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In Memory of Starr
Sandra Beasley and the Spaz Rats

First Aid For Rats

"Rattus Norvegicus, you sound good in my books." - Sandra -

A list of supplies that I like to keep on hand for first-aid/emergencies purposes. Please remember, when you are in doubt about the care that you can provide in a crisis, it is time to see a vet.

I have taken first-aid courses for cats and dogs which included small kittens and puppies. The more recent course was June 18,1994 when our dog club sponsored a 10 hour Pet First-aid Course through Oakland Educational Services with Instructor Ethne Dickinson. I will attempt to transfer the knowledge for CPR and mouth to nose artificial breathing to rats. Because of their small size, extra caution should be taken when doing these procedures, however, when the alternative is death for your pet, it may be worth a try. I have elaborated on Debbie Ducommun's explanations for these emergency procedures after practicing on “TipToe”, the Beanie Baby rat.


I know you've heard this before, but it bears repeating:
"an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure".

Check over your rat’s living quarters for safety:
• Is the ventilation good?
• Is the cage metal safe for the rats to chew on?
• Is there any place a foot or head might get caught?
• Is the cage away from drafts?
• Will the cage keep the rat inside when you are not around to supervise?
• Is the bedding safe?
• Are the toys safe?

Most of us are able to allow our rats the freedom to play on a bed, on a table, in a room, or throughout the entire house. Rats are intelligent, curious, playful creatures and will find all kinds of mischief, if left to their own devices.

Whatever area you allow access, you must look at this area from a rattie point of view:
• Remove live plants, candy and chocolate, alcohol, and carbonated drinks from the area.
• Remove electrical wires and other cords or cover them with aquarium tubing.
• Remove other pets from the rats play area. Cats, dogs, and large birds can seriously injure or kill a rat, a rat can kill other rodents and smaller birds.
• If your rats play on beds, tables, and counters you may want to put some soft padding like pillows or blankets around the base if the table, bed or counter if these are sitting on hard flooring.
• If there are things in their play area that you don't want the rat to chew, you can be sure they will chew it and, if consumed, some of things are not good for the digestion. Rats have been known to eat paint and fabric fibers with fatal results.
• Keep large containers of water and other liquids out of your rats’ area, and for heaven’s sake, keep the toilet lid down. Many a rat has drowned or come close to drowning in a toilet.
• Keep all doors to the outside and to rooms they are not allowed in, shut tight.
• Keep windows shut when your rats are out. Yes, rats can chew through the window screen if they so choose.
• Keep burning candles and other heavily perfumed deodorizers out of your rat's reach and out of the room where they are caged.
• Be careful where you place things, your rat may be under it.
• Do not wear outdoor shoes in the house while your rats are loose, and tread very carefully wherever you go.

As hard as we try, even with the best intentions, accidents still occur.

There are a few things that you should know about rats in regards to applying first-aid:
• Broken bones, sprains, and strains are hard to deal with. Because of their small size, and frequent use, a broken leg might be difficult to splint or pin. Some rats may not stay still long enough to benefit from a cold or hot compress.
• Some rats do not like the feel of bandages and will simply chew them off. They could also hate the Elizabethan Collar and make every attempt at removing it.
• Whatever liquids, lotions, and ointments you apply to the skin or coat have to be non-toxic because the rat will groom it off, eventually.
• You can't use a thermometer on a rat for obvious reasons. I feel that only a vet should attempt this, if at all.
• Rats have the inability to vomit , so you can't give them liquids that will induce vomiting.
• Giving liquid medicine or water can be administered with an eyedropper or syringe in the side of the mouth. Do not give liquids rapidly or forcefully. Make sure the tongue and jaws are working to swallow the liquid. Allow the rat time to swallow or you may risk the development of a life-threatening lung infection if some of the medicine accidentally enters the trachea.

Species Name:
Life span:
Weight as adults:

Respiration rate:
Heart rate:
Body temperature:
Rattus Norvegeicus
2.5 to 4 years
Females: avg. 300g
Males: avg. 500g
66 - 114 breaths per minute
250 - 600 beats per minute
96.9 - 100.6 °F

Room temperature:
Room humidity:
65 - 80 °F
30 - 70%

WARNING: These pages are not for the squeamish but I thought if one is going to do first aid on a rat, one should know the anatomy of the rat. These pages include the skeletal structure and the internal anatomy:
McGarat's Web Site

Get Help Quickly:
If you need urgent help with your rats (i.e., medical problem), send an e-mail to:
If you have a general question about pet rats (i.e., safe bedding, safe cages, etc.), send an e-mail to:

Get Debbie Ducommun's Books:
You need Debbie's books "RATS! A Fun and Care Book" and "Rat Health Care" to learn more about rat ailments and how to treat them. To order them, visit the Rat Fan Club

Find A Vet Now:
It would be wise to establish a relationship with a vet who specializes in exotics, or at least one who is open and caring in the ways of rats.
RMCA Veterinarian Recommendations
The Rat Fan Club Recommended Rat Vets

In The Event Of Suspected Poisoning:
ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center

1 (888) 426-4435
Open 24 hours, $45.00 per case
1 (900) 680-0000
Open 24 hours, $45.00 per case

If Your Rat Has Gone Missing:
Lost and Found: When Your Rat Goes Rambling

More First-aid For Small Animals:
First-aid for Pet Owners From the Mueller Pet Medical Center
First Aid for Small Furries by Patrick E. Currivan, MVB MRCVS
Health Zone at Ratz R Us First-aid Kit
PetEducation.com Emergencies and First-aid
Pet Rodent Refuge First-aid for all rodents, not just rats
Rat First Aid by Debbie Ducommun


Taratoo - 
Sage's Niece 5 times removed

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