Parasites are nature’s freeloaders. They mooch off their hosts, sipping on their blood in the name of survival. Annoying little buggers. Rodents like guinea pigs, chipmunks, mice, hamsters, and gerbils are especially prone to parasite infestations.
But I keep my guinea pig squeaky clean. I also change his bedding and scrub his cage often. There’s no way my cuddly furball can get mites or something. Right?
Err, sorry, but parasites are incredibly hard to avoid.
So, can guinea pigs get lice, mites, and fleas?
Yes, they can! These blood-sucking parasites will make a home in your guinea pig’s hair like it’s no big deal. If you don’t treat them, you might start to see signs like hair loss, excessive scratching, and seizures. Your cavy can also die from anemia caused by heavy parasite infestation. Yikes!
We are sure you want to keep your piggy pals safe and healthy. So, we’ve put together a guide to help you diagnose, treat, and prevent common guinea pig parasites. Let’s get started!
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Guinea Pig Mites, Lice, and Fleas – Meet the Parasites
Can guinea pigs have lice and mites? What about fleas? Are they common too?
Mites and lice are the two stealthy drainers of cavy blood that you need to look out for the most. Fleas, on the other hand, prefer dog and cat fur and are relatively rare in guinea pigs.
But it’s best to be aware of all three, just in case.
Coming up next, we’ll look at these three parasites in detail.
Lice are tiny, wingless bloodsuckers that infest your pet’s fur. When they’ve settled in, they start reproducing. And trust us, they don’t stop! They reproduce like crazy, and your pet’s fur starts to thin out.
Types of Lice That Infect Guinea Pigs
To make the problem itchier, there isn’t just one type of piggie lice. There are two!
- Gyropus Ovalis – Also known as oval lice, these irritating demons are 1-1.2 mm large. They aren’t as common in cavies.
- Gliricola Porcelli – These are also called slender lice and are the most common type. These guys are a bit larger, measuring 1-1.5 mm in length.
How can I be sure it’s lice?
Well, lice are visible to the naked eye. You don’t need any fancy gadgets to spot them crawling around your pet’s coat. They’re usually about the size of a sesame seed and can be white or brown in color. You can even spot lice eggs. They’ll look like specs of dirt on your cutie’s light-colored fur.
Lice in guinea pigs are found around the ears, rump, neck, and head. Push the fur aside and look for these unwanted losers near the skin. That’s where their food is – you’ll easily spot them feasting.
What Do Lice Do to Guinea Pigs?
Besides irritating the life out of them? Lice can cause bald patches, scabby sores, flaky, dry skin, and, in worse cases, anemia.
Can Humans Get Lice from Guinea Pigs?
No, humans can’t get lice from guinea pigs. The two types of lice that can infest guinea pig fur are species-specific. So, we humans and our beloved cavies don’t share the same type of lice. Phew!
Can Lice Kill Guinea Pigs?
Yes, if left untreated, heavy infestations of lice can cause anemia in guinea pigs. Severe cases can even lead to death. The only way to stop the lice party is by taking your pet for treatment as soon as you spot any signs of lice.
How to Get Rid of Lice in Guinea Pigs?
Is it tough to get rid of lice in piggies? How to treat guinea pig lice at home?
Luckily, it’s not so tough. Your vet will prescribe a few topical treatments that’ll kill the lice. Some of the options include Advantage Multi, Revolution, and Ivermectin.
Note: Don't use human lice shampoo on your nugget. They are too harsh for their skin. Instead, get a guinea pig shampoo for lice for the job.
However, it’s best to stick to what your puffy’s vet suggests. Also, you’ll have to treat all your guinea pigs at once. Otherwise, you’ll never truly get rid of these critters.
Mite infestation is nothing new for your guinea pig. The poor fellow has to constantly battle these tiny bloodsucking monsters. And it’s a task to keep the critters away. Mites don’t leave their hosts so easily.
Types of Guinea Pig Mites
Mites are smaller than lice and can’t be spotted with the naked eye. You’ll have to use a microscope to see them clearly.
Two main types of mites infest our whisker puffs.
- Static Mites – These microscopic mites live on your guinea pig’s hair.
- Sarcoptic Mange Mites – Sarcoptic mites burrow deep in your guinea pig’s skin.
