How to Get Rid of Tropical Rat Mites on Pet Rats

If you've seen little bugs crawling around on your pet rats and a veterinarian has confirmed that they're tropical rat mites (Ornithonyssus bacoti) versus lice or other kinds of mites, you're going to have to follow these steps in order to get rid of these wretched parasites for good.

Steps

  1. Image titled Get Rid of Tropical Rat Mites on Pet Rats Step 1
    1
    Spot the symptoms. Given that mites are not blood sucking, there may be no obvious physical signs.[1] When signs do appear, they may include:[2]
    • Inflammation of the skin
      Image titled Get Rid of Tropical Rat Mites on Pet Rats Step 1Bullet1
    • White specks of dust on the rat's hair follicles (these are the mites and they may resemble ticks at first check)
      Image titled Get Rid of Tropical Rat Mites on Pet Rats Step 1Bullet2
    • Intense itching
      Image titled Get Rid of Tropical Rat Mites on Pet Rats Step 1Bullet3
    • Scabs around the shoulders, neck, and face.
      Image titled Get Rid of Tropical Rat Mites on Pet Rats Step 1Bullet4
  2. Image titled Get Rid of Tropical Rat Mites on Pet Rats Step 2
    2
    Get treatment from your vet. Nothing over-the-counter will work. The vet will most likely give you Ivermectin or Revolution, to be administered orally or by injection, several times over the next month. Your vet will advise you of the appropriate method of administering the treatment, dosage levels, and frequency of application.
  3. Image titled Get Rid of Tropical Rat Mites on Pet Rats Step 3
    3
    Clean anything that can harbor the mites.[3] Do this 24 hours after the treatment is administered. The treatment will kill all the mites on the rats but will not kill mites or unhatched mite eggs in the rat's environment.
    • Get rid of anything wooden. Such items are almost impossible to disinfect, and the mites can hide in the wood.
      Image titled Get Rid of Tropical Rat Mites on Pet Rats Step 3Bullet1
    • Clean everything else with a bleach solution. This includes the rat's cage.
      Image titled Get Rid of Tropical Rat Mites on Pet Rats Step 3Bullet2
    • Wash any fabrics in or around the cage, and put them in high heat in the dryer. Ideally, don't put any fabric in or near the cage while the rats are being treated.
      Image titled Get Rid of Tropical Rat Mites on Pet Rats Step 3Bullet3
    • If you need to disinfect human areas such as beds and furniture, use rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) in a spray bottle. The benefit of using this is that it kills mites on contact but volatizes quickly.[4]
      Image titled Get Rid of Tropical Rat Mites on Pet Rats Step 3Bullet4
    • Other means for catching mites include sticky glue traps or clear sticky tape. Vacuuming is effective provided you dispose of the bag outside (or thoroughly clean a bagless version), or you can try vacuuming with a filter such as a handkerchief inserted into the vacuum tube and then transferred to a sealed tube or alcohol to kill the mites.[5]
      Image titled Get Rid of Tropical Rat Mites on Pet Rats Step 3Bullet5
  4. Image titled Get Rid of Tropical Rat Mites on Pet Rats Step 4
    4
    Isolate the rats. Put them in a part of your home where they are least likely to come in contact with any mites in any stage of their life cycle.
    • Keep them away from any other pets. These mites can live on other pets for about two weeks, but will die when they can't get to the rats. If there are any mites on your other pets and they come in contact with the rats, they'll just jump right back onto your rats and continue their life cycle. Ensure that other pets cannot get into the space where you're keeping the rats.
      Image titled Get Rid of Tropical Rat Mites on Pet Rats Step 4Bullet1
    • It might be a good idea to keep your rats somewhere different than their usual spot (which might have mites hanging around) and somewhere without carpeting.
      Image titled Get Rid of Tropical Rat Mites on Pet Rats Step 4Bullet2
    • Keep the rats isolated like this throughout their treatment period, until the mites are gone.
      Image titled Get Rid of Tropical Rat Mites on Pet Rats Step 4Bullet3
  5. Image titled Get Rid of Tropical Rat Mites on Pet Rats Step 5
    5
    Repeat the cleaning process again any time treatment is administered. Again, sanitize everything in and around the rat cage 24 hours after treatment is administered. This is to kill any remaining mites and eggs.

Tips

  • Follow the steps above as strictly as you can in order to treat the rats effectively.
  • These particular mites can bite humans and cause irritation, but cannot complete their life cycle without rats.
  • The mites may have come from other rats at a pet store, or from infested bedding. It can be difficult to isolate the source, though, so focus instead on getting rid of the mites.
  • Remove any wild rodents and bird nests from your home as these may be a source of reinfection.[6]
  • Mites are closely related to ticks and may have the appearance of a tick to you.[7]

Things You'll Need

  • Medication from a vet
  • Cleaning solution (bleach)
  • New place to house your rats until the mites die out

Sources and Citations

  1. Merck and Merial, The Merck/Merial Manual for Pet Health, p.1010, (2007), ISBN 978-0-911910-99-5
  2. Merck and Merial, The Merck/Merial Manual for Pet Health, p.1010, (2007), ISBN 978-0-911910-99-5
  3. Merck and Merial, The Merck/Merial Manual for Pet Health, p.1010, (2007), ISBN 978-0-911910-99-5
Show more... (4)

Article Info

Featured Article

Categories: Featured Articles | Mice and Rats