Pet rats are prone to a variety of health problems. Some of these are minor, and some of them can be a bit more serious. Once problem that often worries pet rat owners is hiccups. Is it a problem, and is there anything in particular you should do about it?
So, what do you do about a pet rat with hiccups? Rat hiccups aren’t quite like human hiccups. If it’s a rare thing, and your rat continues moving around between silent hiccups, then there’s a good chance it’s a passing thing. But in any other case, this could be a sign of respiratory problems and could lead to something serious.
Hiccups are no jokes when they come to pet rats. In this article, we will explore this subject deeper. We will look into ways you can tell if your rat’s hiccups are just a passing thing or if it’s something more serious. We will also explore some remedies and ways you can prevent this problem from occurring in the future.
What do rat hiccups look like, and should you be worried?
A hiccup is an involuntary spasm of the diaphragm muscle. As a natural reflex, the vocal cord is shut close, which results in the characteristic hiccup sound in human beings. But when it comes to rats, you can’t really hear the sound. But you will notice the rhythmic jerking of the body.
And while at first sight, a hiccupping rat might strike you as adorable, you need to be more careful with this issue. Oftentimes, a recurring hiccup indicates an underlying respiratory problem. And if left unchecked, this could lead to serious problems.
There are a couple of ways you can tell if you can just ignore your rat’s hiccups or if you need to take serious measures. The first way is to check if the hiccups are silent. Normal rat hiccups are silent. If there’s any sort of squeaking sound accompanying the hiccups, then that could be a sign of a respiratory problem.
Another way you can tell if your rat’s hiccups can be ignored is to see if they continue moving around between the hiccups. If they do, that’s a sign that the hiccups are a passing thing. If instead, they stay put in one place (usually a corner) while they do this, then that’s a sign of something more serious. In this instance, you should consider taking your rat to the vet for a full evaluation.
Why do rats get hiccups?
Under normal circumstances, rats hiccup as a result of excitement. This can occur around playtime or mealtime and will usually go away after a bit. Although some rats will start hiccupping when frustrated or angry, hiccups are mostly associated with positive feelings of excitement.
But in more serious cases, hiccups in rats could be a symptom of an active Myco pulmonis, a certain bacteria that pet rats are infected with from birth. There are some researchers that even believe that all hiccups in rats are related to Myco pulmonis infections.
There are also some theories that suggest that hiccups are a result of what is called a reverse sneeze. As an owner of a pet rat, you will occasionally notice your rat sneezing in quick successions. Hiccups are believed to the reverse of this.
What do you do about a pet rat with hiccups?
Your first response to your hiccupping pet rat should always be observed. You shouldn’t panic right away. As we pointed out in the previous section, most hiccups are just temporary responses to sudden excitement.
Ask yourself if you’ve done something with your rat or are planning to do something that could be making it happy. If this is the case, then that hiccup is justified, and you need not worry about it.
But if your rat has just started hiccupping out of the blue, then that’s where you really ought to up your vigilance. Are your rat’s hiccups silent? Or are they accompanied by some sort of chirping/squeaking noise? The latter is a red flag. Another sign is to see if they’re moving around or are okay moving around between the hiccups. If they’re stationary, then that’s not a good sign.
Usually, bad hiccups are a result of some sort of underlying respiratory illness, usually related to Myco pulmonis. They may or may not be accompanied by wet noses and discharges from the eyes of the rat.
As you’re well aware, humans are also prone to hiccups. With us, it’s either a result of eating or drinking too fast or some sort of an emotional trigger such as a shock or sudden excitement. And we have a lot of folk remedies like shock therapy or drinking water for persistent hiccups. You must absolutely ignore any urge or suggestion to try these methods on your rats.
How to treat bad hiccups in pet rats?
If you’re a new owner of pet rats, your best bet is to take your rat to the vet. As you get more seasoned with rats, you will start to notice that this is a recurring problem that almost all rats go through.
There is no reason to worry here. Countless rat owners have treated their rats for Myco related hiccups before you in the past. Myco is a rather common infection in rats. As we’ve already mentioned previously, the bacteria that causes it is present at birth in most rats.
All rats are born with a predisposition for Myco infection and will show symptoms (such as hiccups) every now and then. Some rats will show symptoms more frequently than others. You, as an owner, cannot be complacent about this, but you need not panic either. If you follow the due procedure, your furry little pals will get better in no time.
Rat hiccups are caused by two different things. The first and harmless reason behind you rat hiccupping is excitement. Most rats will succumb to hiccups when they’re happy and excited, usually around meal times or playtimes. These hiccups are usually silent, and the rats continue moving around between the hiccups.
The second and more serious reason behind a rat’s hiccups is an underlying respiratory problem. All rats are born with a certain bacteria known as Myco pulmonis. And every now and then, it is common for rats to develop this Myco related infection in their respiratory system. These will result in hiccups that are accompanied by a squeaky sound. Rats with bad hiccups also tend to be lethargic and will hesitate to move around.
When you notice signs of bad hiccups in a rat, you need to take it to a vet. You must understand that this is a fairly common infection in rats, and most vets will recommend the same thing in these situations. They will put your rat on some sort of antibiotic (like Baytril) for at least a couple of weeks (based on the severity of the infection) and ask you to see where it goes from there. If the hiccups gradually disappear, then that is obviously a good sign. If it doesn’t, you must bring them back to the vet.