These descriptions are not intended as a substitute for professional advice, but to supplement it or remind you of what you have been told by your vet.
If you have any other queries about your pet’s health, or find there’s a particular problem that is not listed, check the Vet FAQs. Of course, if your animal is unwell, take it to the vet. If you would like any more information, contact us and we’ll see if we can help.
Fur and ear mites
There are several different species of mites that can affect rats – Radfordia ensifera, the fur mite, Notoedres muris, which causes mange and the most dangerous mite, Ornithonyssus bacoti, which feeds on rats’ blood.
Radfordia ensifera mites are also known as fur mites. You may notice your rat scratching, hair loss and possible skin ulceration or lesions. They won’t cause major problems unless the infestation is heavy or the rat is suffering from other conditions
Ornithonyssus bacoti are bloodsucking mites that infect rats and may infect mice. They are the most dangerous mites which can cause anaemia.
A variety of treatments are available to help treat rats infested with mites. For further information please contact your vet.
Rats are susceptible to pneumonia caused by a respiratory infection, Mycoplasma pulmonis. It can be caught from infected rats and mice and no symptoms are evident until the infection has become well established and changes to the tissue have occurred. Symptoms at this stage include rattling or noisy breathing, nasal discharge and sneezing.
Antibiotics can temporarily help alleviate the infection, but rats will always be left with what is commonly known as ‘the snuffles’. The cages of rats with respiratory infections should be cleaned out more regularly as high levels of ammonia can make the condition worse, and it is important to use dust-free bedding.
Radfordia ensifera mites are also known as fur mites. You may notice your rat scratching, hair loss and possible skin ulceration or lesions. They won’t cause major problems unless the infestation is heavy or the rat is suffering from other conditions.
Worms are internal parasites that can cause loss of condition and ill health in rats as well as posing a risk to people. The dwarf tapeworm is found in rats and can be caught by humans. Most pets have worms, although it’s not always easy to tell if your rat is infested as often there aren’t any outward signs of ill health. For further information, contact your vet.