Caring for oldies

For anything to do with rat care that doesn't fit into any of the sections above!
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izzerie
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Caring for oldies

Post by izzerie » Wed Jul 27, 2011 10:58 am

I'm adopting a group of 5 boys tonight and the ages range from 3 months to 18months. Therefore I'm very suddenly having to think about caring for older rats! My oldest boy is only now approaching the 16 month mark so I was going to have to start thinking about it but now I'm going to have to get my butt into gear with these boys coming :p

Can anyone give me any hints, tips, do's and don'ts about caring for older ratties? I'm fine with kittens, I've had 8 of those now but oldies I have no clue! What about things like senior aid? Kidney friendly diets? How do these things work in a mixed group. I am totally clueless so any advice would be much appreciated!

(As a side note, it might be useful if this topic was stickied or perhaps an article written for the info section? We have articles for pretty much everything else, would be good to have one for caring for oldies :))
Albert, Annie, Matilda, Sidney, Ivan, Mozart, Samson, Pablo, Tabitha, Rose, Violet, Hettie, Billy, Horatio, Flash, Atlas, Bentley
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ErnieG!
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Re: Caring for oldies

Post by ErnieG! » Wed Jul 27, 2011 11:07 am

Well, you can start giving senior aid when you think they need it, I don't start them on it until they seem to be getting on.
Although I do start a kidney friendly diet around 12/14 months old.

I also start looking for signs of kidney problems, HLD, and just general signs of old age :)
Emma and the rodents, Meryl, Esmeralda and the 3 unnamed girls.
Kuzco, waiting for some friends.

Waiting for me at the bridge Jasmine, Francesca, Francis and Ebony :rainbow:

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Re: Caring for oldies

Post by izzerie » Wed Jul 27, 2011 11:16 am

ErnieG! wrote:
I also start looking for signs of kidney problems, HLD, and just general signs of old age :)

Can you give me some idea of what they are? Imagine i'm an alien just landed on earth, I seriously know nothing about oldies, the two I've lost were 10months and 15months so this is a new adventure for me!
Albert, Annie, Matilda, Sidney, Ivan, Mozart, Samson, Pablo, Tabitha, Rose, Violet, Hettie, Billy, Horatio, Flash, Atlas, Bentley
At the bridge: Henry & Rupert

Sidney's Safe House for Rats

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Re: Caring for oldies

Post by ticketyboo_fran » Wed Jul 27, 2011 6:01 pm

My two eldest are 29 months at the moment and are only starting to show their age now.

Honey is looking a wee bit more sparse in the hair department and Bramble looks like she's only a year old!

I have had to rethink my cage layouts as they aren't quite as agile as they used to be, where as before it was all about climbing, they don't tend to do this very much now and I've had to put all ramps back in so they can get about more easily.

I've never had any ladies live past 2 before so it's all quite new to me too, they have slowed down a lot and aren't 'pingy' anymore. Now they prefer to chill out in my lap and exploring seems lower down their priority list, which suits me fine :D

I wouldn't say at 16 months they should be showing signs of 'old age' yet, sadly a lot of rats only make it to middle age and are taken out prematurely by ill health... :(
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Re: Caring for oldies

Post by Ziggy » Wed Jul 27, 2011 6:34 pm

With my oldies, I don't tend to notice real signs of old age until they're 2 or so.
One thing I think is important is hygeine of old lads. If they're old and a bit frail, they can have issues washing themselves quite as thoroughly, particularly around the naughty bits! When I have old doddery boys, I do regularly check their willies to make sure they're clean and they don't have plugs :sickrat:
With my really old lads, I would bath them semi regularly too, just to keep them cleaner. I had a very old lad recently who had complete HLD and couldn't get about well, and I had to bath him once a day otherwise he just got soaked in wee and it can burn their skin if left.
With rats with poor hind leg usage, its a good idea to keep nails trimmed as they won't be wearing them down as they normally would. For some reason, old man rat nails seem to be thick and grotty, like old man human nails :P

But I haven't really noticed these issues in any but the most ancient of rats, sort of 27, 28 months. All of my 18 month old lads are still pretty sprightly and well, and don't need much extra care from me.

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Re: Caring for oldies

Post by Neotoma » Wed Jul 27, 2011 7:37 pm

Ah, the joy of neutered boys - never had to deal with a penile plug :lol:

Anyway... I treat my old boys the same as everyone else. All adults get a diet that is reasonably kidney friendly, and I only give supplements if they need them medically (i.e. joint capsules for boys who get a bit creaky or hind end issues). I don't change the cage unless someone has problems getting around or is at risk of falling - then they get more hammocks so they can't fall, and the climbs are easier, but it's still a climbing based tall cage.

Tbh, I never think of 18 months as old - I've had the odd one die at that sort of age due to either resp disease or brain tumours, but they weren't old, just ill. Old age starts north of 24 months in my house (how far north depends on the rat), and doesn't really get going (with HLD etc) until 30 months.
Alison and the horde of squish :smileyrat:

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Re: Caring for oldies

Post by izzerie » Wed Jul 27, 2011 11:25 pm

I guess I think of 18 months as old because I've lost two boys young (10 and 15 months).

Well I've got them home and I'm a little concerned about one of them. Billy seems to drag his tail along behind him and doesn't seem to have an awful lot of strength in his back legs. Sometimes one will be worse than the other and he will walk lent over to that side. Also, I noticed he doesn't use his back legs to climb, he hauls himself up with the front ones. He can however sit on his back legs to eat but he can't extend them in the classic "meerkat" pose. Does this sound like HLD? If so, would so senior aid be of benefit? Any other supplements? Horatio seems absolutely fine.
Albert, Annie, Matilda, Sidney, Ivan, Mozart, Samson, Pablo, Tabitha, Rose, Violet, Hettie, Billy, Horatio, Flash, Atlas, Bentley
At the bridge: Henry & Rupert

Sidney's Safe House for Rats

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Re: Caring for oldies

Post by ErnieG! » Thu Jul 28, 2011 12:49 pm

What your best doing is taking a video and upload it here.
There are somethings you can do, when he's walking just lift his tail and drop it to see how he reacts, my francis' just used to thud when he started plodding with his feet, see if his taik curls around your finger aswell, thats when you know they'll have a problem with balancing, he would always sit on his bum to eat instead of using his back legs, I used to pop him in my hand to see if his back feet would grip my hand also, which he couldn't do toward the end :(
Emma and the rodents, Meryl, Esmeralda and the 3 unnamed girls.
Kuzco, waiting for some friends.

Waiting for me at the bridge Jasmine, Francesca, Francis and Ebony :rainbow:

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Re: Caring for oldies

Post by Neotoma » Fri Jul 29, 2011 11:45 am

It does sound like HLD of some sort. I've found joint supplements and metacam both can help quite a bit. However, given his age, and the fact HLD is sometimes associated with kidney disease, I would check his urine before making a decision on the metacam as it isn't the most kidney friendly of drugs.
Alison and the horde of squish :smileyrat:

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