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Guinea Pig Mites: Outbreak and Treatment

Published: 4/1/2010 | Author: HappyCavy | Updated: 7/26/2015

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Photo of scene from Outbreak with Dustin Hoffman and the HappyCavy guinea pigs

Outbreak: Guinea Pig Mites

No matter how well you take care of your guinea pig — no matter how often you change water or freshen up Timothy hay or scoop “beans” — your piggie is still a piggie ♥.  They are going to have some kind of weird, kinda gross, kinda icky health-related “challenges” at some point in their happy guinea pig lives.

Right now, the Humans find the HappyCavy Herd finds itself staring down one of the most common (if not most annoying) “Facts of Guinea Pig Life”:

Guinea pig fur mites

The list of gross-sounding parasites that live among us is long, exhausting, and disgusting.  And guinea pigs are definitely not immune from parasitic creepy crawlies; in fact, some bugs are known to especially enjoy the sweet, inviting scent of happy, healthy guinea pigs.  Lice and mites are the most common of these parasites…and believe us, you never want to see one of these bugs under a microscope, you will simply never have a good night’s sleep again.  (That’s a link to a microscopic photo of a louse. Double dare you to click on it!)

Like an obnoxious younger brother or sister, parasites that can hurt your guinea pig arrive in several different species.  The most common signs of parasite problems are:

  • hair loss
  • dandruff
  • excessive biting, itching, and/or scratching

There are also a few symptoms that you might not immediately think of, like:

  • loss of appetite or weight loss
  • drinking A LOT of water
  • laziness or a sudden change of mood
  • irritability
  • not wanting to be picked up (more than usual)

Guinea pigs have really different personalities, so sometimes it isn’t apparent what might be wrong with you pet if you notice these symptions and even if your cavy-friend has mites or lice.

How The Humans Found Out We Have Mites

It all began about a week ago when Human #1 saw that Bitsy was missing some hair from the middle of her back (not really missing, more like “cut off”).  It was a really small amount and it didn’t look like hair had been pulled out or that she had been in a fight.  (Hammy, Piglet, and Bitsy are really docile and good-natured pigs…never bit anyone and always “play nice”.)  So Human #1 Googled “barbering” and “guinea pig hair loss”, and thought it best to watch closely to see if barbering could be the reason for hair loss.

Then, several days later, Human #1 and #2 took Piglet outside to enjoy the warm Oregon weather for a romp in the grass.

Suddenly, it was spotted: WOW OMG!

Piglet had A LOT of dandruff; in the sunshine and with her black hair, the white flakes seemed to blanket her back. It entire sight was rather unnerving. And, being over-protective Humans, they freaked out. You see, the HappyCavy guinea pigs indoor-piggies and Piglet likes to sleep a lot, but The Humans were still unnerved to think that they hadn’t noticed Piglet’s dandruff before!

That’s when everyone knew something wasn’t right in HappyCavy Land at all. Hammy was examined and, sure enough, a small patch of her back hair was missing in a very faint V-like pattern. It wasn’t noticeable unless you pulled her thick hair back and looked closely…but there was definitely something not right.

A photo of the v shape that guinea pig mites make

V-shaped hair loss: a sign of guinea pig mites

The humans freaked out for a second time.

None of the HappyCavies were scratching or biting. Sometimes they would have a little itch when they ate timothy hay, but the itching wasn’t thought to be excessive. “Maybe they would scratch or itch their cute little noses twice or three times a week. But everyone scratches, right?” they thought.

It was noticed, however, that Piglet was getting a bit lazy (thought it was winter and that seemed to be her “norm”) and Bitsy was drinking more water than usual.  But once the Humans read that reluctance to be held and excessive drinking of water was a sign of mites, they knew they had a parasitic culprit on their hands.

Fortunately, the HappyCavies have been to the Family Vet and are undergoing treatment, which involves two doses of Ivermectic two weeks apart and twice weekly cage disinfecting with vinegar and hydrogen perodixe.

During mite treatment, the HappyCavies Home is stripped down to just the bottom fleece. The second level has been removed. No more pretty colored towels or cavy cozy.

Everything will be back to normal April 22nd with color and fun times and extra levels again for the pigs to enjoy their space.

