This article is from the Spring 2003 AFRMA Rat & Mouse Tales news-magazine.
From Shannon McClellan, Plant City, FL
QI have three male rats who are all itching. I can find no fleas and I have already tried a rice and vegetable diet for 3 days as Nick Mays suggests in his book The Proper Care of Fancy Rats. My veterinarian put one of their scabs under a microscope and found nothing. When I wet them down to look at their skin better, I found about 10 scabs on one rat and about 4 on the other. Also, tiny little tanish specks smaller than table salt. Is this a natural part of their skin or hair or could it be something more? If it is some sort of microscopic bug, how do I get them out of my house? I feed my Rex rats one lab block cube in the morning (22% protein), a little bit of seeds as a snack (not much sunflower), bread, grains, oatmeal, etc., in the afternoon, and another lab cube with a little fresh veggies at night. Please tell me if you have any suggestions.
Answer from Karen Robbins, Winnetka, CA
AMales tend to get scabs and changing their diet to lab blocks only (no seeds), clipping their nails, and bathing in a cat flea shampoo usually helps. If this doesn’t, then having your vet give them a shot of Ivermectin will get rid of any kind of burrowing mites that may be the cause. The specks you describe may be mites. You need to find the source if that’s what they are (be careful of where you buy your bedding; are there wild mice or rats that can get into your house or where you store your bedding?). Another thing we have found that really works is a 10% ivomec solution mixed in propylene glycol that you put one drop on each animal 2 weeks apart for two treatments. Your vet could mix you some, although with just three rats, having the vet give each one a shot may be easier for you.
Answer from Carmen Jane Booth, D.V.M.
AI prefer the equine form of Ivermectin, “Eqvalan” as it can be diluted with water and does not require propylene glycol. The dose for mites is 200–400 mg per kg of body weight for mites. A drop per rat of the 1:10 dilution is fine. To get a diagnosis of the specks, either use some clear tape and tape them to a microscopic slide or place them in a drop or two of mineral oil on a slide. In either case, your veterinarian can take a look to diagnosis the species. Eradication depends on the source and the species of mite.