Pet Rat Care – Bumblefoot

What is Bumblefoot?

Bumblefoot is a sore or callus that forms on the bottom or underside of the rat’s foot. These sores, if not treated immediately, can rapidly turn to ulcers that are often raw and prone to bleeding. The medical term is ulcerative pododermatitis and it is a complex condition that can be difficult to treat. It has yet to be determined whether or not the bacteria staphylococcus aureus, often found in these ulcers, comes after the sore has begun or is part of the instigation of the problem.

Cause of Bumblefoot.

The jury is still not in as to exactly why our pet rat may develop these ulcers. A few possible causes are as listed below.

Genetic Predisposition is commonly accepted as playing a large part and can explain how one rat may develop this condition yet his rat mates, fed, housed and cared for in exactly the same manner, do not.

Aging rats, particularly overweight pets, tend to be more prone as a result of walking more flat footed and placing more weight on the pad of the foot.

Soiled bedding or dirty flooring can cause infection to develop in wounds. Where solid flooring is used in your pet rat cage, puddles of urine could cause the risk of bacterial infection to occur.

Wired floor cages should be avoided. The uneven surface of wire can cause stress and wounding on a rats foot which again can lead to problems.

Rough bedding such as wood chips are believed to cause foot problems. Look into a softer bedding material, but one that is not too dusty.

Obesity is thought to be a contributing factor and although may not be a direct cause, is certainly must be kept in mind when caring for our rats.


Prevention is better than cure! A few simple steps may help in the prevention of Bumblefoot, however, if your pet rat does develop these sores rapid treatment will help to slow down and hopefully reverse the condition.

If you do own a wire cage, try to use wood or towels that can be tossed away when dirty over the wire.

If you own a cage with solid flooring, regular cleaning is essential. Always ensure bedding is clean and dry and all surfaces are clean and dry too.

Make sure your pet has a good diet. Watch carefully what you feed your rat and not too many treats, they do not need to be overweight to be happy.

If your pet still develops symptoms of Bumblefoot, then I strongly suggest you try a few of the following treatments. As a rule of thumb, I tend to try one for about 7 to 10 days and if no improvement is obvious, then I move onto something else.

Simple soap and water to clean the rats foot, followed by complete drying and a change in bedding, cage flooring and cleaning frequency can often stop the infection in its tracts in the early stages.

Betadine can be tried. Apply several times a day.

I have used True Blu 11 which has been quite effective in some cases. I use this on my horses as it is actually designed for larger animals, but be warned, it is messy.

Diluted grapefruit seed extract can be apply to the lumps a few times a day.

If you can, take your pet to the vet and obtain a cause of antibiotics.

Surgery may be necessary but only as a last resource. Please consider all your options before putting your beloved pet through this procedure.