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These plugs are formed of eosinophilic proteinaceous material mixed with exfoliated urothelial cells, cellular debris, and spermatozoa. It is believed that these plugs result from abnormal ejaculation, and the secretions from the male accessory sex glands ( refer to: Male Reproductive System of the Rat Guide) ( Lee, 1986; Mohr, Dungworth & Capen, 1992, p. 262).
In the adult male rat secretions from the accessory sex glands: secrete fluids that act as an energy source for sperm, contribute to the mobility and viability of sperm, help to lubricate the urethra and clear it of urine prior to ejaculation, and serves as a means of transporting the sperm in the female tract and creating a copulatory plug to help ensure fertilization. In addition secretions called smegma, composed of oils, moisture, and shed epithelial cells help to keep the glans moisturized. Under normal circumstances the healthy male rat is able to adequately clean the penis and sheath, and prevent the buildup of secretions. However in the aging or ill male rat, or those males with paresis, the ability or flexibility to groom may decline; hence secretions can become firm, blocking or plugging the urethra, and interfere with urination and/or lead to infection if not removed. In male rats where an orchiectomy (neuter) has been performed the development of urethral plugs is significantly decreased (Bennett, Soft Tissue Surgery, 2012, p.378).
It is important to note that in the majority of cases where urethral plugs are present there is no evidence of stone nidus formation within the plugs, and is therefore not considered a precursor to the development of bladder calculi (Mohr, Dungworth & Capen, 1992, p. 262).
Perceptible odor which may or may not be present
Care should be taken when removing plugs so as not to cause irritation to the tissues.
In the event the plug is very firm, applying a small amount of olive oil to the penis may ease removal and prevent irritation to tender tissue.
For information regarding medications refer to the Rat Medication Guide.
Posted on July 26, 2008, 17:49,
Last updated on February 25, 2015, 11:49
| Aging / Degenerative Disorders