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Pet Care

MICE And RAT Diseases

MICE And RAT Parasites

Lice, Tapeworms, Pinworms and Mites


Lice is a skin parasite that lives by biting and sucking blood from the head and neck area of rodents – they are generally found attached to the hair follicles. Lice can cause sores, hair loss and severe skin irritation and itching, as well as increase the chance of blood borne diseases. If you suspect your pet has lice, use caution when handling your pet. Always wash your hands before and after handling your pet.

Lice is generally treated by a medicated shampoo. Before beginning treatments, always consult with your veterinarian.


Mice and rats can become infected with tapeworms if they inadvertently eat contaminated food that contains tapeworm eggs. The tapeworm lives in the rodent’s intestines and competes with the rodent for nutrients and water. Generally Mice and rats will experience weight loss when carrying a tape worm.

Tapeworms are diagnosed by a close inspection of the rodent’s fecal matter. Collect a sample of the feces and take it to your veterinarian for further inspection. If diagnosed, the veterinarian can prescribe the right treatment. Use extreme care when handling mice and rats that are suspected of having tapeworms as the parasite can be transferred from the hamster to humans. Always wash your hands before and after handling your hamster.


Pinworms are a much less common parasite that resides in the large intestine of rodents. Mice and rats typically do not experience adverse side effects from carrying the parasite, although in some cases the parasite can cause extreme itching around the anus.

Pinworms are diagnosed by a close inspection of the rodent’s skin around the anus. If you suspect pinworms, take your rodent to your veterinarian for further inspection. If diagnosed, the veterinarian can prescribe the right treatment. Pinworms cannot be transferred from the mice and rats to humans, but as always, wash your hands before and after handling your hamster.


Mites typically infest mice and rat’s skin causing irritation. The skin can be come raw and irritated. Mites are typically treated through liquid drops, but recent research shows that injecting medication can help speed the healing process.

MICE And RAT Diseases


Cancer is defined as any type of tumor or growth that invades healthy tissue. Mice and rats both have a propensity for cancer. This disease, in mice and rats, is seen both on the skin as well as internally – blood, and reproductive organs. It is common for both male and female mice and rats to have breast cancer. This type of cancer is easily removed through surgery. If you notice a lump or any abnormal growths in your pet, you should consult with a veterinarian.

Rats older than two years of age should be checked regularly for abnormal growths as the instance of cancer is higher once they reach two years of age. Mice and rats that experience fevers, weight loss, lethargy and loss of appetite should be taken to a veterinarian for an examination. Once cancer forms it can exhibit itself as an open sore (that bleeds or causes abnormal discharge), lumps under the skin, bulges in the throat (causing difficulty breathing and eating), abnormal bowel movements, etc.

Cancer is a highly variable disease that has no specific source and can spread quickly causing death before it is detected. Possible sources include genetics, diet, environment, exposure to harmful chemicals, etc. Mice and rats with aggressive internal types of cancers are generally euthanized as surgery on such small animals is both difficult and expensive.


Rats, if not properly fed, tend to be predisposed to obesity. Pets that consistently eat foods that are high in fats and sugars will eat themselves to an unhealthy state. Unhealthy food includes candy, fried foods, nuts, and seeds. A healthy diet should consist of commercially available pellets and feeds, supplemented with fresh fruits and vegetables.

Red-Brown tears

Red-Brown tears is not a disease, but is mentioned here as most pet owners mistake the eye secretion for blood. The reddish, brown liquid that oozes from the eyes of mice and rats is a normal secretion created as a response to excess stress on the rodent – stresses include sickness, fear, or undue restraint.


Male and female mice and rats will eat their babies if they are disturbed or threatened shortly after giving birth. To best protect the litter, the male should be removed from the cage at the time of birth and females should be left undisturbed with her young the first 3 days after giving birth.


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