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Virus sweeps through rat colony...

Health, Medical or behavior problems with all animals.

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Ash
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Virus sweeps through rat colony...

Postby Ash » Tue Dec 01, 2015 8:58 pm

So my colony of feeder rats have contracted an illness--most likely a virus from wild mice. I opened some of the tubs today, and they were just... DEAD. There were no signs that this was coming. The rats that were in the tubs with them are sickly-looking and ailing...

In some of the upper tubs there are rats that are super skinny--even though they have access to food 24/7.

What do you think this could be? These particular rats will be saved to be fed off to my monitor and snakes, so no chance or risk of zoonosis. Won't feed them to the foxes, just to be on the safe side.

It's really heartbreaking. icon-sad They aren't pets by any means, but I hate seeing animals suffer.

I'm planning to euthanize the entire colony, solve my mice issues, bleach the tubs, and just start over. It's really sad seeing them all like this.
3 red fox, 4 pectinata iguanas, nile monitor, BW tegu, sailfin dragon, leachie gecko, 6 snakes, 2 salamanders, 3 tarantulas
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Re: Virus sweeps through rat colony...

Postby TamanduaGirl » Tue Dec 01, 2015 9:14 pm

Do any seem congested? Mycoplasma is very common and contagious in rats. Most all pet rats carry the bacteria for it. When the bacteria gets into their lungs it can be fatal if untreated. Treated it tends to be chronic and keep recurring. Maybe they got chilled and that let it take hold? Or maybe it's too humid in their tank?

I don't really know of anything else but don't know that much about wild rat diseases that they may have caught.
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Re: Virus sweeps through rat colony...

Postby TamanduaGirl » Tue Dec 01, 2015 9:34 pm

Tyzzer’s Disease can cause sudden death. You can do autopsies of a few to find out. Look for white lesions in the liver and heart.
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Re: Virus sweeps through rat colony...

Postby Ash » Wed Dec 02, 2015 3:31 pm

Would I be able to do the autopsy myself to find the lesions? Or would the vet have to do that?

I looked again and double-checked all the tubs, and it's worse than I thought. Almost all of the tubs have dead rats in them, and the remaining rats are ailing and in really poor health. I was hopeful I could save at least a few, but there were maybe... two? that seemed "healthy-ish."

Definitely won't even feed them off to the reptiles either. They're just NOT good rats. I guess the monitor could take them, but it just feels... gross, for lack of a better word. (Monitors eat carrion and can handle semi-rotting meat.)

It's not that humid. I've actually been struggling with keeping up humidity, and the repti-house is kept at a constant ambient temperature (86 degrees).

It's very sad to see them suffering. My friend has a CO2 chamber that I can use on the remaining ones, but I'm certain once I get home from work today most of them will be dead. I mean, that's how fast they're dying off.

While I'm certainly sad for these rats, I can't lie that I'm upset at the financial loss here. I had almost 70 in my colony, and that's hundreds of dollars worth of food (not worth that everywhere, but the local places I would buy rats from price them high, so that's in comparison to those places.) This is just going to set me behind. I was counting on the rats to be able to feed my nile monitor and the snakes, and I had potential customers lined up to take excess.

These things just happen, I suppose. I just have to fix it and move past it. Depending on the number of rats still alive, I may not go with a CO2 chamber and just... euthanize them myself. But we'll see. I've done that before, but it was pretty hard emotionally to do.

I did get a REALLY bad bite from one of my breeder rats that was still alive. I'm sure she was not feeling good, which led to the bite being as bad as it was. I'm still going to go to an Instacare though and have them take a blood sample to make sure I don't need antibiotics. Normally I could care less about a bite--but these are very sick rats, most likely sick via the wild mice that have gotten into the repti-house. So I figure I might as well go in and see. Can't hurt.

Thanks for the info. I'll look up those diseases and viruses. And once the breeder rat dies, she's big enough that I could cut her open and actually see stuff.
3 red fox, 4 pectinata iguanas, nile monitor, BW tegu, sailfin dragon, leachie gecko, 6 snakes, 2 salamanders, 3 tarantulas
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Re: Virus sweeps through rat colony...

Postby Ash » Wed Dec 02, 2015 3:37 pm

Also, they are not eating their food AT ALL. They have absolutely no appetite whatsoever. Yet they are turning to cannibalism and eating the dead ones--but that's probably normal behavior in a rat colony to clear out the area and make it free of parasites and other diseases.
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Re: Virus sweeps through rat colony...

Postby TamanduaGirl » Wed Dec 02, 2015 3:54 pm

Yes Tyzzer’s is nasty enough you should be able to see lesions for yourself. Can range from white to yellow. It kills them quick like that so is a strong possibility.

If Tyzzer's it starts in the intestines then spreads so definitely effects appetite.
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Re: Virus sweeps through rat colony...

Postby Ash » Wed Dec 02, 2015 5:33 pm

I read about both diseases, and it sounds like they have Tyzzer's Disease. Especially upon reading the description of the symptoms. I noticed that all the sick rats had extremely ruffled fur and deepset eyes that were half-closed.

Obviously I won't know for sure without cutting one open. So I better go buy some scalpels today.

If Tyzzer's, it sounds like it would be caused by stress or poor husbandry. :( The animals never seemed stressed to me, and I never kept more than six young ones in a tub together. Maybe I wasn't changing the bedding often enough. I did get behind on cleaning for a while, so maybe that's what happened... In the future I'll have to make sure I'm super diligent when it comes to cleaning and changing the bedding. I used to do it once a week, but then fell behind when some crazy stuff started happening.

