Research into premature death of pet rats and ferrets
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A retro-spective research is set up to investigate the causes of death of young pet rats and ferrets which were submitted for postmortem examination to the Pathobiology Department of the Veterinary Faculty in the years ’93 – ’09. The pet rats that died between the age of 4 and 12 months, and pet ferrets that died between the age of 6 and 36 months old were selected from the archive. Discussed was whether indentified causes of death may be related to welfare issues (improper care, nutrition and housing). To compare the results to literature, a literature research regarding common causes of premature death of pet rats and ferrets was set up. Based on the literature and retro-spective research, recommendations were done to prevent or reduce the prevalence of diseases and to improve the welfare of pet rats and ferrets. The most common cause of death of pet rats appeared to be respiratory disease in both researches. There were many factors found in the literature that predisposed rats to respiratory disease. With welfare adjustments like optimum housing conditions include good ventilation, no leaking bottles of water, optimal nutrition, dust and toxin free beddings and frequent cage cleaning, rats appeared to be less predisposed to respiratory problems. Gastrointestinal tract problems were represented the most in ferrets of the retro-spective research. The gastro-intestinal problems of the ferrets were a collection of different diseases, including enteritis, gastritis and obstruction due to foreign bodies. Adjustments in nutrition, prohibit stress and eating foreign bodies attributed to a lower prevalence of gastrointestinal tract problems.