This article is from the Winter 2001 AFRMA Rat & Mouse Tales news-magazine.
Lauren Costley, age 11, Randllestown, MD
Q I am the caretaker of a 5-month-old male mouse. Whenever I feed my mouse and he is very hungry right when he sees me with the fresh food, he goes off with a number of clicks and chatters that can be heard by the human ear. He also does this when I play with him and when I add something new to his cage. My mouse is completely tame and I have had him for 4 months. What do you think my mouse is doing when he clicks and chatters? Is it possible that my mouse is trying to communicate with me?
A Mice normally don’t make any sound except when babies are nursing, they are fighting, or sometimes when they are breeding. If your mouse is making clicking/chattering sounds, then it is a good indication he has respiratory problems, most likely caused by mycoplasma. Mice can be in good weight, active, “healthy” looking, and still make these kinds of sounds from a respiratory condition.
Symptoms can range from occasional sneezing, wheezing, and chattering, to dramatic weight loss, and even the inability to breathe properly and eventually death. Despite showing active symptoms of this disease, many mice can continue to lead relatively normal lives.
Taking your mouse to the veterinarian experienced in treating small rodents to determine the best course of action and the proper medicine is the best thing for him. Most veterinarians treat this disease with various antibiotics. Mycoplasma cannot be cured, but treatment often greatly decreases the symptoms. Unfortunately, mice usually show more symptoms of this disease as they get older, and many eventually die from it. Left untreated, he could become worse and die. Karen Robbins
Tracie Parks, London, England, e-mail
Q I have had my rats for about a year now, one a Black Hooded (Rozzebar) and the other a Fawn coloured (Rozzebella). For about a month now I’ve noticed Rozzebar seems to be “talking” non stop. I’ve no idea how to describe the sounds he makes, except to say they are sort of like the little grunted “cursings” (like squeaky new shoes). He first started when I covered the front bottom area of their cage to give them some privacy (Rozzebar has been castrated), so I wonder if it is just some kind of communication. He can be very loud sometimes. I was also worried though, in case of some kind of respiratory problem. Sometimes he has a little tiny bit of blood on the end of his nose. What do you think?
Answer from Karen Robbins
A It does indeed sound like he has a respiratory infection and a trip to the vet is in order. The sooner a respiratory infection is treated, the better the chances of a full recovery. The “blood” at the end of his nose is the natural porphyrin pigment secretion. A rat’s tears are a red-brown color, so when they have a runny nose or eyes from illness or stress, it looks like blood. I’m sure if you are in need of a good vet referral, the National Fancy Rat Society there in England can assist you.
Answer from Carmen Jane Booth, D.V.M.
A If your rat is making a wheezing or crackling noise all the time with each breath, than your rat probably does have a respiratory infection. Unfortunately, most of the causes of respiratory infections cannot be cured, but only the symptoms relieved with continual antibiotic treatment. Some things that you can do to help your rat include:
If your rat is over a year of age and you purchased him from a pet store, then he probably has a mycoplasma pulmonis infection. Baytril is the antibiotic that has the best probability of helping to relieve the upper respiratory symptoms and make your rat more comfortable. The dose that I have used is 5–25 mg per kg body weight orally twice a day. The injectable product tastes bad, but it is still effective when administered orally. Unfortunately, this product is also more expensive than many of the other less effective antibiotics that have been used to treat this condition. In severe cases, I take a radiograph of the animal to make sure that there isn’t a lung tumor and to see how much of the lung is compromised by infection.