Quarantine is the practice of keeping new or ill rats separate from your existing mischief for 2 to 3 weeks to avoid the transfer of viruses, diseases, and external parasites.
Quarantine gives you time to treat current illnesses as well as time to watch new rats for symptoms.
Quarantine is an important process that can save your rats' lives and their health. However, due to the strict methods of quarantine, many are unable to properly separate their rats. I will go over the proper quarantine steps and let you know what to do when quarantine is not a possibility for you.
Quarantine requires separate air space
Rats kept in the same house are not properly quarantined and viruses can spread easily. Separate air space includes units that are unattached to your house, as well as a friend or family member's home. Putting new rats into an attached garage or bedroom does not count as proper separation.
Wash hands/clothes and wait 4 hours between contact
Unfortunately many owners fail to remember that they can transfer external parasites and viruses via their own body. To avoid this, always wait 4 hours between contact with a sick rat and a healthy rat. If you are unable to wait 4 hours, wash your hands and change your clothes. A shower is a great option.
Symptoms to look for when bringing home new rats
Excessive sneezing, grunting or squeaking sounds, porphyrin in the eyes or nose, scabs on the skin, crusted ears, etc
How to house ill or new rats
It's always a great idea to keep a hospital cage handy in case you have a sick, injured, or elderly rat. These same cages can be used as a quarantine cage to house your new rats. Make sure you clean thoroughly between each.
1 level hospital or quarantine cage
How to quarantine properly
When quarantine is not an option
Quarantine is not an option for the majority of rat owners. Most of us do not have access to separate air space, and this is nothing to feel bad about! In order to protect your rats to the best of your ability, there are a few things you can do.
Prepare to treat all of your rats
Any time you bring a new rat into your home, there is a risk that your existing rats can become sick even when a new rat is not showing symptoms of illness. Prepare to treat all of your rats by saving up enough vet funds and by creating your rat emergency kit. Prepare to treat for respiratory infections as well as external parasites such as lice, fleas, and mites.
Look new rats over for signs of external parasites
If you see scabs, hair loss, crusted ears, etc, treat that rat immediately and keep separate from your existing rats.
Keep a rat emergecy kit
I've put together a list of supplies and medication you should have on hand at all times. Click here for more information in order to create your very own kit.