Overcoming Allergic Reactions to Pet Rats
August 19, 2016 by
About Pet Rats in
Allergic to Pet Rats
Most human allergies to pet rats are caused by contact with rat urine, saliva and skin dander. All of these substances can be found on a rat’s fur, under their nails as well as inside their cage. In addition, pet rat urine, saliva and skin dander can dry up, flake off and become airborne.
Many people experience skin rashes wherever they’ve been in direct contact with pet rats. Other common allergic reactions include difficulty breathing, congestion and sneezing.
Some humans find hairless rats either don’t produce symptoms at all or they at least reduce the allergic reactions. Double Rex and sometimes even Rex rats can also be more tolerable for those who have allergies. Female rats tend to have less oily skin and may cause less allergy-related symptoms. None of these potential solutions are guaranteed, however. It really depends upon both the individual rat and the person who’s experiencing the allergies.
If you or a family member has allergic reactions to your pet rats, here are the top three things you can do:
Besides hairless rats, Rex and Double Rex rats are sometimes more tolerable for allergy-prone humans
1. Make Physical Contact Safer
Often, allergic individuals can still spend time with pet rats as long as safeguards are put in place. The following tips are especially helpful for those who develop skin reactions such as hives and rashes after touching rats:
- Wear clothing that covers any skin that comes into contact with rats.
- Wear gloves. These can be cotton gloves or sturdier, gardening gloves. Some people can even find relief just by wearing fingerless gloves.
- Refrain from rubbing your eyes while with pet rats and especially after touching them.
- Change clothes immediately after being with rats. Either put away the clothes to wear again next time or launder them right away.
- Wash hands, arms, neck, face and any other part of your body that’s come in contact with rats as soon as you finish interacting with them.
- Keep rats in a room as far away as possible from where the person with allergies is sleeping.
- Bathe pet rats weekly. Use baby shampoo and be sure to rinse well afterwards. Some say just soaking their rats in warm water helps.
2. Clean More Thoroughly & More Frequently
- If possible, have someone else clean your rats’ cage if you’re allergic. In cases where no one else is available, wear a surgical mask while cleaning to reduce inhaling allergens.
- The rats’ cage should be cleaned every day. Replace anything soiled with new/fresh items. Start by changing everything in their cage daily. If this helps, try changing everything every 2-3 days (instead of daily) and see if the allergic reactions are still improved. If not, return to thoroughly cleaning on a daily basis.
- Use cloth bedding. Depending on what you’re currently using, you could be allergic to their bedding rather than your rats. Cotton T-shirts, fleece blankets, sheets and towels are all excellent choices for alleviating allergy symptoms.
3. Medications May Help
- Over-the-counter medication options:
- Clariton, (an antihistamine,) works very well for many people. Other over-the-counter allergy medications include Zirtec and Benedryl.
- Nasal spray with antihistamines and decongestants may also be quite effective.
- Check with your doctor about any medications that can be prescribed to alleviate allergies to pet rats. Sometimes an inhaler can be very helpful.
While it’s a sad fact that some people are allergic to pet rats, we’re fortunate there are at least a few things we can do to help reduce (if not eliminate) allergy symptoms.