Thursday, November 04, 2010

Caution: When Rats Reach Old Age!


Fasolt, my first rat and againg rat.



According to the 1995 Guinness Book of World Records, a rat named Rodney lived 7 years and 4 months. That’s a record to beat! For most of us, however, the average life span of our rats would be 2 – 3 years. Ten days of a rat’s life is equivalent to one human year. Imagine, two years in a rat’s life is actually 72 years in the human lifetime! 

A week ago, I noticed that my oldest rat, Fasolt, began to thin. He would be turning 2 years old this October. It is a relief to know that he’s gotten this far. He’s been hopping onto my lap more often since August. In the meantime, he’s still in good physical condition. 

Rats can still live a happy life despite their old age, with a little help from us. At this stage in our ratty’s life, it would be wise to be aware of their conditions and take some precautions. Here are some useful information that I’ve compiled from the web… please read on.


THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR

Common symptoms are hind leg paralysis (especially in bucks), muscle wasting and limited mobility. Older rats may become prone to tumors, especially the females. Other risks are increased vulnerability to pneumonia, injury from cage mates, bladder infection and skin breakdown. For degenerative osteoarthritis, click here for the link.

Sources point that a high calorie diet is needed by elderly rats in order to maintain muscle tone. High calorie diet does not mean high-fat or high-protein. It means more carbohydrates from food like bread and grains. A good source of nutritious vitamins are fleshy vegetables such as cooked kalabasa. They're very tasty and smell very sweet to the rat.

Elderly rats also become less physically able. Simple tasks such as climbing may become very burdensome to the rat, and they might even be at risk of falling and result to injury.


SUGGESTIONS

Experts in this matter say that there are several ways that we can do to make our elderly rats feel more comfortable:
  1. Provide a low dish for easier accessibility; use syringe to feed if self-feeding becomes too difficult. 
  2. Place their water and food where they can comfortably reach. 
  3. Pay extra attention so that other cage mates may not cause injury from rough play. 
  4. Pureed or softer foods are easier to eat and digest. Some suggestions are baby food, pureed fruits and veggies, avocado, porridge (tsamporado), yoghurt, phosphate-rich foods (oats, bran, wholewheat…) etc. 
  5. Give vitamin and mineral supplements, which are inexpensive. This includes Vitamin B12, glucosamine, flaxseed/omega oil. 
  6. Grooming may become difficult for the old rats. Try douching their coat with a wet cotton ball. 


With proper care and diligence, 
our ratties should be able to live longer and happily.



Further Reading:



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