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Journal of the South African Veterinary Association

On-line version ISSN 2224-9435
Print version ISSN 1019-9128

J. S. Afr. Vet. Assoc. vol.79 n.2 Pretoria  2008




Care, husbandry and diseases of the African giant rat (Cricetomys gambianus)



R G Cooper

Division of Physiology, Birmingham City University 704 Baker Building, Franchise Street, Perry Barr, Birmingham B42 2SU, UK. E-mail:




The African giant rat lives up to 14 years in captivity, reaching maximum body weights of approximately 2.80 kg in bucks and 1.39 kg in does. In Britain, the African giant rat is increasingly becoming a popular exotic pet. A survey was conducted on 41 licensed pet shops in the UK. The range of ages of giant rat presented for sale, single price per rat, paired prices (buck and doe) and transport costs were 4-12 weeks, £320-£370, £352.50-400.00 including VAT, and £10-37.50, respectively. Ivermectin injected at 200-400 µg kg subcutaneously once a week for 3 weeks will eliminate ectoparasites (and many endoparasites). Nematode infections can also be treated with fenbendazole or piperazine. Bladder threadworms can be treated with fenbendazole, protozoa with metronidazole (not in gravid does) and cestodes with praziquantel. Treatment of leptospirosis with doxycycline administered 4.29-5.36 mg once a week is useful prophylactically, although for insurance of effectiveness, 10 mg/kg for 5 days is recommended. An identical dosage is recommended for the treatment of rickettsia. African trypanosomosis infection, following diagnosis of parasites in a blood smear, can be treated with a variety of antiprotozoal drugs like diminazene diaceturate at 3.5 mg/kg for 5 days. Leishmaniasis is treated at the same dose. Staphylococcosis is treated with amoxycillian trihydrate at 5 mg/kg 3 times a day for 7 days. Helminthosis is treated with broad-spectrum deworming solution. Coccidiosis is treated with cotrimoxazole at 100 mg/kg daily for 3 days. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories are administered to combat secondary bacterial infection after viral invasion.

Keywords: African giant rat, care, Cricetomys gambianus, disease, husbandry



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Received: October 2007
Accepted: April 2008



Cooper R G Care, husbandry and diseases of the African giant rat (Cricetomys gambianus). Journal of the South African Veterinary Association (2008) 79(2): 62-66 (En.). Division of Physiology, Birmingham City University, 704 Baker Building, Franchise Street, Perry Barr, Birmingham B42 2SU, UK.

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