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.ย  Please read with an open mind and critical thinking cap on, take what makes sense, and discard what you disagree with.ย  Enjoy!

When Karen Grant (RN) author and owner of the website Rat Guide agreed to be interviewed I squealed to myself like a rat wrestling treats away from their cagemates!

Thankfully, unlike rats I am happy to share, and it gives me great pleasure to bring you this interview with the interview-shy self-proclaimed non-expert whom I happen to think is one of the most knowledgeable ratty people on the web!

(But don’t tell her I told you that she may be embarrassed and remind me she’s no expert thankyouverymuch!)

I first came across Karen as a member of the closed Facebook group Real Rat Lovers Want to Know, for which Karen is on the admin team who advise on ratty health issues within their areas of knowledge.

I’d known about the Rat Guide website for a couple of years, and one day I read that Karen was the owner, and made the connection.

She wants you all to know that she by no means considers herself an expert and that she consulted with her Rat Guide co-authors to answer my questions.

Below are joint responses from Karenย Grant (RN), senior Rat Guide team member Joanne Bella Hodges, and team member and web administrator Kristin Johnson.

Far be it from me to prattle on anymore, I’ll just step aside and let you get on with reading!

Hope you have your cuppa ๐Ÿ˜€

man reading a tablet, rat faction

Thank you for agreeing to be interviewed guys, I know you’d prefer to keep to yourselves!

Karen, What prompted you to start the Rat Guide? ย How long ago did the site launch?

The idea of a site was a collaboration between Joanne Bella Hodges, myself, and Kristin Johnson back in 2001; we launched in 2003.

Our objective is to give the pet rat community a free, easily accessible website with referenced information about care, breeding issues, health, preventative care, and medications.

We also wanted to include information people could present to their veterinarians when taking their rat(s) in for checkups and procedures.

The Rat Guide Team has collaborated with clinical exotic veterinarians, comparative medicine veterinarians/researchers, pathologists, and rodent disease experts.

Other consultants include pharmacists, medical doctors, nurses, and veterinary tech nurses.

Rat Guide continues to evolve and expand.

The original design follows a text book-like format, which continues to this day.

Our webmaster, Kristin, is working toward making the Rat Guide more user-friendly for mobile devices.

How long have you been interested in rats?ย  Do you/have you owned any of your own?

I would say I have had an interest in rats for close to 35 years, and have owned ratsย for nearly 30 years.

At present I have 2 loveable males Tristan and Seeley.

What are one or two of the most unusual illnesses or conditions you’ve seen in a rat?

I think autoimmune disorders/diseases are some of the most challenging conditions to pinpoint and treat in a rat.

These can present as skin conditions; initially the rat would be treated for the most common affliction which is mites, but when treatment fails it takes a more thorough assessment to determine cause and treatment course.

Another is endocrine disorders of the adrenal glands involving tumors and hormone disruption.

The most frustrating issue for pet rat owners I believe though is treating and controlling chronic respiratory disease.

What do you think are the most common rat-related issues that people just don’t know enough about? ย Can they find information about it/them on your website?

Personally, I’d have to say that diet and obesity are at the top of the list.

Not only does obesity directly cause hormone-driven tumors such as mammary and pituitary, it also exacerbates almost every other health issue that the rats get.

Information on obesity and it’s adverse effects can be found throughout the Rat Guide in relevant articles.

Chronic Respiratory disease is also a common problem, and prevention (particularly husbandry, health checks, and proper quarantine) can make a huge difference.

[Editors note: read Rat Faction’s last article on tips for rat owners, for links to the Rat Guide’s health checks!]

The Rat Guide goes into great detail regarding respiratory disease.

Can you recommend any reputable rat related websites on the web?

[Editors note: Rat Faction’s ‘Resources’ page has been updated to include all of the below sites, so you’ll always know where to go for this information].

International Veterinary Information System

international veterinary information service logo

Merck Veterinary Manual
merck veterinary manual
Exotic Pet Vet Net
exotic pet
Veterinary Information Networkย (Information for veterinarians)
veterinary information network
Rat Behaviour
rat behaviour and biology, anne's rat page


Rat Guide
the rat guide
What do you want all rat owners to know about the health of their rats?

Learn and understand what normal behavior and appearance for your rat is.

In that way, you can more quickly pick up on what is abnormal, perform routine health checks, and see your veterinarian before the rat becomes critically ill.

Choose a veterinarian knowledgeable with rat treatment and surgical procedures in rats prior to your rat becoming ill so you are not scrambling at the last minute to find someone.

[Editors note: download your printable in our shop today, to keep all the information you require for trips to your vet!]

Karen, Joanne and Kristin, thank you so much for taking the time to give such thoughtful answers.

I hope in the future you’ll come back to talk to the Faction about more specific topics.

question mark, rat faction

Did you get all that?!

Rat Faction is all about bringing you a thought-provoking and educating mix of lived experience, scientific articles and advice and information from experts (or people with more verified knowledge than us, let’s say!).

The Rat Faction resources page has been updated to include all the abovementioned reputable websites, so bookmark the page and refer to it often.

Rat Faction printables are still 20% off for a limited time, so get yours now and be prepared for anything your vet or rat throws at you!

Talk to us!

Tell us in the comments what you’d ask an expert if you could!

It doesn’t matter whether you’ve heard opinions or advice a million times on a topic, if you’d still like to know what an expert might say, ask the question so that Rat Faction can find out for you where possible.

Did you like this interview?ย  Would you like to see more?ย  Let us know ๐Ÿ™‚



Melanie is a freelance copywriter, blogger and rat fan!You can hire her to write words that suit your purposes and achieve your goals, just shoot her an email through the Contacts page.
Melanie shares her flat with two female ginger cats and occasionally some ants.

Latest posts by Melanie (see all)


  1. I just love Rat Guide!!
    I showed it to my vet and now we both consult it whenever we need to. An absolute lifesaver!

    1. Yes I did the same with my vet! Actually, all my vets, and my most recent one has been the only one who’s ego wasn’t so huge she looked and she looks it up all the time now too! (As well as her own go-to vet sites)

  2. A little over a year ago I was having trouble getting a vet to take Shadow and Sunshineโ€™s sneezes serious. They would only prescribe doxy for about 3 weeks. I remember you telling me to bring the rat guide to their next apppintment, Melanie! You said be stern and make sure they give the right antibiotics. So when I found a third vet to try out, I showed him the rat guide and he gave them the antibiotics that they needed so they could FINALLY get better! It really is a wonderful tool for rat owners ๐Ÿ˜Š

    1. Hey Vicky! I remember telling you that XD It always baffles and infuriates me that vets, who are meant to care about animals, pick and choose which ones they care about. I don’t know what it is about small animals that cause people to value them less than larger animals.

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