All tips and opinions expressed in this and any other article on this blog are the opinions, experience, observations and beliefs of the author only.  Please read with an open mind and critical thinking cap on, take what makes sense, and discard what you disagree with.  Enjoy!

It’s pituitary tumour month here on Rat Faction, and some wonderful community members have shared their stories about their beloved fancy rats going through this horrible time; the symptoms, the treatments and the outcomes.

Read last week’s story about Cabergoline for pituitary tumours in rats in Germany here.

@gemsbymichelle from Instagram is our guest author this week, writing about treating pituitary tumours in THREE rats with Cabergoline.

Grab a cuppa!

cabergoline for pituitary tumours in rats USA author

My husband started my love affair for rats when a few years ago he wanted rats again after having them as a kid.

Once we got them home I immediately fell in love with them!

I’m going to talk about my experiences with the dreaded pituitary tumors, which unfortunately I’ve experienced several times in my female rats.

My first experience was with Rigby.

She was always so active, and my first clue that something was wrong was when I noticed she was not her usual active self.

I also observed that when she was grooming she would fall over, and when trying to go down the ramp from the upper cage level to the lower one, she’d look confused.

I googled her symptoms to see what was going on and it seemed there were two possibilities; one was an ear infection, the other a pituitary tumor.

We immediately made a vet appointment to have her checked and the vet confirmed a pituitary tumor and prescribed a steroid called Prednisone, but that didn’t really help.

It was like her brain wouldn’t cooperate with her body – she couldn’t hold her food so we hand fed her baby food.

She was miserable and we couldn’t bear to keep her around for us.

We made the decision to put her to sleep, because we didn’t want our baby to suffer, and we knew she wouldn’t get better.

fancy rat treated with cabergoline for pituitary tumor

Later, another rat Brisby developed a pituitary tumor but she had a happier situation.

This time when I observed her developing symptoms I knew what was going on.

She couldn’t hold her food, was walking in circles and leaning to one side.

Her symptoms progressed fast, and this time the vet which prescribed Cabergoline.

It is quite expensive so I ended up getting it in pill form and crushing it.

I put it in dairy free yogurt or baby food and she ate it up! It is given every 72 hours.

Literally the next day after the first dose she was better and I couldn’t believe it!

I documented her symptoms to see how she would do on the Cabergoline treatment.

By the second dose she was doing excellent, and I felt like I was getting my baby back!

Her coat was even shiny again. It truly felt like a miracle.

She also had a tiny mammary tumor which the medicine shrunk as well!

She did amazingly well, although her personality had changed.

We gotten had new ratties and instead of being her usual sweet self she was very aggressive with them.

She’d always been so sweet to other rats, but behavioral changes are to be expected and other than that she was back to her normal self.

She kept doing amazingly well until a few months later after her sister Cotton passed from a mass on her lung.

fancy rat treated with cabergoline for pituitary tumor

She refused to take her meds anymore which was quite sad for us.

I would give her the medication but she was too sad to stay without Cotton.

She passed two weeks after her sister.

Sadly we’ve experienced a pituitary tumor a third time recently, with my ratty Pepper.

I rushed her to the vet so we could get her started on the cabergoline – Brisby had responded so well to it and we had hope Pepper would too.

Brisby’s main symptom was that she would only hold her food with one hand, and other than that we didn’t notice any other symptoms.

fancy rat treated with cabergoline for pituitary tumor

This time we had the liquid form of cabergoline and gave it to her directly.

Sadly she didn’t improve but she didn’t get worse and for that we were grateful.

The treatment was working then, to stop the progression of her condition.

The vet did warn us that there might not be an improvement, and we’d already experienced a lack of improvement with Rigby so we were prepared.

Brisby lasted another month and we were grateful for that time with this sweet girl.

The Cabergoline did give Pepper and Brisby extra time, which meant we had that extra time with those wonderful girls and we were so happy for that.

I feel like we did all I could to help them, because there’s really no other accessible treatment options for pituitary tumors in rats here.

I hope these stories help anyone that may be going through this very sad ordeal.

Editors Summary

I can’t imagine how stressful it was to have not one but three rats develop pituitary tumours!

Cabergoline is a wonderful treatment for tumours and often work, but not always.  

It may temporarily reverse symptoms, or it may simply halt the progression.

In all my years in the rat community, the one thing I repeatedly see is that Cabergoline gives most rats a slightly longer life with stable or increased quality of life for that.

Which means more time with their humans, and nobody I’ve seen has regretted the decision to treat with Cabergoline.

A general list of pituitary symptoms can be found on the Rat Guide, and they can vary.

Rigby, Brisby and Pepper experienced the following symptoms:

  1. Reduced activity
  2. Straightened arm position causing inability to eat
  3. Circling
  4. Leaning
  5. Loss of ability to eat and drink
  6. Weakness
  7. Reduced mobility/ability to walk
  8. Behavioural changes/aggression

For more websites with scientific/medical information on pituitary tumours, and Cabergoline, see our Resources page.

Michelle D

Michelle D

Michelle lives in Delaware in the US with her husband Josh and wonderful mischief of ratties, cats, ferrets, and a guinea pig. She currently works in the jewelry industry as a GIA Graduate Gemologist, and appraises jewelry for insurance purposes.
Michelle D

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