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Methods of Rat Euthanasia

The average life span of domesticated rats is anywhere between 2 and 3.5 years -- most die from age while others suffer from various illnesses; some, are intentionally killed. Euthanasia is the humane way to end up the suffering of a sick or injured rat that has chance of survival. Though it is a difficult decision to make, owners would subject their pets to euthanasia in cases when no amount of medical attention can already save them from a current medical condition.

It should be taken into consideration that euthanasia is meant to be humane, thus, the method by which it is to be administered should be as painless as possible. The guidelines published by the "American Veterinary Medical Association" (AVMA) sometime in June 2007 indicated that any "subcutaneous, intrahepatic, intramuscular, intrarenal, intrathoracic, intrathecal and intrasplenic" injection is considered to be illegal drugs for euthanasia. These drugs can actually cause severe pain to the rats that in some cases, it is the pain that kills the animal and not the drug itself. In simple words, any drug that will cause the rat's muscle, liver, kidney, skin, lungs, spleen, chest, spinal cord and brain to deteriorate is not acceptable by the law.

Intracardiac Drugs

Do not allow anyone to use intracardiac injections to your rat, it doesn't even matter if your rat is sedated or not. Such a drug can cause very acute pain to the rat even while it is unconscious. The pain may not be obvious because the rat will remain immobile - it is sedated after all!; but it does not take away the fact that the rat does feel the pain until it dies. This method of killing animals is already considered illegal in California by virtue of its brutality.

Other drugs that have the same effects as intracardiac injections can only be used on rats and other animals when they are heavily sedated and given high dosages of anaesthesia; even those which are in comatose condition should still be given enough anaesthesia to counter the pain. No animals should be injected with such drugs while they are awake as this can lead to possible accidents (like injecting the drug into the lungs instead of the heart). Sad to say, many veterinarians choose to use intracardiac injections because it can kill the rats fast. However, when it comes to euthanasia, sometimes, what is quick is not always better than the rest.


This drug can be given orally or through SQ injections. What's good with this drug is that the rats do not seem to realize that it is already acting in its body. Of course, this drug should not be given to un-sedated rats. Once sedated, the rat will not feel anything strange or painful; in fact, if it is administered properly, even the insertion of the needle into its body will not give the rat any pain or discomfort. This drug is extremely rat-friendly because it does not go into the animal's tissues which are the ones that will feel the pain if there is any. In a matter of 5 to 10 minutes, the rat's consciousness will slowly leave its body and in a full 15 minutes, its heart will cease to beat.

Gas Anaesthetic

Another popular method of euthanasia is through the use of gas. However, rats do not really find it "pleasant" to breathe-in gas. Thus, such a method can still be considered inhumane to some extent. Nonetheless, it is still acknowledged as a legitimate way to kill rats, thus, many veterinarians continue to use this method. Gas anaesthetic euthanasia requires that the rat be placed inside a closed chamber where the gas is released into.
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