A great veterinarian for your rats is key to providing the best medical care possible. Rats are very different from cats and dogs, so make sure to find a doctor who is knowledgeable about rat health and medicine.
Word of mouth is always best, but if you don’t have any referrals, you can start by choosing a veterinary hospital that is AAHA accredited and that sees “exotic” pets, specifically pet rats. Only around 17% of veterinary hospitals in our country are AAHA accredited. To become accredited the hospital needs to undergo rigorous inspection by the American Animal Hospital Association to certify the highest quality of veterinary care is provided.
Take your rats to a vet for a wellness checkup soon after you first adopt them. If you don’t think the veterinarian seems knowledgeable or caring, you have time to find someone else while your rats are healthy. Trust your instincts. You can tell if the veterinarian is “into” taking care of rats by the way they talk and relate with them as well as how they handle your rats. I had one doctor take my rat’s temperature, jabbing a regular sized thermometer roughly into his anus. Most rat doctors do not take rats’ temperatures, although there are probably times when knowing your rat’s temperature may be helpful.
During your rat’s exam, your veterinarian should examine him or her thoroughly. A capable vet will palpate your rat’s abdomen, feeling the internal organs and finding any abnormalities. Your rat’s eyes and ears will be examined using the same instruments that are used for cats and dogs. A stethoscope will be used to listen to your rat’s lungs and heart. Your vet will also look at your rat’s teeth to make sure they’re the proper length and alignment. You should be asked about what you’re feeding your rat, what kind of housing and bedding you use as well as whether or not you’ve observed any problems. Questions asked of you should include how well your rat’s been eating and drinking, the consistency of stools, color of urine as well as whether or not you’ve observed any sneezing or any other changes in your rat’s health.
If you don’t know of anyone to ask for a rat veterinarian referral for, try joining a local rat club and ask the members. There are also some great rat forums online where you can ask for recommendations. If you have dogs and/or cats, you can inquire whether or not the receptionist at your veterinarian’s office knows of any good rat vets.
If you’re unable to find a good pet rat veterinarian by word-of-mouth, here are some online directories that may help in your search.
I live in the Portland, Oregon area and have found the following veterinarians to be very helpful and knowledgeable:
Dr. Melanie Mielke (pictured above)
Dr. Christine Feliciano
Parkway Veterinary Hospital
3996 SW Douglas Way, Lake Oswego, OR 97035
Dr. Katrina Ramsell
NW Exotic Pet Vet
11876 SW Beaverton Hillsdale Hwy.
Beaverton, OR 97005
Dr. Melinda Surrency
Scales & Tails Exotic Pet Clinic
(Located inside Tanasbourne Veterinary Emergency)
2338 NW Amberbrook Dr.
Beaverton, OR 97006
Dr. Deb Ward
Oswego Veterinary Hospital
590 3rd St, Lake Oswego, OR 97034
If you know of a veterinarian who is great with rats, please enter the vet’s name in the comments section below. Include their hospital website and tell us a little about why you believe your vet is good with rats. Let’s help one another by submitting our favorite rat vets in the comments section below!
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Updated 8/21/17Follow About Pet Rats: