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My Rat Medicine Cabinet: A Tidier View

First, the "Good-to-Haves"/"Must-Haves:"

Nail clippers for trimming nails.

Which reminds me: Styptic powder should be on the list. Needed for those oopsed-up nail-trimmings. If you're in a crunch: Flour.

Collar to prevent self-inflicted injuries. This is good to have because they're harder to make when you're in a panic!
See also: Make Your Own Elizabethan Collars

From Left to right: Baby oil, aloe vera, calendula cream, balm with tea tree oil (sorry, I forgot the Bag Balm)
For dry skin, scabs, sores, burns. This is good to have because baby oil helps you unstick stuck appendages. But you don't need everything: Just something oily and non-irritating. The aloe vera and chap stick are topical remedies to reduce inflammation and can be acquired "as needed."

Nutrical - good to have because if your rat's not eating, you can syringe-feed this instead.

Syringes for feeding and medicating - some kind of syringe for syringe-feeding and watering is a very good thing to have on hand. When you have a crisis you can't just head over to a drugstore and get a syringe to fee your rat. The irrigating syringe is a "Nice-to-Have," the syringe with needle is an "As-Needed."
From top to bottom: 12 cc feeding syringe (also can be used with needle to administer subq fluids), same (only still in its capsule), irrigating syringe for flusing abscesses but can also be used as a feeding syringe for babies, 1 cc syringe with removable needle for administering subq shots as well as for (sans needle) delivering oral medications.

Tape and bandages - good for the obvious but also good in lieu of Elizabethan collar. For example, you can wrap a "shirt" around a rat's chest to reduce flexibility. The white sticky-bandage on the right does a really good job of sticking to itself without sticking to the rat. The Kerlix bandage rolls are great because it takes them longer to chew through it. The curad soft-tape shouldn't ever be directly applied to a rat!
It's good to have some kind of bandage on hand - you just never know...

Cotton balls - good for cleaning wounds, etc.

Salves - If nothing else, have one tube of opthalmic ointment handy - there's nothing like a nicked eyeball at midnight on a Friday.
Left to right: Nolvasan (topical), Terramycin (opthalmic), Animax (tube and box below - topical), Vetropolycin (opthalmic)

Cleaning agents - If nothing else, have a bottle of Hydrogen Peroxide to clean cuts, abscesses, etc.
Left to right: Hydrogen peroxide, Chlorahexaderm flush, topical fungicide, betadine. Vet warned me to never ever use rubbing alcohol on rat skin.

Left to right: Saline for eye flushing, sterile water for abscess flushing.
You really can't live without a bottle of saline: Great for flushing/cleaning out abscesses and also great for those mysterious one-eye has porhyrin (red) staining on it moments (they probably have a little debris stuck in their eye and it's a lot easier to flush out the debris than have to apply opthalmic ointment twice-daily with the hopes that you won't have to have your vet surgically remove the infected eye (because the infection got that bad).

Skin glue: Must have if you're introducing teenage boys! Reduces infection resulting from battle wounds...that is, if you catch it right away. Also great if that one-in-a-million situation arises when your favorite rat gets nipped on a prominent vein or artery....
I'm sure you're wondering why this is a "Must-Have" and I will tell you. Skin glue costs somewhere in the neighborhood of $14-$20. And, you may never use it. But if you do, you'll think of me and send me a thank-you note for the advice. Let's say one of your rats gets cranky and gives another rat a good gash on his back. You see this happen. The wound is fresh and clean. You grab your skin glue, apply the glue to one edge of the cut and hold it to the other end of the cut so it's sealed. It doesn't get infected - it stays clean - and you're happy because....
If you didn't have the glue, you'd have to meticulously clean it out day and night. You may even have to separate your rats which means having to go through introductions all over again. And, despite your efforts, you might find yourself having to take a trip to the vet's to get your rat on antibiotics and sedated in order to completely clean out the wound.
Or worse: This happened to me, I swear - I'm not making stuff up in order to get you to spend your life savings. A small rat-fight led to a little itty bitty barely-noticeable nip right on the shoulder of my favorite rat. This stupid little nick was deep enough that he also nicked my favorite rat's left axillary artery. Blood was gushing out everywhere and we could not get it to stop. Called the vet in a panic and he said: "Nat, do you have any skin glue?" I said "Sure do!." He said, "This is your only shot: Open the hole on the surface as big as you can, stick the tip of the glue-bottle right in there, and squirt. It'll bind to the blood to help it clot and plug that vein right up."
And it did. And I was happy. Very, very happy.
Where do you get it? Cal-Vet Supply has it for the best price I've seen and usually carries both the 3M variety as well as the Nexaband variety. The 3M bottle tends to not seal itself shut as much as the Nexaband.

Second, the "Nice-to-Haves:"

Otoscope for looking in rat ears - great if you have old rats and something smells bad!

Stethoscope ...to listen to their lungs.

And, Third, the "As-Neededs:"

Guillotine Scissors for trimming two teeth at once.

Cat Claw snips for trimming one tooth at a time.

Left to right: Furosemide (lasix) for injection, dexamethasone for injection, aminophylline for injection.
If your rat is getting old or if your rat has been having "myco flare-ups" his entire life, you should ask your vet to have the aminophylline and a couple of syringes with needles on hand for when/if your rat has a gasping attack.

Lactated Ringer's Solution and Saline
If your rat is getting old or has been consistently ill his entire life, you should try to get a bag of Ringer's to have on hand in case of emergency...and some 10-12cc syringes with needles to dispense it subcutaneously.

Antibiotics - it's good to just always have the water-soluble doxy on hand. If you treat a sneeze+faint chest noise early on with this, it more often that not saves you quite a few bucks. Read About Water Soluble Doxy.
From left to right: Water soluble doxy, injectable doxy, water soluble doxy, Zithromax children's cherry (Baytril's in the fridge).

Blu-kote for bumbles

Ivermectin for all your parasitic needs.

Kidney formula for dogs - for older guys with enlarged kidneys - they actually like it :o)
If your rat's old and his kidneys are unnecessarily large, try this (plus lab chow) for his sole diet in order to get his kidneys back in order. It really does help!

Everything else: Bach's Rescue remedy (never used it), Tylenol (acetominophen), Tylenol cold (with acetominophen), Tylenol flu (with acetominophen), Echinacea, Triaminic cold and cough (they didn't mind this one), Little Tummy's for gas and bloat.
If you don't have a 24 hour drug store near you, at least keep a bottle of the Children's Tylenol on hand always.

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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:

    1) To entertain.
    2) To help avoid repetition of mistakes

  Remember! Your rat is not a science project, he is your friend!

All content contained herein © 1996-2007 by Andrew Waltz, Nathalie Baldwin, & the rats of RatRaisins, Inc.  
Use of images and/or text without permission is prohibited.