Pet rat’s teeth are their most important instruments. If not cared properly, their teeth might overgrow and cause some permanent damage.
When pet rat’s teeth are overgrown, a vet will take care of them, by trimming them. But there are also other ways to care for our rodent friend’s teeth before having to reach that moment.
In this post we’re going to talk extensively about pet rat’s overgrown teeth, how to prevent it, care for it and even some extra tips so you’re sure your pet rat can live a healthy, happy life!
Detecting Overgrown Teeth In Your Pet Rats
Pet rats teeth can overgrow for many reasons. For example, sometimes they’re just born with their teeth misaligned and they’ll be prone to overgrowth. If they suffer some kind of trauma that causes the teeth or even the jaws to misaligned, the same might happen.
It can be common for pet rats to create abscess in their mouths. When these appear, they turn solid very quickly. It almost looks like a stone is set on the cheek! This is a very common reason for teeth misalignment and overgrowth.
If not cared for, the abscess will keep on growing and pushing the jaws, which can cause permanent misalignment.
One of our girls had this problem, but if caught early, it will not cause permanent effects! Usually, a simple surgery will clean the abscess and your rodent friend will be back to their normal health in no time.
So this is one way to detect if your pet rats teeth are overgrown: checking if the teeth are aligned. If so chances of overgrowth are very minimal.
Now another thing to check is their incisors. The upper incisors should be about 4mm tall, while the bottom ones 7mm. Of course, measures can be hard to check, but a good rule of thumb is that the teeth should touch each other, but not overlap.
If the incisors are overlapping, then that means they’re getting too big!
The next sign to look for is checking if your pet rat is eating well. Teeth overgrown are very uncomfortable. Not only that, but it will cause quite some difficulty to eat. If your pet rat is losing weight and you notice them avoiding hard foods, check their teeth for overgrowth!
Finally, check if your rodent friend is salivating a lot. Pet rats don’t usually salivate, so if you notice a lot of discharge on their mouth, chances are they’re having some kind of dental problem.
On a more advanced case, pet rats incisors start to curl when overgrown, so pay attention to that as well!
Teeth overgrowth can be very dangerous and problematic since it will not only make it hard for them to eat, it can also bring out other problems in the whole mouth, including their molars. This is why it’s so important to catch it early, so to avoid permanent damage and so it’s easier to control and treat!
How To Keep Rats Teeth Short
As always, it’s very important to feed your rodent friends a varied and balanced diet. Nutrients and vitamins will help your pet rat’s health in check, to avoid any diseases. A weak immune system is very prone to diseases and other problems (like the abscess).
Be sure to not only supply them with food that is specifically designed for pet rats. I wrote a whole post some time ago about why you shouldn’t give gerbil or hamster food to your pet rat, so I recommend to check it out. This way you can have a better idea on how to choose food that is healthy for your pet rat!
Other than dry food, be sure to feed your rodent friend fresh fruit and vegetables daily. Feel free to even feed them some meat, pasta, and rice once in a while! Not only will these supply extra nutrients for your pet rat, but most of these can be given raw, making them perfect for gnawing.
Remember that pet rats need to use their teeth frequently, for that reason it’s important to give them food that they can gnaw at. Usually, the dry food is in the form of pellets, so it’s already perfect for their teeth.
Healthy and Crunchy Treats
Raw foods, like carrots, pumpkin, pasta, and rice are not only healthy for their body but teeth as well! Don’t shy away from treats for your rodents friends. And, if you need help to come up with ideas for them, I wrote a whole list of 13 best treats you can give your pet rat!
Be sure to take a look at it, because these are all very simple to assemble or buy and I can guarantee your pet rats will love them.
Lastly, but not least be sure that their cage or playing ground has enough chewing toys. Pet rat’s teeth are very important and they need to be used. This is how your rodent friend will keep their teeth from overgrowing.
Things like wooden toys, as long as they’re safe for pets are very good. Our girls really like to gnaw on their wooden toys, I think that’s what they use the most!
There’s this Kaytee Nut Knot Nibbler (link to Amazon) that’s not only visually appealing for rodents, but it also acts as a puzzle and it’s perfect for them to chew. It is perfect for them to play with, but also very cheap, that’s why I recommend it so much!
Another thing you can consider getting and putting in the cage is a mineral stone. I usually recommend having these right before bringing your pet rats home. This way they’ll get acquainted with it right away and chew on it.
Once they grow, being introduced to a mineral stone might not be interesting or entertaining anymore. Our girls never touched it. Only wooden toys!
I find that this Trixie Gnawing Mineral Stone on Amazon is quite good since it’s not only visually appealing, but it has quite a lot of texture. This stone is also quite big, so it will last a long, long time! I’m also a big fan of Trixie products, they have quite a lot of toys and other accessories for rodents that I highly recommend!
Cost of Trimming Rat Teeth
Trimming rat teeth can be a bit costly since you usually have to pay for the appointment itself. Expect it to be around 35$ to 40$. It also really depends on how the vet will do it. Sometimes they’ll trim their teeth by cutting them, others by using a nail file.
