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hey guys i'm new here and need some help. i have 2 male rats that are now about 3 months old. they're brothers and were born from my first pet rat who is not here anymore.

anyways, the trouble is that in the past few days one of them has begun to have thinning hair in an area about the size of a nickel on his back. you can see his pink skin underneath the hair now and i am starting to worry. at first i thought it may be over-grooming but after observing him he does not seem to pick at it and his brother does not groom him much. i had also heard that it is natural for some rats to lose hair at certain stages of their life, but this does not seem to be in any natural pattern.

he acts pretty normal, not seeming to be caused too much discomfort by this if any at all, he is still friendly and curious as ever. could this be the work of mites or lice? i can't really imagine how any infestation could have happened, and his brother is seemingly unaffected.

again he is only losing hair in the one area which has not seemed to grow in size while the hair has been falling out. i have done my best to hold him down and look closely at the area (my best wasn't so great) but i could not make out any insects or eggs or anything.

any help is greatly appreciated as i hope to keep these rats in good condition and around for quite awhile. also, along with help diagnosing my problem i could use some treatment advice as well, as i am relatively new to pet rats.

oh yes, i almost forgot to mention; this is probably an unrelated matter but i'll throw it out there anyways. these rats have on several days had a buildup of that red mucous stuff (i forget the name) around their nose and on those days sneeze more often than normal. i went to a petstore and got some medicine for respiratory infections fed it to them during one of heir worse bouts and it cleared up quickly.
 

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It may be barbering (overgrooming from his brother). Keep a close eye on it.

Alternatively, like you say it could be lice or mites - if you are unable to see small little cigar shaped brown wriggles (lice) it is most likely that it is mites. Mites are usually invisible to the human eye and can only be seen through a microscope, so although you can't physically see anything, it may not mean that they're not there. Keep you eye out for scratching, scabbing etc. Pet shops are mini-breeders of ecto-parasites. It may be worthwhile treating them (with Revolution (Stronghold if you are in the UK)or Ivermectin - they are the most reccommended) anyway as a precaution.

Regarding the porphyrin and sneezing (URIs) it is certainly not reccommended that you buy any remedies from your pet store. They are not able to provide the antibiotics that your rats should need for myco flare ups (which is what this sounds like) and pet store assistants certainly aren't qualified to identify illness' and offer the correct treatment. It's good that your rats seem better, but next time I would definately suggest getting them seen to by a regular vet.

Hope this can help
 
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