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Rat's Red Tears: Porphyrin

If you have a pet rat in the house, or have seen one up close in whatever situation, you may have noticed that they seem to have red pigments at the bottom corner of their eyes, as if tears of blood. Of course, they're not actually tears of blood; that would've been quite distressing to look at. What they are actually is a chemical compound called porphyrin which is abundantly being produced in a rat's system. The reason as to why it is so and what they are for will be discussed further in this article. But before we start the discussions on what it is for let us first have a brief background study on what Porphyrin is in itself.

What is Porphyrin?

Porphyrin is actually a well known organic compound comprised of four pyrrole rings. A pyrrole is basically a pentagonal shaped compound comprised of four carbon atoms and a nitrogen atom situated in a corner. The chemical formulation for pyrrole would be C4H5N.

Porphyrin happens to be a very enormous grouping of organic compounds and is actually quite prevalent all over the globe. The most special property of porphyrin is that they are actually found to bind metals. The four nitrogen atoms around at the center would work as the teeth of the bind, which adhesively bonds metal ions like Magnesium, Iron, Zinc, Nickel, Copper, Cobalt, and even Silver. In some enhanced conditions, they are also used to strongly bind Gold into any other metals to produce an alloy.

Once Porphyrin binds with another metallic element, it acquires a whole new different set of properties as well as a different identity, thus, it will not have a different name. For example, if porphyrin would be bound to Iron, it will now be called ferroporphyrin. Ferroporphyrin or heme is actually the haemoglobin molecule naturally found prevalent in the human bloodstream. The sole molecule responsible for carrying out Oxygen (O2) for the entire body system's respiration functions.

But Porphyrin is not only found in the human body. It is also found in plants in their Chlorophylls; the most important molecule in an organic plant's system, responsible for the capturing of sun's nourishments and the green color of a plant. Porphyrin binds itself to Magnesium which in turn produces the necessary vitamin of B12 to the plants.

We can say therefore that porphyrin is a universally important compound to all organic things in this world.

Porphyrin in Rats

For a lot of rat enthusiasts, porphyrin may prove to be a quite interesting topic to discuss of as they are normally noticeable in the rat's existence. They are actually being secreted from a gland called Harderian gland found around a rat's eyes. This would actually look like tears of blood of rats and could potentially startle anyone who is apparently unfamiliar with it. However, they're just completely natural if they are just occasionally seen. It's a different story if the rat would produce great amounts of porphyrin in their eyes. This would usually indicate poor diet, stress and or ailment on the rat's part.

Overproduction of Porphyrin in Rats

Among any other species of animals in the planet, rats are among the ones that profusely produce and secret porphyrin in their body. Because of profuse porphyrin production, they are usually left to harden around a rat's eyes. The condition is then called chromodacryorrhea, which can be quite harmful to rats if left unattended. The thickening dark red crust would eventually accumulate around the eyes making difficult for the rats to see around them. Despite a rat's less visual importance, irritation could take place in those areas. It would eventually lead to a rat scratching its eyes and wound itself. Infection follows after and could direly endanger your rat's wellbeing.
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