Allergies to Rats

My poor boyfriend is definitely allergic to the rats! He’s having horrendous early morning asthma attacks. I’m cleaning the rats’ cage out about every 4 days now, to keep allergen build up to a minimum, and changing their toilet litter every day. Apparently the main cause of allergic reaction to rats is their wee! Proteins from the rats’ wee are released into the air, which can drift all over your home and remain on furnishings for years!. If you clean it up before the (stinky) ammonia smell settles in, then you can minimise the allergen content. We keep the ‘rat-room’ door shut at all times, and luckily it’s got a laminate floor, so I can easily mop up any ratty pee. Even so, it’s impossible to keep all the allergen particles out of the rest of the house, so we have decided to buy a big shed for the rats. They’re turning out to be very expensive pets! Another cause for allergic reaction to small animals is their dander (flakes of skin under the fur), so I’d advise anyone with this type of allergy to get a pet lizard instead!

Today my rats have been mostly eating toasted bagel pieces with butter!

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34 Responses to “Allergies to Rats”

  1. I love ratties, but I recently developed a rat allergy. I began feeling sick about 7 months ago and now I know that it is because of my babies! I keep getting horrible rashes but I love them so much. I am on prescription allergy medication and all different inhalers. Also, we recently got a rat from a woman who could not care for her only to find out that she was pregnant! (By finding a bundle of 12 babies last night!

  2. Hi Alice,

    Oh dear – it sounds like you’ve got a monumental problem there! All I can think of off-hand is to try and minimise the amount of allergens from your rats, and find some prospectus
    owners for most, if not all of the babies.

    It’s heartbreaking to find out you are allergic to your much-loved pets – I know b/c I have had to make the tough decision not to get any more rats after my current group have gone. Even though I have gone to extreme lengths to stop my boyfriend from having any contact with the rats – I have them in a heated shed – it’s just not ideal.

    Here’s some ideas – keep the rats in a separate room, preferably as far away as your living/bedroom as possible.
    I keep a spare full-sleeved top to put on when I’m playing with the rats, and wash it regularly. I also throw a thin fleece over my legs. Tie your hair back if it’s long. Wash as soon as you’ve finished handling the rats. I jump in the shower.
    Oh and most important – keep the rats’ cage as clean as you can – you are probably allergic to their urine.
    Bathing your rats might help – but some hate water.

    I’m ever so sorry to hear your plight – i hope you can sort something out.
    In the mean time I will try and put a blog together about this subject, I’m sure lots of people have the same problem.


  3. I know Im a little late on the subject, but I have asthma. I bought a rex dumbo from a small pet shop when I was on vacation. I did not have a problem for the longest time. I stopped taking my allergy medication a long time before the rat, as well as my inhaler. I suffered through all of my pets and became immune to them. But now lol with my rat (Dumbar) and my new rat (Payton) I am having terrible asthma attacks and sneezing. I figured I would help out with this forum for people like me. :)

    PS: I love my rats and they are not going anywhere lol. God gave me these things and the love for animals, ill love them until the day I die (but not soon im only 19).

  4. I can totally understand that.. I couldn’t live without some sort of animal in my life – they can give us such a great sense of calm – and never cease entertaining us!

    All the best to you – I hope you build up more immunity to your ratties.



  5. I have a cute little rattie named Kate, and the past two nights i’ve stayed up with my right eye itching and burning and watering like crazy. I took some benadryl and it didnt help but i just tried some Claritin and it works really well.

    Does anyone else have other pets that are allergic to ratties?

  6. I recieved a pet rattie for christmas and I absolutely love her!! I never experienced any allergies to her for the 2 weeks I had just her. I decided she needed some rattie friends so today I rescued 2 ratties and baught a huge cage. I brought them home and ever since then, i have been sneezing, caughing, itching, and sniffling :( . I have never been allergic to anything before, so I don’t know why I would be allergic to these little cuties now….I really don’t want to get rid of them but are there any medications I could take for this?? So sad!!!

