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Pet Rats/rescued rats, scratching, jumping - revised


QUESTION: So I got 3 pet rats about 2 weeks ago now. Someone was giving them away for free with their cage due to a new baby and shortage of room and attention. Anyways I had a pet rat (female) before so I took in these three (males).

I have noticed that they are always scratching themselves but they're are no sscabs. I haven't noticed any fleas or ticks or anything although only one comes out of the cage to let me hold him so far. Is there anything I should be worried about with them scratching all the time?

Also sometimes you will hear one squeak as if another bit him, is this OK? I don't want one to get hurt. Should I watch them more closely or seperate them ?

And my MAIN and final question is sometimes when I open the cage to pet them, one of them will go absolutely nuts. Jumping all over the place, onto the other rats, onto the cage , everywhere and it lasts about a min or two. I've never seen this before. Is it normal? I know females go in heat and can have bursts of energy but these are all males.

And for the scratching, they scratch A LOT. All the time. I wish I could help them but I don't know how to go about it. The last owner had wood chip type bedding which I know is bad for rats so I changed it right away and still they are itching like crazy.

ANSWER: Dear Kristen,

Because they are all scratching, it is unlikely to be allergy. These ratties have mites, bad. You need to get them treated with Revolution. Your absolute best bet is to take them to your rodent vet. If you haven't got one, call around and find someone trained in "exotics" or "pocket pets."

The vet will treat them with Revolution and examine them for other problems. If they are that unhappy with mites, she wasn't taking good care of them. They could have numerous other problems. A vet should listen to their lungs and examine their bodies. Are they making any noise at all?  They shouldn't be. Healthy rats make no frequent noises. Ask the vet if you can pay a reduced rate so you aren't paying three times the visit fee. If that is way too much, at least bring one in and ask for enough doses for all FOUR.

If you really can't get them to a vet, then you need to get a vet to give you a kitten supply of Revolution. Or, get it from a friend who has a cat or dog.

If you get the cat version, you will apply 0.02 ml to a rat under a pound, 0.05 for a rat over 1 1/2 pound; and you can interpolate in between.

If you get the dog version, you will apply half that much, because it is twice as strong.

The way you use Revolution is to apply the tiny dose to the back of the rat's neck. You must apply it to the SKIN and not the fur. Very gently rub it in. Don't let the rat wash itself for ten minutes.

Revolution works by getting into the bloodstream of the rat and killing anything that eats its blood. It lasts for one month. You will apply it to all FOUR rats and put them in completely clean cages. Washable items should be thoroughly washed in hot water; non washables such as wood should either be thrown away or frozen for two days.

There is nothing else as effective as Revolution, so you really need to get it. Sprays do not work on rats. It is possible to use ivermectin, which you can get formulated for cows or horses, but this is not as effective. If you do end up needing to do that, I will find out dosing for you-- I have never used it but certainly I can find someone who has.

Squeaking when tussling is fine. Ours tussle and screech all the time. You only need to watch for blood.

Rats have very different personalities. And they do often jump when happy. It is called popcorning. I hope that is what this guy is doing, certainly rather enthusiastically! He is happy to be out when he comes out, right? He will most likely settle down as he gets older.

Poor little itchy rats. Please treat them absolutely as soon as possible. They are miserable.

Let me know if I have not answered any of your questions. Best of luck, and thank you again for rescuing the ratties.

squeaks n giggles,


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QUESTION: They don't usually make noise unless they're play fighting and one will squeak. But they do sneeze often enough I can't tell which one its coming from all the time but again this is something I did not notice in my last rat I owned. And another question is I think one might be blind or near blind. Does this pose a problem? If I put their food in the cage the other 2 will run to it but this one 'sniffs' it out. And usually ends up just stealing it from the other two rather then getting it from the bowl. He is not skinny or anything, actually he's the biggest out of the 3. And knows the cage pretty well as he runs to the door when he hears me open it.

