15 May 2012


Well, yesterday I made a pretty horrific discovery. I went to go feed the rats and noticed that Louise was having some weird thing going on with her head. I picked her up and it was like she was unable to lift one side of her face from the floor or from that orientation. She looks like the rat in this video:

So, I did a bit of research and found out that this condition is called head tilt and indicates a problem with the inner ear and balance. This can be caused by ear infections, strokes, and pituitary tumors. So, I stayed up watching her until about 3 am and she does not seem to be having any problems getting to her water or food, though I did take her out of the cage and give her a bit of water out of a spoon and she seemed willing to take it, though not particularly thirsty. Better to be safe than sorry, right?

So, I woke up at 7 am and called our vet at Ten West Bird and Animal Hospital. I had never taken any of the rats up there, as they have never had any health problems, but Dr. Powers helped us a lot when we had ferrets when I was little. Anyway, the only appointment I could get that did not interfere with work was at 5:30 pm. Kind of a long wait, but I went for it and went back to bed, completely exhausted. As luck would have it, work was cancelled today so I called them back and made an appointment for 4:30 pm instead. She was really less than enthused about the being in the car part and preferred to lay around in the scary carrying bag and wait for the awfulness to be over:

When I got there, they weighed her and she is about 13.5 oz, kind of on the smaller side for her age. She has lost a bit of weight with all of the health issues, I think, because she did feel a bit smaller. They checked her out and Dr. Powers was very helpful and gentle. I went in there completely sure that they would want to euthanize her. Her head tilt is pretty bad and it happened very quickly, which to me indicates something horrible. I am a horrible worrywort, though. Dr. Powers said that she saw no definitive signs pointing to an ear infection, nothing in her ears at all. However, an ear infection would be the most treatable condition at this point, so we decided to treat it as that and see if it helped at all. So, she gave me several medications for her to take for two weeks and then come in for a follow up.

Mometamax - ear drops to help with a possible ear infection

Baytril - antibiotic taken by mouth, seems to be commonly prescribed

Metacam - for pain and inflammation, hopefully to help with the inflammation in her inner ear and help with the head tilt, plus this cannot be too fun so pain relief is good, too. She did not want to give her a steroid, so she opted for this instead to see if it would work.

Artificial Tear Ointment - for her right eye, which is facing much at a downward angle and the tears are to help keep it from getting injured, to be given 3 times daily

Amazingly enough, this whole thing only cost me like $150. It isn't cheap, but it was a lot better than I was afraid it would be. 

She took her medicine like a champ and did not fuss or try to bite or anything, so that's good. I don't know if that should worry me further as it seems to indicate she is feeling absolutely awful. Anyway, she more than earned her little mini-snack of apple sauce as a reward for her bravery.

Here's to hoping that she perks up and does better. She has always been my favorite of the four, though I try not to say it too loudly for the other three to hear. She has always been sort of socially awkward and very clingy and shy. Heck, for the first month or two after I brought her home she shirt dived and refused to leave the comforting confines of my bra during play time. She has really gotten much better, but she is still shy and awkward. I think it's all of the extra work and effort I have had to put in to seeing her grow into a well-socialized little beast that makes me love her so. Plus, she gives awesome rattie kisses! Right now she is resting comfortably in the cage. I went ahead and cleaned it up very well and made a few furniture modifications to allow her to get around a bit better, so we will see how she does. I am hopeful that she will return to her adorable self again soon.

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