My Rat Has Lice or Mites: How Do I Get Rid of Them?

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My Rat Has Lice or Mites: How Do I Get Rid of Them?

Lice and mites are hard to get rid of when they infest pet rats. This is especially true when you are not equipped with the proper medications. Both lice and mites can become immune to chemical or medicinal treatments, requiring a change in formula when drug resistant specimens are found on furred rats. External parasites on rats can become a massive problem in homes with several ratties. To better understand the difference between rat specific mites and lice, we’ll give you a small overview:



What are Rat Mites?
Killing rat mites can be a hard process. Revolution and Ivermectin are commonly used, with the first being most effective. Scabs, small white, orange, or red bugs, and excessive itching could mean your rat has a mite infestation.
Killing rat mites can be a hard process. Revolution and Ivermectin are commonly used, with the first being most effective. Scabs, small white, orange, or red bugs, and excessive itching could mean your rat has a mite infestation.

Mites are small external parasites that belong to the Arachnid family. They may appear red or orange in color, which is a sign that they have been feeding on the skin or blood of the rat previously. They are capable of living in bedding and food, making it easy to obtain a mite infestation from everyday rat supplies purchased online or in stores. Another indicator of mites is the appearance of small scabs on the body accompanied with hair loss; and no, this is not mange, as it is very rare to see rats infested with mange causing mites. They CAN cross species, meaning the lice could bite and feed on humans. However, they cannot reproduce on humans or produce an infestation on human skin.

What Are Rat Lice?
Male human head louse, Pediculus humanus capitis. Technical settings : - focus stack of 57 images - microscope objective (Nikon achromatic 10x 160/0.25) directly on the body (with adapter ~30 mm)
Male human head louse, Pediculus humanus capitis.
Technical settings :
– focus stack of 57 images
– microscope objective (Nikon achromatic 10x 160/0.25) directly on the body (with adapter ~30 mm)

Lice are species specific external parasites, meaning that each species of lice generally only uses one species as a host. They cannot feed on or infest animals outside of their host species. Silver nits on the hair follicles of the rat or tiny cigar-shaped yellow or tan bugs point towards a lice infestation that must be remedied immediately. Left infested, the rat can ultimately succumb to anemia and die; lice can and will drain a rat of blood.

Treating Rats with Revolution or Ivermectin for Lice and Mites

Revolution and Ivermectin have both been common medications for treating external parasites on rats. Since pet shop rats, rescue rats, and animals from ill kept homes can all bring both of these pests into another home, it is wise to treat every rat on a regular basis.

yellow-mite-847862_1280Ivermectin has become less common in the treatment of mites, as they have developed a significant resistance to this treatment. Instead, many owners are turning to Revolution, which is a flea and tick preventative that comes in a tube and is only available with a veterinary prescription. It is commonly used on dogs, squeezed between the shoulders. Rats must have very small doses to avoid poisoning the animals.

Revolution Dosages In Pet Rats: Lice & Mite Treatment
Tube Color Pet Weight Concentration Amount of Product Dosage for Rat
Mauve <5 lb 60 mg/ml 15 0.1 ml/lb
Blue (Feline) 5.1 lb to 15 lb 60 mg/ml 45 0.1 ml/lb
Purple 5.1 lb to 10 lb 120 mg/ml 30 0.05 ml/lb
Brown 10.1 lb to 20 lb 120 mg/ml 60 0.05 ml/lb
Red 20.1 lb to 40 lb 120 mg/ml 120 0.05 ml/lb
Teal 40.1 lb to 85 lb 120 mg/ml 240 0.05 ml/lb
Plum 85.1 lb to 130 lb 120 mg/ml 120 + 240 0.05 ml/lb

Home Bathing, All Natural Remedies for Killing Mites and Lice

rat-624868_1920There are a few different natural remedies for lice and mites, which tend to be safer than chemical or medicinal treatments. They are useful for sick, elderly, and sensitive rats. In addition, the treatment regimen might be hard to stick to. It can be time consuming and drawn out, but it is wonderful to be able to treat rats with safer methods!

Firstly, you can coat the animal in oil to suffocate the living mites and lice. Try using vegetable oil or other rat safe oils. After five minutes, gently wash the rat with non concentrated Dawn dish detergent twice. This will get rid of excess oil, dead bugs, dirt, and parasite droppings. It will also clean and flush any wounds from the infestation. Repeat this every week as the life cycle of the parasites continue- up to 8 weeks.

cleaning cageSanitize the cage and toys with a bleach solution; then, dust all trafficked areas with diatamaceous earth. Use food grade. These fossilized, ground sea shells are capable of slicing and dicing the parasites and their eggs, but are completely harmless for rats. As a matter of fact, ingestion can eliminate internal parasites while supplying trace minerals and nutrients, such as Silica!

Avoiding Re-infestation of Rats Through Food, Bedding, and Cages

One of the biggest nightmares of rat parasite infestations is when they are eliminated but continue to come back. When treating for an infestation, you need to secure clean, fresh bedding and food. Try freezing all food and bedding inside of a freezer for 24 hours before using them with your rats. Freezing all new purchases will help to kill any bugs that might be hitching a ride, waiting to infest your pets.  A bleach and water solution is recommended for all used items, as well. Rats can be driven absolutely crazy with these fur parasites, as can the owner when it comes time to treat them!winter-654442_1920

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