Quarantine is the single most effective way to help stop the spread of disease, weather it be a parasite or an illness. No matter where the new animals are coming from or even going to, quarantine should be done. It is not insulting, it is simply protection. Unfortunately, many people do not know the necessity for proper quarantine and end up learning the hard way. All signs and symptoms should be noted and observed the day you get the animal. Any change should be taken seriously.
All rats being brought into a home with existing rats should be quarantined for 2 weeks! You should NOT put the new rats and the existing rats together right away. Between stress, possible illness (on both sides) and other issues, this is one of the worst things to do. Quarantine in another location of the house for 2 full weeks (minimum) to ensure maximum health, separate airspace if possible.
A 4 week or more quarantine is recommended before attending a rat or mouse event with your animals. This includes NO new litters being born, no new rodents being brought in, and no apparent illnesses or parasites. This allows for you to keep an eye on your animals to make sure you are not bringing sick animals into the public.
Longer quarantine is recommended when coming home with new animals or your own show animals. This is due to exposure with other animals and people. 6 weeks is the minimum that is recommended when coming home. 2 months + is even better. Separate location quarantine is recommended in this situation. If ANY illness is noticed, the quarantine time starts over from the time of the last symptom!
During an active infection no mice should leave or enter the colony. This is the only effective way to help control the spread. All breeding must be stopped. The duration of this quarantine depends on the type of illness. This can be anywhere from 2 months possibly up to a year. Quarantine can only be considered effective after all animals are off medications, showing no signs of illness, breeding has not been done and any pups that may have been born during the outbreak have weaned and are illness free.
Lack of appetite
Head tilt or abnormal gait
Swelling on back or neck
Scabs or itching
Abnormal smelling feces or urine
Eye ulcerations, bleeding, or swelling
Visual identification of parasites including lice nits
In Home Quarantine:
Many people do not have another location available to them so this is the best they can do. It is best to use a room as far away from your current animals as possible, either in the garage, another bedroom, another floor etc. Stringent hand washing and as minimal back to back exposure as possible will help limit pathogen transfer. It is best to have a few hours separating the time from entering each room.
This is not the safest way of quarantine, especially against airborne pathogens.
This is the much preferred method of quarantining new animals. This method is using a totally different location for new animals. This can either be a separate location (a neighbor, friends or family’s house etc) or a separate climate controlled building with a different air supply. It is best to leave 3-4 hours of time between entering locations. A change of clothes, hand washing, sanitizing, etc are all recommended when going between locations. It is safest yet if someone else all together takes care of the new guys in quarantine.