Having mites on your guinea pigs DOES NOT mean that you are a bad owner (unless of course you don't treat your guinea pig for them then you ARE a bad owner). Guinea pigs get mites like birds like to fly (usually fairly easily).
They can be carried on clothes, feed, bedding, picked up from the grass and so forth. Though here's an interesting article where some folks say guinea pigs always have mites, but it requires a stressor of some sort to make them have an active infestation. I DO know the mites eggs can be carried around in hay, bedding etc... and once a suitable host is near can hatch....so take it all with a grain of salt.
They are REALLY easy to treat.
NOTE: I AM NOT a Veternarian. I am a person who raises Guinea pigs and has learned how to treat them. So do not be getting upset with me for anything. Not a vet, not responsible for you or your guinea pigs.
A severe case of mites CAN kill your guinea pig so treat your pig with ivermectin should your guinea pig get them. It is amazing how quickly they respond to treatment. :)
I breed actively for mite resistance. I used to have guinea pigs ... if one got it, they all got it, but from this years' crop of babies.. out of 20 pups, only 2 got it. WOOT WOOT. I'm so very happy about that. Means I'm doing something right. :)
SO just what are mites?
Nasty little burrowing animals that destroy the hair on your guinea pig and leave a grey, scaly patch behind. For a more technical description check out what Critter Hub has to say.
Mange mites (a.k.a. guinea pig mites) are microscopic mites that burrow deep under the skin of a guinea pig. This species specific parasite, known as Trixacarus caviae, causes unbearable irritation and can be life-threatening. As part of the arachnid family, the mite is transmitted through direct contact with an infected animal. Once it has attached itself to its host, it will not leave unless the host dies or the mite itself is brushed off. Without a host, the mite will die within two or three weeks. The eggs, which are laid in the burrows of the skin, may survive freely for an extensive amount of time.
What I look for are scaly patches on the body. For me, normally on the head, but I have found them on the tummy, middle of the back and near the rear end.
Happy Cavy has this to say.
The most common signs of parasite problems are:
There are also a few symptoms that you might not immediately think of, like:
- - hair loss
- - dandruff
- - excessive biting, itching, and/or scratching
- loss of appetite or weight loss
- - drinking A LOT of water
- - laziness or a sudden change of mood
- - irritability
- - not wanting to be picked up (more than usual)
From Guinea pig Lynx:
Mite infestations are generally treated with ivermectin by injection, orally, or topically (usually placed on the skin behind the ears because the fur is so thick). Two or more doses spaced 7 to 10 days apart are required. Ivermectin appears to be safe used on pregnant cavies but is best not used on guinea pigs under 12 ounces (approx. 340 grams). This drug must be administered in the correct dose to avoid serious adverse reactions and possible death.
Why I give orally the horse med wormer?
1. the med is meant to be given that way
2. it means I don't have to hunt around for affected areas. Give once, treatment goes through the whole body.
NOTE: you ONLY need a wee dab. Think about the size of the smallest edible pea... no more than that. Do you see that small pea at the end of the pea pod? that's the size you want to aim for.
I've never seen mites on any guinea pig younger than 4 weeks of age. I never medicate pregnant guinea pig simply because the risk is there in other animals that you can affect fetal development. And I've never seen them on pregnant sow either so it's been a non-issue. Just exercise if you have a pregnant sow.
If you are uncertain about treatment, take to a veterinarian, but otherwise, treat your guinea pigs well and enjoy them. :)