Author Topic: Depressed Rat, Serious  (Read 483 times)

Offline MYFavoritEHerbS

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Depressed Rat, Serious
« on: April 26, 2017, 10:33:07 PM »
One of my boys, Tak, died about a month ago and his brother, Clyde, has been severely depressed ever since. A little over a week ago, I decided to try to introduce him and my hairless, Clover, as Clover is also alone. Clyde is very submissive and Clover is very dominant, but introductions seemed to be going well. Then, 2 nights ago, they had a big fight that ended in Clover bleeding in multiple spots. Yesterday, Clyde stopped eating and barely drinks any water. He won't even take treats he loved before. He sits in one spot and is slightly cold and puffy. He doesn't seem sick in the ways my other rats have been before they've died. I do have a vet appointment tomorrow morning, but I'm afraid that he's just too stressed and sad and has just given up. The vet can't do anything about that. I'd like to get a baby rat or 2 and try introductions with them as I've heard it's easier but my boyfriend is very against it until we've tried everything else. So what can I try to snap Clyde out of his funk? I told my boyfriend if he's not feeling happier in a week I'm getting some babies regardless, but I'm afraid Clyde won't last a week. Help!
<3 Parsley
<3 Basil (RIP my amazing fat silver rat!)
<3 Sheldon (RIP my sweet happy full of life rat!)
<3 Monkey
<3 Tak
<3 Clyde
My little friends who became my world!!

Offline Been to the Mountaintop

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Re: Depressed Rat, Serious
« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2017, 09:03:42 AM »
While rats certainly grieve, and it's great that you are sensitive to that, the cold and puffy symptoms are serious signs of illness. I'd get him to a vet right away. Once the problem clears up, maybe consider a spayed female as a buddy. Sometimes babies drive mature rats crazy. On the other hand, sometimes older rats like my Jinx love babies to protect.



Good luck! Please keep us posted!
--Best, Mountaintop--

Offline MYFavoritEHerbS

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Re: Depressed Rat, Serious
« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2017, 11:14:35 PM »
It turns out he has a tooth abscess, probably brought on by his fight. We're trying meds and hot compresses to see if it will resolve itself that way. If not, we have another vet appointment on Friday to take further action.
<3 Parsley
<3 Basil (RIP my amazing fat silver rat!)
<3 Sheldon (RIP my sweet happy full of life rat!)
<3 Monkey
<3 Tak
<3 Clyde
My little friends who became my world!!

Offline stkmw02

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Re: Depressed Rat, Serious
« Reply #3 on: May 04, 2017, 12:24:06 PM »
Great to hear you found the source of the problem!  Hopefully his mood will improve as his health does.

I rescued an older bonded sibling set of females years ago.  When the first passed, I barely had time to consider finding a friend before her sister died as well.    When our litter of babies eventually aged and passed on, leaving one lone female, our vet advised us to avoid introducing a friend due to her age.  The vet noted that lifelong bonded pairs tend to have difficulty with introductions later in life (not just as "adults" but as "elderly" rats) unless periodic introductions were common (such as a rat colony with new or baby rats entering/exiting throughout the rats life span).  Introducing a new partner could not only be emotionally and socially stressful for the rat (grieving is a real thing for bonded pairs, and adjusting to a new "roommate" and establishing a new relationship requires effort), it could also pose a physical risk if aggression comes in to play AND due to bacteria and immunity issues.  Unless the rats being introduced lived in a very similar environment (bedding, diet, minimal interaction with other rats, etc.) the new rat brings with it potential environmental and medical concerns.  These are things I hadn't considered when wanting to do what was best for our Snugs.  Instead, our vet suggested increased handling time and the introduction of more toys and comfort sleeping options.  This worked well for Snugs.

I should note that when I spoke to our vet about introducing rats in general, she said males tend to be more aggressive toward other males and introducing females to males outside of litters for purposes other than breeding is complicated (even if both or one is fixed).  As the previous poster mentioned, though it is not always the case, introducing very young rats to older males can be stressful to the rat.  Not that it can't work (as their photo suggests, it can) but that other options should be considered.

SO... how old is Clyde?  Is he fixed?  And what was his normal life like with Tak compared to now?  How do you "know" he is depressed versus adjusting to life without a partner?

Sometimes what we view as "depressed" is actually just a change in behavior due to the loss of the companion.  Like in Snugs' case, she was less active because she had less interaction - once we provided her with more interaction, her activity level increased.  She seemed less comfortable because she had less physical comfort from her sibling - once we provided a new bed and began "grooming" her, she appeared less lethargic.  Her diet hadn't changed, she was still eating normally (though to us it appeared less because we were used to feeding two) so we offered more treats to supplement and ensure she didn't lose her appetite.  Though it was still evident she missed her sisters, she was not "depressed" to the point of concern.  We just had to adapt together to her as a single rat.

Our vet also told us (as I knew from the previous bonded pair I had) that partners often pass close together if they have been paired for life, because they tend to have similar genetic and environmental factors that contribute to similar lifespans.

Offline BigBen

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Re: Depressed Rat, Serious
« Reply #4 on: May 04, 2017, 10:15:52 PM »
In addition to stkmw02's very insightful analysis, I would just like to add that situations like yours always involve a judgement call.  It can be hard to know what is best for a given rat.  I would simply advise you to see how Clyde does, and get him a companion if it seems appropriate, given the cautions in stkmw02's post.  You're in the best position to know whether having a younger rat around will be a comfort or just more stress for Clyde.
What is a rat?  King-sized love in a pint-sized package.
Rat Code:  6m2f22r !B C? D+ F S-- ocA reC sM a+++ e++++ n