1. What are Trixacara mites?
Trixacarus caviae (sarcoptid mite) is a common microscopic burrowing skin mite affecting guinea pigs.
There are many other parasites on the skin of guinea pigs including Chirodiscoides mite, lice and fleas. These other parasites may cause skin flaking and mild pruritis (itchiness), however they are generally less common with less severe signs in comparison to the Trixacara mites.
2. What signs do mites cause in guinea pigs?
The Trixacarus mite burrows into the skin and dissolves skin cells with itís saliva, causing intense pruritis. Guinea pigs often have flaking skin, fur loss, open wounds and sometimes secondary skin infections. The itchiness may be so severe that some guinea pigs experience seizures.
The areas affected most commonly include the back, thighs, shoulders and neck.
3. How are mites diagnosed?
Mites are often diagnosed by the signs shown by the guinea pig. Skin scrapes and examination can sometimes help identify the mites.
4. Can mites be treated?
Treatment often involves a combination of repeat injectable and spot-on mectin-based drugs, as well as antibiotics to treat any secondary infections caused by the mites. Treatments work best if the infection is caught early. Regular health checks including skin and ear examinations may find early infections.
5. Can I catch mites from my guinea pig?
Trixacara mite can cause transient infestation in people leading to mild itchiness. The mites do not live for a long time on the skin of people.
6. Can I prevent mites from infecting my guinea pig?
Some spot-on mectin-based products have been used to manage mites and prevent infections, but may not be effective in certain guinea pigs.
Mites can often survive in the guinea pigsís environment for a few weeks so the environment needs to be treated for mites to stop the re-infection.
Guinea pigs require vitamin C supplementation, without this they are more prone to many problems including skin mites.
Prevention and treatment options should be discussed with a veterinarian at regular yearly health checks.
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