Mites are tiny and sometimes microscopic parasites that can reside on humans and animals. Mites can live on body parts where ever there is hair roots and sebaceous glands. Especially the nose, eye brows and ears etc: These are areas that have the most favorable living and breeding conditions that provide an optimum temperature for them to thrive. Human mites are called demodex mites. Most people don't even know they have demodex mites, and mites are present in normal and healthy individuals. This is not hygiene related problem but a natural phenomenon. Demodex mites are common residents of hair follicles in animals and humans. But when present in so few numbers in a healthy individual this will seldom cause any problem. Mites are tiny parasites and an infestation may cause skin irritation and inflammation. Mites can affect all animals including hamsters. There are two different types of mite, there is the surface mite, theses live on the surface of the skin, and there are burrowing mites these live feed and lay there eggs just under the surface of skin. All species of mite can be transmitted or transferred to other animals, either direct contact by hand, or indirect contact by the animals bedding or utensils such as combs brushes etc: transmission from animals to humans is very rare.
Ear mites can cause a great deal of irritation and the pet will scratch making the ears sore. Ear mites spread rapidly and can be transmitted by brief physical contact with other animals. In pets, ear mites most commonly affect rodents, cats, ferrets, and dogs. On close inspection the tiny white mites may be seen in the debris, ear mites do not burrow like some mites do, but live within the ear canal.
Lesions caused by different mites are usually indistinguishable and may superficially resemble some other skin conditions. You should seek the advice of a veterinarian if your pet is ill, a vet will give a correct diagnosis and advise on the appropriate treatment.
In a heavy infestations of the Cheyletiella mite, large numbers of these small white mites may be seen moving around on the surface of the skin. This is often known as 'walking dandruff' it is highly infectious in pets. These mites may cause some irritation in humans, but as they cannot complete their life cycle on humans they will quickly die off. The pale white mites can be seen better walking across a dark background a variety of anti parasitic preparations can be used to treat cheyletiella mites. Diagnosis can be difficult, a veterinarian may have to take a skin scraping. Prognosis is good with no long term effects.
These mites burrow and live just under the surface of the skin, here the female will lay her eggs. A pet infested with these mites may have areas of fur loss and thickening of the skin with an inflamed area, this is caused by the pets persistent scratching, and the mites them selves. This condition is very serious and treatment may be a lengthy process. Humans may develop an itchy rash when in contact with these mites, although the mite is not be able to complete its life cycle on humans.
Harvest mites are also known as Chiggers and may be seen as tiny, Red or Orange bugs. See Harvest Mites
A tick is a small blood sucking parasite that are often found in tall grass and shrubs. These ticks literally hang around where they will wait to attach themselves to a passing host. In a tick's saliva there is a chemical that has an anesthetic effect, together with another that prevents coagulation of the blood. The chemical injected by the tick anesthetizes the spot where it is to feed. So the tick can attach itself to an animal without being detected. They have a harpoon like structure in their mouth part, and inject this into the skin. This allows them to anchor themselves firmly in place while taking a blood meal from its host. Normally larger animals like deer and horses, but it can also attach itself to humans. Once satisfied the tick will then release their grip and drop off the animal after its meal, this may take several days.
Ticks are very difficult to remove once they have anchored themselves in place. When trying to forcibly remove a tick it is more likely to leave its head embedded in the host. So it is important to try and remove all of it. Remnants of a tick left in the skin could cause infection. To remove a tick seize it with a pair of tweezers as close to the head as possible: Taking care not to pull it apart, pull slowly, and consistently until it let’s go.
Tick eggs hatch into a larva. The larva searches out small hosts such as a bird or mouse, then attaches to the animal and feeds. After its meal the larva withdraws its mouth part and drops from its host in order to nestle in the grass or undergrowth. Once there the larva turns into a nymph and looks for another new host, typically a larger animal on which to feed. After this second meal the nymph leaves the host to find suitable vegetation in which it can live the last phase of its life as an adult tick.
The Mites Life Cycle
The most common mite to infect the hamster is the Demodex mite. A similar demodex mite lives on humans. But like your pet, you usually live happily with your mites. Don't worry about sharing demodex mites with your pet. These demodex mites stay on your pet, and human demodex mites stay on humans. Mites belong to the order Acarina, and the class arachnida. Arachnids can easily be distinguished from insects by the fact that arachnids have eight legs whereas insects have only six. Arachnids are further distinguished by the fact they have no antennae and no wings.
The entire life cycle of theses pest are spent on the host, colonizing the hair follicles and oil glands. The common misconception about mites is that they are usually found in the bedding brought home from the pet shop and this is how they arrive on your pet. Mites are parasites; they must have living hosts to carry them around. Mites deposited in the environment will die off very quickly, and do not live for long periods without a living host. Mites are not to too particular as long as there is warmth and a good supply of food.
The original carrier does not even have to be a hamster. Dogs, cats, even bird’s carry mites, and the odds are that if one animal is infested, they all are. Mites can be passed to humans as transient carriers to other animals. Although mites are host specific, humans are not the primary host. They generally do not cause many problems for humans, though initially may cause some irritation. They cannot complete their life cycle on the wrong host so will eventually die off.
Mites are different than lice and ticks because they are not species specific. However, they are generally host specific, meaning they will usually attack only a certain species of host. But in order to survive they may temporally cross over from one species to another if their choice of host is not available.
Mites live permanently on humans and animals. Animals keep the mites from causing any trouble through the immune system. However, some older animals, and stressed animals may lose that capability to have a good immune response. This can result in a mite infestation, and subsequent hair loss. In severe untreated cases a mite infestation may leave the skin open to secondary bacterial infections.
To diagnose a mite infestation a veterinarian may do a skin scraping. If your pets do not show any signs of hair loss or skin inflammation, they won't even know they have demodex mites. This is not hygiene related problem but a natural phenomenon.
The life cycles of external parasites are fairly simple. In order to rid your pet of these external parasites you need to understand their life cycles. The adult mites are easily eradicated by pyrethin spray or powder. But the eggs or nits that adhere to the base of the hair will hatch after the first treatment is initiated. Further treatment will be needed once these eggs have hatched.
Mites are arachnids, so they have eight legs. In the life cycle of mite the first stage is the egg, or the nit. Then it moves into stage two, which hatches into the six-legged nymph (the larvae). In stage three they molt into the eight-legged nymph, then into the final stage the adult. It takes only a short time for the mites to complete it's cycle. The pet should be treated when the mites are in the nymph or adult stage. It is advisable to disinfect the cage at least once a week, including all accessories. As well as treat your pet more than once to kill all the parasites.
A veterinarian may give your pet an injection to quickly rid him or her from these annoying pests. Topical treatments need to be reapplied to completely get rid of the pests. An injection stops the problem once and for all.