Myco is a bacteria that resides in the lungs. It is not a cold or a virus or an allergy. It's just a bacteria that 85% of all rats have. Assume your rats have it.
You can't cure it or make it go away. What you can do is prevent its manifestation. Think of it as "asthma."
Things to consider:
If you can smell pee, they can smell pee twice as much. They can also feel pee. It makes them raspy and clogs up their noses. It makes them sneeze, it makes them wheeze. If you smell pee, grab a napkin or paper towel, and scoop up that special corner they pee in and replace it with fresh litter.
On the pee note, our biggest collection of the fragrant Eau de Whiz is generally on the cage wires mangled in shed fur. If you have that same problem, you may need to up your disinfecting routine.
CareFresh, Aspen, Yesterday's News, CellSorb, Newspaper, and Paper Towels are all good bedding options. However, some rats are just allergic to things that, for other rats, are OK. Try them on paper towels for a week, or any alternate type of bedding, and see if what you see and hear lessens.
Temperature is a biggie. Rats are hearty animals, almost too hearty sometimes making people like myself forget that the first gush of warm Spring air is the worst thing they can experience. Big gustos of "fresh" air of a suddenly different temperature can put them right over the edge.
General allergy-type things like mold, hay-fever, etc can take a toll on ratty lungs. Check your newspaper's allergen counts and see if there is any correlation between your rat's breathing problems and high numbers of any of those allergens.
Aquariums lock in and triple the odor and lock the dust in. They require even more cleaning than cages. If you're using aquariums or have closed-in areas, try a different set-up and see if they improve.
What to do:
Treat early! I've found that the fluidy gurgling noise in the girls is equivalent to the hiccoughing/sneezing noise in the boys. Our boys just hide it better. Once the boys start sounding fluidy, it's an emergency.
Tylan works OK...for just sneezes. I've yet to have a successful Ciprofloxacin moment but attribute that to a low dose. SMZ-TMP and Floramfenicol seems to be doing alright, albeit slowly. Water-soluble Doxy seems to do alright for minor infections. Tetracycline did alright, and intramuscularly injectable Doxy performs miracles. Keep the Water-soluble Doxy on hand. It's easy to acquire. If they sneeze more than 5 times in 5-10 minutes and you hear a little lung noise when you hold them up to your ears, try the water-soluble doxy as their sole source of water (distilled water) for 14-21 days. If their condition doesn't improve in 7-10 days, move up to Doxycycline/Baytril (enrofloxacin) combo which does require a vet. Once they're stable, be sure to keep the the instigators (dust, smell, cool air, etc) to a minimum.
tip: When navigating through the RatTails,
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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: