Mite infestation is a serious problem in gerbils, which you should not neglect in any case.
How to recognize mites and how to treat them you will learn now.
Can gerbils be infested with mites?
Yes, gerbils can also be infested with mites.
The most common cause of mite infestation is a weakened immune system or another infected pet living in the same household.
To prevent a mite infestation, it is recommended to clean the enclosure regularly, avoid stress and have your gerbils examined regularly.
You should also provide your gerbil with a sand bath to keep their fur clean.
Symptoms and signs
Since mites are very small animals, a mite infestation is often not obvious at first glance.
However, there are some symptoms that should make you sit up and take notice:
Itching and frequent scratching.
Pick up the gerbil for further examination if any of the symptoms are present and look closely at the animal’s coat.
Mites can be red as well as white or black. In either case, they are tiny dots that do not linger in the same spot, but move over and through the animal’s fur.
But even if you can’t see an obvious mite infestation with the naked eye, it’s worth going to the vet. He will examine the fur of your rodent under a microscope, because in many cases the infestation can only be clearly diagnosed here due to the small size of the parasites.
Please note that mites are contagious! If one of your animals is infested with mites, the probability is quite high that the other gerbils are also affected.
Some mite species also colonize humans. Therefore, early detection is important to be able to take countermeasures as soon as possible and thus contain the infestation.
By the way, mites have body parts where they particularly like to stay.
These include primarily the ears, but also legs and the genital area. The advantage for you is that these areas are less hairy or not hairy at all, making it easier to spot the mites.
Causes of mites in gerbils
Mites are preferably found where hygiene is not taken very seriously.
It is important to say here that on every gerbil mites are present in small numbers. However, due to certain factors this number can increase drastically and thus become a parasitic infestation.
Especially stress ensures that the immune system of the animal is weakened, which can lead to mite infestation.
In addition, it may well be that the mites are introduced through food or transmitted from other animals. For example, if a dog or cat lives in the house that is infested with mites and this condition goes unnoticed for a while, your gerbils may become infected.
It has also been found that gerbils living in the same household as pet birds are more likely to be infested with (bird) mites than other animals.
The food can also be the cause of mite infestation.
If you suspect this, it is advisable to freeze the food for a while before feeding it. The mites will be killed by the massive cold and will no longer pose a danger to your animals.
The correct treatment for mite infestation
Mites can remain unnoticed for weeks, as they do not always spread rapidly, but rather peu à peu.
However, if you notice that at least one of your animals has been infested with mites, it is important to act immediately! It is important to know that mites are difficult to control.
Act immediately by taking all (!) animals to a veterinarian to have the type of mites diagnosed. Also, do not return gerbils to their enclosure until it has been thoroughly cleaned and the animals are mostly mite-free.
Ideally, you not only take your animals out of the enclosure, but place them in another room for a few days.
Here you will now treat your animals with special products that you will receive from your veterinarian. Completely clean out the enclosure and replace the furnishings with new items.
However, before you start setting up the enclosure, be sure to clean the terrarium thoroughly with hot water to kill any remaining mites on the spot.
It is also a good idea to spray the terrarium with a special mite spray*.
If you use a mite spray, you should never use it directly on the fur of your gerbils, but spray the spray on your hands and then rub it into the fur of the animal with your hands.
If you do not want to throw away the furniture of your enclosure, you should boil or bake the wooden objects.
Once you have completed the treatment, you should also be sure to change your clothes and place the items you wore while cleaning the enclosure in the freezer for a minimum of 48 hours to ensure that the mites are killed as well.
Prevention: Preventing mites in gerbils
Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent a mite infestation one hundred percent.
Only regular control of food, bedding and the animals themselves will help to detect and treat an infestation at an early stage. Observe your gerbils closely to notice changes in behavior immediately.
Unnecessary stress should always be avoided, which requires a species-appropriate husbandry.
If you are unsure whether your gerbil could be infested with mites, a visit to the vet is never wrong.
If the suspicion can be confirmed, it is also advisable if you present the whole group of gerbils again to be able to clearly recognize the extent of the infestation.
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