Hamsters are usually not as vulnerable to sickness as other animals. However, these furry pets are actually quite prone to mites. If you see signs, such as itching, that your hamster is suffering from a mite infestation, it’s important to treat it as soon as possible to keep it from developing into a major concern.
Here are some of the ways you can treat mite infestation in hamsters:
- Confirm whether mite infestation is the problem.
- Apply topical medication in the form of shampoos or sprays.
- Give oral medicine in the correct dosage.
- Bring your hamster to the vet if its condition gets worse.
Mite infestation in hamsters can seriously affect a hamster’s health if left untreated. You should be able to detect it early, effectively treat it, and prevent it from happening again.
How to get rid of my hamsters mites
Further in this article, we will discuss that and more to help you understand how you can better take care of your furry friend.
To effectively treat your hamster, you have to first determine the cause of the problem. So before anything else, confirm whether you really are dealing with a mite infestation. Here’s how to do that:
Mites are incredibly tiny creatures, so tiny, in fact, that they can hardly be seen by the naked eye. So in the early stages of an infestation, or when there are only a few of them on your hamster, you will likely not be able to detect them through physical inspection.
Moreover, a few mites usually do not affect a hamster at all, save for the occasional itching. But overall, you will likely not see any changes in your hamster’s behavior or appearance.
Unfortunately, however, mites do reproduce quickly. And if a hamster is left in an unclean environment or is not groomed properly, mites will multiply rapidly, which can easily lead to a serious health concern.
In the case of a severe infestation, you may see tiny black specks in your hamster’s fur. You may be able to observe this by combing through your hamster’s fur with a fine-toothed comb or brush.
Take note, though, that these should look like stationary specks. If you see anything crawling in your pet’s fur, it could be fleas or ticks.
Under a magnifying glass or a microscope, hamster mites will either have an elongated or round body with eight legs, depending on what kind of mites they are.
If you don’t see any tiny black specks in the fur by physical inspection, you can check for symptoms instead.
Here are some of the most common symptoms of mite infestation:
Since hamster claws are sharp, you may notice redness or irritation from repeated
scratching in some parts of its body. If it continues to scratch itself in the same areas, those inflamed areas may also become scratch wounds and get infected.
You may disinfect and treat any such open wounds using Forticept Wound Treatment Spray from Amazon.com. It’s safe and entirely non-toxic, and it will promote healing of the wound.
If mite infestation becomes a prolonged problem, the hamster’s skin can become extremely dry. Upon observation, the skin could appear unnaturally thick and scaly.
It may also be rough to the touch. You may see instances of flaky, dandruff-like particles falling off your hamster, too.
Unlike cats, dogs, and larger mammals, hamsters do not normally shed a lot of hair. So if you notice that your hamster is losing a lot of its fur or – even worse – is developing bald spots, that could be a sign that it is suffering from a mite infestation.
Once you have confirmed that your hamster is infested with mites, it’s time to attack the problem with the right treatment.
The following are common treatment methods:
The first type of treatment to consider is topical medicine, as they are more readily available (you can find them in pet stores and even department stores all over the United States) and easy to use. There are two main ways by which you can apply topical medicine on your hamster:
Perhaps the easiest option is to use medicated shampoos with selenium sulfide.
It is not advisable to bathe hamsters too often; once a month is enough. (If you live somewhere where extreme temperatures are a problem, such as Anchorage, Alaska, you may want to bathe them even less.)
So if you want to use a medicated shampoo, make sure to still adhere to the advisable frequency of hamster bathing.
If you’re concerned that it will not address the problem as quickly as you need it to, you can use the medicated shampoo in conjunction with other treatments instead of bathing the hamster too frequently.
If you’re looking for a liquid shampoo for your hamster, check out JR Liggett’s Hamster Shampoo from Amazon.com. It’s an eco-friendly product formulated specifically for itchy and irritated skin.
Another convenient treatment method is the use of a mite spray. These are typically applied on the hamster once a week, or as recommended by the vet.
You may also use this to kill any mites that could be in the bedding or inside the cage.
When using any medicine, make sure to follow the instructions indicated in the product or those given by the vet. As hamsters are tiny creatures, they are easily affected by overdose. Also, make sure to cover the hamster’s eyes, nose, and ears when spraying.
However, if you don’t want to worry too much about getting the mite spray in your hamster’s eyes or nose, you can try Pestavert Mite Spray from Amazon.com, which is made of natural ingredients that are safe even when ingested.
If your hamster is badly affected by mite infestation, you may need something that can give quick results. For this, a medicated ointment can help.
As with any medicine or medicinal product, strictly follow manufacturer recommendations or your vet’s instructions.
Mite infestation may occur inside the hamster’s ears or nose or penetrate deep into the hamster’s skin, such as with tropical rat mites.
If the mite infestation is wreaking havoc inside the hamster’s body, your vet will most likely prescribe oral medications, such as Ivermectin.
However, the dosage can be tricky with oral medicine, so you should ask your vet about the proper dosage beforehand.
