Critical Physical Rat Injuries

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Critical Physical Rat Injuries

dumbo rats
Dumbo rats come in a wide variety of colors and coat types. Isn’t Pico the rat adorable? He’s in a brass like tiny vintage bird cage.

There are many different injuries that a rat might sustain. All of the listed injuries may warrant a veterinary visit, especially if the rat:

  • Is suffering from continuous bleeding
  • Has an eye injury
  • Loses an appendage (such as an ear or toe)
  • Begins showing symptoms of infection
  • Becomes lethargic/loses weight




In either case, we would like to detail some of the more common physical injuries that rats endure, and what one might expect should a scary situation occur. Being animals, unpredictable things CAN happen. Sometimes, play sessions become too rough. Other times, in rare instances, rats may turn on one another. In addition, the rat may injure his or her self in ways that one may never have imagined they could. The MOST important thing an owner can do is seek immediate veterinary attention, find out how the injury occurred, and prevent it from happening again.

Rat Tail Injuries: Tail Ripped Off, Bitten, or Missing

baby rat tail injuriesRat tail injuries are scary and sometimes very dangerous. In some cases, the very tip of the tail may have been ripped off during an accident or bitten off by a cage mate. Rats’ tails are very easily damaged; accidentally closing the tail in the cage door for even a split second can result in a bad injury.  While the owner might feel terrible, an injury to the very tip of the tail can be a very minor injury. “Treating Rat Tail Injuries” details what an owner needs to do when he or she encounters a hurt tail.

In contrast, severe trauma to the tail that occurs closer to the tail base could result in bleeding that won’t stop, excruciating pain and screaming, and it may require an amputation or sutures. Rat bites can be rather nasty during fights, resulting in unbelievably deep wounds. A tail that has been missing, such as an old injury, could still be very sensitive. While the rat might be past recovery, he or she must still be handled with care.

Rat Has A Hole In Its Ear, Bitten/Missing Ears

rat ear injuriesEar injuries are also common with rats. Just like the tail, they can be bitten or ripped off as well. Treating ears for injuries can be difficult, especially with their sensitivity. Being in close proximity to the

mouth poses even more trouble, as it is very easy for the rat to bite if the injury is very painful. While unstoppable bleeding is unlikely, the rat could still face infection, hearing loss, inner ear damage, and permanent holes in the ears.

Eye or Eyelid Injuries

This rat has a much less serious case of bulging than the previous rat. As you can see, the swollen eyeball has some clouding. this can signal infection, blindness, or both. Photo Credit: Nickelrat on Photobucket
This rat has a much less serious case of bulging than the previous rat. As you can see, the swollen eyeball has some clouding. this can signal infection, blindness, or both. Photo Credit: Nickelrat on Photobucket

Eye injuries are probably the most common injury, closely competing with toe and nail injuries. It is very easy for a rat to scratch an eye while playing; and it’s possible that he or she could go blind. Whether the injury is from a rowdy cage mate, an intense scratching session, or splinters in wooden bedding, it needs attention immediately to ward off infection. The longer an eye is left untreated, the more likely it is that the rat will be blinded for life. Nails can scratch the eye, dirt or allergens can irritate the eye’s surface, and bedding could harm the eye during burrowing.

Rat Got Toe Caught In Fleece or Cage: Lost Toe, Bleeding, Ripped Nail

Rat paws, feet, claws, toes
These cute little rat feet need to remain healthy and protected so your rats can be able to run and play freely!

Toes are very commonly injured unfortunately. There’s many reasons that they might have ripped off bleeding toe nails, torn or bitten toes, and excessive bleeding. It is incredibly easy for their sensitive feet to become hurt. In some cases, it may not even be the individual toes that are hurt; instead, it may be the entire foot or pad of the foot.

bumble foot in pet fancy rats
this is a guinea pig, but it is exactly the same as rat bumble foot. Very gross, very painful, and very difficult for a rat to go through.

One of the worst, most common foot injuries among rats who are taken care of improperly is bumble foot. How does a rat get this condition? Usually through wire floors or uncovered ramps; it is especially prevalent in old rats or obese rats. The excessive weight on sensitive feet causes severe damage on harsh surfaces. Treating bumble foot in rats is a long, tedious process.

If toes become ripped off, it is important to find out WHY your rat’s toe is missing and how to treat it. If the toe is allowed to bleed, the rat could become anemic and would be in danger of severe infection or death. Blood pressure could plummet, ultimately killing the pet. If the toe is barely attached and in bad shape, amputation may become necessary. Amputating a pet’s toe, foot, leg, tail, or ear can be a scary situation; but it is necessary with some serious injuries.

Extreme Lacerations, Bites, and Cuts of a Rat’s Skin

rat yawning and sleepyShould a rat form a serious injury on the main torso, belly, shoulders, neck, rump, or head, it is likely that he or she was involved in a serious fight with another cagemate. Sometimes, rats can become very violent with one another; this could happen in a variety of situations including:

  • Rats who are not familiar with each other.
  • Rats who have been separated for a length of time.
  • Between male rats who sense a female in heat (especially true of males who have been bred previously).
  • Between females who are pregnant or lactating.
  • Between females who are reintroduced after weaning litters.
  • Between animals who have aggressive parents/grandparents.
  • When an animal has lived without another rat for 6+ months.
  • When a new cagemate is introduced, and existing cage mates must establish dominance once again.

rat mouth teeth and incisorsAny of these situations can result in severe bites to the face, ears, head, neck, shoulders, legs, feet, toes, back, stomach, chest, hips, rear, or tail. These large gashes might bleed quite a bit, or there might be minimal blood. It is dependent upon the location of the bite as opposed to major blood vessels. If the bleeding does not stop, sutures are most definitely necessary. If the bite is high on the animal, bleeding is minimal, and the animal is otherwise in optimum health, it is likely that the wound will heal just fine. The rat may or may not need antibiotics, but if signs of infection or ill health are noted, the rat must see a veterinarian immediately to receive treatment.

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