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Uncovering the basics

of External Parasites

in Pet Rodents

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How to keep your Pet Rodents Free of External Parasites

The first step in keeping your pet rodents free of exto-
parasite infestation is to learn what to look for and how to
identify the pests. The second step is to know the
lifecycles of the pests and when to apply what treatment to
keep your pets healthy but kill the pests and prevent their

You can tell mites from lice, especially if you have a
microscope or strong lens, by counting their legs. Mites are
arachnids and so have eight legs like other arachnids, while
fleas and lice are insects with six legs. (But there is a
catch here, mites have a four-step life cycle, and in the
larval stage they have only six legs rather than the eight
legs of the adults.)

A mite's four stages of life are:

1) Egg or nit

2) Larvae (six legs)

3) Nymph (eight legs)

4) Adult

Mites can complete this cycle in as little as a week, and
although you can kill the adults, nymphs and larvae fairly
easily, the eggs or nits will still hatch after the first
treatment. So it is important when trying to kill any lice
or mites that you do more than one treatment.

The best procedure to follow once you have determined that
your rodents have external parasites is to see your
veterinarian for something that will kill the pests without
killing your pet, such as Ivermectin or an external
treatment if your veterinarian prefers that you do that.

Don't decide on your own to use pesticides that are designed
for any other species. Dog and cat flea powders and sprays
are too strong for rodents and will poison them, and the
insecticide strips and mite guards sold for birds can poison
your pets or cause them major respiratory problems.

Once you have your veterinarian's suggested treatment, treat
the rodents and place them into a temporary cage while you
disinfect their entire main cage and everything in it with a
bleach mixture. If possible, dry the cage in direct
sunlight. The sunlight will add an extra level of
disinfection. Wait until a few hours after you are sure that
the cage is completely dry before you return your rodents to
the cage with its new bedding and disinfected supplies.

Follow your veterinarian's advice as to the continued
treatment of your rodents; it will depend on the type of
pests that are infesting your pets and the treatment used.
But in any event remove the rodents, disinfect the cage and
change the bedding just like the first time every two or
three days for at least a week and you should kill the
hatchlings before they can reach breeding age and so free
your pets from pests.

Be careful about the bedding you purchase, that it comes
from a reputable source and that the bags are sealed, and if
possible freeze the bags before use as an added precaution
and hopefully you won't have to deal with this problem
again, at least until you fall for that new cute little face
in the pet store and bring home another rodent.

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