How to Protect your Guinea Pigs from Mites

Brought to you by Beaphar UK

Mites can cause our guinea pigs to feel itchy and uncomfortable, which no pet owner wants to see. Keeping your pet’s home clean, regularly giving your guinea pig a health check, and knowing the symptoms to look out for and how to treat infestations, will go a long way to helping you keep your guinea pig mite-free.

What are mites and how do I know if my guinea pig has them?

Mites are small external parasites that belong to the arachnid family. In small numbers, mites don’t cause guinea pigs too much irritation. However, if the number of mites increases, this is when they can cause your guinea pig significant harm. Factors that put your guinea pig more at risk from a mite infestation are:

  • Living in an unclean or overcrowded home
  • Being in poor health
  • Stress, causing a weakened immune system
  • Not grooming often due to being overweight or elderly

There are two common mites that you may come across in guinea pigs:

  • Static mites (Chirodiscoides caviae)
  • Sarcoptic mites

Static Mites

Static mites (also known as hay mites) live on your guinea pig’s hair and feed on skin debris. While the mites are too small to see, you may notice ‘dust’ stuck to your guinea pig’s hair. This can be shed skin from static mites.
These mites often cause guinea pigs to itch, which can lead to red and irritated skin.

Sarcoptic Mites

Sarcoptic mites are much more troublesome and unpleasant, causing sarcoptic mange (more commonly known as scabies). These mites burrow into your guinea pig’s skin, causing your pet to bite, scratch and itch, which often results in bald patches.
Sarcoptic mange is not only extremely contagious but also zoonotic, meaning it can be passed to people. This means if one of your guinea pigs is infected then all your guinea pigs will need treating. You’ll also need to thoroughly clean and disinfect their hutch, run, food and water bowls, and toys, and replace all the bedding material. Owners to need wash their hands thoroughly after handling guinea pigs and after cleaning their home to reduce the risk of catching it themselves.

How to check and treat your guinea pig for mites and other parasites

Both static mites and sarcoptic mites can be treated with Beaphar Anti-Parasite Spot On for Rabbits, Guinea Pigs, Ferrets and Rats or Beaphar Anti-Mange Spray.
Giving your guinea pigs a daily health check means you’re more likely to spot any problems quickly. Grooming your guinea pigs, and specifically going through their fur with a fine comb will allow you to
look for any signs of ‘dust’ or parasites on the fur, or redness or irritation caused by your pet scratching their skin.
Other things you can do to help reduce your pets’ risk of parasite infestations are:

  • Cleaning the hutch and replacing all the bedding once a week, and cleaning litter trays/toilet areas daily – we suggest using Beaphar Deep Clean Disinfectant for Small Animal Housing and Beaphar Cage Fresh Granules
  • Feeding the correct diet to avoid obesity and keep teeth healthy, so your guinea pigs can groom themselves easily
  • Giving your guinea pigs the right size home and looking out for signs of bullying to minimise their stress levels