A rat might not show outward signs of depression, but they still feel the same way that we do. A recent study says rats who got antidepressants recovered from depression quickly than others.
11 Signs Your Rat Is Depressed
Rats are also capable of having fun and being social animals. If your pet rat is exhibiting any of these symptoms, then there’s a chance they may be depressed. In this blog post, we have discussed the signs which show your rat is depressed.
1. Loss Of Appetite Is A Sign Of Depression In Rats
Is your rat eating less food than usual or stop eating?
Rats are creatures of habit, and if their routine is disrupted, they can get pretty upset. This leads to depression which in turn leads to loss of appetite.
If this is the case with your pet rat, try to make some changes around their cage. Also, keep in mind what might cause them discomfort, fear, or stress.
If their depression continues, a trip to the vet is definitely in order. It could also be a symptom of a more serious condition, such as an ulcer or other illness.
2. Lethargy And Lack Of Energy – Signs Your Rat Is Depressed
Depression can lead to feelings of lethargy and lack of energy.
So check out your rat to see if they are as energetic as usual. This is usually a rare symptom in depression in rats, but it has been known to happen.
If you notice lethargy, follow the advice we gave for loss of appetite and see if it improves.
If nothing changes, then a trip to the vet is in order as it can be a symptom of a serious condition such as an ulcer.
3. Lack Of Interest In Playtime Is A Sign Your Rat Is Depressed
As rats are always up for playtime, you might notice your pet rat becomes lethargic or lose interest. They previously loved to run around and bat things with you and their cage mate.
This can be one of the more noticeable symptoms of depression in rats.
Just remember that sometimes, even the most energetic rat will need a rest day. Even the most social rat will want to keep their distance sometimes.
Many pet rat owners might misdiagnose this as a sign that their rats don’t like them anymore. Or that they are actively trying to escape all the time.
If your rat is always up for playtime but suddenly seems uninterested, it signals depression.
4. Sleep Problems – A Sign Your Rat Is Depressed
As sleep is a restorative process for mammals like humans and rats, it makes sense that a lack of sleep might cause rat depression. You may notice either too much or too little sleep or alternate between the two extremes.
If you notice your pet rat is sleeping a lot more or less, make sure to follow the advice we gave for loss of appetite and lethargy and see if things improve.
But remember that rats need somewhere between 14-18 hours of sleep a day. So don’t feel too alarmed if they are sleeping more than that.
5. Changes In Grooming Habits – Signs Your Rat Is Depressed
They won’t be cleaning themselves as they used to, licking their fur, shaking off food instead of eating it.
Rats are clean animals, but depression makes them stop caring for themselves.
So check in on your rat to see if they are still grooming frequently.
If their hygiene habits change, follow our advice for losing appetite and lethargy, see if it improve. But remember that no matter what, rats are never going to be particularly clean animals.
6. Loss Of Interest In Socializing
Rats love to hang out with other rats and play around, but if they’re not interested, then that’s a sign of depression.
As rats are social creatures, they love the companionship of other rats and their owners. So watch your rat’s behavior around others. It will help you to see if they are still interested in the company of another rat or their favorite human.
Remember that playing can be tiring for any animal, so some days your rat just might be more laid back than usual. If they seem uninterested in socializing or throwing a ball around, It’s a sign of depression.
7. Increased Aggression Towards Humans
Usually, rats are pretty friendly towards humans. The case is different if they have a bad experience like getting handled by people who don’t know how to handle it. Sometimes rats may start acting more aggressively towards humans.
This can cause depression in rats because of their frustrations about their new situation, whether it’s being bullied by other rats at the pet store where you bought them or being injured and needing time to heal.
So if your rat starts showing signs of aggression towards you, don’t take it personally. Just remember to be calm when handling them and give your rat space when they need it.
8. Rests On Its Back With All Feet In The Air
This pose is the “star-gazing” position because it’s associated with things like depression and physical pain. Rats also use it to show their caretakers that they need some extra attention.
If your rat is lying on its back with all four feet up, it might be warning signs of depression. You should give them a little extra love and care.
Take your rat to the vet as soon as possible to make sure that they aren’t suffering from physical pain. Sometimes these illnesses could be causing their depressive symptoms.
Be careful as rats will lie on their backs also if they’re dying, don’t assume they’re depressed.
It could be a sign of both, if you have an older rat, it’s important to take them to the vet to ensure your rat health is good.
9. Hides In Dark Places – Signs Your Rat Is Depressed
Hides more than normal, in dark places like under furniture or behind curtains.
Rats are usually more active at night when you’re sleeping. But if they’re spending a lot more time hiding in dark places, then this could be a sign of depression. So make sure to give them plenty of space and don’t bother them or try to get their attention while they’re hiding.
You should also take them to the vet because it could be a sign of illness, don’t assume there’s nothing wrong with your rat.
10. Droopy Ears Are A Sign Your Rat Is Depressed
Rats show their happiness, fear, and other emotions by moving their ears around. If they’re droopy, then your rate might be feeling a little down in the dumps.
So just give them a lot of extra love and care until they perk up.
But don’t assume that it’s an ear infection because you will confuse your rat even more. So make sure they’re in good health before you assume they’re depressed.
Sometimes it’s both. But either way, they will need your love and care to strengthen them up again. That’s why you should avoid pushing them away when they need support.
11. He Runs Back And Forth On The Floor Of Cage
Rats run around an awful lot, and usually, this is a sign of happiness and excitement. Sometimes, they might start running at strange times, during the day or after you put them back in their cage.
If this happens, it could be because your rat is showing signs of depression, and it’s time to pay attention and love.
So make sure to take him out and play with him, handle them a lot more than usual until they start acting normal again.
If it doesn’t work, you should take your rat to the vet to get checked out since it could be another cause for their strange behavior aside from depression.
Rats are amazing pets, but if you notice any of these symptoms in your pet rat, then it may be time to take them to the vet. If he’s not feeling well and isn’t interested in anything, don’t hesitate!
Take him in for a check-up today. We hope this blog post has helped you learn more about what might be wrong with your rat friend when they’re sick or acting out of character.
Please do let us know about your experience with rats as we’re always looking for new knowledge to share; on our blog!