Guinea Pigs, Rats, Mice: What Are Some Common Diseases Of Pet Rodents?

Domestic rat

Our pets are, in a way, our best friends. They are always there for us when we need them. Plus, they are furry and cute, and we love them. Unfortunately, like every other living being, there are times when their immune system fails to save them from catching specific health problems. We often don’t know what’s bothering our best friends. So, here’s a reading list with which you can educate yourself about the common diseases of pet rodents.

Respiratory infections

Respiratory infections are the most common forms of sickness in guinea pigs, rats, and mice. You can tell your pet rodent is sick when you notice any unusual discharge from its eyes and nose. This sickness is called Pneumonia in medical terms. If your rodent has Pneumonia, it will refuse to eat or show any activity.

Respiratory infections have got everything to do with breathing. So, you can imagine the amount of pain your pet rodent is in. Different types of bacteria cause infections in the respiratory tract. They are:

  • Bordetella: It is a type of bacterium responsible for your guinea pig’s respiratory diseases. It can be deadly.
  • Mycoplasma: This bacterium makes your rats and mice fall sick as it attacks the respiratory system directly.

The best solution to respiratory diseases is antibiotics. However, do not try to treat your pet yourself. All rodents are sensitive to certain antibiotics, which can cause diarrhea and upset stomach. This can even turn deadly. So, it’s advisable to always turn to a vet and go for the prescribed treatment.

Lethargy and anorexia

Lethargy means tiredness and inactivity. It is usually prolonged, whereas anorexia related to the loss of appetite. Both lethargy and anorexia are not diseases in themselves. However, they are very obvious initial signs of illness in rodents.

The best thing you can do is take your pet to a doctor because you can’t tell what the underlying disease is based on these symptoms. It can be anything from pneumonia to cancer. To stay in touch with your pet rodent’s health, you need to spend enough time with them.

Overgrown teeth

Whenever you notice that your pet rodent has stopped, it is probably because it has gone anorexic. But, if it doesn’t eat anymore and has slobbers, which means wet chin, it is because its teeth are overgrown. The painful situation of overgrown teeth can be avoided if you check your pet rodent’s teeth regularly.

Overgrown teeth cause the most common sicknesses in rodents. Their teeth continue to grow as long as they live. Now, as funny as it might look, too long teeth can eventually kill your pet. This happens when the teeth keep on growing but don’t face any wear and tear, resulting in uneven teeth. Uneven teeth don’t meet, and the rodent stops eating because of discomfort.

If your pet is suffering because of overgrown teeth, you need to rush to a vet as soon as possible. The vet trims the teeth with a rotating burr. This process is not as brutal as it sounds because your pet is usually given anesthesia before the procedure. Don’t try to help your pet’s problem of overgrown teeth using a clipper yourself. It can cause infections and worsen the situation.


Tumors and cancer can attack your pet rodent. These diseases are not limited to humans, after all. Female rodents are prone to cancer and tumors because of their mammary glands.

The mammary glands of rats and mice are present on both sides of their body, front, and back. So, the tumor can appear as a lump anywhere.

You must always be proactive in checking your pets for signs of cancer. It can cause a slow and painful death. It is slow but doesn’t give you a lot of time to save your pet rodent. Treatment of cancer is effective in the early stages only. Vets usually give anesthesia and remove the tumor surgically.

Skin related problems

Skin diseases are common in all rodents. Be it a guinea pig, a rat, or a mouse. What we mean by skin diseases or skin problems is minor looking issues like itching, which can turn fatal if they are not taken care of. You can’t tell if the problem is caused by fleas or is a result of a nasty fungal infection.

Skin problems like itching can make your pet rodent scratch itself to death. And if you have more than one pet rodent, there will be a constant fight between them. But if you keep your pets in a clean, ventilated, and dry atmosphere, they have a rare chance of catching skin disease. Thus, be mindful of this aspect before you get along with any of these rodents.

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