Hiya, we have a feeder breeder colony of 60 adult rats and up to 10 litters at any given time. We have a rat rack for breeding, lots of maternity tanks, quarantine tanks, and a playpin for each males and females where we keep the 5 week+ ones currently not being bred.
Recently, we had an outbreak of ringworm, a fungal infection, which was confirmed through lab tests.
My question is, what treatment can we easily use en mass to treat the rats that won’t be dangerous to the boas and pythons we feed them to? Internet and forum sesrched have turned up nothing.
Is lime sulpher safe to have on the fur of rodents fed to snakes?
I’ve read somewhere about a cattle drug to treat ringworm that can be rubbed on the teeth of rats in small dosage, but I cannot find the post. Anyone know about the effectiveness and safety of that?
How dangerous is ringworm to snakes? If a rat with no obvious infection that has been exposed to ringworm is fed to a snake, what danger is posed, from your own experience or professional education?
I’ve read ringwom once present is virtually impossible to get rid of fully in a home environment. Our setup is in the garage. We currently have no intention of killing the whole colony off unless absolutely necessary as it wouldn’t get rid of the presence of the fungus, but if we can, we would like to take measures necessary to keep it higjly controlled and eventually eradicated. Currently only 4 of our rats have any potential signs of ringworm, and their symptoms are light. They’ve been quarantined and rubbed with perscription cream.
Honestly this sounds like a nightmare, as any contact between an infected animal and a non-infected animal can spread spores. You need to essentially strip EVERYTHING down and disinfect. One pint bleach per gallon of water. Damp mopping & vacuuming. Spores can be on pretty much everything, food bowls, in any bedding, etc. Also, you’re going to need to use PPE, because most ringworm is contagious to humans.
To cut down on things like this, I suggest investing in a high-quality air filtration system.
As for the safety of varying treatments, I’d be contacting a vet for any oral medication necessary, as opposed to using products off label. No idea about the bathing or whether or not the rats are safe to feed after. I’d be wary about feeding anything you’re not sure whether or not it’s infected, depending on what specific spore was isolated.
I’ve been asking permission to install an air filtration system for months. Maybe this outbreak will allow me to.
And Ill see if I can get the name of the exact strain.
If you can’t manage a full filtration system, you can always for the time being invest in something like a standalone HEPA filter. I have an IQAir in my snake room.
Ugh, I’m sorry you’re having to deal with this. Ringworm can be tough to fully eradicate.
In addition to quarantining any symptomatic rodents and doing a full, deep clean with bleach of their enclosures and anything else they’ve had contact with, you should plan to throw out anything that can’t be sterilized (so anything porous, like wood or fabric). And as mentioned, you’ll want to be wearing PPE while doing this and caring for the rodents, because it can potentially spread to you and any other mammals in your home.
Unfortunately I don’t know about the safety of feeding potentially affected rodents to snakes, or if the medications for ringworm are safe for snakes to ingest. It might be best to have a conversation with your vet about that.
Trichophyton mentagrophytes is the specific strain I tested positive for.
I did some checking, several different strains of Trichophyton have been found in snakes, but it is rare and usually the result of opportunistic infection.
Do you feed live or pre-killed? If live, I’d avoid feeding from your stock until you can consult with a vet on the risks in regards to feeding possibly infected and/or treated rodents, as any injury caused by a feeder can give the fungus an opening to colonize.
I actually had issues with ringworm on a feeder that became a pet. More recently with my dog =_=;;
It was actually really easy to treat with a bit of work… 60 animals is a LOT to deal with though. At most when I worked at a big box pet store I had to deal with 6.ringworm critters at a time.
While I don’t know the effects on the reptiles with medications, I know you can do this successfully with the rats. Regarding the FEEDING snakes, I would avoid feeding from your colony while they’re being treated. Feeding a rat that just had ringworm? I’m sure it’s mostly fine if it happens on accident. The one I had was actually picked up from the stock I routinely bought feeders from at the time… so I’m sure they were exposed at some point…I think individual immune systems and habitat conditions are the varying factors.
I can’t say anything as far as the oral antifungals… they may be the easiest option if a vet can work out a way to use it in their water supply. Worked great for my dog actually. If the breakout is severe enough, obviously vet is the best choice for answers…
For the moment, if they were my own:
First I would divide up the colony. Any that have open sores or crust on the ears and tails will need miconazole cream (check the otc athlete’s foot cream at the pharmacy).
For the bedding on all of them, change it out. fresh bedding only as your current bedding supply may be contaminated. Wiping down any nearby surfaces with a diluted bleach solution is a great idea to clean up any remaining spores. If there’s any kind of items in the tubs for hiding and enrichment, those will either need to be cleaned as well or tossed if it’s something like wood chews.
After they have clean bedding, all of the rats can have a sprinkle of athlete’s foot powder mixed into the bedding. It’s a trick I picked up from the vet treating the critters at the box store. (I would still avoid feeding these to the snakes for at least a couple of weeks after this treatment just in case any powder remains in the fur. I would probably do that twice on any that seem okay and then discontinue as long as there’s no new breakouts in the ‘healthy group’ any that break out will need to be moved to the treating group for the miconazole cream.
I’d keep the group with wounds, sores and crust as far away as possible. Or if that’s not an option, you may need to consider culling them out of the colony. The downside is that healthy rats can occasionally be carries so I would at least try to do the powder in the bedding for a couple of weeks just in case.
Obviously work with the clean animals first, don’t cross contaminate back to the clean group. change clothes and wash hands before going back and forth if you need to. Scrub gowns are great for this too.
Treatment on the sick ones is usually up to 2 - 3 weeks depending on the rats and how careful you are.
Clean the bedding every 3-4 days and add a sprinkle of the A.F powder to the bedding when you do.The ones that don’t have the sores can probably be on the same routine as usual with the bedding change and powder for a few weeks.
I don’t know how feasible it would be for any of this to be done. The extra step I took with my personal rattie was bathing him once a week with some dish soap on top of everything above.