Unfortunately, some of us will have allergic reaction to rats. Much like dogs and cats (as well as other allergens), rats can cause some pretty hefty reactions. But, they can be worked with a little bit easier than dogs or cats. Since rats are kept in a cage, they are restricted to a single area in the home. Larger free roaming pets do not; therefore, they can cause more adverse reactions. Before you get rid of your rats, try these methods below to live happily with your rats! A few changes and sacrifices can greatly reduce reactions!
Wear Approved Protective Clothing!
Protective clothing is one of your best defenses against ratty allergies. Having an allergic reaction usually means that the owner has come into contact with urine, dander, or fur from the rats. Clothing needs to protect the skin not only from fur and dander, but from the nails as well. Rats will almost always have urine under their nails, which could poke through thin fabrics. Find a dense, protective piece of clothing such as a denim jacket. In addition, gardening gloves will be needed for the hands. It might seem weird at first, but it will allow you to bond with and spend time with your rats even with allergies.
Remove Clothing After Handling Rats or Cage Items
Once you are finished playing with the rats, make sure that you immediately remove all clothing that they have touched. This will quickly eliminate any ratty related allergens, keeping your allergy from flaring at a later time. All clothing should go into the washer, to keep your reaction at a minimum. Any underclothes that the rat did not touch are fine to wear; as they were not exposed to allergens. However if rat urine has soaked through the protective shirt or pants to the clothes underneath, they will need to be washed as well.
Wash Your Hands and Arms IMMEDIATELY After Playtime to Remove Urine, Dander
Even though you may have removed the clothing, it is still vital to wash your hands and arms thoroughly to prevent a reaction on the skin. Many people seem to encounter a breakout of hives should they be allergic to rats, which can commonly appear after skin contact with an allergen. You may have also touched the cage, toys, or other ratty gear before putting on your protective clothing; washing off is just a good practice to maintain. If the rats were playing in your hair, a shower is advised.
Bathe Your Rats Weekly
For many people, bathing the rats on a weekly basis will greatly reduce allergy problems for the owner. Even if you keep an immaculate house and a clean air filter, the dander and hair could still get to you. Instead of worrying, just give your rats weekly baths to reduce the amount of stray hair, skin cells, and other allergens that linger within the coat. This will also help to reduce the amount of urine that may be on the rat as well. A clean cage and frequent bathing helps to prevent urine related allergies.
Use Only Fleece
Another rule of thumb is to forego any and ALL bedding. Bedding can hold a lot of dust, hair, and dander; including all of the dust that it brings into the rats’ environment. The bedding itself could lead to a reaction. Instead, use fleece inside of the cage. It is easier to change, cleaner, and preferred by the rats. In addition it will reduce your rat care related costs.
Fleece liners will quickly become your favorite type of bedding if you own less than 6 rats, as the messes are greatly reduced. In addition, cleaning the cage every other day only requires a few minutes of your time. It takes less than 10 minutes to pull out the dirty fleece and towels, knock off any waste, and replace the under towels and fleece. Keeping several sets of fleece on hand makes this process even more convenient, as all of the dirty sets can be washed at once in between uses.
Do Not Touch Rat Urine
Many allergies are caused by the rats’ urine. For some reason, many people can be absolutely fine with rats, but show symptoms of an allergic reaction when they handle dirty toys, clean the cage, or become scratched by a rat. These scratches can become inflamed and result in hives for the owner, ending in a not-so-wonderful kind of day. Try to avoid rat urine at all costs, especially during cage cleanings. Try using large dish gloves on cage cleaning day! They’re not only waterproof and heavy duty, but they extend up your arm offering more protection. Try to wash all items in the cage regularly in order to reduce your risk of contact with the rat urine.