Also is they're ANYTHING besides revolution that could help? I don't want to sound like a horrible person but I'm definately not the richest. Like anything at all? Flea shampoo wouldn't work? Or drops for cats? I've heard of people using palmolive dish soap on their cats even.. I just don't have the money to see a vet a this point and time and matter of fact highly doubt there even is one in this small town. Anything that could even make them feel better until I get the money together TOO be able to bring them to the vet? I feel awful I wish I could help them out more. And thank you for helping me. Last time I had my female rat was years ago and never had these problems with her, I had gotten her from a pet store and she lived 4 years with no problems at all. So I'm basically new to all this "medical" part of rat owning.

ANSWER: Dear Kristen,

OK, here are instructions for ivermectin.

Ivermectin also kills the mites  (and other parasites) when the mites drink the blood. But it is not as effective as Revolution, and many rats are immune to it. Still, if it doesn't solve the problem it could at least make it better until you can get them to a vet.

It's not all that cheap but its cheaper than a vet visit. The least expensive source I found is IVER-ON Ivermectin Pour-On for Cattle at Jeffers Livestock, $19.95 (on sale) for 250 ml:


Mix one part ivermectin to 5 parts water. Put in a spray bottle or use a bowl and a sponge. Soak the top of the rat's fur. Avoid her face.

Keep her occupied until it is dry. Maybe maybe they will let you use the blow dryer at a distance.

You can do it once a week as long as there is itching, and one week later than that.

The sneezing is not good. If you can't get to the vet, you can get the important rat antibiotics sold for pigeons.

Remember I am not a vet-- and not the best expert, as I write in my profile; just a sub. It tells you to write to Debbie before me! It is Debbie who I call when I have a problem. However, I am going to tell you to do what is more typical of what a vet does rather than what she does (Sh, don't tell her!).

A mildly sick rat usually has myco.  A sicker rat usually has both myco and a secondary infection. Debbie says to treat with amoxicillin for the secondary infection first. Her philosophy is that if you treat the secondary infection first, the rat may be able to fight off the myco by itself. My vet says to treat the myco first and see if the rat can fight the secondary infection, if it has one-- which these tykes may not, since they are only mildly ill and have no other symptoms. This is why I am recommending the doxycycline. It is also far easier to dose.

Get the doxycycline from an online pigeon supply store such as Jedd's. Dose each sneezer 0.01 ml per pound, twice a day, for a minimum of 14 days. If the rats are sneezing after five days, either get to the vet, or write back and we can think about amoxicillin and/or allergies.

Doxy tastes horrible. It can even cause a tummy ache. Some of my rats will take it in blueberry soy yogurt. Others will only take it in LIQUID peanut butter (they choke easily on peanut butter) or even watered down fudge sauce! Or you may have to dose them directly by mouth.

Best of luck with everything. Still try to get to the vet if there are still symptoms. Also, if the jumpy one starts to jump like crazy also OUT of the cage, we need to worry about pneumonia.



Revised- forgot to answer about blind rat. It should pose little problem. Rats don't see all that well anyway, especially albinos. They figure out much of the world by smell and whiskers. Just be careful to make sure she can't fall off of anything. She probably still has good instincts. But just watch to see.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Should I be concerned about my well being and the well being of my 16 month old child? They are currently in my room, I change the bedding about every 5 days and use the boxo bedding I believe its called. Its like cardboard but super soft. Can we catch the mites or lice or whatever it is making them itch?

Dear Kristen,

If the rats have fleas, you can get them. Also if they have ringworm, which would make red bald patches on their skin. Rat mites are not interested in people.

The Boxo bedding is fine. I know a number of rat people who use it.

Best of luck!

Squeaks n giggles,


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Natasha Millikan


Consider me a sub, when no one else is available. NOTE YOU MUST NOT HAVE ONLY ONE RAT. JOIN MY FACEBOOK GROUP (because there are smarter people than me there!!): ***** ***** Excellent sites: **** **** **** **** **** ****


I have had rats for 3-1/3 years and have researched them extensively. I am a mouse expert with 40 years' experience with mice. The two species are similar and yet also quite different.

My Facebook group is Rats (and Mice) are Awesome.

I have a Bachelor's and two Master's degrees in Linguistics

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I am honored that my rats love me!

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My Facebook group, Rats are Awesome, serves at the moment 5300 members, and, considering all the huge rescues, probably averages 5 rats per member. That means my clients are about 25,000 rats!!!

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