Mite infestations are a common occurrence among rodents—wild and pets alike—and for the most part, they don't pose much of a threat. If the mite infestation gets out of hand, however, your hamster could suffer. To learn more about what causes mite infestations, what symptoms your hamster may show, and how mite infestations can be treated and prevented, read on below.
What Causes a Mite Infestation?
Mites are a generally harmless pest that live around rodents, so as previously mentioned, it's not uncommon to find a mite or two on your hamster. A handful of mites, however, can quickly become an infestation, and there's a number of common causes.
One common reason that mites may become a problem for your hamster is if your hamster is a lazy groomer. Grooming is one way that hamsters keep mites at bay, and hamsters who are too lazy to properly clean themselves may face an infestation of these quickly multiplying pests. Another cause of mite infestation can be a poorly cleaned living environment, or a hamster enclosure that is too small for the number of hamsters living in it.
What are the Symptoms of Mite Infestation in Hamsters?
While mites can be difficult to spot with the naked eye, there's a few easily seen signs that your hamster is struggling with mites.
The most common symptom of a mite infestation is excessive itching. You may notice your hamster has trouble sleeping or resting due to the amount of itching they do. Another common symptom, which is a side effect of the excessive itching, is red, inflamed, and irritated skin. This can be easily seen in areas where your hamster's hair is thin, such as around the ears, on the neck, and near the eyes. In extreme cases, you'll also notice hair loss and may even see bleeding or open wounds.
How are Mite Infestations Treated and Prevented?
Fortunately for your furry little friend, mite infestations can be treated with the help of your hamster's veterinarian, and further infestations can be prevented with a bit of care.
Once the mite infestation is confirmed by your hamster's vet, they'll likely prescribe a mite-killing spray or shampoo. It's important to use this prescription exactly as the veterinarian prescribes and continue the regimen until the veterinarian gives the all clear. To prevent the infestation from recurring, it's important to sanitize your hamster's cage and lay down new bedding. If you own more than one hamster, it's vital that you treat all of them as prescribed by the veterinarian and ensure that their living quarters are adequately sized and cleaned on a regular basis.
If you suspect that your hamster is suffering from a mite infestation, consult with a veterinarian, such as those at Bodily Veterinary Clinic, immediately.