~ xoxo Hammy *itch itch itch*

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  • Andie

    I have two male guinea pigs who are brothers. My little one, Hershey, recently developed this V. Today it looks really bad. I thought maybe his bigger brother, Snickers, was mounting him and scratching his fur out with his nails. I was planning to divide the cage and run tonight. I think I’ll still divide the cage, but I’m going to get them to the vet asap. I’ll ask her to do a scraping and will let you know the outcome. Thanks for your great blog!

  • Thanks, Andie! Sounds like you got a good plan. When our piggies started to develop a V-formation, we thought it was some rough-housing, too. But this definitely sounds like it might be some sort of parasite like mites. Best of luck to your piggies!! ♥ ♥

  • Amanda

    This article was very helpful. I think my MooMoo might have mites… She’s been having a lot of horrible health problems. Last week she collapsed, and I thought she was dead. About 5 minutes later she came around, and completely stopped eating and drinking after that. I took her to the vet, who was unsure of her condition without a 150$ x-ray, so I had to decline. We put her on critical care food so I’ve been hand feeding her, but lately i’ve noticed that she’s been scratching A LOT, and she has little spasms that look like something just bit her. She is showing no hair loss, no sores, and generally no skin conditions… but sometimes these things are subtle. Her lack of eating and drinking, her little seizure episode, and her constant scratching make me think mites might be the reason.

    You’re right, all piggies have their own personalities and ways of dealing with sickness, and maybe this is how my Moo is dealing with her mites? I’m going to take her to her vet and get her treated, and pray that she comes around. She’s only 1! I want more years with my girl

  • So happy you took Moo to a vet!

    Without taking an X-ray, what did the vet say was the suspect? Mites and lice can be diagnosed without an X-ray so I doubt that it is a parasite problem but, of course, I am not a trained vet. Losing consciousness is a major concern – what did they say about that??

    Besides, an X-ray for $150 is excessive. You may want to call around to other local vets and see how much they charge for X-rays.

    Thing is – this could be a number of serious medical problems or it could be something very simple. Based on your description, it could be anything from diabetes, loss of liver function, something toxic it ate, a parasite or anything else. I encourage you to try to get MooMoo to a vet again and see what they are willing to do…even if money might be an issue.

    Big hugs and LoVe to *MooMoo*
    ~ Hammy xx

  • anonymous

    I clicked it…. gross…

  • Tony

    I have had my guinea pig for about 8 months now. I held her every day until the past two weeks and she has been showin all of the symptoms you mentioned. . I can’t afford the vet (75 bucks for a exam is outrageous to me ) and I want to help her. Any ideas??!!

  • Hi, Tony 🙂
    Unfortunately the vet is the only one who can prescribe Revolution or Ivermectin to help your little fuzzy.

    I suggest you call your local vet, explain the situation, and see if you can get a cheaper vet bill. Our local exotics cost $50 per visit but the medicine is way cheaper.

    You could also call around to local vets to get a cheaper outcome. Also, you may want to try calling humane societies in your area to see if they can recommend an affordable vet for your situation.

    But mites can’t be solved with “at-home remedies” and it will only get worse. Good luck to you and your guinea pig!

  • Michelle Brooks

    I have to say I don’t understand the huge vet bills. Maybe I am just very lucky but I have a GREAT clinic I take my baby girls to and they only charge me $15 for a regular visit, per piglet. I had x-rays done last week (we weren’t sure if we had a stubborn URI or allergies) and they didn’t charge me for the x-ray, my total bill was…. $30…

  • My Humans do hope that one day our vet offers a “discount club”, because it is quite pricey. Happy to hear that you have a reliable vet; we are quite happy with ours, even if it’s pricey, they do a great job. Thanks for your comment! 😀

  • Carl

    Help my guinea pig is dying cause of mites what should i do no w!?and she wont make to the vet tom what tell me what to do plsssss

  • Carl


  • Hi, Carl,
    I’m sorry to hear about your guinea pig. Unfortunately, I really can’t help you much over the Internet, though I wish I could. If your guinea pig is truly dying and won’t make it 1 more day, find a local emergency vet clinic in your area. Only a vet is going to be able to help your cavy. And, even if I knew your pig’s specific symptoms, it’s impossible to tell if any advice I could give would help. *sigh* I’m hoping for good news from you, Mr. Carl! 🙂

