Over the past few weeks now I have been very distraught over the wellness of my hairless "fancy rat", named Kylie. One day out of the blue, I discovered him limping around his cage, favoring his left hind-leg. Right away I looked some info up online, figuring he'd sprained his foot. Most of the info I got was that it was best to let the foot mend on it's own, except then a couple of days went by and I noticed that he wasn't eating or drinking properly, and thus his pink soft skin became dry and flaky. His foot was also swollen. I began giving him baby advil for the pain, and for two days this seemed to do well and the swelling had gone down... but then uh-oh, I discover him one morning and his foot is swollen again, except it's also got an open wound. Bumble foot?? what?? I was using small bits of neosporin on his lil' wounds in hopes that they would heal, but as his foot became more swollen I figured letting the wound weep would be better, thinking the infection could dry up. About three days of this and his other foot began looking "bumbly" with him putting all his weight on it most of the time. By this point I'd scheduled a vet visit, which ended with them giving me an antibiotic, saying he'd get his appetite back with the infection gone... EXCEPT the infection never left. The antibiotics didn't help. During the antibiotics his other foot started to swell also, despite having a cardboard flooring down in his cage and because of his open wounds I only used phonebook paper or paper towels as bedding. I gave him baths consistently to try to "calm" the angry-looking sores. They just constantly oozed puss- no blood, just puss and cottage cheese looking stuff that stank!! Despite the constant weeping of the wounds the swelling stayed. Never went down. The baby advil didn't help cept' for Kylie's pain. He continued to be picky with food- I got him to eat bits of odds and ends but nothing very consistent. Then one morning I check on him and there is blood spots on the floor of his cage. I check his foot and his wounds are bloody, but the blood had dried. I thought I'd give him a quick bath but as I picked him up blood just poured from his injured foot!! I called a couple of vets right away to set up an emergency visit for a bleeding rat- one never called me back to let me know whether or not they could even see him and the other said to go ahead and bring him in. Of course it was still a thirty minute wait and thank god his wounds had clotted again!!! I was so scared he was going to bleed to death! SO TO SAY... the vet took him in and said they'd clean him up and try to get all that inflammation gunk out of his leg. The doc straight up even said she'd give him some pedialyte for the nutrition loss, and she knew of a better antibiotic than the previous one I'd used. So I had to go to work and leave my lil' buddy at the vet... she called me at work to let me know how he was doing but she had some bad news. She said the swelling had been hard, not soft tissue like a normal abscess?? And then said she took some X-rays and it looks like he's got a bone cancer of some sort, eating up his left leg and even starting in his right. After work I checked out the X-rays myself and it literally looked like a mass of "exploded"?? bone where it should have been smooth... like you could see the leg bone going down to the ankle area, and you could see the foot bone going up to the ankle area... and then BAM, a mass of solid tissue... she said that was cancer eating away the bone. SO NOW I've got my Kylie at home, keeping him as comfy as I can, giving him antibiotics and pedialyte. The weird thing is he still walks around on his feet!! Not like he wants to, because he uses his tail a lot to help him out, but even now he's standing on his left foot, while it's bent to the side and still swollen... still has it's wounds open with puss-looking stuff too... my poor lil' buddy!! I just want to ask if you think it really IS bone cancer or could it be something else??
ANSWER: Your poor little boy...rats are so stoic and rarely show pain. He sounds like such a fighter. I apologize for the long delay in my reply but I had to consult my advisor on this one as she has far more medical experience with rats than I do. She says that it sounds to her as though your vet has no clue what is going on. She says that rats CAN get bone cancer, but it is not that common. She thinks it is more likely that it is a foot infection gone wild(bumblefoot). She discusses similar foot infections on her website but this ones, if that is what it indeed is, seems to be much nastier. Here is the link to that page:http://www.sandyscrittercity.com/swollenfootinfection.htm
She wants you to take some close-up detailed pictures of Kylie's feet and post them on this website in a "follow up" reply to me. She will advise when she sees the photos. Meanwhile, you didn't say if any of these vets are exotic vets. If you tell me what city you live in, or what major city you are close to, I can use my resources to find you your nearest exotic vet.
Time is of the essence, so I look forward to a reply from you with photos and your location. I really want to help your Kylie recover from this, as he is obviously silently suffering.
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------sad pic of his legs his face
Okay so my camera REALLY sucks- couldn't get great pics... it's a sad sight altogether though anyways... =(