Hamster Demodex Mites Infestation
Mites are tiny parasites (.3 to .4 mm in length) that lives their lives in and around the hair follicles of mammals, including hamsters. A scaly body of the mite allows it to attach itself securely into the skin of its host hamster. Demodex mites will attach themselves to the skin of any healthy hamster given the opportunity. A prolonged infestation can lead to certain hamster illnesses such as skin disorders.
Signs and Symptoms
The few visible signs can include redness around the ears, eyes, and nose as well as observing the hamster constantly trying to rub itself against the wire bars or objects in its cage. There may be little to no other signs of an infestation of your hamsters but an outbreak of mites can lead to certain skin conditions such as, Acariasis skin disorder or Mange. Mange is caused by both Demodex and Sarcoptic mites. To see if your hamsters skin condition is caused by mites, you can comb the hair and inspect the comb using a magnifying glass. You can also brush the infested hamster while holding it over a piece of white paper and use a magnifying glass to inspect the paper. If there are no mites visible, the skin condition could be a hamster fungal infection.
Causes of This
If your hamsters get exposed to people or other pets that are infested with Demodex mites, they could become infested themselves.
Mites can also be introduced into a hamster’s cage through adding bedding that contains these parasites. That’s why it is a good idea to inspect bedding before you add it and to avoid using bedding not packaged properly or that you obtain from outdoors.
Older male hamsters and baby hamsters are most at risk of getting mites. Or hamster that are highly stressed or malnourished.
After diagnosing your hamster with a mite infestation, you should immediately isolate the infected hamster(s) from any healthy hamsters. Next, clean the hamsters’ cage thoroughly. Replace all the bedding and wash all the surfaces in the cage. Ideally replace anything in the cage that might be a home for mites. After the cage is cleaned, spray it with an anti mites spray. These sprays should be available at your local pet store.
Next you can take the infected pets to the vet to get treatment or try to treat them yourself by purchasing an anti-mite spray. Medications that treat mites include: Ivermectin drops and Amritraz. Amritraz is a bath based medication which is a less ideal solution than Ivermectin since hamsters are not use to getting bathed and will likely become stressed quickly. A hamster sand bath is about as close as they get to an actual bath.
Using a Spray
Make sure to read the instructions on the back of the medication package first but essentially an anti-mite spray needs to be applied once a week until all signs of mites are eliminated. When spraying the hamster, it is important to shield the eyes of the hamster and make sure the spray reaches the skin. Simply spraying the outer coat will not effectively treat your ailing hamster.
Note: Most hamster mites can not live on humans with the exception of the sarcoptic variety. Regardless, take precautions by washing your hands and consider using medical gloves when handling any infected pet with mites.