This article has been compiled from a number of posts to the Ratlist, with permission from the author Bill Price. Picture of Fred the rat courtesy Tina Bird.
If your rat is scratching a lot and has scabs on his face, he probably has mites. The olive oil method can be used as an alternative to treatment with Ivermectin, or in conjunction. Unlike Ivermectin, which is toxic and carries risk, the olive oil method is harmless, though the rats might not think so.
Put about a tablespoon or two of olive oil (any kind) in the palm of your hand, cup two hands together,
put those hands on the rat and rub it in - gently - be very gentle if they have
skin irritation, just soak them til they look like John Travolta in Saturday
Night Fever, then let them play and lick. Not on your silk blouse, though.
You can use baby shampoo and wash them 24 hours later, or not, it doesn't matter, but they will look funny if you don't. It's good for them. Helps skin and fur.
Repeat three times total, once every 7-10 days because the little buggers might leave
eggs behind, and that's how long it takes to hatch.
Also, clean the cage, change the bedding, and freeze the bedding for 24 hours
before putting it in the cage, to kill off anything that might be living in it
when you bring it home from the bedding store.