If Cannabis Oil, or CBD is available in your country, have you ever thought to use it to treat conditions like pituitary tumours in your rats/pets?
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 the first Faction Fam story about Cabergoline for pituitary tumours in rats in Germany here, and last week’s about Cabergoline for pituitary tumours in rats from the USA here.

@tunabug420 from Instagram is our guest author this week, writing about treating pituitary tumours in THREE rats with Cabergoline.

Grab a cuppa!

coffee and weed
Click photo for photo attribution

Rats oh rats! If you have ever had a pet rat you will know that even though they make the most wonderful pets they are as susceptible to illness as any other animal, except Rats have the added issue of being inbred and having a very fast cell regeneration rate.

This means they’re more likely to encounter mutating cells that form tumours – bearing in mind that environmental factors also play a role in the formation of tumours.

I hope my experience and research will help fellow rat lovers have a better understanding of pituitary tumours and:

  1. How they affect your pet rat,
  2. Signs that indicate a pituitary tumour,
  3. Treatment using cannabis oil,
  4. and how it works with their bodies.

My experience with Cannabis Oil & Pituitary Tumours in Rats

My first rat to be diagnosed was Dalfie, an Agouti Blue Dumbo and my most friendly, playful and well-mannered rat.

He never really suffered from respiratory issues or anything other than the odd abscess from play fighting with the other rats.

He responded to his name, was litter trained and even knew a few tricks. He was always very affectionate, grooming me and loved giving kisses.

He was by far my favourite rat so noticing the changes that a tumour was inducing wasn’t hard.

My first indication that something was wrong was when he was around 24months old.

He started to show signs of Ataxia, a lack of coordinated movement in the limbs.

At first I thought it might just be old age but it gradually progressed with his right leg getting worse to the point where he would drag it, knuckling it and often stumbling around.

Fortunately, I work at a vet and had easy access to medical care for him.

Dalfie was x-rayed to rule out any tumours in the leg or hip, which I had initially suspected as I’d a previous rat who suffered from a Tumour in his hip, which spread to his liver.  I wanted to cover my bases.

There was no evidence of a tumour in the limb and a pituitary tumour was not clear right then, but as time progressed so did his symptoms.

He became aggressive, occasionally biting me, and wasn’t his usual friendly self, often not wanting to be touched.

He clearly had unequal pupil size and his right eye protruded slightly; over time he eventually went blind in that eye due to optic nerve compression.

cannabis oil for pituitary tumours in rats
Eye protrusion and going blind 🙁

Near the end he lost his ability to use his front legs and couldn’t hold his own food or move around easily and I had to confine him, feeding him easy to eat foods like cooked veggies, baby cereals and liquid meal replacements.

At the very end he lost control of his mobility, stopped cleaning himself, circled in his cage and eventually suffered seizures.

These were most of the mechanical clinical signs he showed.

Some other common signs you might see are:

  • Head tilting or head bumping caused by the increased intracranial pressure, often only seen right at the end.
  • Hormonal disturbances such as lactating in Rats that aren’t pregnant or that haven’t had babies
  • Thinning skin (Cushing’s disease)
  • Decreased fertility
  • Weight loss (which was evident in Dalfie)
  • Excessive thirst
  • Absence of thirst (Hypodypsia)
  • Excessive excretion of dilute urine (also evident in Dalfie)
  • Dehydration.

On the first vet visit I had mentioned to my vet about the possibility of a pituitary tumour but it was too soon to tell at the time and my vet had little knowledge about these tumours in rats.

Unfortunately the vets are not taught much about rats in vet school so I took it upon myself to do some research to help my rat.

Using Cannabis Oil to treat Dalfie

I had heard about cannabis oil (CBD) through the veterinary industry and had knowledge of it being used to shrink brain tumours in dogs.

I also knew of someone who made cannabis oil for his father who had brain tumours too so I had access to the oil and started Dalfie on a treatment course of cannabis oil in combination with coconut oil to make it slightly more dilute.

I would give him a match head size amount on his favourite treats being chocolate covered sunflower seed or a small piece of dark chocolate.

My vet had also recommended corticosteroids to reduce the inflammation in the brain but I chose to stick to the natural route as Cannabis contains its own anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties.

cannabis oil for pituitary tumours in rats

Dalfie would get his daily dose of Cannabis oil and he ate it willingly.


I often found his appetite improved after consuming the cannabis.  He was calmer and less aggressive, and had fewer seizures as it seemed to mildly sedate him.

He seemed to be in less pain and more content and he lived for another 6 months after showing signs of having a Pituitary Tumour!

I definitely think it benefited him and made his short life more comfortable.

Unfortunately when he had started showing signs of having a Tumour it was already causing damage to his motor responses and the treatment of Cannabis was started a little too late but even though it didn’t cure him it definitely improved his quality of life and let him live a little longer.

In conclusion CBD wasn’t a cure, but a great treatment for shrinking tumours, reducing or eliminating symptoms, improving quality of life and extending longevity.


There have been many studies reporting that if started early enough Cannibis oil does significantly reduced the size of tumours, and in many cases has cured brain tumours in rats, mice and humans.

cannabis oil for pituitary tumours in rats
You can see Dalfie’s eye starting to protrude a little here

[EDITOR’S NOTE: No studies were supplied to support this statement, so I urge you to do your own research].

