Due to the long inactivity of this blog, I have decided to close down School of Rats permanently. I am truly sorry for not being able to provide more information about rats via this blog due to personal commitments. However if you are still interested to know more about keeping rats as pets in Malaysia, I would like to invite you to join the Malaysian Mice & Rat Breeder group in Facebook. There is a very large and supportive group of breeders and keepers in this community that I trust will be able to help you with your enquiries about rats.
As this blog has always been receiving good response and have helped many in learning about rats as wonderful beings, I choose to keep this blog on the web, however there will not be anymore updates after this.
Finally, I wish you best of luck, and hope you find your true love in keeping rats as pets.
Thursday, August 4, 2011
#4 - CREEPY CRAWLERS
Even find yourselves adopting a rat with some creepy crawlers on its back? Ecto-parasites are the external parasites that infect all living creatures. Those that infect rats and mice most commonly include lice and mites. Sometimes, even though it is less common, we see infestations of fleas, flies, or ticks, but since the main ones to affect our pets are lice and mites, this article is only about those nasty critters. Once your pets are infected by external parasites, it can be difficult to treat them successfully, but it isn’t impossible. It is important to understand the life cycle of parasites in order to successfully treat your pets and keep those pesky bugs off of them.
Mites and ticks are classified as arachnids; lice and fleas as insects. Lice, and some mites, can be seen without a microscope, but other mites need to be diagnosed by a vet using the skin scraping method and a microscope.
Although rats and mice may both be infected with lice, those lice will not cross over from one species of animal to another. This also means you will not catch lice from your pets, and if you were infected with head lice, you could not transfer them to your pets. Transmission from mouse to mouse or rat to rat is by direct contact and by fomites (objects).
Both the mouse and rat lice are Anoplura (bloodsuckers), making it vital to your pet that you rid them of these pests as quickly as possible. These can cause anemia, but even more importantly for rats, they may transmit the blood parasite Hemobartonella muris, which is a rickettsial blood parasite similar to tick fever. They may also transmit Rickettsia typhi between rats. The Ricketsia typhi may be passed to humans via rat fleas. These blood parasites can be more deadly to your pet than the lice.
Mites are different than lice because they are not species specific. However, they are generally host specific, meaning they will usually attack only a certain species host, but they will sometimes cross over from one species to another. They will do this if their choice of host is not available. Infestation by mites is called acariasis. There are three categories of mites that infect mice and rats: fur mites, burrowing mites, and the most serious, bloodsucking mites.
Rats may be infected with three types of mites. Radfordia ensifera, the fur mite of rats. They won’t cause problems unless the infestation is heavy or the rat is ill with another disease. Symptoms will be the same as those of mice, patches of hair loss with possible skin ulceration or lesions. These also are not known to infect humans.
Burrowing mites of rats are Notoedres muris. These are the ear mange mites. A skin scraping and a microscope are needed to see these mites. They attack the ear pinnae, tail, nose, and extremities. Lesions caused by this mite are reddened, crusty, itchy areas. These mites are spread by direct contact, so it is important that you keep wild mice and rats away from your pets. They may also infect other rodents, but are not known to infect humans.
The bloodsucking mites that infect rats are Ornithonyssus bacoti. They are the most dangerous to your pets. This one is closely related to ticks and is especially common in tropical and subtropical areas. This is the one that will feed on rodent blood, then drop off to hide in wood products, cracks, and crevices in or near the cage. O. bacoti will cause anemia, and, like the lice, it will also transmit rickettsial blood parasites. These may be seen without a microscope in the bedding or in and around the cage. This mite has a wide range of hosts that includes other rodents, and this one will attack humans. It is transmitted by direct contact with an infected animal, but also may arrive in contaminated bedding or wood products. Be careful not to buy open bags of bedding. Freezing your bedding before using may help eradicate these mites.
