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Hello! I am a college student and first-time rat owner. I bought Gilligan five weeks ago from the local PetSmart. He's about four months old and super friendly. He likes when I pet him between the shoulder blades and curls up in the crook of my elbow when I cuddle him. I made his cage (okay, my boyfriend helped), and I'm in the process of crocheting him a hammock.

The only problem is I haven't actually had him with me for the past three weeks. Since I bought him from PetSmart, there is a two week guarantee. So if your new little friend appears sick PetSmart will take him to the vet at no cost to you. I noticed him sneezing, and he had what I thought was porphyrin around one eye. I was worried about a URI, so I took him back at the end of my two weeks. PetSmart called me a few days later to tell me that Gilligan actually has mites and that the treatment can last anywhere from 3 to 6 weeks. I go in to visit him every couple of days. Now it's been three weeks, and his mites don't seem to be getting any better. In fact, yesterday when I went to see him, he seemed worse. He was shedding a lot more, and there were dark specks all over his coat. The girl said she would make a note of it, but it feels like I'm never going to get him back.

So my first time owning a rat hasn't been the smoothest experience ever. I now know that I should go through a breeder if I ever decide to take in another rat, but I'm still attached to Gilligan and would like to have him back healthy and happy. Any advice on what to do?
 

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If I were in your shoes, I'd ask about signing some form of release so that you can get your rat back and take care of the treatment on your own. They are obviously treating the mites incorrectly, or it would have never lasted this long. Besides, if they are dark specs, it isn't mites but rather lice. The treatment is still the same.

You can get Revolution through your vet or order online from Australia to bypass needing a prescription. That takes care of mites and lice nearly instantly.

You will also need to get Gilligan a brother or two as it's extremely important to their health to have companionship.

Lastly, a crochet hammock is not a good idea. Rattie feet and toenails are extremely sensitive and prone to injury, and hammocks really need to be a solid fabric. There is no crochet stitch in existence to create a solid surface.
 

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I didn't know that about the hammocks. I just assumed it was okay because I've seen other people post links to hammocks made from yarn, so thanks for pointing that out before I finished it. I do have some fleece and flannel I can use.

Also, I was planning on getting Gilligan a playmate once I'm used to having the one rat. I know they're social animals and need companionship. However, I'm glad I didn't get two rats from PetSmart because of the problems with rat health.

I'm going back to PetSmart today to see if we can work something out. They said they might take him back to the vet since he wasn't improving. When I brought up Revolution, they didn't know much about it. They just use a spray once a week, which like you said is obviously ineffective.
 

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I got my two girls from Petsmart as there are no nearby breeders or shelters. I had a similar situation as you. One of them had a uri and the poor thing ended up with the petsmart vet for 2 weeks. You get the very distinct impression that whatever vet they have on staff is not exactly top of the field of anything really or they would probably be working at a vet clinic. The staff were friendly and they seemed to keep her well fed and cared for but I don't know about the vet as my experience with ratties and vets is limited.
Fleece is your friend when it comes to hammocks and sewing hiding places for your rat. You can sometimes find it cheap of your local fabric store has a scrap bin.
Sorry to hear your rat is unwell, best of luck.
 
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