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Pet Rats/Mites? Lice? Squeeking when touched... HELP!

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Question
Hi my name is Emma and I Recently noticed that my rat Star has been itching herself excessively and has scabbes from itching her self so much
I can't exactly tell if they are scabbes or if they are lice, becuase she won't sit still enough. I'm really worried about Star's health as she is kind of frail from her recent strokes.
When I was feeling her and running my ands down her back she squeaked in pain and ran away, I got her back and tried to find what made her in pain. All I found was more scabs. What do you think made her squeak?
I know lice doesn't spread to humans and almost all mites don't except blood-sucking ones. How can I tell whats-what?
Star's mouth has been weak because of what I'm thinking is a stroke a while back. She isn't sleeping much and looks kind of sick. The only vet that I know of in my area that doesn't charge hundereds of dollars to walk in is a very bad vet.
Since I can't drive yet it isn't totally up to me even though I have a rat emergency fund.
Please help! I'm really lost here and don't know what to do. I really need a quick answer, but I know how busy this can get.
Thanks
E

Answer
I know this is not going to be what you are hoping to hear, but there is no "quick answer".  Truly, without an examination by a vet, there is really no way for me to know what is wrong with Star based on the information you gave me.  I can only guess, and with Star being in poor health, guessing is pretty risky.  If she can be helped, only a vet can determine the problem and provide medication.

Hundreds of dollars for an exam by a vet sounds pretty steep!  Are you really serious or exhaggerating?  Generally, vets charge around $60 or so for an exam.  Perhaps you can call a few to find out for sure.  

That said, I will try to provide some ideas based on what you told me about the itching and scratching.  There are many possible causes of itching in rats, which include mites/lice, allergies, eczema, infection, or excessive protein in the diet.  The most common cause of itching is in fact a very high protein diet...what have you been feeding Star?   What you can do if you suspect she is getting too much protein, is change her diet to a very low protein diet and see if the itching subsides.  

If the diet change does not stop the itching and you suspect mites or lice, then go to a local vet and purchase a small vial of Revolution.  Make sure you purchase Revolution for cats or kittens (about $15)....NEVER USE REVOLUTION FOR DOGS!  It will overdose your rat!  You need to know Star's weight, or at least a really good guesstimate.   You will also need a syringe with a removable needle.  You will not inject Star, but you will need the needle to be able to poke through the top of the vial and draw out the exact amount of liquid needed to put on her.  Remove the needle before applying the liquid.   Put the Revolution behind her head, between her shoulders.   Part her fur to expose her skin and push the plunger down, squirting out the small amount of Revolution.   DO NOT let her wipe it off.  Keep her busy for at least 15 minutes until it dries.  Do not rub it in...allow it to dry on its own.  If you have other rats, DO NOT let them go near Star or they will lick it off and this defeats the purpose of using it.    

One more thing...you said you thought Star had some recent strokes.  What are the signs that make you think she had strokes?  I'm going to give you a link to a page from The Rat Guide which talks about strokes in rats and the symptoms to look for:
http://ratguide.com/health/neurological/stroke.php

I hope this information was useful in helping you to make some decisions on what you need to do next to help Star.  Good luck and I hope Star gets better.

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I can answer a variety of questions regarding adoption and care of pet rats throughout their lifetimes, including questions about their health and well being, temperment, diet, bedding, cages, toys, etc. I will try to answer your questions to the best of my ability in a timely manner and I have an abundant amount of resources to help me to help you with your pet rats. I love rattie pictures, so include pics with your question if you can. You may ask me medical questions, but please be advised that I am not a vet. I may use my resources to answer some medical questions, however, I will need to refer you to your local vet with medical questions that I feel I am not qualified to address.

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I have a college degree but not in the area of animals. I have obtained my extensive experience and knowlege of pet rats all on my own because in my eyes, pet rats are the most interesting and fascinating creatures you can ever imagine to have as pets. I also am saddened by how mislabeled and misunderstood these amazing and extremely smart animals are by the majority, and my mission in life has become to educate and change as many people's perceptions of rats as I possibly can.

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