Stroke in Rats
I found Pogo lying on the bottom of her cage the day before Thanksgiving, 2004. She was mostly cold and unresponsive. Her eyes were filled with porphyrin; a substance secreted by the Harderian gland and appears around the rat's eyes. This red substance looks like red tears or blood and is secreted when rats are stressed or ill.
Since she was not exposed to any outside source of disease and she did not have the pinched, thin appearance of a rat with heart failure nor did she appear to be in pain. Her breathing was shallow but not raspy. I knew right away what was happening. She had suffered a stroke that left her mostly paralyzed. (see image of hind leg)
Her Grandmother, RnR Raven, had this happen to her at about
the same age and went on to live a mostly normal life for almost a year
after the attack.
Five days after her stroke, she was able to eat on her own as long as it was soft food and was also able to drink from a water bottle. She was not able to walk yet as she was still weak on her left side. She did however, get around on her own quite well. Because they are so unsteady you have to be very careful where they are allowed to wander. Do not leave them unsupervised during this recovery period when they are out of the security and safety of their own cage. Make sure there is nothing in their cage to climb on that they can fall from.
Above is a photo of Pogo taken a month after her stroke. She continued to get stronger and was back to many of her old antics. She remained weak on her left side and was still wobbly but overall did very well. Her permanent cage became a single story cage with no hammock but we made sure that she always had a clean, warm shirt to sleep in. We also moved her sister, Pongo, back in with her once she was strong enough. They were very close and it was Pongo that was laying next to her when I found her after the stroke. Below is a photo showing how well her recovery is going. I think she figures it is time to "live on the edge" now since her brush with death.
Although we have added the above photo for a bit of levity, strokes are a very serious subject. There is no warning and in many cases, no recovery. Pogo was lucky, as were we. We were blessed with 9 additional months with her. Sadly, she passed away from another series of strokes on Aug 4, 2005. She will always hold a special place in our heart and we miss her tremendously. Her gentle, loving spirit touched all who knew her. This article is in memory of our very special little girl. We hope that by reading it and recognizing the signs, it can help others save their ratties from what is certain death without treatment. Video of Pogo has been added below. Please note that they can be difficult to watch.
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Pogo-one day after her stroke