The Rat Fan Club


by Debbie "The Rat Lady" Ducommun


Diabetes in pet rats is rare, but does occur.  An article by Claire Jordan in Pro-Rat-a, the newsletter of the National Fancy Rat Society in England, explained how a strain of diabetic rats in a lab, used to assay the quality of insulin, are treated.


The onset of the disease usually occurs at about 90 days.  Symptoms include increased drinking and urination, a fine glossy coat, and either a failure to grow or weight loss.  Because the urine contains sugar, a smell like molasses can be noticed in the cage.


Insulin is given to the lab rats by subcutaneous injection once a day.  The initial dose is 1 unit of U40-strength insulin per 50 g body weight.  If the U40 is not available, U100 can be diluted to the proper strength.  A unit is 0.01 ml, and is marked on insulin syringes. 


If the rat appears unwell, a blood test is done to check the blood sugar levels.  The blood test can be done with a gadget called a Reflolux.  By contacting a diabetes support group you might be able to get a used one.  To obtain the drop of blood needed for the test, a lab tech makes a tiny nick at the end of the rat’s tail, and a tech says it’s so painless “they don’t even look around.”  You could also clip a toenail.  According to the results of the test, the insulin dose can be increased up to 2 units per 50 g.


Giving subcutaneous injections to a rat is something that is easily learned and causes little pain, so treatment for a diabetic rat is certainly possible.  The article did not say, but I assume it would be best to give the injections in the evening, since this is when rats eat their main meal.  Of course sugary treats should not be given to a diabetic rat.


Note:  Chromium picolinate is known to reduce the need for insulin in human diabetics.

Return to TOP

Rat of the Week | Intro Issue | Join the Club! | Adopt a Rat
Rat Books | Helpful Info | the Rat-alog | Special Events
Meet the Ratlady | Links | Home

Rat Fan Club
857 Lindo Lane

Chico, CA 95973

(530) 899-0605

Copyright 1999