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Sudden Death in Blue rats - personal experience
10 years ago
I wanted to share since I'm a bit in shock. My little 4 month old girl Juno died suddenly last night. One minute she was sitting on my husband's lap and the next she was lying unde the coffee table dead. Nither of us saw her go so I'm hoping it was peaceful. We couldn't find anything in the house she could have eaten to make her sick, so my husband did some research online. It turns out that There has been a bit of an epidemic in Australia with blue rats (like Juno) suddenly dying for no obvious reason between the ages of 4 and 7 months. Blue females also tend to bleed profusely from wounds that shouldn't be a problem - we experienced this first hand as well. So if anyone out there is considering a blue or has one, you may want to keep this in mind. Here is an article with a study on the problem: http://www.ausrfs.org.au/qld/blues.html It's a little graphic but I think it makes a very imporant case. Whatever the case, Juno was one of the best rats I've had. She was super friendly, an equal opportunity groomer (humans included), a great climber and the softest, warmest rat I've ever had. She was the first one out of the cage and the last one in, and she always wanted to help you with whatever you were doing. It will be pretty lonely coming home and not seeing her there to greet me each day. I'm glad for the time I had with her.
Hmm
10 years ago
Awww... that's so sad... I'd be in real shock for weeks if my babies died suddenly; it leaves me bad enough when I see it coming, but if it was sudden... I'm shivering already.
Another good article on Blues
8 years ago
Seriously, after reading all this I just wish they would stop breeding blues. There is so much suffering that happens with these little guys and it's not their fault!

Here's another informative article I came across, not as graphic as the last one and very easy to understand:

http://www.ratbehavior.org/AustralianBlue.htm
7 years ago

Awe damn.  I just opened that last link and it looks just like my rat that I got a month ago.  I hope she don't just die all of a sudden.  This is the 3rd rat I have had.  The others were older when I got them and they only lived a couple years, which is bad enough.  I waited for a long time until I got another one.  I went to a pet store with my b/f and picked her out, because she is so pretty and healthy looking.  She was supposed to be food. The woman didn't want me to buy her, she told me she was vicious and bites.  I looked at her like she was crazy.  Rats are so docile, but you have to know how to handle them, and show them respect.  So I got her, and she is a little doll.  I hope she doesn't have this problem.   I call her Silver, because she looks silver.  She is so shiny and pretty.  I didn't know she was a 'blue' rat though.  Never heard of this.

7 years ago

Well, so far, so good.  We have her on a vegan diet as well, and mostly organic. 

So glad!
7 years ago

I'm really glad she's doing well.

I would strongly warn against a vegan diet though. Rats are omnivores by nature, and they really need to have some animal matter in their diet to stay fully healthy. While it is fine for a rabbit to be vegan, a rat may experience some starvation without a balanced omnivorous diet, even if you're trying to substitute for it with suppliments and other proteins. (And there are risks with trying to administer suppliments as dosage would be so small and hard to calculate). This diet could possibly shorten her lifespan or cause medical complications down the line.

While people can make choices about their diets based on their beliefs, it's not a good idea to try to make our pets do the same becase it's just so much harder for them to tell us when it's hurting them. Not to mention it's hard to test a rat for vitamin or mineral deficiencies (can't do blood tests easily, most vets wouldn't know what to do).

I highly recommend working in some eggs or something into her diet. Maybe get some from a local farmer's market?

My bottom line here is that pets are not humans and can't be held to the same social obligations as people are. We need to respect their needs as animals first and foremost when caring for them. It's great as a person to be vegan and care about other creatures, but what goes along with that is caring about the little creature that you've brought into your life as well, and accept her for who she is by nature - someone who needs to eat other animals on occasion to stay healthy. It may not be how you would like her to be, but that's just who she is.