  7. Hi Torey

    Oh dear, it’s sounds like you might be allergic to your rats. If the allergies aren’t too severe and you are willing to live with them, you could get antihistamines and try that. If you have full-blown asthma though, is it worth keeping pets that make you sick? It’s only a decision you can make. If you decide that you can live with your allergies, I would suggest keeping the rats in another room which is furthest from where you sleep, and keep their cage very clean. I mean change bedding and toilet area every day. It may help a little. The allergens are most probably coming from your rats’s wee, so bear this in mind. I had mine in a seperate room for a while and kept the door shut at all times, and wiped down the floor where they played regularly. This might seem extreme but my boyfriend had a severe allergic reaction to them at the time. I sincerely hope you can work something out and still be able to enjoy your rats :)


  8. we got my children pet rats for christmas, and i was fine for about 2 months. Unfortunatley we got 2 girls and a boy, and ended up with 13 babies. I suffered for over a month with breathing problems. I cant bear to get rid of the rats as they are my children’s pets. My doctor has told me i have asthma. we switched from woodchips to carefresh bedding, and changing the cages every couple of days. unfortunately like you, we had to move the rats. they are now confined to the basement, which breaks my heart. but they will soon have their own room where the hubby and kids cantake them out to play whenever they want.

  9. Glad you could sort something out and still keep your rats :)

  10. Hi everyone,
    I just want to say I know how everyone feels about their allergies as I have both asthma (since I was about a yr and a half my mom said) and really bad allergies, especially to cats. I’ve never been able to cuddle with a soft fuzzy animal, let alone even sit on a couch that had fur on it. I always had to wash my hands immediately after petting a cat or dog and if my arms touched them I would break out in a horrble rash.
    Anyway, I had always wanted a rat but was afraid to have one. Well, my mom bought me one for my b-day after going to the pet store with her and fell in love with a white male dumbo. I noticed that where he scratched me a little was red welts and itchy, but I thought I can handle this I’ll just wash really good after holding him and never let him on my shoulder around my neck. At first I used the Care Fresh bedding and noticed I was sneezing from it and got all stuffy. So I got online to try and find something better that other people used and I did. So, if everybody loves their ratties as much as my fiance and I do and if you don’t mind spending the time to do this, it REALLY helps with the allergies and breathing trouble. We’ve stopped using the care fresh as bedding and instead we took some old sheets and cut them up into small pieces, not too small, and use that as bedding and change it EVERY day and use the care fresh in there litter boxes. Now, you’ll have more laundry to do but it’s worth it. We also bathe them every day after cleaning their cages. What we do is have a bucket with soapy water and one with rinse water, we take a wash cloth and with soapy water give them a good rub down, careful not to get water in their ears, then a wash cloth in the rinse water and rub them down really good, then of course a dry towel to dry them really good. They do squirm a lot though, that’s why my fiance does it, he’s got bigger hands and tougher skin. So, like I said, if everybody loves their ratties as much as we do, then all that work is worth it. And guess what? Not one problem with my allergies, except when they scratch me really good, and no breathing problems. :-)

  11. Sorry that was so long.

  12. Hi Tonya,
    So glad to hear you could sort something out so that you could enjoy your rats without suffering too much with your allergies :)
    Reading your post might help other people with the same problem too, so thanks for taking the time to write down your experience.
    Have fun with your ratties,
    Julie x

  13. Hi I have 3 male rats and have had them over a year now. For the first 6 months I was absolutely fine no allergy or anything. One day I woke up really struggling to breathe, sneezing all the time, blocked up and runny nose, puffy eyes the usual.. I went to my GP who said I had asthma brought on by an allergy.. I was put on antihistemines, steroids and inhalers.. I then noticed everytime I handled my beloved rats I had a red rash with white raised dots all over my arms, neck , chest and shoulders.. I then found out this was another allergic reaction called hives :(

    I can’t bare to part with my babies so I take my prescribed meds and make sure I have an inhaler to hand.. I still have cuddles and kisses with my boys but make sure I wash my hands straight away…

    I bath them regularly and have changed their bedding for towelling and old sheets and changed to cat litter and it’s made a huge difference!!

    Good luck rattie lovers x

  14. So glad to hear you have managed to find a way to live with your rats and minimize your allergies :) The toweling and old sheets is a good idea – not so much dust is created, hopefully this will help others too :)

  15. Hello! About a month ago, I got a couple little girl dumbos and I ADORE them! They’re amazingly affectionate and so fun to play with. They do tend to get close to my face and I can’t help but give them kisses.

    Unfortunately, shortly after I got them (about two weeks) I developed pink eye in just my left eye. Some antibiotics and a week later, it leaves my left eye but just today, I woke up from a nap with pink eye in my right eye. I was still in contact with the rats while I had pink eye, but I was careful and washed my hands before and after (kept them away from my face).

    I’ve never had any kind of allergy before, but can they be the cause? I haven’t had pink eye since I was 5 or so. But it kinda seems strange that I only had it in one eye, and not both from handling the rats.

    I don’t have any breathing problems or rashes when I’m around them/touching them. I wanted to get someone’s opinion on this…

  16. Hi Jessica,
    I don’t know anything about pink eye, but it does sound like it could be an allergic response, since you haven’t had it since you were very young.
    I would suggest asking your doctor about the possibility of it being a rat related allergic reaction, in case it’s just a coincidence. Otherwise, ask around rat forums and someone else might know more about this.
    Fingers crossed you get it sorted soon, and have fun with your rats :)

  17. I found this site because I’m so congested in the chest that I just took medicine! I’ve had my ratties for a couple of months and find them to be everything a good pet ought to be. Thanks for these details. Their pee must be something else! When I first got them, I could smell it all over the house even though they were only in one room, and even on my clothes when I was outside! So I believe you that the molecules drift, and also (because I couldn’t stop smelling it!) that rat pee and human noses in particular are connected somehow. (BTW for people who don’t have rats–it’s not such a bad smell, just particularly arresting, musky, heavy. It is not as bad as human pee on a CTA elevator!)

    I don’t know if I have allergies, or just a rather protracted winter congestion, but I am going to follow your recommendations up to a separate room, and see what happens. Here’s two tricks I have used that you might like: the clay litter (not clumping!) seems perfect, better by far for smell and dust than the other types. You don’t have to use much and it either nullifies the smell or I am getting used to it. The other is, I keep a box of baby wipes nearby and wipe my rats off several times a day. They like it! I have sprayed them with mite spray because they were scratching, but they hate that, and so do I, so in future, I’m going to use rubber gloves, spray a thin cloth with the mite stuff, and wipe it over them rather than spraying it. They will let me work it in that way.

    Aren’t rats so nice? Mine are black and white, and I have named them after two Dominican saints (and hope they’ll forgive me for it–both the rats and the saints!) One is St. Zedislava Berkiana, from the eleventh century I think I remember, and the other Blessed Madeline Panatierra, from later, like the fourteenth. She was a prophetess. Of course they are Zedi and Madi. I am teaching them to run up to the top of their cage and ring a little (church) bell but that’s as far as my silliness will go–no nun habits or anything.

  18. lol I don’t think that’s too silly at all Jan, but now I can’t get the image of rats in habits out of my head!
    Thanks for the tips – the baby wipes idea is especially handy – much quicker than giving the rats a wash, and you can keep the allergens at bay more easily. Maybe someone else reading this site will find it useful too.
    I hope you have a lot of fun with your rats, and stay rat pee free :)

  19. Booby Jack is my daughter’s second Rat and is male. Mose was the first, female.
    We’ve had him a year now and in the last 4 months have found that I am allergic to him. My eyes puff and skin gets red bumps. Did not have this with female Mose rat.
    I looove Rats. They are so sweet and personable. It really bums me out to not be able to hold him…I did it every day while kids were at school.
    I’m reading everything I can on allergies w/ rats. This is a shock after Mose w/ no problems! Argh.
    So far water bathing, nail clipping,frequent bedding changes, age, female, and light colored are my answers.
    Not helping me w/ our boy now, but will do what we can.
    I miss holding “our” Bobby Jack. Makes me sad!

  20. Oh my Gosh. Our Bobby Jack is a Dumbo. Mose was a fancy.
    I’m trying baby wipes! My eyes get….pink eye-ish too. I take Benedryl. takes a couple of days.
    Next time…Fancy, light, female Ratmous!

  21. Hi- what do you think the stats are that I may be allergic to one of my 3 new rats? It took about a week, but I am definitely having a reaction
    Funny thing is , I’ve had rats in the pas twitch no problems so I’m thinking it may be 1 out of the three??
    I did change their bedding but I live in a studio apt and have no other place to put them than in my living quarters- they are adorable and I get blood tested to rodent IGE tomorrow- if it was bedding, how long would one expect the old bedding dust to linger?
    I do the the baby wipe idea from another post- if it’s a dander issue that may work- and I will try it!!
    I really don’t want to have to give up these sweeties!!

  22. I got two make ratties over a year ago, and for the first few months I was fine. Now, I get hives and itchy eyes whenever I take them out. I wish I could make the allergies go away! Anyone know what I should do?

  23. Hiya Mik,

    Sorry I’ve taken so long to reply. I was going to just leave the site up untouched, and to be honest I’ve not looked at it in such a while. But then I saw all the lovely comments, and ah well… I feel really touched. I hope Booby Jack (loving the name! Or was it Bobby Jack? Both fine names!) and Mose are still going strong. Did you find a way to handle the allergies? There’s really not a lot you can do, or I would have done it! All the best for you and you family, and I hope you are not sad anymore x

  24. Did you get a fancy light female ratmous? ;)

  25. Hi Michele,

    Eak! I haven’t been on My Lovely Rats for ages, so sorry for the delay!
    So how are you getting on now? Still allergic, or was it a coincidence? I must admit, it sounds strange, but not unusual. My boyfriend and I had two rats many years ago which he didn’t appear to be allergic to, then when we got Pip, Stripe, Rocky and Shy-Shy and BAM! He had a full-on asthmatic reaction within two weeks! Best of luck, and I hope you’re still having fun with your fuzzies :)

  26. Hi Tea,

    That’s awful. I really feel for you. This post from the Rat Fan Club mentions age being a factor: The older your rat gets, the more allergens they produce. The main cause is usually the rat’s wee, so keep the area they play in wiped down if you can. Change their bedding often. Keep the cage clean as possible and change YOUR clothes after you’ve handled your rats. Make sure you was your hands or any part of skin the rats have been in contact with. Any accumulation of wee adds up to make the allergic reaction worse. Ratties spread the allergens wherever they put their little paws unfortunately. Also you can bathe your rats regularly. This may help. Another idea that seems to work for some people is an air purifier, but this is only if you suffer respiratory problems.

    It might be a good idea to go on some rat forums for more help on allergies. I haven’t researched for a while and there might be something new to try. Good luck. and XXX for your ratties :)

  27. I have a really bad allergy to my ratties…. My skin gets rashes, I get all Sniffley, And My Eyes Puff Up And Water.
    Should I Rehome Them? I just Need to know What to do.

  28. So, we broke down and bought our daughter our first ever male dumbo rat in October 2013, Remy. He is awesome; so fun and charismatic, but he has had a lot of upper respiratory problems.We definitely weren’t expecting to spend that much money on him, but we did what we needed to do. So, January came around and our daughter broke out in this rash just on her chest and shoulders. It almost appeared a little circular, so we took her to a Doc-in-the-box and they diagnosed it as ringworm and gave her the meds. It took forever for the rash to go away, but it finally did. A few months later the rash came back, but it didn’t look exactly the same; it was less circular. Well, just about a month ago she had another “breakout”. Of course now we are greatly concerned so we took her to a dermatologist and they gave her two creams to put on. Then, just three days later, she ended up with what looked like hive all over her upper body, neck, and even some on her out upper thighs. It all came to head yesterday when they did a punch biopsy on her. My question for those who have had rat rashes, what do they look like? We are in desperate need to find out if Remy could be the reason for these rashes.

  29. I love rats very much, but have a severe allergy to them. It started out with itching which is normal when handling them, however over time I’ve developed horrible asthmatic symptoms and no longer can breathe around them. I already gave away my two light couloured females away, but not any allergen helped. Although I see some people say they’re not allergic after having them for a month, it took me an entire year for my allergy to develop, especially so dramatically.

  30. Hi, my kids got Rats for Christmas .. everywhere my daughter has been scratched by their tiny nails has become whelped up extremely . I’ve tried triple antibiotics and benadryl on the scratches .. my son has no reaction to the scratches … I’m sure she’s allergic to the urine .. she washes often but was wondering if anyone has any recommendation of a cream or some thing to help the whelping she is getting .. she lives her rat very much :-(
    Thank in advance for any help …

  31. Sorry for my extremely late reply Maureen, I am no longer running this website. I hope you managed to find a solution :)

  32. Hi Oriana, sorry for the late reply. I no longer run this website. I hope you have recovered from your allergies :)

  33. Hi Kelly, I don’t run this website anymore and its about to be shut down, so I just wanted to thank you for commenting and I hope you got to the bottom of your daughters rash. Have fun :)

  34. Hi Ahri, sorry I don’t run this website anymore. I hope you found a pet that didn’t make you poorly :S

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