Is there anything more shocking than seeing a ton of flies in your guinea pig cage?
If you spot flies buzzing about your hutch, you need to keep a close eye out for maggots.
These pests do not get on well with your guinea pigs and can cause issues like flystrike in small animals.
What are you supposed to do about maggots in the cage and flystrike?
Maggots most often find their way into a dirty guinea pig cage. As a result, a clean cage with a healthy guinea pig is less likely to attract these pests. If you notice maggots on your guinea pig, you need to take them to the veterinarian right away as a flystrike infection may be fatal.
If you are ready to learn more about properly care for your guinea pig’s enclosure, here is everything, you need to know.
What Causes Maggots In The Guinea Pig Cage?
Have you noticed your cage is infested with those squirmy maggots?
Maggots in the enclosure can only come from one source: flies.
Maggots occur when flies lay their eggs in your guinea pig’s home and then hatch.
Hatching can happen in just a matter of hours, so you must be extremely vigilant at guarding your guinea pigs against flystrike.
The most common reason you will find maggots in your enclosure is if it is dirty.
The best treatment for flystrike is prevention.
Flies will find their way into your enclosure if it is heaped high with feces and urine.
The smell attracts them and makes them more likely to lay their eggs, leading to horrific flystrike.
The best thing to do is routinely clean their cage.
This should be done daily, even if you are just sweeping up and scooping soiled bedding out.
Once a week, you need to disinfect everything and give them a clean slate to start the week.
Flystrike and maggots are both more common in hot summer months, so you may want to clean your cage multiple times a day when the temperatures and humidity levels are high.
In addition to keeping their enclosure as clean as possible, your piggies also need a little bit of attention.
Their fur should always be kept as clean as possible, with routine baths and trims as necessary.
Maggots are more likely to be laid in dirty fur around the guinea pig’s bottom, so keeping this area clean is essential if you want to limit maggots.
Learn how to completely clean their home in our step-by-step guide on how to clean a guinea pig cage.
What Is Flystrike In Guinea Pigs?
Flystrike occurs when flies lay their eggs on an animal, and it occurs most often in small animals such as guinea pigs and rabbits.
Eventually, these eggs will hatch into maggots.
The maggots feed off your pet’s flesh. Not only is this particularly painful for your cavies, but the condition is often fatal if it is not caught in the early stages.
Eggs can hatch in as little as 24 hours, so it is essential to constantly scan your pet for signs they might be susceptible to developing flystrike.
Scan them for signs of flystrike twice a day, particularly during the summer months when the weather is warmer.
Some cavies are at a greater risk of developing this condition than others.
If your guinea pig has any of the following traits, they have a higher likelihood of developing flystrike:
- Issues with being overweight
- Long hair
- Dental issues
- Open wounds
- Loose folds of skin around their bottom or abdomen
When your guinea pig has any of these traits, you need to check them more frequently for signs of maggots hatching on the skin.
You also need to check them immediately if you find your usually active pet is suddenly very quiet or even unresponsive.
Agitation and signs of discomfort are also symptoms of flystrike in guinea pigs.
If you find any maggots on your pet, you need to call the veterinarian immediately.
Make sure to call a vet experienced with small animals like cavies, so they know what treatment is appropriate and safe for your pet.
While you wait for an appointment (which should be scheduled as soon as possible), you may remove any visible maggots with tweezers from their skin.
With the proper treatment and prompt action, your guinea pig will be able to make a full recovery.
Any delay in treatment can spell major problems for their health.
Fortunately, you need to do quite a few things to take preventative measures against your pets developing this condition.
It is best to prevent flystrike from occurring proactively instead of treating the condition once it arises.
The best thing to keep your guinea pig healthy is to ensure you keep their cage clean.
Flies will flock to a dirty cage piled high with soiled bedding, and it won’t be hard for them to lay their eggs on your cavies at the same time.
Daily, take out soiled or wet bedding and replace it with fresh bedding.
This gives your cavies a healthy place to run and play, but it also deters flies from making a home in your enclosure.
A dirty hutch presents a dangerous condition to keep your guinea pigs in if you have flies swarming around.
In addition to giving them fresh bedding daily, you also need to disinfect their hutch once a week.
This means taking out all bedding and toys while spraying down the hutch with a disinfectant.
Use a simple solution of one part water to one part white vinegar if you want to ensure your hutch is clean without causing any damage to your cavies.
Boiling water is also a good option, depending on what your cage is made of.
Their food bowls should also be emptied of fresh food after it has been sitting for a while.
