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African Pouched RatKali aged 6 weeks
Kali's vital statistics
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Species: African Pouched Rat (Cricetomys gambianus)



24 November

Kali had another good playtime last night and was again very active. She was very demanding about having her rump scratched. Every time I stopped scratching her she gnawed the skirting board to get my attention again. I’ve concluded that the reason that she likes her rump scratched and tickled so much is as a result of her diabetes. I’ve read that it causes itching and it certainly seems to fit her behaviour.

I’m trying to get her to take flaxseed oil but it has a very bitter taste and she isn’t interested in trying it. I could sweeten it with fruit juice but that wouldn’t help her glucose levels!

We’re back to the vets this evening to get his analysis. I hope we don’t have to drastically alter her diet because she is very fond of fruit and I can’t imagine what she’d be like if she couldn’t have any.

23 November

Everything I’ve read about diabetes since getting Kali’s blood results seems to suggests that she does have the disease. Apart from making sure she takes her worming treatment I’ve reduce the amount of fruit in her diet and, for whatever reason, Kali has been much more lively and active during the last couple of playtimes. She didn’t sit huddled up in the corner looking uncomfortable, she immediately started to move about looking for the bits of food I leave about for her. She even climbed on the chair, ran upstairs to explore the landing, and on Friday night got into the bathroom - I’d left the door open. She had a great time exploring in there. Her feet are still troubling her but she was coping with that and looking as if she was having a good time running about. She even did a little jump on the landing. She hasn’t done that for ages.

21 November

We’ve been back to the vets every other day for the past couple of weeks but Kali isn’t showing any real signs of improvement. She finally had blood tests done and it looks as if she is diabetic!

Kali had the blood test done on Tuesday. She also had x-rays done so the vet had to gas her to do these. He asked me to come back as soon as she was coming round after the anaesthetic which meant I was able to hold and cuddle her while she slowly woke up. Normally I can’t hold her for more than a few minutes before she’s insisting on being let go so it was a real treat to be able to hold her close while she recovered. She was wrapped in a big towel with her head peeking out from the top and the end of her tail poking out from the bottom. She gradually showed signs of waking up. The first thing I noticed was she was smacking her lips and licking round inside her mouth. Soon after that her eyes open but just as tiny slits and a few moments later her ears started to twitch and swivel about, responding to sounds in the next room. When she did wake up properly it happened very quickly. Her eyes sprang open and she climbed out of the towel and onto my shoulder. I gently put her into her carry-tank and, after a quick check over by the vet, we went home. It took her about an hour to come round from the anaesthetic.

The vet had had trouble getting a good blood sample from her. He tried her tail vein, jugular and ear but didn’t get any more than a drop. I was horrified to learn that he had had to take the blood from her heart! She must have felt very sore and pulled about but she was fully recovered by the evening.

The blood results were available on Thursday. The vet hadn’t had a chance to study them but let me have a copy. He was initially concerned about parasites and Kali has got to take another worming treatment. this one is on powdered form which she’s take mixed into cold porridge. I emailed the blood results to a couple of other Pouched Rat owners who have been following Kali’s illness. One is a veterinary nurse and the other is a biologist so they were both very interested in seeing the results. They both suspect diabetes. I wont hear from my vet again until Monday evening and it will be interesting to see if he suspects the same thing. In the mean time I’m reading-up on diabetes in pets.

15 November

Kali’s been to the vets nearly every day this week to check on her progress but she isn’t sowing any signs of improvement. Her urine sample did show a couple of problems: roundworms – which we’ve treated with the general wormer ‘Ivomec’, and ‘struvite-like crystals’ which could indicate kidney stones. She had the worming treatment a couple of days ago and last light I was able to collect a second urine sample which will also be analysed to see if there is any improvement.

Kali is more comfortable this weekend because she’s on pain killers but these are only masking the problem. I do hope we can find out what wrong with her this coming week.

The first evening that she was on the painkillers showed a dramatic change in behaviour. For the first time in weeks when I got her out she trotting about exploring. She then decided that she wanted attention and she started to gnew the skirting board and the door frames. She would only stop if I scratched and tickled her bottom. As soon as I stopped she would attack the woodwork again. I finally got her to stop by picking her up and putting her on the stairs. This reminded her that there was an upstairs to explore and she bounded up to the landing and went straight her favourite spot by the bathroom door. She picked up where she’d left off several weeks before and continued shredding the hall carpet. She was just like her old self!

My vet has been very good and has given me copies of all kali’s test results and treatments. I’ll put these on this site in case anyone eles’ rat shows similar symptoms.

11 November

Kali’s been back to the vets and had three injections but they don’t seem to be having any effect. She’s still very uncomfortable, especially in the evenings, and her twitching foot problems are more pronounced.

She went back to the vets yesterday evening and the lab results on her dropping were in. She’s clear of worms and salmonella but she does have an infection. The results showed that it was resistant to the Tribrissen antibiotic so the vet has changed it to Baytril. Hopefully this will now start to make her feel better. This time the vet ‘crushed’ her down with a towel inside her travel box and injected her into her haunch.

I’d managed to collect a urine sample from her the previous evening. She’s wee’d while she was out onto the laminate floor so I was able to scoop it up with an old credit card and collect it in an old contact lens case. The vet will get this analysed too.

If the new antibiotic doesn’t help we’re going to have to take a blood sample from her. This will involve gassing her.

I had a huge shock when I got her home and let her back into her house. She couldn’t use her right back leg at all. It was dragging behind her. This was the same side that she had the injection in. I immediately rang the vet. He assured me that it was a temporary reaction to the injection and sure enough she was OK a few hours later. I’ll get her out for playtime tomorrow evening and see if she is any better.

9 November

I took Kali to the vet over the weekend. She wasn’t getting any better and she was looking increasingly miserable. I took a sample of her dropping with me and the vet has sent them off for analysis. We should get some of the results back tomorrow and the rest in a few days. There’s no way of knowing exactly what’s wrong with her yet so the vet has put her on a course of antibiotic (Tribrisses) and anti-inflammatory (Ketofen). Hopefully these will help her feel more comfortable until the lab results come through.

She hated the injection. There was no way that she was going to sit still and let someone jab a needle in her so the vet ‘towelled’ her. This involved pinning her down with a cloth, holding her still and injecting her through it. As with other rats she was injected into the scruff of the neck.

Apart from looking uncomfortable Kali is having some sort of trouble with her back legs. When she starts to move forward they spasm, as if she’s put pressure on a nerve. She flicks her feet and washes the soles of her feet as if they are irritating her.

I’ll write up a section on this illness and post it in the ‘Facts and care’ section in case anyone else’s rat shows similar symptoms.

4 November

Kali gave us a bit of a fright over the weekend. She came out to play as usual on Sunday night and she was quite easy to pick up because she didn’t hide in her bed. However as soon as I put her down she hid in a corner and curled up in a ball. She stayed curled up in the same spot for almost an hour. She looked very miserable and then, just at the end of playtime, she got up and started to explore – she even started to run and jump about. I was convinced I was going to have to take her to the vet and then she acted completely fine.

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