The life cycles of external parasites are fairly simple as compared to internal parasites. In order to rid your pets of external parasites you need to understand their life cycles. The adults are easily killed, but the eggs are left behind and will hatch after the first treatment. Mites are arachnids, so they have eight legs. In the mite, life cycle stage one is the egg, or nit, which hatches to stage two, the six-legged nymph (larvae). In stage three, they molt into the eight-legged nymph, and then into the final stage, the adult. It may take only a week for the mites to complete the life cycle.You have to hit them when in the nymph or adult stage of life. This is why it’s so important to disinfect your cage at least once a week, and, anything in it, as well as treat your pets more than one time to kill all the parasites. Disinfecting with bleach is the fastest and easiest way to kill any type of microorganisms in the cage, including bacteria, virus, or fungi. Throw away anything made of wood as the eggs or nits may be hidden in it, and wood is not easily disinfected.
Insects such as lice are six legged creatures. Lice spend their entire life cycle on the host in just three stages: egg, nymph, adult. Their life cycle may be as long as 14-21 days. They lay their sticky eggs (nits) on the hairshaft so you can actually see them. This is where the phrase “nit picking” comes from; you can actually pick them out of the fur yourself.
The life cycle will determine how often you treat, but the type of treatment is also a factor. There are several ways to treat: oral, injectable, and topical. Each type of treatment has its advantages and disadvantages. It’s best to see your vet to get a diagnosis before initiating any treatment, although treatment for most of these creatures is the same.
Ivermectin, dosed orally or as an injectable, is often used safely in rodents, but it is not the be-all, end-all answer to parasite problems. You must still disinfect the cage and everything in it, or you will never stop the problem. Be aware that Ivermectin is a drug, and while it is relatively safe, as with any drug, the possibility exists that it can have adverse reactions in certain individual pets sensitive or allergic to it.
Topical treatments are sometimes safe, but they, too, can cause adverse reactions, and often are not very effective. There are powders, dips, foams, sprays, shampoos, insecticide strips, and guards on the market. Many of these are not at all safe for rodents. The dog and cat flea powders are not safe, they are too powerful and can poison your rat or mouse. The insecticide strips and mite guards for birds also are not safe. Rodents may eat them through the bars of the cage, or the odor from them may expedite respiratory problems, forcing them to be placed so far away from the mice and rats that they are not effective.
Dips, foams, sprays, and shampoos with the active ingredient pyrethrins, at no higher than 0.15%, are fairly safe, and some of them are effective. Pyrethrins are a natural substance that is extracted from chrysanthemum flowers. However, just because it is a natural substance does not mean it cannot be toxic to rodents. If a product is safe for two-week-old kittens, it is probably safe for rodents, but you should check with your vet before using one.
If your rats are miserable, itchy, and developing lesions, think about these nasty bugs, but have no fear because you can get rid of them!
(Jan McArthur, 1999)
Sunday, October 24, 2010
I have been getting several calls and request lately asking me if I can sell them some fancy rats or not. Well, here's the thing, I used to have friends who breed proper fancy rats but I can hardly find one right now, therefore I can no longer provide you guys fancy rats. What I can propose to you folks out there who desperately want to have fancy rats as your pets is, we can have a matchmaking session organised here in School of Rats. If you have a fancy rat, healthy feeder or lab rat at home, female or male, which is within the age of 4 to 10 months old, healthy and fully grown in shape, smart and tame, pretty and handsome looking, send your request in along with your rat's picture. We will then organise a meet up session for the couple and see if they click and ready to mate. We will then discuss the division of the offspring with the owners before the mating process. If both owners are happy with what they see and listen, I will bring the rats back to do 'what they are supposed to do'. The couple will be returned back by their original owners after they mate and the doe's owner will be reporting to School of Rats for any news in the next 1 month. We will then brief the doe's owner on the method in taking care of the pregnant mother and School of Rats will be visiting and reporting the entire pregnancy progress. Sounds cool? Send us your cute rat's pictures at firstname.lastname@example.org to find your rat's perfect match.
Friday, August 6, 2010
News about rat urine disease reported in local online news portal
The recent outbreak of rat urine disease or leptospirosis in Kedah and Pahang may have frighten some of the pet rat owners out there. Let's us first learn a little about this disease from the infamous Wiki. Leptospirosis, also known as Weil's disease, Weil's syndrome, Rat Catcher's Yellows and Pretibial fever, is a bacterial zoonotic disease which can affect humans, other mammals, birds, amphibians, and reptiles. Leptopspitosis is caused by spirochaete bacterium call Leptospira spp.. The disease is said to be a relative rare bacterial infection in humans and the infection is commonly transmitted to humans by allowing water that has been contaminated by animal urine to come in contact with unhealed breaks in the skin, eyes or with the mucous membranes. Although rats, mice and moles are important primary hosts, there are plenty of animals such as dogs, deer, rabbits, hedgehogs, cows, sheep, racoons, possums, skunks, and certain marine mammals are able to carry and transmit the disease as secondary hosts. Symptoms of leptospirosis include high fever, severe headache, chills, muscle aches, and vomiting, and may include jaundice, red eyes, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, and rash. The symptoms will appear 4-14 days after contracting the disease. If not treated or wrongly diagnosed, the patient may face meningitis, liver damage, and renal failure and eventually lead to death. One can prevent this disease by staying out from high risk area. So here's the question, will we get leptospirosis from our pet rats? The answer is yes and no. Yes, if your pet rat has already contracted the disease before you have even brought him/her home. If your house is free of wild rodents, there is almost zero chance that your pet rat is carrying the bacteria. Bear in mind that not only rats and rodents can carry the bacteria, other house pets or even human may be carrier for the bacteria. If anyone in the house is found with the disease, everyone should be treated as well. As long as you keep an eye on their whereabouts and keep their food and water clean, you are all safe from this horrible disease.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
#3 - BITE ME? BITE ME NOT?
Do rats bite? The answer is 'yes' and 'no'. Among all rodents rats bite the least, however they do bite by mistake or when they become defensive. Unlike wild rats, fancy rats are familiar with human contact therefore they hardly bite. Throughout the years of me keeping rats, I've been bitten by rats several times and each time was for different reason. My first rat bite and also the most violent bite was by Milo's mom. I remembered meeting her when Milo and her siblings were about a week old in a near by pet shop. I went towards her cage and pointed at her for a second and 'ouch!', there she went and chomped off a small piece of meat on my finger. The wound took a month to recover. This kind of bite is unusual and it only happens when the rat feels defensive. Every once in a while, you'll forget that rats are pretty close to blind and you'll stick your finger in the cage to give your ratties a fur rub before washing your hands after touching food. Some rats, without fail, will think you've got more food because your finger smell just right, and they'll try to grab it really fast. Rats have good control on their bites. Before their teeth puncture into your skin, they are able to distinguish whether they are biting food or not, then only decide to bite further or not. This bite usually looks like simple paper cut. Tickle used to do this a lot, probably because of her poor eyesight because she's an albino.
Saturday, February 27, 2010
#2 - YELLOW TEETH
Do your rats have yellow teeth? Don't you worry because it's not a sign of rotting teeth. Rats teeth are naturally coloured with a yellowish pigment which is the natural colour of a rat's enamel. The enamel is the hardest layer on a tooth as the protection shield to a tooth. Rat's incisors started out white when they are infants, but by the age of 21 days the upper incisors will start to have a slight yellow tinge. By 25 days, the uppers are distinctly yellow and the lower incisors have acquired a little yellow. By 38 days these colors are more intense, with the uppers having more color than the lowers. The relationship between more pigmented upper incisors and less pigmented lower incisors remains true throughout the rat's life. In adult rats, the uppers are dark yellow-orange and the lowers are yellow (Addison and Appleton 1915). In short, it is best to have your rats having yellowish teeth because that indicates that their calcium level is good.
Saturday, January 9, 2010
#1 - PORPHYRIN
Ever realise the red discharge that looks like blood around your rats' eyes or nose or both? Relax.. It is not blood, but instead it is an organic compound known as porphyrin (pronounced por-fur-in). Porphyrin is produced by the harderian gland located behind the rats' eyes. Porphyrin is like the mucus in our nose but red in colour. Small amount of porphyrin is normally found around the nose of the rat when he first wakes up, or when he sleeps for long period. However, owner must monitor the rat's condition and behaviour to tell what amount of porphyrin is consider as normal discharge. If there is a sudden increase of phophyrin discharge, it means that the rat is having some problem. Stress is one of the reasons a rat will produce excessive amount of porphyrin. Another reason for a rat to produce excessive phophyrin is a rise in body temperature or he is suffering some sort of illness. Although porphyrin does not always mean something is wrong, in many cases it does, and it should never be overlooked.