Tumors in Rats: How to Identify and Treat Them

Tumors in Rats: How to Identify and Treat Them

Here we can see, “Tumors in Rats: How to Identify and Treat Them”

Tumors are rather prevalent in pet rats, and they may play a role in the rats’ short lifespans. These growths, which might be cancerous or benign, can appear anywhere on a rat’s body. Some of these inflict pain or make it difficult for rats to go about their regular lives. Early detection and treatment of cancers are crucial since these animals are adored by their owners for their friendliness and intellect. Treatment, typically surgery, may help a rat stay more comfortable or live longer.

What Is a Tumor?

A tumor on a rat’s outer body or internal organs is a mass or growth of aberrant tissue. Tumors can range in severity from benign cysts or lipomas (fatty tumors) to malignant tumors that are life-threatening.

Tumors can form on the skin of a rat and be apparent, or they might form internally and go undiscovered for a long period of time. The following are some of the most prevalent forms of tumors found in rats:

  • Mammary tumors
  • Lipomas
  • Cysts
  • Brain tumors
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Symptoms of Tumors in Rats


  • Difficulty walking or climbing
  • Pain
  • Weight gain
  • Visible lump
  • Increased appetite
  • Bulging eyes
  • Misshapen head
  • Ataxia

Your rat’s movement may be hindered depending on the location, which can lead to lethargy, poor appetite, and weight gain from a growing tumor.

Your pet rat’s appetite may be boosted as a result of tumors. A rat who eats a lot of food but doesn’t gain weight could be suffering from a nutritional offset, in which the nutrients are being directed toward the tumor’s growth.

Due to tumor development, brain tumors commonly induce neurological problems, as well as protruding eyes and a deformed skull. Rats with brain tumors may be ataxic, having difficulty moving around or appearing unstable.

Mammary Tumors

These are hormone-dependent, fast-growing tumors that respond to oestrogen and prolactin stimulation. They’re more common in female rats that haven’t been spayed, and cancer is a possibility.


Lipomas, also known as fatty tumors, are fat tissue pockets that can appear anywhere on a rat’s body. They are rarely malignant, but they can grow to the point that they need to be removed.


Male rats are the ones who are most likely to develop cysts. Although cysts are not considered cancers (unless they are cystadenomas), they have the appearance and feel of tumors. They’re usually seen on the back of a male rat, near the sebaceous glands. A minor skin infection or ingrown hair might cause cysts to form. They are normally hard and do not grow to the same size as a lipoma or breast tumor.

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Brain Tumors

Both benign and malignant brain tumors can be caused by cancer or something wrong with the pituitary gland.

Causes of Tumors

Tumors can be caused by a variety of physiological, genetic, and environmental variables (such as poor breeding or exposure to carcinogenic poisons), but no one knows for sure what causes aberrant tissue growth in every case.

Diagnosing Tumors in Rats

Different tumors may be more noticeable than others. Some tumors grow quickly and are easy to spot, while others grow slowly and might not be noticed until your rat has trouble moving around or seems to be in pain when you pick it up.

Following the discovery of a tumor, a veterinarian will conduct a physical examination, x-rays, and/or ultrasounds to assess the tumor’s shape and invasiveness. A biopsy may be performed to determine whether the tumor is malignant.


Some tumors may be small enough to be managed without surgery, but most tumors in rats grow to the point where they must be removed due to the animal’s small size.

Surgical removal of mammary tumors and big lipomas is common, especially if they are suspected of being malignant or creating ambulation problems in your rat. It can be difficult to entirely eliminate some growth, and regrowth is common.

Cysts are generally pierced to allow fluid to drain. Cysts must be monitored for infection and can regenerate, necessitating surgical excision later.

In rats, brain tumors and some forms of malignant tumors are inoperable. Some cancers, such as estrogen-sensitive tumors, can be treated with medications like Tamoxifen, while nutrients like turmeric and shark cartilage have been shown to slow tumor growth.

Rats with serious health problems, on the other hand, should be put to sleep after their quality of life has been impaired.

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Prognosis for Rats with Tumors

In a rat, the prognosis is determined by the type and size of the tumor. Tumors that are operable can be removed, which improves comfort and mobility, but many of them grow back. Invasive malignant tumors are often not treatable and can have a big effect on the quality of life of a rat.

How to Prevent Tumors in Rats

While there is no guarantee of tumor avoidance, feeding a rat a balanced, low-fat diet may help some rats avoid malignant tumors. Several studies have also found that rats fed a diet high in miso, a soybean product, have fewer mammary tumors. Furthermore, spaying or neutering your pet rat can help lower the risk of malignant breast or reproductive organ tumors.

User Questions

How long can rats live with a tumor?

A rat with a benign tumor that is removed and spayed will usually live a long life. Following surgery, several younger rats have lasted an extra two years. For some rats, surgery is not the best option.

Are tumors common in rats?

Rats are genetically inclined to develop tumors and malignancies at a high rate. Some tumors are cancerous, while others are not. In all circumstances, however, removing the tumor is recommended to help limit the number of people who die as a result of malignant growth.

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Why do rats get mammary tumors?

The presence of the hormone prolactin causes mammary tumors to form in rats. This hormone is produced throughout the rat’s regular oestrus cycle. It can also be secreted by the breast tumor itself, as well as pituitary gland tumors. Prolactin secretion rises with age in rats.

Why is my rat barely moving?

If you notice your pet rat has stopped moving and is exhibiting digestive symptoms, the most likely cause is an infection or intestinal parasites. Inappropriate food can cause internal parasites. To avoid nutritional issues, take a look at our article on what to feed a rat.

Why is my rat dragging his back legs?

Rats can develop back-leg weakness as they get older. Hind leg degeneration, or HLD, is a term used to describe this condition. It’s especially prevalent among male rats. You may see your rat wobbling or dragging one or both legs while they walk.


I hope you found this helpful guide. If you have any questions or comments, don’t hesitate to use the form below.


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