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I'm not sure how well the above photo will show up, hopefully you can see what is going on.

Last week I noticed a scab on Fiver's back. It looked like a healing over bite mark, and even though he has been the more dominant of the two and I haven't noticed any scuffling, I assumed that his brother had pinched him. It seemed to be healing nicely on its own so I left it alone, as I assumed they'd only lick off anything I tried to put on it.

At this point, there is a line of scabs down his back about two inches long (not a single scab two inches, but a scattering of smaller, separate scabs). I haven't noticed any incessant scratching or grooming, so I wouldn't think that it would be mites... and his brother Possum doesn't have any marks whatsoever. I also noticed today that Fiver seemed a little sluggish (although that could be because I usually let them out of the cage after I come in from work at midnight and not usually in the middle of the day).

When I touch the marks or feel around them, he doesn't act like it hurts at all, and they also don't seem swollen or infected. Should I be putting something on them, is there anything I could use that wouldn't hurt them if they licked it off? I have noticed that sometimes when his brother grooms him, he will squeak, but other than that there has been no fighting that I've noticed (at least not while I'm around.) They are on a diet of oxbow, and their fleece is being washed the same as I always have, with a soak in vinegar and water first and then a wash with unscented laundry detergent. I never find any fresh blood, but my concern is that the number of scabs seems to be consistantly increasing, in a line down his spine. Although I haven't noticed any uncomfortable behavior, I know that can't feel good... any ideas on what is causing this? I'd be grateful for any advice.
 

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A friend of mine who had kept rats before me said that she had a female once who got mites bit none of the other rats in her cage did. She suggested I give him a warm bath to soften the scabs and part his hair and get a closer look at what I was dealing with, and told me to look for black and red specks.

Should I give him the bath and see? He's never been fond of baths as I've never felt they really needed them unless they really got into something stinky. I also as mentioned haven't noticed the constant scratching I've heard comes with mites.

I've also wondered if their recent change in environment (I graduated and moved into an apartment with a friend) might have caused some stress that's causing him to over groom? I don't even know if that is something rats do, but I've wondered.
 
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