By Karen Rosenthal, DVM, MS
My pet rat, Cashmere, has had many small scabs on her body, below her right ear going down the side of her body. I looked it up and think it is mites, but I’m not positive. How do I find a veterinarian who treats rats?
Thank you for sending the pictures. It is difficult to tell exactly what is wrong looking at the pictures, but I agree that mites are a possibility. Mites are just one form of ectoparasite we worry about in rats. Lice are another form of ectoparasite that can infect pet rats.
Other conditions can cause the hair and skin to look as they do in your pictures. For that reason, as you mention, visiting a veterinarian who treats rats makes a lot of sense.
Treatment of ectoparasites starts with identifying the ectoparasite. Some ectoparasites spend their entire life cycle on the animal. Those parasites are easier to treat as all we need to do is treat the pet and the immediate area, such as the enclosure, in which the pet lives. Other ectoparasites only spend part of their life cycle on the animal but leave the pet to lay eggs. Those eggs can be found anywhere in the house. This makes treating and eliminating those parasites much more involved. In those cases, we have to treat not only the pet but also treat the entire house to remove any parasites and eggs in the carpet, furniture or other areas of the home.
The best way to find a veterinarian who treats rats is through personal recommendations. There are many active clubs for rat owners, and members of those clubs are the best resource for recommendations.
[An Internet search could help you locate a local rat club or organization. National rat clubs or organizations include the American Fancy Rat And Mouse Association and The Rat Fan Club, both of which have an extensive list of links to other rat organizations. Another resource is the Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians, which has a search function for veterinarians on its website. There is also a list of veterinarians on this website. Click here to visit that page.— Editors]