Part 3: Common Pet Rodent Diseases and their Symptoms

Two Rats Common Rodent DiseasesThis is part three of our series on pet diseases and their symptoms. This time we’re talking about pet rodents, such as hamsters, rats, guinea pigs, and gerbils.


Essentially, diagnosing a condition in a pet rodent is the same as with dogs and cats. The differential diagnoses are based on the clinical signs of a condition, as well as the health history of the patient.


Common Rodent Diseases


The following is a list of the common rodent diseases and their symptoms:


  • Skin lesions in rodents – There are different types of skin leisions that pet rodents can get. They include alopecia that is defined by itching, loss of fur, and patches of baldness; scaling with or without pruritis; abscesses that are filled with fluid; mange that results in fur loss and pink patches on the skin; ringworm that appears as a circular rash; lice that is made obvious by small white bugs in the fur against the skin; and skin cancers that suddenly appear as abnormal spots on the skin.
  • Tumors in rodents – Tumors can happen, especially later in life. Out of all of the different types of rodents, rats tend to get them the most. Rats commonly acquire mammary gland fibroadenomas and mice can develop adenocarcinomas. Guinea pigs will display a single lesion in the dorsal lumbar region and the skin over the tumor may become crusted. Hamsters will develop uterine tumors, cortical tumors, and tumors in their cheek pouch. If you notice unusual lumps on your pet’s body or respiratory signs such as wheezing, a veterinarian will need to diagnose the condition.
  • Oscular lesions in rodents – This is typically seen in rats, but may also be seen in mice and gerbils. It is caused by a virus, stress, or illness. The main signs are tearing that is red or bronze, blinking, squinting, sneezing, and eye rubbing. A veterinarian will prescribe an antibiotic in most cases.
  • Excessive salivation in rodents – If the incisors become overgrown, then the pet can salivate a lot. It can also be caused by oral cavity infection or tooth injury.
  • Vitamin C Deficiency in rodents – There are clinical signs, such as anorexia, hemorrhages, weight loss, poor hair or coat, lethargy, nasal discharge. This can be rectified through the right food.
  • Urinary disease in rodents – Urolithiasis and cystitis are the two most common urinary diseases in rodents. A wet perineum, blood in the cage, and bloody discharge from genitalia are common signs that there is a problem in the urinary tract.


Fluid Therapy


If your tiny pet is sick, fluid therapy is one of the first things that need to be done. Fluids are able to be given subcutaneously, intraosseously, and intraperitoneally because intravenous therapy is impractical due to the very small vascular system of small pet rodents. This means that your little pet will need to be taken to a veterinarian and most likely anesthetized to successfully administer fluid. The vet will also need to collect blood samples in some cases. Their discretion will be used since blood collection is not routine in rodents because of difficult access to the veins. Only small amounts of blood can be safely taken from a sick rodent. This does not mean that you should refrain from taking your small pet to the veterinarian because there are measures that can be taken to make your small friend well again.


Common Dog Diseases and their Symptoms Part 1

Common Cat Diseases and their Symptoms Part 2

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Article Tags: #skin lesions in rodents #diseases in rodents #vitamin C deficiency in rodents #urinary disease in rodents
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