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Pet Rats/I don't know if it's mites


QUESTION: I just recently lost one of my boys to pneumonia, and now I've found that another of them has a skin problem. There is scabby, flaky skin over his entire body and black dots, kind of like flea poop. My other doesn't have this problem, but I'm very confused and concerned. I'm making a vet appointment tomorrow because it's too late right now, but what do you think this could be? If it's mites, how would he have gotten them? What can I do until I can get him to the vet?

ANSWER: Hi Draya,
Scabs are usually caused by rat fur mites. See the article called Skin Problems on my website at

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The scabs
The scabs  
QUESTION: Is it okay to keep him in the same cage as his buddy? I also just adopted some babies and they are in the introduction process. Will they also get mites if they come into contact? Thanks

I didn't see the picture yesterday and just looked at it. Guess what, those aren't scabs. They are blobs of dandruff and skin grease that are normally produced by some adult males. Some males have really active oil glands in their skin and this is what it can look like. It is nothing to worry about.  I hope you haven't gone to the vet yet. Cancel your appointment.

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Debbie Ducommun


I can answer any questions about pet rats, but you will probably be able find answers to simple questions more quickly on my website at If you have a life-threatening emergency you can try calling me at 530-899-0605. I am not usually on the computer on the weekend.


I have been "The Rat Lady" since 1985 and am recognized as one of the world's experts on pet rats. I have 3 published books and already answer lots of questions about rats daily.

President of Rat Assistance & Teaching Society

I am a monthly columnist for Pet Business magazine, and my writing has appeared in other magazines. I have 3 published books.

BA in Animal Behavior

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