Ectoparasitic Infestation in Guinea Pigs
Fur mite infestation is a commonly encountered skin problem in guinea pigs. Under normal conditions fur mites are present in small numbers and exist symbiotically, not bothering their host. However, their numbers can increase when a guinea pig is stressed, has decreased immunity due to other illnesses, and/or is unable to keep the mites reduced by normal grooming -- all of which can lead to excessive itching, irritation and other disorders of the skin.
Fur mite infestations can be minimized or prevented by making sure that your guinea pig's living quarters are clean and sanitary, minimizing your guinea pig's stress levels, and feeding your guinea pig a nutritional and balanced diet.
Symptoms and Types
Some may cause hair loss but do not seem to affect the skin, while others will burrow into the skin and may cause intense itching, hair loss, and skin inflammation. This latter type of fur mite usually infects the inner thighs, shoulders, and neck of the guinea pig. When the infestation is with the burrowing type of mite, the skin beneath the affected fur may be dry or oily and thickened or crusty.
In severely infested animals, the affected areas may become infected, which can cause the animal to lose weight, have low energy, or run around the cage in an agitated state. If left untreated, the animal may ultimately suffer from convulsions and death may result.
- Infection from other guinea pigs
- Infection from contaminated objects like bedding
- Unclean living conditions
- Lowered immunity due to illness
Your veterinarian can diagnose fur mite infestation in your guinea pig either by examining your guinea pig's fur for visible signs of the mites or by looking taking skin scrapings from your guinea pig for microscopic laboratory analysis.