Establishing a great relationship with your rat’s vet is an invaluable part of keeping your rat healthy and happy. Because rats are prone to developing so many ailments, it’s particularly crucial to find a vet who’s qualified to care for rats and who thoroughly enjoys doing so. Once you find a great rat veterinarian, you’ll understand completely how crucial it is to work with someone who wants to help keep your rats as healthy as you do. Each time a new problem arises, my rats’ veterinarians have been instrumental in researching new options for treatments and making sure we’re doing everything possible.
Ask other rat lovers in your area where they take their rats for veterinary care. Word of mouth is the best way to find a qualified rat vet. If you can’t find anyone to ask, find out if there’s a nearby rat club or meetup and ask the members what rat vets they recommend. If you have other types of pets, ask the veterinary staff where you take your dog(s) and/or cat(s) if they know of good rat vets. If your dog’s and/or cat’s veterinary hospital doesn’t have an exotics vet, they should have a list handy of veterinarians who see rats in your area.
There are also many online resources: Rat forums and rat veterinarian directories can help you find your rat’s veterinarian. Keep in mind, however, the directories don’t always list all of the vets who see rats in your area. Word of mouth is best but, if that’s not possible, here are some online directories. (They are not listed in order of preference but instead are listed in alphabetical order.)
Disclaimer: Please note that I do not personally endorse any of the veterinarians listed in any of the directories. Choosing a veterinarian for your rats is a highly individualized choice based both on your needs and those of your rats.
I believe it’s extremely important to have a relationship with more than one veterinarian. This will come in handy when one of your vets is on vacation or has the day off. It is also important to find out what emergency clinics in your area see rats. Once you establish a relationship with your rats’ veterinarian, ask him or her what emergency vets in your area they recommend for your pet rats.
You’ll know you’re working with someone great when they do a thorough exam on your rat while at the same time expressing their love and enjoyment of rats and, in particular, your rat. A thorough exam consists of listening to your rat’s heart and lungs using a small stethoscope (smaller than the size that’s used for dogs and cats), palpating your rat’s body to check for swollen lymph nodes and to feel internal organs, checking your rat’s teeth for proper length and alignment, examining your rats eyes, ears, fur and skin. If you’re not convinced you’ve found your rat’s vet, try a different one. The comparison will help you decide.
As soon as you bring a new rat home, an exam by a qualified veterinarian is crucial in assessing and recording each of your rat’s base-line levels of health. When examining your new rat, your vet can often spot things you may not have even noticed. Your rat’s first wellness visit is also a great way to establish going to the vet as being a routine event. Your rat will think it’s normal to be examined and won’t be fearful if s/he is used to going to the vet. In fact, I take my rats to the vet for an exam at least every six months and even more often when they grow older—whether or not I observe any symptoms or signs of illness.
In addition to initial and regular wellness exams, here are some symptoms which indicate your rat must be seen by a veterinarian:
In short, if you see anything out of the ordinary, any significant changes in your rat’s behavior and/or health, take him or her to a qualified veterinarian. I would much rather have the vet say “everything’s fine” than not take my rat in and find out I could’ve caught a problem early and prevented a worse condition from developing or even an unnecessarily early death.
I like my rats’ veterinarians so much I look forward to taking my rats in for their exams. Remember your vet is on your team and will contribute much to keeping your rat happy and healthy for as long as possible.Follow About Pet Rats: