The Squidgypigs Guide to Guinea Pig Mange Mites

Having recently discovered that a number of our beloved Squidgypigs had the start of a mass Mange Mite infestation I thought I would share what I’ve learnt about Mange Mites. 

Image from Merck Vet Manual
Image from Merck Vet Manual

What are Guinea Pig Mange Mites?:

  • Tiny mites that burrow into the skin of infected animals.
  • Not to be confused with static lice.
  • The mites causes pain and hair loss.
  • The distress from this can cause dehydration, anorexia, seizures and ultimately death.

Morag's mite hair loss.
Morag’s mite hair loss.

Symptoms:

Any of the following…

  • Itching / scratching.
  • Hair loss (mild at first).
  • A “V” shaped bald patch on back.
  • Dandruff type skin flakes.
  • Wheeking or crying when itching.
  • Scabs and sores (can be bleeding).
  • Wheeking or crying when you touch them.
  • Weightloss.
  • Dehydration.
  • Seizures.
  • Death.

Guinea Pigs can show no symptoms but be carrying mites. 

Typical V formation of mange mite hair loss
Typical V formation of mange mite hair loss

Causes:

  • Stress.
  • “Dirty/dusty” hay.
  • Grass from areas that other animals use.
  • Contact with infected animals.
  • Mites can live asymptotic on pigs and only start trouble when the pig is stressed.
  • Crowded environments can ease the spread.
  • Washing a Guinea pig silently infected with mites can cause the mites to dig deeper into the animal’s skin.

We believe this case of mites originated from a bale of dusty farm hay I used for bedding that I now know what stored where other animals were brushing up against it.

Morag has had a hard time.
Morag has had a hard time.


Treatment:

  • Ideally you should consult a vet who will likely treat with Ivermectin injections.
  • Alternatively some success is reported with topical ivermectin sprays but I wouldn’t recommend this unless you are 200% sure what ailment you are dealing with. Ringworm can look similar and can occur as a result of the stress of mites. 


Prevention:

  • Good living conditions.
  • Lack of stress.
  • “Clean hay/bedding”.
  • Precautionary treatments…

I’ve heard really good, positive things about using Beaphar Anti-Mange Spray 75 ml as a precautionary treatment and will be definitely using it in the future to prevent outbreaks.

So what happened to the Squidgypigs?:

  • I was really shocked at how quickly the infestation took hold.
  • 1 day I noticed a lot of scratching from some of the girls.
  • The next some of them had visible bald patches. 
  • We sought treatment at this point for everyone (even 6 girls that showed no symptoms).
  • We also separated all pigs into cages according to the severity of the symptoms.
  • I’m happy to report that the majority made good progress after the first treatment . 
  • Slincypig Before and after a week's treatment
    Slincypig Before and after a week’s treatment
  • Unfortunately 4 of our more  immunosuppressed girls didn’t respond to the initial treatment  and then started showing symptoms of stress induced ringworm.
  • Marilyn before and after 1 week's ringworm treatment.
    Marilyn before and after 1 week’s ringworm treatment.
  • I am now really happy to report that everyone seems to be very happily on the road to recovery.
  • I will definitely be treating with the Beaphar Anti-Mange Spray in the future to guard against these awful parasites.
Mange mites in guinea pigs.
Mange mites in guinea pigs.

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