Suprelorin® as a desexing alternative

Rats are wonderful pets. They are affectionate, convenient, adorable and easy to keep. At Inner South Veterinary Centre we consider ourselves to be ‘pro-rodent’ and have had two rats of our own – Monty and Hugo. Before Monty and Hugo, Dobby and Kreacher were our rat ambassadors!

Having established how fabulous rats are, there is one sad fact that needs to be mentioned. They do have a limited life span of 2-3 years and for female rats, they all too often die of mammary (breast) cancer. It’s estimated that up to 80% of undesexed female rats will develop mammary tumours in their old age although the incidence may actually be higher than this. Most of these tumours are benign, meaning that they do not spread to other areas of the body. However, these tumours can grow to an enormous size and eventually reach proportions that destroy the rat’s quality of life (see picture). It’s OK to be dragging a small, non-painful lump around when it’s not getting in the way but once the tumour is so big the poor little girl can’t groom or climb or play it’s time to make some tough decisions.

So is there anything that can be done to prevent mammary tumours?

The answer is YES!!

Desexing, the removal of the ovaries and the uterus will reduce the risk of developing a mammary tumour by around 90%! This is a massive and life changing benefit. Despite this most female rats remain undesexed. This is probably for a number of reasons. It’s not really common knowledge or practice that desexing has such significant benefits in rats and not all veterinary clinics are prepared to perform the surgery.  Inner South Veterinary Centre is not only passionate about getting the message out there but the actual surgery itself is just another part of what we do as a clinic with an interest in the more unusual pets people love.

Some exciting new options!

But surgery is not the only option. Dr Louise Grey attended the annual Association of Exotic Animal Veterinarians conference in late 2014 and discovered a new and exciting option for female rats – hormone implant desexing. A slow release hormone implant, called Suprelorin® has been used in a wide variety of species and for a huge range of diseases for some time. New evidence has just been released that shows that if used in young female rats the implant can protect them from mammary tumours. Placing the implant is quick and easy and carries much less risk than surgery but with the same fabulous outcome – protection against mammary cancer! The younger it is given, the more likely it is to be successful.

So if you have a female rat and want to protect her against mammary cancer come in and chat to us about your options. We want your little rattie to live a long, happy, lump free life and now we are better equipped than ever to achieve that!