Some vets will even use some kind of anesthetic so that the pet rat is calmer while trimming their teeth. Depending on how the veterinary deals with the trimming, the prices might vary.
If the trimming of your pet rat is something that needs to be done frequently, let’s say at least once a month, vets tend to give you a discount.
Our vet is very sympathetic towards us. If people own rodents, she’ll usually give some kind of discount, instead of paying the same for a dog or a cat. This helped us a lot when one of our girls needed surgery as well as some follow up appointments.
Even though it can be costly, I highly advise bringing your pet rat to the vet to trim your pet rat’s teeth. Not only is it hard to hold a pet rat still, but sometimes the teeth might be cut too low and might cause some bleeding. This can cause a slight infection, especially if the pet rat’s health is already a bit on the low side
Generally speaking, trimming a pet rat’s teeth won’t hurt, but can still be uncomfortable for you and the rat. That’s why it’s preferable for it to be done by a professional, who’s already used to the procedure!
Trimming Rat Teeth At Home
Again, I recommend letting the vet taking care of the teeth. Personally, I don’t feel capable enough to do these kinds of procedures with my girls. Especially knowing how much they’ll wiggle and try to run.
Not only that, but I know it would give quite a lot of stress to them. If I’m not competent enough to hold them and doing it fast, then I prefer for someone who knows what they’re doing to take care of it.
This way I’m sure they’ll do it in a way, that even though the pet rat will still feel some stress, it will be fast and they can go back to their safe place in a few seconds!
But I understand that not everyone can afford a vet appointment so frequently or maybe the vet is quite far from home. So yes, you can do it at home, as long as you’re very careful and preferably have another person to help you.
How To Trim Pet Rat’s Teeth
It is recommended that one person holds our small friend and the other does the actual trimming.
Next thing you need is cat/bird toenail scissors. These are quite easy to use and will work very well for pet rat’s teeth.
Now if you’ve already had to hold your pet rat for any reason, you’ll know they’re not fans of staying still. Their legs will do anything to escape and, most of the times, they’ll be successful. Since trimming the teeth is quite a sensitive task, the rat must be still.
Again, cutting the teeth too much might also be troublesome. If top incisors are too far from the bottom ones, it can make it hard for our rodent friends to gnaw on things.
You can either hold the pet rat with your hands or use a towel around them, like a burrito so they can’t move. Alternatively, you can use a sock. Preferably a child’s sock, since it’s smaller. Just cut the toes part of it and so your rodent friend fits inside of it, like a sweater.
Use some tape to adjust the neck area, so it’s snug around it. It’s finally time to do the trimming. Again, it’s important to be very careful and to do it in one sitting, so the rat doesn’t become too stressed.
Before trying your hands at trimming the teeth, I recommend first to go to the vet so they can guide you.
If they agree that you can trim your rodent friend’s teeth at home, they can maybe even teach you so you already know how to do it!
Rats Bottom Teeth Are Separated? Here’s Why!
It is very common for the bottom incisors of pet rats to become separate. This is no reason for alarm though! It is quite important that they’re able to separate actually. This helps them gnaw and chew on things.
The bottom teeth will come closer or farther apart as needed. Some pet rats have this separation bigger than others, but it’s quite normal to happen.
Rats Teeth Never Stop Growing!
The reason why it’s so important that your pet rat’s teeth are aligned and not overgrowing is that their teeth never stop growing. If the incisors are misaligned, there’s no way your rodent friend can keep them at a healthy size.
Once they have the space for it, they’ll keep on growing, curling into the mouth. This is not only uncomfortable but it also makes it very hard to eat.
As they get bigger, they’ll keep on curving inside the mouth, provoking even wounds on the gums and tongue. These wounds can even turn into infections and even cause problems in their molar teeth.
If overgrown teeth aren’t checked soon, they might have to be taken out entirely.
This is really bad for pet rats since they need their teeth. Without it they can’t eat properly, meaning they will miss on important vitamins and nutrients.
Of course, a pet rat can still thrive if missing one incisor, but it requires extra care and it will still be quite uncomfortable for them.
Also the stress of missing teeth or having to trim them all the time might result in fear of using the teeth. Meaning they might even stop being interested in chewing.
This is why it’s so important to check on their teeth from time to time. So that if there’s any problem, you can find it quickly and avoid frequent trimmings or other treatments!
Do Rat Teeth Grow Back?
Unfortunately no, they don’t. That’s why it’s so important to avoid them overgrowing and getting malformed to a point where it needs to be taken out. Once pet rat’s teeth are out, they won’t grow back.
Again, their teeth are very important in their daily life. If we lose one tooth it’s not very problematic, we have several of them. Pet rats have those small incisors in the front, which are the most important.
Even just one missing will cause trouble for them to eat and chew on things. As for the molars, they’re not as problematic, but since they’ don’t have a full mouth of teeth, missing one will always cause some distress.
Always be sure that your pet rat is eating properly and their teeth look healthy. This way you can be sure they’ll grow without problems. Always supply your rodent friends with things they can chew on, both food and toys like the ones I mentioned above!
As long as they use their teeth constantly, they should have no problem.
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