If you have a pet rat and suddenly discovered that its poop has turned from its usual color to green, you’re probably quite worried. The good news is that you probably don’t need to worry and you can deal with almost all problems that this change might indicate at home and we’ll show you how to do it.
This is why your pet rat’s poop is green – it’s something it ate. Seriously, in the majority of cases green poop is just a symptom of the color of the food your rat ate. However, in can also be an indicator of something more serious if it goes on for days or it’s combined with other symptoms such as diarrhea.
So, let’s take a look at how to diagnose your rat’s potential conditions relating to green poop, how to treat them and when to call in a professional.
Why Is My Pet Rat’s Poop Green?
Assuming that you’ve spent some time around rats, you will know that they are not the most discerning of eaters. In the vast majority of cases when a rat’s poop turns green (or indeed, orange, purple or any other peculiar color) the color has simply come from whatever your rat has eaten that day.
It should be nothing to be concerned about unless your rat also has diarrhea or in the case that your rat has been pooping green for a few days and you have changed their diet up in that time.
So, firstly, let’s see what you should do if your rat develops diarrhea and then we’ll look at taking your rat to the vet if that doesn’t work or if your rat has had green poop for several days.
What To Do If Your Rat Has Diarrhea?
Diarrhea shouldn’t be any reason to panic about the health of your rat and you should be able to treat most cases of rat diarrhea without seeking assistance from your vet.
Switch Their Diet To Rat Formulated Pellets Only
The first thing to do is to remove any possible source of aggravation from the rat’s diet. When a rat gets diarrhea, it’s normally going to be down to something that they ate. So, you want to switch them off any other food apart from commercial rat food. They should eat this bland diet only until they return to normal.
You should also make sure that they have constant access to a supply of clean, fresh water. The biggest danger of diarrhea is that your pet will become dehydrated and that can be very dangerous for them or even life-threatening.
It’s also worth noting that if your rat’s diet is mainly store bought rat food, it’s less likely that they will develop diarrhea or colored stools in the first place.
Observe The Rat To See If There Are Any Other Issues
While diarrhea is not normally something to worry about – the presentation of other symptoms at the same time may well be.
If you find your rat’s behavior is markedly changed, if you can feel any unusual growths on the rat’s body, if you find blood in their stools or they seem to be extra-sensitive when they are handled – you should skip the rest of this section and move straight to taking your rat to the vet.
Green stools and diarrhea may be particularly indicative of a tumor, so any of these other symptoms is a genuine cause for concern. Don’t delay, see the vet as your rat’s life may depend on it.
Give Everything A Thorough Clean
Assuming that there are no other symptoms present, it’s time for you to help ensure that your rats don’t get any more diarrhea. Given that the underlying cause may not be dietary but could be fungal or bacterial in their living environments – you have to clean up for your rats.
You should empty all food and water bowls, immediately. Then clean them out thoroughly and ensure you rinse them well and dry them out so that they don’t contain any soap which can upset the rat’s stomach. Then you can refill them.
You should deep clean the cage as soon as you notice the problem to try and remove any environmental contaminants. Then you should regularly spot check the cage during the day and try and clean out any diarrhea and any soiled bedding as soon as it appears.
You also want to make sure that you don’t get any infection from this – so, always wash your own hands for at least 30 seconds after handling the rat, the bedding, the cage, its food or its water supply. Don’t take any risks with your own health at any time.
Give Your Rat Some Electrolytes
Just like with people, one of the best ways to help a rat deal with diarrhea is to help them rehydrate and water often isn’t enough.
It’s a very good idea to give your rat access to electrolytes while it’s trying to get back on its feet. The way to do this is to get a second bowl (in addition to the water bowl and not in place of it) and fill it with a little Pedialyte (or similar solution).
This electrolyte solution should be replaced every 24 hours at a minimum. The best thing to do to preserve the electrolyte drink (as a rat won’t need a whole can/bottle) is to freeze it after you use it for the first time – then defrost it when your rat needs more.
If the rat is severely dehydrated the skin around its shoulders will not snap back into place if you give it a gentle tug – this is a big warning sign that it might be time to visit the vet.
Another warning sign is if your rat doesn’t pee for hours at a time or if its pee is particularly dark in color.
Don’t Be Afraid To Seek Help – Potential Poisoning
Rats can’t handle certain substances at all and many common household items that are just fine in your life aren’t good for rats at all.
If you find your rat has been munching on houseplants, your medication, or other potentially toxic food then you need to call the vet and do so, immediately.
When you call the vet, you should explain what you think the rat ate, its symptoms and ask directly if you should bring the rat into their offices.
We recently wrote an article on things you pet should only eat in small doses and things they should avoid – you should check this and if you find anything worrying there, call the vet.
Don’t Be Afraid To Seek Help – Diarrhea Is Still Ongoing
Home treatment is perfectly OK for diarrhea but there is a time when you have to admit that you are fighting a losing battle. If your rat doesn’t seem to have been poisoned and doesn’t show any other worrying symptoms you can tackle their diarrhea by yourself for 3-4 days.
If it hasn’t stopped by then, it’s time to call your vet and ask them if it’s OK to bring your rat to see them.
Don’t be dispirited by this. You’ve done brilliantly but sometimes; you need a doctor when you’re sick and sometimes a rat needs a vet.
Bring A Stool Sample To The Vet
If you want to help your vet get to a diagnosis as quickly as possible then you should take a stool sample with you.
Get a small plastic tub from a local pharmacy and then, using gloves made of vinyl or latex, and pick up a fresh sample and place it in the tub and seal it.
If you can’t bring yourself to do this – you should ask your vet to collect a sample, but you will probably need to leave your rat with them so that they can wait for it to poop.
Once they have a stool sample – the vet can check to find out what’s wrong. They will initially test for bacteria, viruses or fungi but may also need to test for toxins or other issues after examining the rat.
Ask For Help To Learn How To Medicate Your Rat Properly
When your rat is ready to come home, and your vet knows exactly what is wrong with it – it’s time to ask them how to give the medication.
You should ask for a demonstration of any technique you have not carried out before. This will ensure you’re able to help your rat get better.
Be Realistic – Sometimes There Is No Happy Ending
If the vet discovers a serious problem such as cancer or poisoning that cannot be reversed. You may need to ask the vet to put your rat down in order to stop its suffering.
Happily, in most cases this won’t be necessary, but you must have the courage to do what is right if it is too serious.
This is why your pet rat’s poop is green in 99% of cases, it’s just something that your rat ate, and the poop will return to a normal color by itself. If it is green with diarrhea, you should treat the diarrhea at home unless there are other worrying symptoms or you suspect poisoning, in which case you should involve your vet immediately.