Does Your Gerbil Have Mites?

As with most pocket pets, gerbils are susceptible to infection by mites. If you own one of these furry little critters, read on below as an Upper Arlington veterinarian discusses the causes, symptoms, treatment, and prevention tips for mites.

Causes

You may be surprised to learn that a healthy gerbil already has mites on the skin, as do many animals. They’re aren’t harmful in the least—it’s only when an outside condition, such as an environmental condition, stress, illness, or poor grooming habits, exacerbates the mite population that it becomes a problem. Your gerbil’s body can’t handle the excess amount of mites and begins showing symptoms as a result.

Symptoms of Infestation

Some of the first signs of mite infestations in gerbils are red and inflamed skin, dandruff, dirty fur, hair loss, bald or dry patches, and increased itching and scratching. Some gerbils may even rub their bodies against the cage wire in an attempt to relieve the itching sensation. In some cases, you’ll be able to see white or black specks in your gerbil’s fur, against the skin.

Treatment for Mites

You’ll want to set up an appointment with your vet as soon as you suspect a mite problem with your gerbil. Your vet will use a physical exam and skin tests to confirm the mite diagnosis. Often, topical applications, sprays, injections, or oral medications are administered to return your gerbil’s mite count to normal levels. Ask your vet how long your pet will need to take these medications, and if there is any chance of side effects.

Preventing Mite Cases

The best ways to prevent cases of mite infestations are to keep your gerbil’s environment clean and sanitary and keep his stress level low. In most cases, good and consistent care is all that’s needed to prevent mite numbers from getting out of control. Clean the cage regularly, especially if you keep more than one gerbil. Ask your Upper Arlington veterinarian about the best ways to clean and sanitize all of your gerbil’s materials, and how often you should change bedding and switch out cage items.