Mites & Lice

Identification & Treatment



Rat mites are microscopic and cannot be seen with the naked eye. 

It is important to know that mites are endemic to rats, meaning rats naturally harbour a small population of mites without any significant issues. However, they can become bothersome when their numbers multiply or if a rat happens to be allergic to them.

Rats keep their own mite population under control with normal grooming so when faced with an increase in mite population, it could be that the rat is not grooming themself properly or could be indicative of an underlying issue with the rats immune system. 

This could be due to an illness they may be experiencing or any stress they may be under.

Therefore, if your rat is exhibiting symptoms of a mite overpopulation, it's worth investigating if there are any other health concerns occurring or if they are facing any form of bullying or distress within their group.

There are several telltale signs to watch out for when it comes to identifying an overpopulation of mites on rats. These include, but not limited to:


  • Persistent itchiness
  • Red and inflamed skin
  • Noticeable hair loss/balding and scabs most commonly seen on the neck, shoulders and/or around the face and cheeks
  • A lacklustre, dull coat


Treatment Options

The recommended method for combating mites is the administration of an over-the-counter medication called Ivermectin. This medication comes in various forms to cater to different preferences and ease of use.


Please note, you only need to treat the affected rats. 

One option is Harkers Harka-Mectin Spot on Drops for Pigeons, which can be conveniently purchased online from Amazon. This requires 1-3 drops, on the skin between the shoulder blades on the rats back or behind the ears. 

Dosing recommendations

  • 1 drop < 175g
  • 2 drops 176g < 350g
  • 3 drops 350g+

Alternatively, you can use Beaphar - Anti-Parasite Spot-On, specially formulated for Rabbits, Guinea Pigs, Ferrets, and Rats weighing over 300g. This spot-on treatment works well, but beware, your rats will be drenched due to the amount you need to use. 


In the case where your rats weigh under 300g, you can opt for the Beaphar - Anti-Parasite Spot-On intended for Golden Hamsters, Gerbils, and Small Animals weighing between 50g and 300g. 


Lice are species specific, meaning they do not cross from one species to another. They will spend their entire life cycle (approximately 14 to 21 days from egg to nymph to adult) on the host.

You may notice similar signs and symptoms to that of mites, including persistent itching, scabs & inflamed skin, but also you will see when you part the fur, tiny orange/brown ‘sticks’ that move on the rats skin, (these are the lice that survive by suckling on the rats blood; most easily seen around the rump and base of the tail) and white specks of ‘dandruff’ on the fur (these are the lice eggs). The fur may also have a ‘greasy’ feel to it. 

The treatment options are the same for lice as for mites; except in the case of lice, you will need to treat the whole group at the same time

Usually one treatment is enough to ensure the lice are eradicated, but you can repeat the treatment after 2-3 weeks just to be sure. 

By following these identification and treatment guidelines, you'll be well-equipped to tackle any mite or lice infestations that may occur in your mischievous little friends, ensuring their comfort and well-being.

** In cases of mite allergy and ivermectin resistant lice, you may need to obtain Selamectin from the Vet. 

UK brand name is Stronghold (Do not use Stronghold Plus)