Abscesses, for those of you have not yet had the opportunity to see them, are "small" bumps that develop under the rat's thick skin. They are about the size of a cherry. Sometimes people think they are tumors but I can assure you that tumors get a lot bigger than that and you see these things a lot more when the rat is under one year of age than when he or she is older and more prone to tumors.
When my grandmother had a big infection in her foot, it didn't bother me and I was more than happy to clean it out. When the rats would get in fights and cut each other up, I had no problem cleaning off the wound and gluing it up. As a matter of fact, I've snipped a tumor off that had made its way outside of the rat's skin, and even trimmed the dead skin around that wound. And I sealed it back up. I've even performed the tricky tail-snipping surgery (see "Do not assume that all body parts are permanently attached.") and it doesn't bother me.
Abscesses on rats, however, STINK! They are so nauseating. And these rats will lick that stuff out! Eek. But they are my babies, and when they get one of these things which can be caused by something so small as the prick of a fingernail, I will wait a couple of days for it to break and I will swab it out and I will use hydrogen peroxide to clean out the infection and I will gag...
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Disclaimer: There are many non-sarcastic accounts and tips on the web regarding rat care. This is not
one of them. These are merely accounts of our experiences with rats, our perceptions of these experiences, where we've failed
and where we've succeeded. These accounts are here for two purposes: