a mesh ramp caused the condition, confine the animals to one level until you can replace the mesh ramp with a plastic one. Remove the ramp and place a sheet of plastic or cardboard over the gap to confine the rats. Transfer them to a single-level cage, if you have a spare one.

Take the afflicted rat and any cage-mates to the vet. You should take the cage-mates because they might have bumblefoot but no obvious symptoms. Ask for detailed instructions about giving the rats any medicines.

Hold the rat on your lap if you need to administer oral antibiotics. Use the eyedropper to drip the preparation into the side of the rat's mouth. Give your rat some affection and a treat afterward. Mix the preparation with a little sugar water to make the administration easier, but check with your vet first.

Treat the rat’s feet with a topical preparation as per the instructions.

Tips & Warnings

  • Keep the rats' cage clean and dry, with a thick layer of absorbent, paper bedding.
  • Many rats do not like receiving medicines, although some preparations are sweet, so as rodents like the taste.
  • Don't overfeed your rats. Bumblefoot is one of the many problems associated with obesity in pet rats.
  • Urine pools can exacerbate or possibly even cause bumblefoot, as can rough bedding materials such as chips.

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