Loss of Circulation in the Tail in Rats

Ringtail Syndrome in Rats

Ringtail syndrome is a condition that occurs in accompanying high temperature, low humidity environments, with frequent drafts inside the rat’s cage. It most often affects the tail, but may also affect the toes or feet as well. The condition occurs due to lack of proper blood supply to the body part, resulting from a constriction of the tail or limb — where the body part below the constriction ceases to receive blood from the circulatory system. Left untreated, the area of the body part will develop complications such as inflammation and swelling, leading eventually to gangrene — the death and decomposition of the soft tissue.

Ringtail syndrome is a condition most often seen in laboratory rats. It is relatively rare in pet rats.

Symptoms and Types

  • Swelling of the tail or limb (e.g., front or back feet)
  • Blackening and/or sloughing of the skin on the tail, toes or feet (gangrene)
  • Frequent biting of the affected area


  • Low humidity, high temperature environment
  • Drafty cage


You will need to give a thorough history of your rat’s health, onset of symptoms, and the specifics of your rat’s living conditions, such as placement of the cage and the general temperature of the environment in which your rat lives. A diagnosis of ringtail syndrome can usually be made by observing the clinical signs exhibited by your rat.


Necrosis of a body part that can be attributed to poor circulation


Something that is attached to something else, usually something larger; e.g. a leg or an arm.

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