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Hi Irene, thanks for all the help.  It looks like NZ Rat Rescue are happy to answer questions by email, they just can't take on a wild rat or rehome one, so that's good.  Over here in NZ I am pretty certain all antibiotics (for the past 10+ years at least) have been restricted so that you must go through a vet to get them.  So in all likelihood I will have to take him to a vet first.  I also looked around the area I found him (near a supermarket) and there are bait stations right around the perimeter so the chances are...
I will most likely also be treating him for mites because he is daily going balder, unless this is due to poisoning.  
If he pulls through (and he seems pretty good apart from the above) then I would LOVE any help re-homing.  I mean, how many places can you release a wild rat and know that they'll have a good chance? People here HATE rats!
As for me, no, I have very little useful experience with pet rats, although I had a domestic rat for a while that I found wandering on the road with an infection on its back that never cleared up (despite a couple of expensive vet operations - looking back I wonder what they were doing because I don't think they ever gave me antibiotics for it, just operated and removed the dead flesh)  That was years ago.

Answer
You are so welcome.  I want to also commend you on taking this little boy in and caring for him...you have a HUGE heart.  It's so sad that rats are misunderstood and hated as much as they are.

It's wonderful that he seems to be getting better.  Can I ask a little about him?  Has he been friendly to you for the most part, or skiddish?  Has he tried to bite you or does he readily allow you to hold him?  What is his personality like that you can tell so far?  I'll be happy to help you with finding him a home, but people will want to know these things before they are willing to take him in.  

Please keep me posted as to his progress in regaining his health after you take him to a vet and get medication.  Hopefully you can find a vet who has experience with rats.  I don't know if this will help because products are probably different in NZ than in the US but here is a quote from a website about mite treatment you can do on your own:

"Go to a vet and buy one small vial of Revolution made for cats.  NEVER USE REVOLUTION FOR DOGS!  This is a different strength and it will over dose your rat!  You need to know your rat's weight, however, or at least a really good guesstimate.   You will need a syringe with a removable needle (they all are usually removable).  You will not inject the rat, 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 your rat.  Remove needle before applying the liquid.   It should go right behind his head, between his shoulders.   Part the fur to expose the skin and push the plunger down, squirting out the small amount of Revolution.   DO NOT let him wipe it off.  Keep him busy for at least 15 minutes until it dries. Do not rub it in.  Allow it to dry on its own."

I'll look forward to hearing from you soon regarding his progress and let me know when you feel he is healthy enough and mite-free so that I can put out a post for re-homing him.

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Irene Murphy

Expertise

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.

Experience

I have been a huge rat enthusiast for many years. Since becoming a rat owner, I have educated myself in all areas of pet rats from every resource I could find including the internet, books, conversations with local exotic vets, as well as several local rat breeders.

Education/Credentials
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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