I’ll tell you what. Some of the greatest info I read about rats (and small animals in general) come from Facebook groups, and the experts who admin them. Casually browsing, I ran across a picture of what looked like a really sick rat, and everyone commenting said “mycoplasma.” I’d never heard of mycoplasma, so I started to research. I was really surprised to find out that mycoplasma in rats is actually very common, and almost all rats are born with this genetic condition. #Mindblown that I’d never even heard of it. So what is it?
Mycoplasma is a respiratory disease that your rat probably has. Mycoplasma pulmonis is the organism that almost all rats (in the pet population) carry, and is the cause of many respiratory and genital infections in rats. The organism is carried in the rat’s upper respiratory system, and can be transmitted by direct contact and through the air (over short distances). It's contagious.
Some rats live their lives without symptoms or breakouts (good for them!), but some really suffer. If you’re a rat parent, you should understand what mycoplasma in rats is, and what you can do to help if and when they start showing symptoms.
What are the Symptoms?
- Porphyrin stains (a secretion with a red pigment from a Harderian Gland) around the nose or eyes. Basically they look like red tears.
- Respiratory noises
- Hunched back
- Rough Coat
- Labored Breathing
Can I Treat it?
Unfortunately, there’s no cure for mycoplasma pulmonis. It can, however, be helped with antibiotics and symptoms can be minimized. The antibiotics, too, may help eliminate other types of bacteria that are contributing to the disease. Obviously, you should see your specialized veterinarian to discuss a plan of action. Left untreated, mycoplasma can cause pneumonia, lung scarring and death.
Good husbandry (nutrition, clean living spaces) can help reduce the risk of mycoplasma infections. Rats are some of the best pets in the entire universe. (I mean, just look at these.) We all know that. So help them live their best lives with you by caring for them properly.