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Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Can rat mites live in Carefresh animal bedding?

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QUESTION: Hi :) from the nearby mouse section!

People are always saying their mice or rats got mites from Carefresh. The story is that because there are lots of wild rats living in the factories, these rats drop mites or mite nits into the bedding; it then gets packed, stored, shipped, etc..  Unpacked, put in cages, and the mites are transferred.

This seems a little doubtful to me. Mice and rats always have a very low level of mites, and it doesn't take much to cause a flare-up. People all over the country are freezing large quantities of Carefresh and other bedding for several days before using it, possibly for no good reason.

I would really like to know so I can be sure to tell people the right thing and not spread misinformation.

What do you think?

Squeaks,

Natasha

ANSWER: Hello Natasha,

Although I had not heard of this rumor, it sounds dubious to me. I also don't want to spread misinformation, so you should check with the company before giving people advice. However, it looks like the Carefresh products are heat sanitized at 380F, which is more than hot enough to kill any mites if they do get into the product.

I had a friend that used Carefresh for several years and never had any problems. I hope this helps. Please let me know if you find out anything else on this topic.

Thanks for the question,
Jessica

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hi,

I am afraid Carefresh is not going to tell me they have mites.

Do you know how long a rat mite can live with no nourishment?

Squeaks,

Natasha

Answer
Hello Natasha,

I am sure Carefresh can tell you more information about their packing and sterilization processes. Whether they always adhere to company policy, of course, is information they wouldn't discuss with customers. If I were you I would ask if it is true that all of their products are heat sterilized and how long the products are sealed in packaging before they are put on store shelves.

A rat mite's total lifespan is only a couple weeks (2-3 weeks usually). They reproduce very quickly, which is why infestations grow so rapidly. The short lifespan is also why the infestations die out quickly when the food source is eliminated.

Best,
Jessica

Entomology (Study of Bugs)

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Jessica Mellinger

Expertise

I can answer questions about invertebrates native to California, including insects commonly found in homes. If you have an identification request, please attach a photo to your question.

Experience

I was involved in collection and identification of invertebrates for the United States Geological Survey, Biological Resources Division for six years. Also, I provided these same services intermittently for the UC Davis John Muir Institute of the Environment for many years. I have been a member of AllExperts.com since 2009.

Organizations
Department of the Interior: United States Geological Survey, Davis Field Station; University of California, Davis Aggie Alumni Association; UC Davis Center for Neuroscience; U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs

Education/Credentials
I have two B.A.'s from the University of California, Davis and two Associate's degrees from Sacramento City College.

Awards and Honors
Special Thanks for Achieving Results award from the Department of the Interior

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