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Camarattery - Colorado Rat Breeder

Temperature in the Home

Written by Amy, Camarattery ©
6/2021

 

I have not written articles in a while to I wanted to touch base with my readers about temperature in your home, with regards to how that affects rats health. This seems to be the number one thing people have a problem with. And the number one reason rats die.

The result of temperature being incorrect is 2 things. Firstly, if it gets too cold for them they have a myco outbreak and then your in the vet getting antibiotics. Secondly the other issue is when your rats get too hot. As a result your rat is sprawling out flat and not moving. Which can kill a rat quickly. So let me talk about both problems and address the signs of the stress both hot and cold temps cause. Please be advised that rats from different breeders/states can be acclimated to different temperatures. For example I will pick on Arizona here because I personally deal with this on a regular basis, since I have a breeder I work closely with out there. My situation is that rats born in Colorado won't do well straight away in a home in Arizona if not acclimated to hotter temps. There can be a 20+F difference in what Arizona rats are used to vs rats born in Colorado. And my rats cannot handle heat like that.

Cold - Cold causes mycoplasma out breaks. All rats born outside of a lab situation are both with myco in their systems. There is no way around that. Normally its dormant. Its just a fact. So keeping them from getting a myco flair up is essential. Myco to a rat is like us having a cold or flu, but for them its deadly. Symptoms you will see are red staining called porphyrin coming out of their noses and eyes, snot, fur fluffed up, back arching, lethargy. Seeing porphyrin in just the nose only isn't a sign of myco or a reason for alarm. As its also a sign of a small amount of stress. Like if you moved them to a new home for example. If this is the case see my article on using organic apple cider vinegar to beef up the immune system to support health and stop the red staining from going any further.  However if you see porphyrin in conjunction with any of the other above mentioned symptoms, you have a serious problem. That's a myco outbreak. Furthermore; any time you see snot, you have a serious problem. Myco left untreated can kill a rat in 24 hours. Easily. Once you see the rats back arching its really bad. At that point their body temperature is low and they can't breathe. Their cold or flu like symptoms are so bad they are too congested to get air, so they arch. They need a nebulizer at this point. So before the arching happens, at the first sign of a problem get them vetted immediately.  You have no time to waste.

Also many vets are prescribing meds that are no longer effective on myco, because the meds have been over used for so many years. Because vets keep using it. These are Baytril and Doxycycline. They always prescribe them together, and myco is no longer susceptible to them. Then the rat doesn't get better and the vet will keep giving you the same thing perpetually on and off throughout the life of the rat. Please ask for something different. Ask for a tetracycline based antibiotic. Its very effective and works very quickly.

Here at my rattery my rats cannot drop below 60F at night and they should be closer to 66F. But huge temperature shifts can cause a myco outbreak. So don't let your home go way up and way down. That is what can cause an outbreak. Keep it stable. Don't go from 70 to 60.

Heat - Rats in Colorado aren't used to the heat. Signs of stress due to heat is lethargy, stretching out flat and lying on a flat surface and not moving. Once your rat gets to this point there is not much room for the temperature to go up before you have dead rats. We are talking about a 3F difference can kill. Here in Colorado 80F can kill in my experience. So 77F your rats stop moving, lay out flat and you have a rat with heat exhaustion. This is dangerous. What to do? Cool it down, give them a ceramic tile to lay on and cool down, feed frozen peas. Let them go pea fishing in a pool of cool water.

Do not keep rats in the mid to high 70's in Colorado. I keep mine at 66F all year around. 

In conclusion, for me since I am devoted to the rats for life... I have a pretty high tech ventilation system that keeps my temperature perfect. I have a vent on the wall that has 10 speeds and a sensor on a long cord that keeps track of humidity and temperature. Its digital and programable to keep the room at the temperature and humidity levels I want it at. If it gets too cold the motor will turn down. If it gets too hot it kicks up the speed and sounds an alarm for me. If its too humid it will turn up the fan. My heat and cooling system are also programmed to turn off and on to regulate appropriately. You don't need to go quite that far and buy a system link mine. But its not hard to keep rats the right temp either. Just don't go below 60 or above 70 ish. Try to stay just below 70F is my recommendation here in Colorado. Do not go above 75F. 

A huge danger to rats is right when the season changes. This is when I see people reporting that their rats are sick. The reason is that people have allowed the temps in the home to fluctuate greatly in either direction. Winter hits, the home gets too cold. Summer hits and people don't want to pay a higher energy bill so they hold off for too many weeks on turning on the AC or swamp cooler. I see this happening every single year at every change of the season since I started breeding. Since I run several large rat groups on social media, so I see that this is a huge reoccurring topic year after year, season after season.

Please take these suggestions to heart and plan ahead accordingly.  If you look at the weeks weather and see an 80F day in your future and its only April, plan on cooling your rats down that day. If you have newly acquired rats, plan your temps according to the pervious breeders temps. Acclimate them, don't shock them with instant changes if you have gotten rats form a source with differing temps than you. Ask what the rats are used to. And slowly make changes where needed.