Rats, Chinchillas & Other Exotic Animals

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The Veterinarians at Acadia are knowledgeable about mice, chinchillas, rats, hedgehogs, and other exotic pets and are always happy to answer any questions about your pet’s health and well-being. Although a lot of information regarding exotic animals is widely available from Dr.Google,  it is often difficult to determine which sources are trustworthy. We recommend visiting the Pet Health section for up-to-date information on exotic pets written by Veterinarians.

Rats are very popular family pets. They are extremely intelligent, inquisitive, interactive and social. They can be easily trained to come when called and readily learn to perform tricks on command. If well socialized from a young age and treated gently, they are easy to handle, affectionate, interactive and rarely bite unless provoked.

Rats are opportunistic eaters (meaning that they will eat whenever the opportunity arises) and if improperly fed, are prone to obesity. They are also prone to chronic respiratory disease and mammary tumors. The incisors or front teeth of all rodents grow continuously throughout the pet’s life. Overgrown incisors are a reasonably common problem and can be prevented or minimized by providing the pet with gnawing opportunities such as access to pieces of wood and other chewing objects or toys. Treatment of overgrown incisors involves trimming (grinding or filing) by one of our veterinarians, often under anesthesia.

pet rat at acadia vet clinic
Acadia vet clinic saskatoon rat

 

Chinchillas have open rooted or continuously growing teeth that grow 5 – 7.5 cm (2 – 3 inches) per year. The teeth must align or meet properly in order to wear properly against each other. Malocclusion occurs when the teeth do not meet properly and therefore do not wear correctly, leading to overgrown teeth. This can happen with the front teeth (incisors) that are visible, and the back molars that you cannot see.

These overgrown teeth may start to cut the tongue, cheek or lips leading to difficulty eating, a decreased appetite, weight loss, drooling (“slobbers”), eye problems and pawing at the face. They can also get deep tooth root infections. If you suspect problems with your chinchilla’s teeth, please contact us. Anesthesia is often needed to allow a thorough evaluation of the mouth, and radiographs (X-rays) may be needed to identify problems.

 

 

 

 

 

This chinchilla has “wave mouth.” (Pictures below taken with endoscope) 

Mojo the hedgehog With hedgehogs, the food often has to be rationed to prevent obesity. Inappropriate or imbalanced diets may lead to obesity and malnutrition. One sure sign that your hedgehog is too fat is when it balls up you can still see the face, ears or feet. Normally, a balled up hedgehog is completely enclosed by its’ spines. Cancer is very prevalent in hedgehogs, especially those over 3 years old. Tumors have been
reported in all body organs in hedgehogs, but are especially common in the mouth and gastrointestinal tract. Hedgehogs are also prone to illnesses involving the eyes and teeth. Signs of disease in rodents are sometimes specific for a certain disease. Most commonly, however, signs are vague and non-specific, such as a rodent with anorexia (lack of appetite) and lethargy, which can be seen with many diseases including pneumonia, cancer, and even kidney or liver failure.

ANY deviation from normal is a cause for concern and your rodent requires immediate evaluation by your veterinarian. Not only can we provide medical assessments and perform surgical procedures, but we can also help you prevent many diseases related to improper nutrition, which are common in these animals. Please schedule an appointment so we can discuss your exotic pet’s nutritional needs. In addition, we supply a wide range of foods and supplements for these unique animals.