I am a firm believer in the importance of establishing a strong relationship with a veterinarian for your rats. Pet rats can have many types of illnesses and medical problems. Even if you are an experienced rat owner, I recommend taking any rat that is new to you in for an initial exam even if no health problems are observed. This helps in several ways: Your veterinarian can establish a relationship with your rat, observe a baseline for your new pet’s health and assess any current medical problems or predispositions. If problems are found, it’s helpful to know about them before they become severe. I also recommend having your rats checked by a veterinarian at least once every six months. I once had my rat examined for a problem I’d noticed and the vet found something additional (and much more serious) that I hadn’t even noticed!
Besides doing initial and regular wellness exams, here are some symptoms which warrant a visit to the vet:
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 worse conditions from developing.
Case in point: When bringing in one of my rats because I’d noticed a very small bump or abscess on his chest, his veterinarian noticed swelling beneath his penis. I had not even noticed the swelling and was so thankful I’d brought him in. This is what was removed from Dwayne during surgery. It turned out to be spindle cell carcinoma.