Old food left to sit in the cage will start to rot and may attract more flies.
Flystrike is more common when you have old food sitting around.
Last but not least, you want to prevent flies from even entering your cage.
You need to add fly screens to your enclosure, and any runs you may have for your guinea pig.
When the flies cannot gain access to your enclosure, they will not be able to lay their eggs on your pets.
In this case, an ounce of prevention is the way to go!
Daily Diet to Keep Away Flystrike
Another key aspect of helping guard your guinea pigs against flystrike is to make sure they get the appropriate diet.
Not only does rotten food attract flies, but a bad diet can make your guinea pig more susceptible to maggots.
How does this work exactly?
First, a bad diet can lead to obesity which has a long list of other health problems.
When your cavies are overweight because they are eating too much or aren’t consuming the right types of food, it is harder for them to move around.
They aren’t able to groom themselves as thoroughly and often are dirtier than they should be.
This soiled fur can lead to flies laying eggs on your guinea pig and directly link to flystrike.
However, a good diet is more important for more than just their weight.
If your cavies are eating too much food, which is not ideal for the digestive system, they are bound to have some upset stomachs.
In turn, this can lead to diarrhea and other health concerns, which can attract more flies to their hutches.
Ensure you aren’t feeding them too much fruit or too many unhealthy snacks to keep their bowel movements regular.
They need plenty of hay and a high-fiber diet to keep their digestive tracts healthy.
What To Do If Your Guinea Pig Has Maggots
After you call the veterinarian, you may have some wait time before heading in for your appointment.
They should take flystrike seriously and schedule you right away, but you might still have a few hours to wait.
What can you do in the meantime to ensure your guinea pig is as healthy as possible?
The first thing you need to do is trim any long hair matted or containing feces.
This might mean just giving them a quick trim with a small pair of scissors.
If their fur has been left to get matted for quite some time, then you may need to simply shave off the fur on their bottom half.
After this is done, fill a bowl with warm water and a pet-safe shampoo.
Using a sponge, apply the soapy water to the affected area.
You are not going to give your guinea pig a full bath.
When they have flystrike, you do not want them to get completely wet.
Apply only the water you need to clean the areas affected with maggots.
Many of the maggots will fall off while cleaning the affected areas.
If they do not, then you will remove them with a clean pair of tweezers.
Once your guinea pig is clean, it is time to focus on its enclosure.
Their cage hutch or indoor cage should be thoroughly cleaned.
You need to change out their bedding, give them fresh food, and disinfect the entire hutch with safe cleaning formula.
Depending on the material of their toys or cage, you may be able to clean it with boiling water or with a combination of water and white vinegar.
By the time all of this is done, it is likely time to take them to the veterinarian.
There is no substitute for professional treatment, so be sure to make your appointment before getting started on this list of things to do!
What Is The Treatment For Flystrike In Guinea Pigs?
Taking your guinea pig to the veterinarian helps if you know roughly what to expect from your appointment.
Flystrike is a severe condition, and it requires a great deal of professional attention.
Make sure to take them to a veterinarian experienced with small animals and exotic pets to ensure they get the proper treatment.
First, your vet will likely want to sedate your guinea pig so they can work quickly and efficiently without worrying about them squirming around.
Chances are your cavies are not likely to enjoy the treatment, so this keeps them from stressing and making the situation worse.
While your guinea pig is under anesthesia, they will do their best to remove all maggots from their skin.
It may be impossible to get all of them if the infestation continues for some time.
Some maggots may have burrowed their way into the flesh already.
As a result, your veterinarian will likely prescribe medication to kill the rest of the maggots they cannot reach.
They will also prescribe you some other medications to prevent further health issues from the flystrike.
For example, they may prescribe you antibiotics to ward off infection.
There may be some antiseptic cream to apply daily to the affected area.
You may also be prescribed anti-parasitic drugs and anti-inflammatory drugs.
Depending on how your guinea pig is eating and drinking, they may also recommend some fluid therapy to keep them hydrated.
Dehydration can lead to other health issues, especially during the hot summer months.
Never underestimate the importance of fluids in your guinea pig’s diet.
As you see, prevention advice is essential, but proper treatment is necessary for this nasty condition.
It can even prove to be a deadly condition if not treated quickly and efficiently.
This is why it matters which veterinarian you take your cavies to visit.
Even if your guinea pig has no health issues right now, it is a good idea to set them up with a local veterinarian for a good check.
Then, you are already a patient, and they are familiar with your pet when a major issue like flystrike presents itself.