As I mentioned earlier, and as is true in most tiny animals, giving more than the recommended dosage of any medicine can adversely affect their health.
If you do not see any improvement in your hamster’s condition after trying any of the above treatments, or if you notice that symptoms are worsening, see the vet immediately.
Mite infestation is rarely fatal in hamsters, but if the infestation is severe and accompanied by other issues (like severe internal infestation or infection), it can lead to serious injury or death.
Now that we have discussed how to treat mite infestations, you must be wondering where or how hamsters get mites. Knowing the source of the problem will help you prevent it from happening altogether.
Let me elaborate on the most common ways hamsters get mites.
The first and most common source of infection is contact with another hamster with a mite infestation.
Chances of this happening increase if you breed hamsters or keep many hamsters in one place. Since mites are not easily detected, it’s incredibly easy for them to multiply and spread.
This is why if you have more than one hamster at home, it’s best to keep them in separate cages. This way, if one gets sick, the other does not catch it.
Beddings (sometimes made of hay) can be a breeding ground for mites if they are not regularly cleaned or replaced.
Another factor that can make beddings breed mites more easily is if they are left damp, as this environment tends to attract not only mites but other insects like fleas and ticks.
So if you are leaving your hamsters unattended with a non-absorbent bedding mat, things can easily go haywire for your pet.
A hamster’s age and overall health also play a role in how well it can fight off a mite infestation.
Younger and healthier hamsters can handle mites and other parasites (as long as the infestation is not severe). However, that isn’t the case with old hamsters, hamsters that have a weak immune system, or those that are stressed.
Hamsters can get stressed due to several reasons:
- Their environment keeps changing. If you are constantly changing cages, transferring the hamster’s cage, or moving it around a lot, this can stress your hamster out. Try not to move your hamster too much.
- Too little space. Hamsters are tiny creatures, but they like the freedom to move around. If your cage is too small, it may not give it ample space for your hamster to play. It could end up feeling cooped up and cause it to become unhappy.
- Too much grooming. It’s perfectly understandable to want your hamster to be clean. But grooming it too often or giving it baths too frequently is a common source of hamster stress.
Hamsters have the natural ability to clean themselves, so try not to reach for the shampoo too much.
You will know that your hamster is uncomfortable if it exhibits any of the following behaviors:
- Cage biting: This often happens when the hamster feels like it does not have enough space to play in. Hamsters tend to do this because they want to escape their current environment.
- No play: Hamsters are tiny balls of energy. They usually like to run around and play. But if you notice that your hamster seems to lack the energy for anything besides sleeping and eating, it’s a clear sign that it’s stressed or sick.
Check out, Can You Get Rabies From a Hamster Bite?
As with most problems, prevention is better than cure. When an infestation is in its advanced stages, it can take a lot of time and resources to eliminate it.
Here’s how you can keep this from happening:
I can’t stress this enough: Clean your hamster’s surroundings.
This means regularly washing, sanitizing, or replacing the beddings, cage, food containers, and toys. This will keep the mites away and keep the cage from smelling.
To clean your hamster’s cage and toys, use a sanitizer that does not have chemicals that can be harmful to your hamster’s health. I recommend Nature’s Miracle Cage Cleaner from Amazon.com, as it can sanitize and remove lingering odors as well.
To prevent beddings from being damp and smelly, use absorbent bedding sheets like the Carefresh Small Pet Bedding from Amazon.com. It’s super soft and comfy for your hamster, and it’s 99% dust-free.
Seeing the vet regularly can help you nip any concerns at the bud.
Most people would only go to the vet when their pets are seriously sick. But if you have regular vet appointments, your vet will be able to monitor your pet’s health and see if there are health risks or concerns that can be stopped early.
Detecting things early can also save you money and time, as it’s often more time-consuming and costly to deal with serious or advanced health concerns.
As soon as you notice that one or some of your hamsters have mites, isolate them right away.
This may not only mean putting them in a separate cage but also transferring them to a different location. If one of your hamsters has mites, chances are mites have already spread to its immediate surroundings.
When isolating a hamster, sanitize the cages (including its food bowls and toys) of both the one that’s infected and the one that’s not. Monitor the other hamster’s conditions and regularly check for signs of infestation.
Related Hamsters articles:
- What To Do When Your Hamster Dies
- How To Get Your Hamster To Like You
- Why Is My Hamster Itching?
- Is Aquarium Sand Safe for Hamsters?
- Why Is My Hamster Not Eating?
Hamsters are usually resilient against mites. But when an infestation becomes severe, it can heavily impact their health. To get rid of mites, you can apply topical medication, give oral medicine, or take your hamster to the vet. Just be sure you’re dealing with mites first before attempting to get rid of them.
My name is Everly. I am a Milwaukee-based mom of 2 and have been a proud owner of many hamsters throughout my life. Like many of us, my introduction to hamsters happened when I was very young. My family saw several hamsters come and go through the years, and I enjoyed playing with them, but I never fully appreciated them until I grew up and my own children decided to jump on the hamster bandwagon. At that point, I was determined to learn all I could about caring for these adorable pets. Read more