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Pet Rats - Information to Train and Care for your lovely rats!

Rat Quarantine

If you are getting your first pet rats, quarantine is not necessary -since there are no other rats currently in your home. However, if you already have rats in your home, then there are many things you should be aware of, such as some illnesses and diseases that can be transferred from your rats to the new rats, or from the new rats to your rats.

If you are planning on bringing more rats into your home, the first thing is to make sure your existing rats are not sick or ill. For example, if any of your rats have pneumonia, it can be transferred from rat to rat.

Be aware of mites, fleas, lice or other small bugs also. These could be hiding away on your new or old rats, and they can be transferred from rat to rat.

Know Where You Are Getting Your Rat From

The best place to get rats from is from a reputable breeder. Most breeders will have all their animals quarantined before bringing them into the home and before selling them to the public. Getting rats from a breeder is usually safer than getting rats from a pet store.

However, it still isn't a 100% guarantee even if you get your rats from a breeder who has quarantined his rats. It is up to you if you would like to quarantine the rats at your home again or not. Different rats can be susceptible or immune to different illnesses.

Cute white pet rat with red eyes

If you are getting your rats from a breeder who also does rescues, the risks can be higher, as rescues usually come from bad, unhealthy situations. So make sure you have a thorough conversation with the breeder, and ask about:

  • their quarantining rules
  • how long the rat has been in their care
  • if the rat has been checked and/or treated by a vet
  • and if they know any background or parent's history about the rat

Bringing Your Rat Around

To avoid your animals from becoming sick from interacting with other animals, do not bring your rats with you to a pet store. They could catch an illness if they interact with the other animals in the store. Some diseases are airborne as well, so your pet rats can even get infected by just being in the same area as the infected rats.

If you are bringing your rat to the vet, make sure your rat is properly secured in some type of small animal carrier. The vet's clinic is a prime location for sick animals, so keeping your rat in a carrier will help prevent contact with germs that may be on the counters or floors.

Do not bring your rats to visit a friend's house who also has pet rats, if they have gotten new rats within a minimum of 2 weeks.

Quarantine Guidelines

There are a lot of rat owners out there who are very terrified of diseases, and are persistent about quarantining new rats in a separate location and air space. While it is better to be safe than sorry, understandably not everyone has the luxury of time, money and space to perform a quarantine at another location.

Quarantining can last anywhere from 2 weeks to 4 weeks. If you are an average pet owner, quarantining for 2 weeks should be adequate enough. For breeders and rescue organizations, the quarantine period should be longer. Different people use different precautions when it comes to quarantining - it all really depends on a person's personal preference.

First, know where your new rat is coming from. If it was in a cage with other sick, injured or ill rats, then quarantining is especially important to ensure the health of all of your rats.

Pet store rats are more prone to having diseases, as a lot of pet stores do not properly care for their rats, resulting in poor health and a lowered immune system. Rats from a feeder bin are also more likely to have health conditions, as most of them are bred just for food purposes, and are not bred for good health or temperament.

Introducing New Rats

When picking out a new rat, look over the rat carefully. You should look out for signs of aggression, wounds, sneezing or other health problems.

When bringing a new rat into your home, always give the rat a bath to wash off all the old smells of past cage mates, bedding, litter and food. This also gives you a very good opportunity to thoroughly look over the rat to see if there are any cuts, lumps or problems you may not have noticed earlier. Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after handling all of your rats/animals.

If it is possible, keep the new rat on a separate level of the house. If your house does not have multiple levels, keep the quarantined rats in a separate room, preferably a room with a door, to ensure the room can be sealed off from the rest of the house. Do not keep fans or humidifiers running in a quarantine room.

When cleaning quarantine tanks/cages, make sure to bag all of the used bedding securely in a bag, and bring it outside as quick as possible.

Quarantining for Mycoplasma

Quarantining for Mycoplasma reasons is not necessary. Almost all rats are infected with Mycoplasma (See: Pet Rats Health: Mycoplasma), so if a rat is having a Myco flair up, there is no reason to separate them from other rats. Instead, separating them could cause them more stress, which could compromise their ability to fight off the infection. Rats with similar genes or living conditions can have flair ups at the same time, due to poor lung function or low immune systems.

Quarantining for Pneumonia

If a rat in your bunch has pneumonia, you might want to consider quarantining the ill rat. Pneumonia is transferable from rat to rat. The rats can be housed in the same room from each other, but on opposite sides of the room (just as long as they are outside of sneezing distance).

Pneumonia is usually transferred by rats sneezing on each other. After the rat with pneumonia has started being treated with antibiotics, the rat can usually go back in with its other cage mates - ask your vet how many days you should wait until putting the ill rat back in with the others. Different medications affect rats at different rates, so the time frame of the pneumonia being contagious can vary. last updated 1 Oct, 2017


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