Figure 1c: Megacolon in 41-day-old rat
Case history and photos
SRR Borrowed Angel, a high-white blazed blue female. Her mother was a unmarked rat (white feet only) with no history of m/c in the line. Her father was from a dominant blazed line that had megacolon in the history
There were 10 in the litter, born 11/6/2000. Two littermates, a black wedge blazed and a black lightning blazed, died at about two weeks old. Their muscle tone was not good, and though their bellies were large but not really abnormally large, the cause of death on both appeared to be megacolon. Some of the siblings were high whites who were not afflicted with megacolon.
As is often normal in a litter with megacolon, what is first noticed, before they reach two weeks, is that the affected pups have poor muscle tone. The first place that it can be noticed is in their back legs/thighs. Bloating isn’t very noticeable until they begin to eat solid foods. This particular little female rarely had any diarrhea except for a couple of occurrences. She mostly had no stools.Pups with megacolon also grow more slowly than their unaffected siblings, probably due to poor absorption of nutrients. Though she was smaller and quite bloated, she was normal and active, eating, drinking, playing on the wheel, playing with her siblings, affectionate with her people, etc. until just hours before she died.
I could not find anything at the time, though I believe her case was severe enough that she would not have survived to live a normal life even with treatment. When onset is seen at birth, it’s rare that any treatment will help.
SRR Borrowed Angel died at 46 days old, peacefully, and on her own in my hands. She was calm and had slowed down her activity. There was no evidence that it was time.
(Note: comfort of the rat is important. If at any time the rat appears to be distressed euthanasia should be considered.)