Static mites, or fur mites, stroll around on your guinea pig’s fur and feed on the oils secreted by their fur follicles. They aren’t as scary, but they cause terrible itching. Static mites also live on your piggy in large numbers. They’ll be everywhere on the fur. If you spot dirt on your pet’s fur that won’t budge even if you brush it, that’s mites’ dead skin. Ew.
Mange mites, on the other hand, are ruthless. They dig deep into your cavy’s skin and cause severe irritation. These sneaky leeches cause bald spots and will have your piggy biting itself in pain.
Mite Infestation Symptoms
If I can’t see mites, how will I know my piggy’s suffering?
Luckily, your pet guinea pig will show you signs. Here’s what you’re looking for:
- Non-stop scratching
- Excessively biting himself and shedding
- Scabs and sores on irritated skin
- Hair loss
- Weight loss
If you don’t take action in time, your pet will experience seizures. It can become a medical emergency. Act fast!
Can Guinea Pig Mites Infect Humans?
No. Lice and mites are both species-specific. So you don’t have anything to worry about. However, mange mites, the dangerous ones, are contagious.
Oh, so my kids and granny can get infected?
If they’re sensitive to mites, yes. If they get infected, you’ll notice symptoms like that of low-key dermatitis. Don’t risk it; take them to a physician at your earliest.
Can Mites Kill Guinea Pigs?
Static mites are a nuisance to deal with. But they don’t kill.
Mange mites, however, are annoying and deadly. They cause your guinea pig to itch uncontrollably, which can lead to seizures followed by heart attacks and strokes.
How to Get Rid of Mites in Guinea Pigs?
Sarcoptic mites are different than static mites. So, the treatment is different too. To get it right, contact your pet’s veterinarian. In the meanwhile, keep the following tips in mind:
- Use a vet-recommended spray or shampoo for static mites
- Use Ivermectin, topically or orally, to get rid of mange mites
- Kill sarcoptic mites and eggs with Selamectin
Note: Don't shower your piggy unless your vet permits. Bathing your furry pal can burrow mange mites deeper into the skin.
Guinea pigs often deal with pesky mites and lice, but fleas aren’t their usual foes. If you spot a flea on your pet piggy, chances are it hopped over from another furry companion like a dog or cat.
However, don’t use your cat’s or dog’s anti-flea spray on your delicate and tiny piggy popcorn. It can be poisonous to your pet guinea pig. Instead, get a species-specific flea shampoo and follow the instructions.
How Do Guinea Pigs Get Infected?
The most common parasite carrier is another infected guinea pig. Since mites and lice are species-specific, it makes sense that they hop from one ill piggy to another.
But that’s not it.
Humans who have touched, played with, or carried infected guinea pigs can spread these parasites to their pets too. Always wash your hands after handling an infected pet.
Plus, bedding tainted with mites, lice, or fleas can also cause your pet to become a host.
How to Prevent Mites and Lice in Guinea Pigs?
Honestly, there’s no way you can keep the parasites off of your piggy forever. They are nasty, hideous, and sneaky – they’ll find a way. But you can minimize the chances of infestation for sure. Here’s what you’ll have to do:
Keep your pet’s cage germ-free. Take out soiled bedding and replace it with a new one. Also, deep clean at least once a month.
Feed Good Food
Your cavies need a healthy diet. It’ll help them fight the infestation. Ask your vet for supplements too.
If you don’t want to see your guinea pig suffering, do health checks at home. If you suspect an infestation, head to the vet right away.
Don’t Bring an Infected New Guinea Pig Home
As we said, lice and mites can spread from one piggy to another. So, before you bring a new one home, make sure he’s clean.
Itchy Intruders No More: Conquering Mites, Lice, and Fleas in Your Furry Friends
Guinea pigs are prone to parasites. No matter how clean your pet and his cage are, there’s always a chance of infestation. Lice and mites are common sneaky feeders. They can cause issues like bald patches, skin inflammation with scabs and sores, and weight loss. In extreme cases, parasite infestation can also kill your darling pet.
There are two ways to keep your pet healthy and happy: inspect your guinea pig regularly and take him to the vet if something seems off, and take preventative measures.
Now, get ready to keep your guinea pig free of mites and lice.
Did you find this article helpful?
At Oddly Cute Pets, we believe in taking the best care of all our furry and scaly friends. If you’re looking for more information on rodents or reptiles, check our website. There’s a lot you’ll learn.
Stay safe, and happy cuddles!
Thanks for reading.