  • Rachel Johnson

    Hi- I am a new guinea pig Mama… I know someone who is giving away their pigs bcuz they keep getting mites. Says they have treated them 4 times by vet & keep coming back. Was just wondering if there is a reason for this?? Weather its hay or bedding…? I do not notice my girls w/ any symptoms of mites. I was wondering if I get these boys from her (don’t worry, NO BREEDING for me) can I keep them in a different room until they are treated.

  • Good on you for choosing to adopt!

    The recurring mite problem could be the result of not throwing away any potentially infected bedding, cloth toys, etc. I’m curious as to what treatment they are receiving (is the vet experienced with cavies?).

    That being said, they could be kept in a separate part of your house, but you would need to be careful not to share ANYTHING between the herds and change your clothes before handling each set or touching their bedding, etc. It can be done, but I suggest you consult with your family vet before making a decision. Best of luck!

  • Rachel Johnson

    Hi- After reading more about how quickly & easily they spread, I did not adopt the boys. However, there is a gp rescue about 1 1/2 hrs away from my location I did suggest the girl contact because they would take them & get them the treatment they need & get them adopted out. I’m not sure what they were being treated with. She said it was a shot on their back…? She didn’t say what it was called, kinda wonder if they were even treated @ all 🙁 poor boys… I was just too worried about spreading it to my girls to adopt them myself…

  • I totally understand. You did the right thing by reaching out with the info. Hopefully she gets them the help they need 🙂

  • Jessy Lynn

    I had the same problem but was recomended to go to a local tractor and feed suply place they have ivermectin paste. It was a oral paste but the lady at the store said to take just a tiny bit and mix it with water and use it topically. So far it has worked great!

  • Amber Robinson Warren

    Question — for Ivermectin treatment, is it 3x per week for 2 weeks?? Not real clear in Billie Mills’ post (well to me anyway). We have 2 piggy brothers who are usually caged together, but only one has any issues. We’ve separated them to keep the other from getting the mites.

  • Unfortunate she never responded to my question. So here’s a guess: In the Facebook comments she said, “A pea size drop every two weeks three times and twice weekly cage detox with vinegar”. I take this to mean, “I administer a pea size drop every two weeks for 6 weeks total. I also do a cage detox with vinegar twice per week.” During that six weeks, one pea sized drop is given once every two weeks. I think? But I’m not sure!

  • jasonfuller

    Can these mites affect / infect my rabbits?

  • Anshul Patria

    I got a guinea pig 3 weeks back she is 1-2 months old and has been itching herself alot! either she is eating hay or itching herself when she comes to play with me she would get really happy n try to popcorn but it seems like she is having a fit or something she would jump n then squel and fall on the side like her hind leg has given away then get up and start doing that again and she hates being picked up.
    I am treating her with ivermectin but she cries so much i cant put it on her she is squeling in pain i took her to vet he gave me ivermec..what do i do??

  • Hi, Anshul! Sorry to hear about your poor guinea pig 🙂 I think you should call your vet and explain what you said here. Try wrapping her in a towel when applying the ivermectin. She may whine and squeal, but make it quick and get her back in the cage. Be sure to keep her cage clean; spot clean every few hours if you can and tidy up the hay and kitchen area a few times a day. Without seeing a vet, I’m not sure what else I can say…is the “jumping/popcorning” symptomatic of a parasite like mites or a different health condition? Unfortunately, I’m clueless. Call your vet and ask, they should be willing to help 🙂

  • James Herman

    Hi i took my piggy out tonight and i when i put him back i found all these brown very little bugs on MY bed where he was playing. I clean his cage every day. i refresh his food and water morning and night and i bath him twice a week. Please help and what are the bugs and is there anything i can do thanx. (im 13 btw and have only had him for 4 months)

  • While we have no idea what the bugs can be, it’s possible they are skin parasites (these parasites live and breed on the skin of a guinea pig). A vet appointment is needed ASAP. You can find an expert guinea pig vet in your area at

    Note that Guinea Lynx, the definitive resource for guinea pig medical/care info, says that “…the most common parasite by far is the MANGE MITE. This microscopic mite causes excruciating pain. Treat promptly with ivermectin!” Source:

    Please get that pig to a vet! If you follow advice/treatment schedules, your piggy may feel a TON better! 🙂

  • James Herman

    Thanx for the info. We took him to the vet today and when the vet looked at him, she found nothing and he was fine. What do i do? (she has given us some med just in case and told us to put it on him once a day.