Well, I'll see what the rat looks like on the inside once it dies...
3 red fox, 4 pectinata iguanas, nile monitor, BW tegu, sailfin dragon, leachie gecko, 6 snakes, 2 salamanders, 3 tarantulas
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Re: Virus sweeps through rat colony...

Postby minervasden » Wed Dec 02, 2015 5:35 pm

Links to heart and lung necropsy photos and info that may be of use going forward.
http://www.ratfanclub.org/resp.html
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Re: Virus sweeps through rat colony...

Postby TamanduaGirl » Wed Dec 02, 2015 5:54 pm

Well Tyzzer's is a colostridium bacteria so it's caused by bacteria. Poor husbandry and stress would certainty spread it quicker but it had to be introduced. If the wild mice ever got in the rat food that would do it.
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Re: Virus sweeps through rat colony...

Postby Ash » Thu Dec 03, 2015 7:02 am

minervasden wrote:Links to heart and lung necropsy photos and info that may be of use going forward.
http://www.ratfanclub.org/resp.html


Thanks for that. I will use this link as a resource.

TamanduaGirl wrote:Well Tyzzer's is a colostridium bacteria so it's caused by bacteria. Poor husbandry and stress would certainty spread it quicker but it had to be introduced. If the wild mice ever got in the rat food that would do it.


Okay, well that makes me feel better if it's caused by bacteria. The wild mice certainly did get into the rat food. I felt like I was taking decent care of them. I mean, they weren't pets, so their care wasn't "stellar," but they always seemed happy, lively, and non-stressed to me.
3 red fox, 4 pectinata iguanas, nile monitor, BW tegu, sailfin dragon, leachie gecko, 6 snakes, 2 salamanders, 3 tarantulas
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Re: Virus sweeps through rat colony...

Postby Ash » Thu Dec 03, 2015 7:05 am

...Just had a thought. What's the risk of zoonosis if it is Tyzzer's disease? Not to humans, but say, like to my foxes? Not that these ones are going to be fed to them or anything, but I'm sure my foxes have eaten quite a few wild mice this winter.

I did get some antibiotics from the doctor. Rat bite fever is what I was worried most about, and he did say it was certainly a concern. We forewent bloodwork to save money and time (plus, he said by the time bloodwork came back I could be exhibiting symptoms) and he just gave me the antibiotics.
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Re: Virus sweeps through rat colony...

Postby TamanduaGirl » Thu Dec 03, 2015 1:55 pm

While dogs and cats can contract it they rarely get serious issues from it. It's mainly a rodent and rabbit disease though it can kill infant horses too. Just watch the foxes for signs like loose poop.

Edit: This is a bit more clear about it: http://www.vetbook.org/wiki/dog/index.p ... 's_disease

Dogs are one of the species that seem to need to be stressed or already ill to be effected. Rodents and rabbits do not and are highly susceptible to it though stress and such make getting it more likely and the effects worse. So the foxes most likely will be fine.
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Re: Virus sweeps through rat colony...

Postby Ash » Thu Dec 03, 2015 8:55 pm

Okay, so I euthanized all the living ones today and cleaned out all the tubs and remains.... I did necropsies on two of the ones I euthanized, but I saw no lesions on the liver of either of them. :/ So I'm kind of at a loss as to what caused this.

I can post pictures of the "healthy" livers to get your opinions. I'm pretty positive I was looking at the livers, and my sister was there helping, so she was positive we were looking at them.

Maybe if I opened a few others I might have seen some lesions on some livers, but I was having a hard time stomaching it.

If not Tyzzer's, what else could it have been? What else kills them THAT fast?

At least it's over with. But I don't know what it was.

WARNING GRAPHIC DESCRIPTION BELOW:

I don't know if this could help identify what was up with them or not, but remember how I brought up cannibalism? So I thought that was only going on in the tubs. But even after I separated them all out and put them in the euthanization chamber... they started EATING each other alive. Why would they do THAT? Could this be a symptom of something else maybe??
3 red fox, 4 pectinata iguanas, nile monitor, BW tegu, sailfin dragon, leachie gecko, 6 snakes, 2 salamanders, 3 tarantulas
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Re: Virus sweeps through rat colony...

Postby TamanduaGirl » Thu Dec 03, 2015 9:37 pm

I'm not sure what else it could be. It could just be the stress of the situation making them attack each other or it could possibly be something effecting their brain too.

Looking at mouse diseases since that was the possible source. Maybe salmonella.
http://www.petmd.com/exotic/conditions/ ... salmonella

I think I'm out of guesses after that.
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Re: Virus sweeps through rat colony...

Postby Ash » Fri Dec 04, 2015 4:04 pm

Maybe I should have cut more open. Maybe some of the already dead ones. It really sounds just like Tyzzer's, but then you would have thought I'd see something. But the two livers I looked at were all dark red and super healthy--even though I cut open two of the ones that looked super skinny with ruffled fur.

Maybe if they haven't started to reek I can go back and open up a few more. :shrug:

I guess at this point in time I can only assume that it was Tyzzer's (since that seemed spot on) and I must have just looked at some oddball livers...
3 red fox, 4 pectinata iguanas, nile monitor, BW tegu, sailfin dragon, leachie gecko, 6 snakes, 2 salamanders, 3 tarantulas

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