Fleas are common parasites that will live and feed on the skin and hair of any furry animal. They can be found on many pets, especially if they tend to go outside your home often. Your pet rat might be itching and scratching a lot and that’s worth an inspection!
Can pet rats have fleas? Yes, although it is very rare to happen! Usually, pet rats can be infected with fleas if they come in contact with other wild rodents and animals.
Our pet rats never had fleas, but even if it so happens, worry not! It’s not a serious condition and there’s a treatment for it. However, it should follow the proper steps, to prevent a reinfestation of the fleas.
Find Out If Your Pet Rat Has Fleas
If you own other pets, that go outside, they can accidentally bring fleas home and infest your pet rats with them. Even we can unknowingly bring these pests with us!
Again it is very rare to happen, but it can still happen. Fleas can be visible on your pet rat’s body. But there are also other signs to look for. Fleas are very small and if your pet rat as darker fur, it’s not that easy to spot them.
The first sign to look for is if they’re scratching more than normal. Pet rats clean themselves a lot, but they won’t scratch themselves as much. Only when a rare itch happens. If your pet rat is scratching a specific area, frequently, you should inspect it!
Besides the scratching, the infected area will show some red skin, caused by the fleas feeding on the area, plus the continuous scratching.
It might also be common to find missing patches of fur or even red scabs. This is a clear indication that something is irritating your rat’s skin. If you observe these areas, chances are you’ll either find fleas or their feces. The later will appear as dark little spots on your companion’s skin.
Finally, fleas tend to hide in dark and very covered areas of animals. The armpits or even the belly are good places for fleas. If your pet rat is scratching these areas a lot, then they probably got fleas.
I’d also like to take the time to note, that a pet rat might react a bit more aggressively out of nowhere, due to the skin irritation.
We know how mosquito bites and even flea bites can be and they’ll annoy us beyond belief! It won’t be too different with a small rodent. It might not be hurting them, but touching the skin infested by fleas can cause discomfort to them.
Plus, if they’ve been scratching the place vigorously, they might also have hurt themselves, causing a small wound.
If you notice any of these signs, there’s no cause to panic! This infestation is fairly easy to treat, so let’s see more about that.
How To Get Rid Of Fleas In Pet Rats
If you do suspect your pet rat has fleas, take them to the vet.
I cannot stress this enough, but do not attempt and buy lice or flea shampoo at a pharmacy or pet shop without your vet’s instructions.
Human products are way too strong for pet rats and the chemicals in them won’t be good. Pet store treatments can also be dangerous for your pet rat if not used properly.
Truth is, a lot of times, there’s not a specific product for pet rats. Especially with fleas. It is rare for a pet rat to get them, so there isn’t the necessity for a product made specifically for them.
After diagnosing your pet rat, the vet will probably prescribe some kind of lice or flea shampoo or spray for you to treat your pet rat with. They’ll indicate the quantities of that or any other kind of medication the vet might give you.
Again, it is very important to follow these instructions. Lots of medication aren’t made specifically for pet rats and too much of it might be bad for them.
There are at least two methods to treat the fleas. One can be very hard to apply and the second can cause less stress to your pet rat and it will be easier to follow!
The first is using a flea shampoo. Now, comes the difficult part: bathing your rat. The bathing might not be a problem if your pet rat likes water and being in it. If they’re not used to the water, you’ll need lots of patience and love for your companion.
The shampoo should stay for some minutes in your rat’s skin and for this, you should maybe make a burrito out of them with a towel or try to hold them. Otherwise, they’ll start cleaning themselves and make a mess out of it.
And of course, you should avoid shampoo on the mouth, ears, and eyes of your pet rat. Finally, rinse your pet rat until all the shampoo is out and then look for fleas on their body.
This method can be very, very complicated though! Pet rats are very nervous and it makes even harder to treat them if they don’t like water. So I wouldn’t advise and your vet will probably know this as well.
For this reason, a lot of times the vet will prescribe your pet rat a powder or spray that is designed to kill fleas or lice. It is much easier to apply and will cause less stress to your rodent friend!
Again, these sprays should be used according to the vet’s indication. You’d spray the product in a part of the body that your pet rat can’t reach. These should not be ingested by them, and you should keep an eye on your rattie after applying it, just to be sure they can’t reach the spot.
Now that you can treat your pet rat, there are still steps to take in consideration, to avoid another flea infestation and be sure they’re removed from the environment.
Avoiding Getting Fleas Again
After receiving the proper treatment and getting back home from the vet, you should not return your pet rat to same enclosure. There are many reasons why you should always have an extra cage at home, even if it’s smaller and this is one of them.
Their cage is probably infected and you should thoroughly wash and clean it and everything inside! Throw out any bedding, food and even water and clean the containers. The cage, toys, dishes and even clothing should be washed with water and a mild dish detergent and even some vinegar, which is always a good disinfectant.
Be sure to rinse all the soap off everything. Now you can put the cage all together again, with fresh bedding, food, and water.
It is also important to be sure the whole environment is cleaned of fleas, so a nice cleaning of the area surrounding the cage is necessary and I would even advise vacuuming the whole room or even house, just to be on the safe side!
Finally, to ensure the fleas didn’t get on your clothes, wash any clothes that you used while handling your pet rat, so you’re 100% sure you’ve eliminated all the fleas.
And of course, be sure to clean your hands before and after handling your pet rat.
They can be a terrible pest and they’re so small, we won’t be able to easily see them.
They can also attach themselves to anything before infesting other animal and our clothes are a perfect way of transport for fleas.
Can Rat Fleas Live On Humans?
Flea bites on humans can occur but they won’t live on humans. These bites happen almost incidentally and because a pet at home is infested by them.
Fleas need to continuously feed on blood to live and reproduce, this makes it hard if they need to spend all their energy jumping from place to place.
That’s why a furry companion is a much more viable host. They can easily hide and stay in one place to feed and live. We are practically hairless, from their point of view and it makes it not only hard for them to attach on us as well as we’ll very easily detect them.
However, they might still bite you if they get on your clothes and on you. It will still cause an irritation on your skin and itch… a lot! The only time a pet of mine got fleas, my skin was so sensitive to it, it got very irritable and I had big red spots where I got a bite.
This is why it’s important to keep yourself clean as well if your pet rat gets fleas. Even though they won’t survive for long on you or your clothes, they can still be an annoyance or travel back to your rattie and their cage!
So In Conclusion
If your pet rat is showing a skin irritation, missing patches of fur and is scratching a lot, inspect it and bring them to the vet!
Even though a flea infestation can be rare in a pet rat, it can still happen and the right treatment should be prescribed by a professional. These products can be too strong for a pet rat and only a specialized veterinary will know how to administer and how much.
Finally, as you treat your little friend, they should be in a different enclosure and a thorough cleaning of the cage, everything inside of it and it’s surroundings is necessary to be sure to not have a recurring infestation!
This is not a serious condition for your pet rat and they’ll be good in no time!
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