Rat/Mice Diseases - Bumblefoot

Bumblefoot in rat
  • Bumblefoot, or ulcerative pododermatitis, is the inflammation and infection of the plantar surface and connective tissue of the foot/feet.
  • Bumblefoot is usually genetic, or found most commonly in older, overweight, diabetic rats and mice, or in rats and mice that have been living in unsanitary conditions.
  • It's a bacterial infection usually caused by Staphylococcus aureus.
  • It usually appears as round reddish swelling (the bumble) or an ulcer that can form a yellowish crusty scab.
  • It sometimes breaks open and bleeds. It often affects both back feet, although one foot is usually worse than the other.
  • If pus or a bad smell is present, it means that a secondary abscess has formed under the bumble and surgery may be necessary.
  • The infection occurs through continuous pressure and irritation on the foot and is a chronic problem. It may also be associated with the wire floring of the cage and using pine or cedar shavings.

    • Signs:
    • Bumblefoot starts out as small reddened bumps that look a bit like calluses.
    • These bumps can eventually become quite large and may intermittently bleed and scab over.

    Bumblefoot in Rat
    • At the first sign of bumblefoot, see your veterinarian.
    • A combination of oral antibiotic treatment along with topical cleaning and treatment of the wounds (as directed by your vet) is usually the first course of treatment. There is a topical item called Blu-Kote that can be applied to the bumblefoot.
    • For bumblefoot lesions that do not respond, surgical treatment may be necessary, but this has significant risks and variable success.
    • Early detection and treatment is vital for the best results but Prevention is the best option.

    • The best thing you can do to prevent bumblefoot from the start is to buy a cage that does not have a wire bottom.
    • Frequent and thorough cage cleaning appears to be the best defense. All waste matter and soiled bedding should be removed on a regular basis.
    • Eliminate roughly textured bedding such as wood chips, pine or cedar shavings and corn cob litter. Alternatives such as CareFresh may be used. Using a litter box can help keep the bedding cleaner.
    • Prevent your rats and mice from becoming overweight by providing a healthy diet and lots of opportunity for exercise. Older rats and mice may also walk more flat-footed to be sure to provide soft bedding and surfaces for older or weak rats and mice.