A vet we used to go to once commented that you get two kinds of illness in rats – Breathing and Lumps. And it would probably be the case (if we did the stats) that the majority of reasons for going to see the vet involve either respiratory trouble or lumps of one type or another.
The girls have both recently had courses of antibiotics for their noisy breathing, and are getting to the age where we check them regularly for lumpy bits. The commonest type of lump is the mammary tumour – rats have a lot of mammary tissue. Fortunately, if they are spotted and removed quickly it’s a simple procedure; problems only start if the lumps get very big, for any reason, as that will involve more blood vessels and take longer to remove, and the time spent under anaesthetic needs to be kept to a minimum for small animals.
This week I spotted a lump on one of the older boys, however. Arkwright was not particularly co-operative about me looking at or prodding his lump, but I got enough of a chance to figure out that it was very hard and just under the skin on his side. This made me think it was an abscess rather than a tumour, though I couldn’t see a wound where it might have originated. Neither could the vet, though she agreed with me that an abscess was the most likely explanation. So he’s on antibiotics, and if it doesn’t clear up it’ll have to be looked at under sedation. I think it’s getting a little smaller, and I hope he doesn’t need an op. He’s two now, and the older they are the less I like them having to have anaesthetics, but if it has to be then it does.