It is a sad day to see your pet mouse in ill health, deteriorating before your eyes, but if you look very closely you can often see the culprit of your pets discomfort… little black specks in the fur or bedding, a mouse’s deadly enemy… mites.
You can take care of your pet! For once, you can do something to help your mouse before having to take it to the vet. Let’s face it we’d prefer to spend money on pet toys rather than vet bills.
Mites are everywhere; they have evolved and specialized to live off any organic matter in any environment. They can be found throughout the world, from the arctic to the Antarctic. The vast majority of them are microscopic but some can grow up to over one centimeter long. Without them the world would just fill up with dead matter, they are part of the eco system, we can’t live without them! Unfortunately some mites have evolved to feed off our loved ones.
Often your pet will have mites living on them without any detrimental affect to the mouse… their numbers are kept down with the mices’ natural grooming, however if your pet becomes ill and listless, it’s grooming habits may be curtailed and the mite population on your pet can quickly become epidemic. This is when problems occur and your mouse can have an adverse reaction to the high number of these parasites.
Some mites just live in the fur of your mouse, eating dead skin and other skin secretions; they don’t harm the mouse per say, but their waste (poo) can and does become an irritant to your pet, leading to excess scratching, rashes and bald patches in its fur.
Other, more insidious types of mites are the ones that actually feed on blood of your pet. Some are blood suckers that pierce the skin to get at the blood, other smaller types of mite actually burrow into and under the skin, living their whole life there!
These blood feeders in very small numbers are not a problem for your pet but in epidemic numbers they can make your mouse extremely uncomfortable and even anemic; also their “bites” can get infected causing even greater distress for your mouse.
The bad news is that if one mouse is affected and you have more, then all your mice are probable hosts to mites, even though they are not showing signs of distress…Yet!
The mites will also spread throughout your house looking for other mice to feed on, or other hosts if no mice can be found. There is one type of mite, called the Tropical Rat Mite, that will even look at us as a food source! However, luckily all mouse mites can not reproduce without a mouse as host, so while some mites will feed on us they will eventually die and bother us no more.
There are numerous remedies and cures for mites on the market; some are even costlier than a trip to the vet, while others are a waste of time. It all depends on the type and strength of the infestation of your pet.
Once your pet has had the mites eradicated from its body it is imperative that re-infestation does not re-occur. This is much easier and will become part of your care for your mouse.