What is Diabetes in Rodents?

Diabetes is a condition in which the body cannot (adequately) absorb, use and store sugars from food. The result of this is an increased sugar level in the blood. This is also known as hyperglycemia.


The body needs nutrients to function, these are obtained from the food we give the animals. Good health therefore stands and falls with a correct diet that is tailored to the nutritional needs of the animal. The diet consists mainly of lipids (fats), proteins (proteins) and glucids (sugars, starch products). These elements provide the body with the energy it needs to function.

When an animal eats, its sugar level rises. This is because the glucides mainly change to glucose. The pancreas (pancreas) notices this increased glycemia (sugar level in the blood) and in turn releases insulin so that the glucose can penetrate into the cells of the body. Insulin is a hormone that allows glucose to penetrate into muscles, adipose tissue and liver, as well as to convert glucose into fat for later use. Without insulin, sugar does not enter the cells and thus remains in the blood.

There are roughly 4 types of diabetes: Type 1, Type 2, MODY and Gestational Diabetes.


In type 1 diabetes, something very special happens. The cause seems to be an inflammatory mechanism whereby the body suddenly and out of the blue makes antibodies against its own pancreas and attacks the beta cells. The part of the pancreas that is involved in insulin production is then destroyed. The pancreas can then make no insulin at all and therefore no longer convert glucose into anything useful.

If an animal's body cannot produce any insulin at all, the only treatment is to administer insulin. The dose must be precisely adjusted to the sugar values and in the blood, but also to the nature of the meal. In humans, this is done by injecting insulin under the skin several times a day. This is much more difficult with rodents. View here which treatment options are available.

If there is too much glucose in the blood, the body will try to get rid of it in other ways. This happens thanks to the kidneys that filter the blood. The large amount of glucose burdens the animals considerably and as a result we see a lot of drinking and a lot of urination in animals with diabetes.


Type 2 diabetes is very closely linked to diet. This type of diabetes can be caused by feeding incorrectly for a longer period of time.

As we know, the body uses insulin to convert glucose into something useful for the body. This system normally works perfectly and without problems, but if the diet contains a lot of glucose, but also due to the aging process, the cells in the body can gradually build up a resistance to insulin. As a result, the pancreas has to make more insulin to be able to convert the glucose. This becomes too much for the pancreas in the long run. What you then see is that the pancreas simply can no longer produce enough (qualitative) insulin to regulate the sugar levels in the blood. This causes chronic hyperglycemia or type 2 diabetes.

The annoying thing about type 2 diabetes is that it does not have any symptoms for a long time. With the wrong diet, it just gets a little worse by the day until it gets to the point where the symptoms appear and there is no turning back for the animal.

Type 2 diabetes cannot be cured. There is no turning back. However, the symptoms can be treated (increased sugar level in the blood) by adjusting the diet in particular.


  • very thirsty
  • a lot of urine
  • Fast Weight Loss



Glycemia is the metabolism of sugar in the body. It uses receptors in the cell membranes and in the brain. Glycemia is thus regulated by the hormone insulin. If an animal eats sugar, this is detected almost immediately and the pancreas receives a signal that it must produce insulin. This ensures that sugar gets into the cells. The insulin is then transported to the liver, which stores the sugar in the form of glycogen (fat).

Every time an animal ingests sugar, insulin is released in the right proportion. That means the more sugar the body soon has, the more insulin has to be produced. Insulin is a very strong hormone that has two important main functions, ensures that sugar gets into the cells and ensures the storage of unused sugar in the fat cells.

Cells have special insulin receptors that detect this hormone. As soon as insulin is at the door, the cell literally opens the door for it and lets the sugar in. It is therefore important that the insulin continues to knock on the door. Without insulin, the sugar cannot enter the cell and the cell will die without nourishment. You can imagine that this can lead to life-threatening situations in type 1 diabetes. The sugar left in penetrates into the cell and provides it with energy (nutrition).

This is the path that sugar travels in the body

  • Digestion (intestines)
  • Signal to the (brain)
  • Excretion of insulin (pancreas)
  • Storage of glucose (liver)
  • Filtering and absorption of glucose (kidneys)
  • Consumption and storage of glucose (muscles)
  • Storage of glucose in the form of fat (fat tissue)


Our animals live in enclosures. They are 100% dependent on us, which is why it is so important to study your animal's nutritional needs. If an animal is fed the wrong food day in and day out, the body has to fight against it to stay healthy. The body is strong and can take a lot, but somewhere there is a limit.

If an animal consumes "too much" sugary food and snacks every day and does not get enough exercise, the pancreas has to work hard to secrete more and more insulin. Too much sugar and too little exercise will make the body store more reserves. Because the fat cells become overcrowded and as a result receive a shortage of oxygen, inflammatory reactions occur everywhere in the body. The body detects this problem and hears the nut cries of the cells and has only one solution… to release the sugars into the bloodstream. This is a process known as pre-diabetes. It is not far advanced to be a type 2, but the decline has already begun. If the body is wrong at this point it can still be turned back. In animals, see that no symptoms are visible yet, but there is, for example, when glucose is measurable in the urine.


After reading the previous piece you have probably banned all sugars….. but unfortunately it is not that simple. Sugar is the fuel of every cell in the body cannot survive without sugar.

Sugar is very scarce in nature. The animals have to actively look for it and the chances of finding large quantities of it are nil. At our house it is very different if we are not careful. Sugar has to be handled very carefully. In humans, the receptors that detect sugar are located on the tip of our tongue and because it is so scarce in nature, we humans also have a special urge for sugar. We long for it because it gives so much energy and we quickly become addicted to it. This is no different with our animals, they also detect sugar and know that this gives a bomb of energy, which in nature gives a good chance of survival.


Because type 1 diabetes can only be treated by injecting insulin, we will only discuss the treatment of type 2 here.

The disease cannot be reversed. Once damage is done, there is no going back, but thanks to proper treatment, further damage can be prevented and the condition can be stabilized. The two main components of the treatment are diet and exercise. An advantage is that we can regulate the food of our animals 100%, the movement becomes a different story.


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