  • Kimberly Wylde

    My guinea pigs have a mite problem and I have used revolution for puppies and kittens. Will that be as good as the Ivermectin? My rabbit had mites also and I treated it with revolution too. It seemed to work on the bunny.

  • Ziqi Wang

    Hi Hammy,
    i have 2 guinea pigs one called Snowy and the other Iggy. i have seen them scratching outrageously (especially Snowy ) and because i could not afford to go to the vet i went to the pet store to buy a mite killing spray though after using it 5 times it didn’t work. After using the mite spray i decided to wash my piggies once every week thoroughly. I just don’t know what to do now!!!! 🙁

  • Jill Butalid

    Hi. I have 2 guinea pigs and I’m a bit worried because I found traces of mites with a lot of eggs. I just don’t know what to do because as per some, ivermectin can’t be applied to 1-2 months old pigs. Is there any alternatives?

  • Honestly not sure, Jill. But you could ask the folks at the Guinea Lynx Forum, they may have a suggestion for you!

  • Jacinta

    Please help I have a female guinea pig that is about a year now. Going to the vet is really expensive and I’m not old enough get to have a job or I would use my paycheck in a heartbeat to help my fury friend and my parents a re having financial problem, so they don’t have extra money to spend. I’m not sure if she has mites or lice their are little white ovals attatched to her hair which I’m assuming is the eggs. The bugs are a light tannish color and are flat. I went to my local pet store and the guinea pig experr there gave me a spray for reptile mites and said it should work. That was two months ago and it’s still not working and it’s mostly around her face, there are a lot of eggs on her cheek, in between her eye and ear. She has most of the symptoms drinking lots of water, itching, biting, irritable, she usually doesn’t want to be picked up anymore and she has been quite lazy. Please help me I don`t like her being unhappy and uncomfortable.

  • Sophie S

    I know this was ages ago but thanks for posting 🙂 I discovered my piggie has mites and we are going to go get some mite treatment tomorrow from the vets, thanks for posting 🙂

  • Glad we could help! Best of luck to you and your peeg 🙂

  • Caroline Lambing

    Hi,I got a Guinea Pig 2 weeks ago and she’s usually very active but lately she has been scratching and biting a LOT,drinking a lot more water and she hasn’t come out of her hidey home at all today,plus she squeals when I look through her fur and try to look at the area she’s been biting. I don’t know if it could be mites or mosquitos that get into my house easily,there’s been no hair loss yet and she only seems to scratch in one spot. I cannot afford to bring her to the vet as I am a college student. Does this sound like mites? Or mosquitos?

  • It definitely sounds like mites. 🙁 It’s important that they get the proper treatment because, left untreated, mites can pose serious health risks, up to and including death. If you can’t afford a vet, visit the Guinea Lynx Medical Forum ( and there may be some over-the-counter medicines that they can suggest. Don’t wait — the sooner your pig gets the treatment he/she needs, the more health issues that can be avoided! Good luck! xx

  • Alisha

    Hey I just recently adopted a sweet older piggy we named PB(peanut butter) and I was going to do a check over on him and bathe n clip nails when I found some type of sores on his paws…it’s hard like a humans callus and when I started to wipe him down, instead of put his little feet in water till I find out what it is, it looked like he had some kind of tiny brown/blackish stuff in his fur…it almost looks like a humans lice egg but it’s darker n bit bigger. I lost my job but desperately need to find a vet that sees guinea pigs and so far haven’t found one in my area….someone somewhere PLEASE give me some advice and help as to what it could be and where to find a good vet and maybe sumthing I can do financially…my kids and I adopted him trying to save him and my poor piggie needs help asap!!!! Thank you!!!😞

