Rattie Ratz: Remembering Fantasia, Pituitary Tumors in Rats

by Alyssa Nader

Alyssa Nader is a volunteer with Rattie Ratz Rescue in the bay area of California. Each month KRL will be featuring at least one animal rescue adventure story, and every other month there will be one from Rattie Ratz.

My dear rat Fantasia’s update was featured in the May issue of KRLM. Shortly after publication, Fantasia began experiencing some health issues. At first, I thought that Fantasia was uninterested in her normal food. She was not eating her hard lab blocks. Lack of appetite is a serious symptom in rats, and I was worried. I soon noticed that she would take certain treats, and kept an eye on her.

➡ switch to KingsRiverLife.com for more articles ⬅

After a few days, Fantasia fell out of her cage while playing. I could see that she was having trouble grasping her food with her front paws, and thought of a few possibilities. The first was that she may have hurt her arm in her fall. More likely however, I suspected that her earlier lack of appetite was her not being able to grasp her food properly, and that this and her fall could be signs of a neurological issue.
Fantasia living up to her glamorous name

A vet visit confirmed the uncertain diagnosis, and we continued to observe Fantasia. A very common tumor in rats is the pituitary tumor. This type of tumor is inoperable in rats, and there is no other cure. For this reason, I opted out of expensive MRI imaging.

Over the next month, Fantasia fluctuated but gradually decreased in coordination. We joked that she looked like she was walking around drunk, and made sure to make her as comfortable as possible. Pituitary tumors can cause behavioral changes such as aggression; fortunately, Fantasia stayed her sweet self, and became very baby-like. We fed her soft foods and made her she had a safe, flat cage. We opted to keep her with Eunice so she would not be alone, but made sure to give her time without her sister to eat slowly in peace without being robbed.
On the lookout for Eunice

I didn’t know how long Fantasia would last, or how quickly her condition would deteriorate. Fantasia continued to enjoy life, playing actively outside of the cage despite her lack of coordination. She enjoyed all the food she desired, and I fed her with a spoon and a lot of patience whenever she needed it. She spent time with her sister and bruxxed and boggled with us.

Making a quality of life decision for a beloved pet is extremely difficult, and a duty that we owe to our pets. I decided to turn to my friends and colleagues at Rattie Ratz for advice. Although I knew that, there was nothing I could do to save Fantasia, it made me feel more confident and supported in my decisions to know that someone with so much experience and love for these animals was there for me.
Smoothie head, robbery in progress

A pituitary tumor may progress until a rat is unable to swallow on their own. In Fantasia's case, and with my rat friends’ advice, I opted to focus on her quality of life before it got to this point. I was helping Fantasia to eat, and one day, she seemed to not be able to get much of the food into her mouth rather than just pushing it around with her face. She looked disoriented and not very away of her surroundings. I knew it was her time.

My sister and I brought Fantasia to the vet for a painless euthanasia. She rode in my lap the entire way bruxing, boggling, totally relaxed. She seemed to be on another planet even before the sedating gas took effect. We said goodbye and brought her home to say goodbye to Eunice and for a burial near our house.
Little cowgirl going west

Eunice is now our last rat. Adjusting to life without Fantasia hasn’t been easy for any of us, but we are looking forward to the opportunity to get closer to Eunice and to discover more of her personality. We are grateful for the love and support of the Rattie Ratz community at tough times like this.

Rattie Ratz is an all-volunteer organization whose mission is to help all domesticated ratties who come to us find a loving, forever home.

Rattie Ratz: Rescue, Resource, & Referral
Click here to email us at: info@rattieratz.com
Call us at: (415) 340-1896
All photos by Alyssa Nader

If you would like to know more about Rattie Ratz Rescue or find out about upcoming information/adoption events, please visit our Facebook or Instagram. If you are interested in adoptable rats or volunteering for Rattie Ratz Rescue, visit our website.

Check out more animal rescue stories in our Pet Perspective section on Kings River Life, and the Pets section here on KRL News & Reviews. Check back every month for another animal rescue adventure from Rattie Ratz. Advertise in KRL and 10% of your advertising fees can go to Rattie Ratz.

We also have a brand new pets newsletter that will be going out once a month letting our readers know about all of the pet and animal rescue related articles that went up that month so you never miss a thing. We hope to send the first one out in May. We also hope to provide some additional content and maybe even some pet related giveaways. You can use this box to subscribe!

powered by TinyLetter