The cause of pituitary tumours is still not 100% certain but it is suspected the factors that play a role are:

  • Genetic,
  • Injury,
  • Infection,
  • Age,
  • Breeding history,
  • Diet – high calorie, high fat.

Understanding Pituitary Tumours

[EDITOR’S NOTE: For some (graphic) photos of a pituitary tumour being removed, see the Rat Guide here.]

The pituitary gland, also known as the master gland sits in a bony cavity at the base of the rat’s skull, under the brain/between the ears.

pituitary gland in rat brain

This is a small endocrine gland that is connected to the hypothalamus by the pituitary stalk.

The pituitary gland regulates and stimulates hormone production of the other endocrine glands.

In other words, this gland is responsible for rats’ reproduction, growth and metabolic activity.

This gland expels its chemical components directly into the bloodstream, unlike the endocrine glands which expel their chemicals directly through the sweat glands.

In female and male rats it’s evident that the growth of the pituitary glands differs between 6-7 weeks of age, often showing that female rats pituitary gland increases in size and weight.

This changes continuously as they age and when it comes to the natural hyperplastic changes in older females it is seen that the change of these cells doesn’t affect surrounding tissues as is expected with any other typical adenomas or carcinomas.

This being said typical adenomas affect glandular tissue like the pituitary gland.

These tumours are often found in the anterior lobe and are benign and slow growing.

They range in size being either small nodular tumours or larger tumours growing up to 10mm in size.

Some of these tumours can excrete hormones and others don’t.

The most common types of pituitary tumours are prolactin-producing tumours.

The main cause of these tumours in ageing female and male rats is the normal increase of prolactin secretion into the bloodstream which is caused by the reduction of hypothalamus dopamine activity.

These tumours are commonly found in female rats but are still found in males too.

Due to these tumours often being benign (they do not spread into other parts of the body) they are not to blame for killing rats but more so cause pressure on the brain causing mechanical disturbances to the rat which in result kill the rat.

With this all being said, Proclatinomas are the most common type of Tumour found in Rats but not the only type of tumours for more information I’d recommend further research. The best place to do this would be the Rat Guide where I learnt all I know about pituitary tumours.

Over the past 10 years that I have owned rats, I’ve seen my fair share of tumours.

Two of my rats were diagnosed with pituitary tumours and had to be put to sleep due to the effects.

Understanding Cannabis for Pituitary Tumours

cannabis oil for pituitary tumours in rats

I think it’s important to have a better understanding of Cannabis.

Cannabis has existed for thousands of years and has been used throughout history for its medical benefits.

The plant falls under the flowering plants family, two of the most common species being Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica.

The difference in the plants isn’t just physical but also chemical.

Sativas are higher in THC, the psychoactive component in the plants that causes a “high”, and indicas are higher in CBD, the non-psychoactive component.

THC and CBD are present in both plants but the levels will differ depending on the plant.

All mammals are born with cannabis receptors, and this is why Cannabis has an effect.

The receptor called CB1 is located in the brain and identifies healthy and mutated cells and causes the CB2 receptors to respond to Cannabis.

CB2 receptors are found in all cells, healthy or unhealthy – they’re even in cancer cells.

Cannabis can be taken:

  • In its raw plant form, mainly the plant buds/flowers,
  • Via THCa, a 100x less psychoactive raw form,
  • In its extracted form THC.

THC is extracted using a solvent to separate the oils that contain THC, CBD and other components found in the oil, which also aid in the process of killing cancer cells.

Once in the body the mammal’s system accepts the various cannabinoids and targets certain cells, affecting specifically damaged or mutated cells.

These cannabinoids can have effects:

  • Antiproliferative – prevents the production of new cancer cells,
  • Antiangiogenic – prevents the growth of new blood vessels to tumours,
  • Antimetastatic – prevent the spread of cancer cells to other organs,
  • Apoptotic – induces cells to commit suicide without harming any healthy cells.

These positive effects on health make this plant sought after in the aid of treatment of cancer.

Cannabis has very few side effects, and they are include lethargy in users who take it in high doses and paranoia in patients that are anxious when given high doses of THC.

Research is being continuously done on how Cannabis affects the body, its benefits, side effects and why it works the way it does.

I am not a scientist or a Doctor but am simply sharing what I’ve found from my own research.

There is still so much to learn about cannabis and how it will improve our lives and our furry kids lives.

I highly encourage anyone who is interested in this topic to educate themselves on Cannabis as well, and follow the research that’s being done on cannabis.

Editors Summary

The benefits of using Cannabis oil for symptom reduction and even curing certain tumours are being well documented in scientific literature.

I urge you to do your own independent research, if you’re in a country where CBD oil is available to you, it’s worth looking into using it for your own pets.

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

Dalfie experienced the following symptoms:

  1. Lack of coordinated limb movement (Ataxia)
  2. Behavioural changes, specificall uncharacteristic aggression
  3. Circling
  4. Symptoms associated with optic nerve pressure; unequal pupil size, eye protrusion, blindness
  5. Stiffness in front legs leading to inability to hold food
  6. Lack of ability/desire to move around leading to confinement to a safe space

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


Sarah K

Sarah K

Sarah Rachel Kruger is a veterinary receptionist and practice manager situated in South Africa and is an avid animal lover, often fostering stray and abandoned kittens and other animals.
She's been a rat owner and lover for the past 10 years, sharing her home with three naughty cats, fourteen tarantulas and Dovah the crested gecko.
Sarah K

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