Hamster mites are small insects that live on hamsters’ skin. They can be easily transmitted by coming into contact with infected hamsters or feed, so it is not unusual for a newly bought hamster to have it since pet stores are a prime area for hamster mites. Though the mites are not life-threatening, they can be quite irritating for the hamster and may eventually lead to permanent damage if left untreated.
There are two kinds of hamster mites, and both types cause the same end result on the hamster. Some mites feed off microscopic particles on the skin that collect near the hamster’s hair follicles. The most common location for these mites to gather up are the ears, since there are plenty of particles that can be found inside and around the ears. Other mites simply burrow beneath the skin and these ones are more problematic to eliminate.
When a hamster first gets infested by mites, he may show some signs of distress that is similar to an animal suffering from a flea infestation. Namely, your hamster will scratch incessantly at itching areas where the mites may be, and may scratch so furiously that they develop bald patches, get rashes, and cause some light bleeding. It is only by closely examining the hamster’s fur will one be able to confirm whether they have mites or not. Mites appear as tiny black dots that move around beneath the fur, on or beneath the surface of the skin.
Since the most common way to get mites are from other hamsters, if you know a particular hamster is infected, then isolate that hamster from any other hamsters you may have until you are sure that the mite problem is resolved. Treatment can involve spraying a chemical specifically designed to kill mites while keeping the hamster safe. The spray should be kept away from the hamster’s head, but can be applied everywhere else including the hamster’s cage.
Some other ways that a hamster can get infested are through the feed, hay, or wood ships inside the cage. If you already owned your hamster for quite a while before he got mites, then these pesky insects were likely introduced very recently by something placed into the cage. Just to be completely safe, one should remove all wood ships, hay, water and food from the cage. Before replacing them, spray the cage down several times according to the instructions of the mite spray. This should hopefully eliminate all remaining mites, including any new ones hatched from eggs and the eggs themselves. The hamster should be taken to a veterinarian quickly if this issue is not resolved, otherwise the hamster will contract mange and permanently lose its fur.