  • Anna Cupcake

    My family has recently adopted two adult girl guinea pigs and everything is going great!
    We have heard of parasites that could hurt them and I decided to look into it more.
    The vet has mentioned that there could be some in the grass that lay eggs and then when our guineas are out there munching on grass, they would hatch and get into the piggies.
    We are still currently taking them outside, but we are worried that this might be the time of year when the parasites come out.
    Do you know when the parasites in the grass come out?
    Thanks and please get back to me as soon as possible,
    Anna 🙂

  • Hi, Anna! That is a really good question. We honestly have no idea. My initial reaction is to reply “at any time”, but that may not be the case. It would be a good idea for you to find out what specific parasites you’re concerned about, then conduct an Internet search with the name of a specific parasite. You could also post your question to a gardening or lawn care forum, or also to the Guinea Lynx Medical Forum where someone may have a better answer 🙂

  • Anna Cupcake

    Thanks and I will definitely use your advice!
    Also thanks for replying so soon. 😉

  • Anna Cupcake

    Hi again,
    Auctally I do have another question. How do I get to the Guinea Lynx Medical Forum and do you need an account or something to comment my question there?
    Thanks again,

  • No problem! You can get to GuineaLynx here:

    I think a registration is required, but it doesn’t take a lot of time 🙂

  • Amanda Kutz

    What is the difference between mites and lice? Our bet told us we had lice and gave our piggy advantage today.

  • Mites and lice are two different species of insect. Mites tend to be microscopic and bore into the skin. Lice are much larger and usually visible with the naked eye. Ivermectin will kill both mites and lice; Advantage will only kill lice, NOT mites.

  • Amanda Kutz

    Ok we have lice then. We can see them and the eggs on the shaft of the fur/hair. We have had ziggy for two years and he has never been with another piggy so we are at a loss as to how he got them. Thanks for the information. We love this site!

  • No problem! So happy that you like our site 😀

  • Anna Cupcake

    Hi again,
    I have another question that I hope you can answer. It doesn’t really have anything to do with mites though.
    As you know I have two girl guinea pigs. My friend has two boy piggies. I was wondering if there is a way for them to meet and play without spaying/neutering them.
    Thanks and please get back to me soon! 🙂
    – Anna

  • Mike

    Miss happy cavy please I need your support I got a Guinea pig for my 22 birthday its a teddybear Guinea pig my question is, is it safe if Guinea pigs can eat baby lettuce

  • Yes, I believe baby lettuce is OK. I would only feed once or twice a week because, though it is high in vitamin C, it has 3% calcium per serving.

  • Camdyn

    Help!! I have had my guinea pig for 8 or more months his name is Bruce. I hold him everyday and deep clean his cage every week and spot clean every other. I recently just got another guinea pig Charlie 4 months ago, so he is living with another piggie. I was holding Bruce todat and about 3 weeks ago I noticed my his lower back kinda by his but his hair was thick and this sounds gross but like a think liquid and I thought he was just biting himself or running into the water bottle. But today I brushed him and a piece of hair fell out and I looked at it and I saw about 4 little creatures crawling around I freaked out and am disgusted by it. I don’t want Charlie to get it but I have a feeling he might. Also every mornig he drinks a lot of water but I have a feeling he’s drinking more some days and less the other. I just don’t want him to die please help! Can someone please help me!!

  • Hi, Camdyn,
    I’m not sure what poor Bruce the guinea pig has 🙁 The sweet guy needs taken to a vet near you ASAP where a vet can diagnose and prescribe the proper treatment to Bruce and also Charlie so that he doesn’t get it as well. You can find a directory of guinea pig friendly vets at if that helps. Best of luck!!

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About This Guinea Pig Website

HappyCavy has been online since June 2009 with Hammy and Piglet. In October of 2009, a sweet, fuzzy cavy named Bitsy joined the webcam broadcasts.

Feebee and Buttercup were welcomed to the HappyCavy Forever Home as friends and co-conspirators in January 2011. Dot joined us on July 2012, and Winnie and Rosie were the most recent addition on February 8, 2015 and June 6, 2015, respectively. Learn more about the guinea pigs here.

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