Ask Seth: Red-eyed Rats!

I have an 18-month old white rat and recently he has been getting this red-colored discharge from his eyes. Is he bleeding from his eye? What is this?

What you have described is called chromodacryorrhea, which is a fancy name for red tears. Rat’s tears normally contain porphyrins (pigments) which cause the reddish color. When a rat is sick or under stress they will secrete more porphyrins than usual, making the tears look redder and at times even appear bloody. These tear also appear around the nostrils and when they dry, it resembles dried and crusted blood. A veterinarian may be able to distinguish between chromodacryorrhea and actual blood. The increased reddish discharge may be an indication that your rat is sick or experiencing some sort of stress. I would recommend that you have your rat checked by a veterinarian that is experienced in rodent healthcare. If there is only slight tearing, then it may be just normal or due to the rats’ age.

Red discharge in rats is fairly common, but could potentially be a cause for concern. What do you think? Should we worry every time something looks off, or is it unnecessary? Please contribute your opinion in the comments below.
To submit a question for our next issue, email askseth@petassure.com

Seth Mayersohn

About Seth Mayersohn

Have a question about your pet’s health or behavior? Readers can submit questions to askseth@petassure.com. Seth Mayersohn has a B.S. in Animal and Veterinary Sciences and a M.S. in Agriculture from West Virginia University. He has 12 years of experience as a veterinary technician and draws upon that experience to help our readers!

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