Rat health

Here are some signs of illness in your rat — if you spot any of these, consult your local rat-friendly vet immediately.

Respiratory issues

Rats can get breathing problems, a little like asthma in people, so living on shredded paper rather than wood shavings prevents their home being too dusty.


Like us humans, rats can catch colds too. If your rat shows any signs of cold or illness (such as sneezing, snuffling, watery eyes and nose, or laboured breathing), contact your local vet immediately. 

Injuries lumps and bumps 

Rats are gregarious creatures and can be prone to injuries due to their love for climbing and exploring. Check your rat over every day for any signs of injuries or breaks, particularly on your rats tail. 


These can be common in domestic rats, particularly females who can develop mammary tumours. When handling your rat, check for any unusual lumps and bumps on his or her body. 

Parasites and coat conditions 

These issues are particularly common when your rat is housed inappropriately. Signs of a skin condition include: 

  • Red, sore and irritated skin
  • Hair loss
  • Self-inflicted wounds on the body
  • Erratic behaviour
  • Greasy and dull-looking coat.

If you suspect that your rat may be suffering from any of the above conditions, consult your local rat-friendly vet immediately. 

How to perform a daily health check

Check your rat daily to ensure that he is healthy, you should take any small changes in his behaviour as a big sign that there is something normal. Check every day that your rat is: 

  • Eating a normal amount
  • He is active
  • His coat is healthy and shiny, rats spend hours keeping their coat clean, and any signs of dirt can indicate a problem
  • His nose should be clear and he should not be sneezing
  • His eyes should be clear, bright and shiny
  • Teeth should be wearing evenly and straight. If not speak with your vet and review your rat's diet as this could be causing dental issues
  • Nails in a good condition
  • Tail should be clear of any skin complaints and injuries.

Pet care advice