Although rats have hearty digestive tracts, they too can be plagued by common intestinal maladies, including constipation. While short-term constipation isn't usually anything to worry about, constipation can quickly become a problem in small animals.
Causes of Constipation in Rats
Constipation can occur for a variety of reasons, and knowing the cause can go a long way in treatment and prevention.
A common cause of constipation in pet rats is diet related. If your rat isn't receiving a varied diet, or they're sensitive to the feed being given to them, it can cause some issues. Other causes include intestinal blockages and tumors. While these two causes can be serious, when dealt with promptly, your rat is likely to make a full recovery and be back to its usual self in a matter of days. If a diet change doesn't seem to do the trick, bringing your rat into their veterinarian can help to rule out more serious issues, such as the two mentioned above.
Symptoms of constipation are pretty similar across the board, no matter the cause of the constipation.
The first signs of constipation include small, hard movements or no movements at all. This can be accompanied by a loss of appetite, lethargy, and in some cases a distended abdomen. If your rat has been constipated for a few days, they may become agitated and uninterested in interactions with you and any cage mates. Prolonged constipation can make the outside of their belly sensitive, so picking them up may cause them discomfort or pain. Constipation can quickly turn serious in small animals, so signs of extreme distress or lethargy should be treated as an emergency and brought to the attention of a veterinary immediately.
Treatment and Prevention
Treatment will vary based on the cause, but prevention can be practiced on a regular basis.
If the constipation is diet-related, your vet will help you set up a new diet plan. While rat feeds are a good source of nutrients for your rat, occasional supplementation of fibrous, leafy greens will keep them regular. It's also important to ensure adequate water intake by providing them with clean water on a daily basis. For more invasive causes, such as obstruction or tumor, a procedure or surgery may be performed to remove the issue.
After treatment, it's important to practice prevention. A healthy, varied diet with access to clean water can go a long way in prevention, but exercise is also an important part of your rat's digestive health. To learn more about constipation in rats, as well as how to treat and prevent it, consult with your veterinarian as soon as possible.