Pet dwarf hamsters like Russian dwarf hamsters, winter whites, Chinese dwarfs and Roborovski dwarfs can get ear mites, sacroptid mites, tropical rat mites and Demodex mites that cause mange, according to veterinarian Elizabeth Newbery. Dwarf hamsters normally have some mites on their skin, but the mites are usually not a problem until the dwarf hamsters get another illness. They then lose their resistance to the mites, which suddenly grow rapidly. Hamsters can also pick up mites from other animals or even other hamsters.
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Things you need
- Sulphur dip, ivermectin injections or oral insecticide medication
- Bucket or tub of hot water
- Squirt of mild antibacterial dish detergent
- Sponge or towels
- Pyrethrin powder (optional)
Identify what kind of mites the dwarf hamster has. Only a vet can do this, so the dwarf hamster must go to a vet. The vet will most likely do skin scrapings to be checked under a microscope as well as physically examine the hamster. If the vet can quickly identify the mite, then she should be able to give medication immediately. This can be by injection or a liquid solution. If the hamster is very small, the vet may prefer to use a sulphur dip, according to the British Hamster Association.
Treat any wounds that were opened by scratching, if applicable. The vet may want to give some antibiotics.
Sterilise the dwarf hamster's cage and toys. This will get rid of any existing mites that live in the bedding or other objects. Keep the dwarf hamster in the carrier used to transport it to the vet as you clean. Remove and throw away all bedding. Remove all of the toys, treats, food dishes and water bottle. Take the cage apart if possible. Wash the cage or aquarium in a bathtub full of hot water or take the cage outside with a bucket of hot water, towels and mild dish detergent. Squirt the bottom of the cage with the mild dish detergent and scrub the cage, toys that are not made of wood and food dishes. Rinse well and dry completely before putting in fresh bedding.
Take the dwarf hamster back for another injection one to two weeks after the first dose, depending on the vet's discretion. If the vet decided to use ivermectin, then you will need to be going back for at least one more dose, according to Hamsterific. If using sulphur dips, this would be the time to do another dip.
Tips and warnings
- Hamster mites will not harm humans, although they may cause minor itching.
- Wash your hands after treating an infected dwarf hamster and before touching any other pet. By doing this, mites that may have hitched a ride on your fingers will not spread to other pets.
- Never use spot on insecticide products made for dogs, cats or larger animals on dwarf hamsters. They will be far too powerful and may prove to be lethal.
- Never delay in treating a dwarf hamster. Because they are so small, any illness or parasite infestation can quickly kill them.
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