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Salmonellosis is a bacterial infection that is caused by the exposure and/or ingestion of the Salmonella bacterium. This condition can be contracted by rats and humans alike through contact with the bacteria. This infection can be contracted through the ingestion of contaminated food or drink or contact with contaminated food, drink, or bedding. It can also be contracted by the bacteria getting into open cuts or wounds. It is a very serious infection for rats and can behave very differently in rats.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

When a rat is infected, they will experience symptoms such as depression, dehydration, rough coat, swollen belly, diarrhea, weight loss, and abortion in pregnant females. In many cases, it is fatal for most rats.

The animal will need to be taken to the veterinarian for proper diagnosis. They will gather pertinent information pertaining to the background leading up to the illness. This background will include information about how the infection may have occurred. They will also conduct a physical exam to note the physical symptoms that the animal is displaying. A fecal sample will need to be taken in order to confirm the diagnosis with certainty.

Management and Treatment

In many cases of an infected rat, treatment is not successful. This infection is, many times, fatal for rats. It is the type of infection that if they are going to get better they are going to be able to fight off the infection and all the owner can do is aid them. Treatment can aid in the recovery for rats that are beginning to get better. If the rat is beginning to get better, antibiotics, fluids, and electrolyte supplements can help them to recover.

There are certain measures that need to be taken in order to take care of the sick rat so that the infection doesn’t spread to other animals or to people. The rat will need to be separated from other rats and animals in the home. Vigilant caution will need to be observed when the sick rat is being handled as well in the form of gloves and changing the clothing worn during handling. It is very possible for people to contract the illness from rats, which will adds a whole new problem. The veterinarian will advise you on the best course of treatment to help the rat recover because not all rats will die from this infection.


The best course of action is to prevent the infection from occurring, to begin with. It is highly contagious, and the bacteria will come into contact with the animal in contaminated food, water, or their bedding. Their cages should be cleaned regularly by removing dirty bedding and making sure to maintain fresh food and water.

It would also be a good idea to quarantine new rats that may be brought into the house to make sure that they do not show signs of any illness, including salmonellosis. Separating rats of different ages is also a good idea as well and will help to prevent this deadly infection from ailing your pets.

Other Rat Associated Diseases