Sisal and rats

Why you shouldn't use sisal rope in a rat cage

About a year ago I started a new rat colony, being very careful to pick rats with no sign whatsoever of any respiratory ailment. (I had seen too much suffering in my first rat colony from these.) I bring them home, and set up this wonderful wire cage, strung with sisal rope. The stuff was cheap, and the rats loved climbing on it, and would even sleep in it. I figured I'd just throw away the old rope & replace it about every 2 weeks and all would be fine.

Well, after about a week, these perfectly healthy rats started to sneeze and wheeze and even cough. Great, I though, more of the same. We took the rats to a vet, who gave us antibiotics to try for a week, and said if it had no effect, it had to be something in the environment. Nonsense, I though, I'm using corn cob litter, that can't bother them.

So, of course, a week later the medicine had not had any effect. But it was time to put in new, clean sisal rope. I had tied a lot of rope in the cage, and it was taking me a long time to get it all out, and to out the new rope in. As I was doing this, I started to itch, then sneeze, then cough, and finally a small dim light bulb in my head started to flicker on just a little . . .

I got rid of the rope, and all the rat's symptoms vanished in a few days. So the moral of the story is, don't use sisal rope in your rat cage.

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