Guinea Pigs/Timothy hay

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Question
QUESTION: Hi. I purchased a pack of Timothy hay on the internet. Shortly after, my piggy got mites. My question is-how can you tell if hay has mites in it? Thank you.

Adams spray
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ANSWER: No you really can't tell if the hay had mites. Mites to guinea pigs are like fleas to a dog. They're just there but we don't always know where they come from.  I've heard theories over the years as to whether or not mites can be transported on hay.

The problem with that is that mites are parasites and need a host. Hay is not a host. This is probably just coincidental that you found mites after purchasing the hay. Many vets will tell you that mites are always present and usually not an issue unless the pig gets an immunity issue and they begin to take over.

Again, this is not scientific evidence or proof. Sooner or later they seem to pop up in most pigs. They're easy to get rid of and relatively inexpensive. You can purchase some Adams spray that is made for puppies and kittens. It contains Pyrethrins which are a food based product and do not carry the dangers of pesticides.

Cover the pig's eyes and spray the pig until it's pretty well saturated. Then just let it drip dry. That's all there is to it. You can do that every couple of months and it will keep the pig free from mites. To assume that you'll never get them again is unrealistic. They're just a part of cavy owning.

I've attached a picture of Adams spray as well as the dip. You shouldn't need to dip your pet unless you see lice. The spray is quite effective and as a benefit it also smells nice.

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

QUESTION: Thank you for your quick answer. One more question. What do Guinea pig lice look like? Thanks again!

Answer
While mites are invisible to the naked eye, lice are like tiny but visible pieces of white thread. They're very small but if you run your finger through a pig's hair causing it to stand up a bit you will see these tiny grains on the fur. Watch carefully and you'll see them move as they try to get away from the light.

They're almost like pieces of lint and could be easily confused as just that. But lint does not move unless you blow on it. Sometimes it's subtle and you think maybe your breath is causing them to move, but they actually do crawl.

The good news is that mites and lice on guinea pigs are "species specific" meaning they will not get on humans, dogs, cats or any other animal. Every breed of louse (plural for lice) is specifically designed for the animal or body part on which they live.

For instance humans can get head lice, body lice or pubic hair lice. Each has a different configuration of legs to hang on to a specific hair type. It's gross I know, just to think about lice but they've been around since the beginning of time.

In guinea pigs there is also something called static lice (aka hay lice) however those do not actually bother the animal. If you're showing a guinea pig a judge will quickly disqualify an animal with an obvious outbreak of lice or a break in the hair that suggests mites. So if you suspect lice or mites the Adams spray will still take care of it.  

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Pat VanAllen

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As is sometimes the case, people in urgent need of information have a higher degree of expectation than those of us as experts are able to give. The experts on this site do their best to give the most accurate and responsible answers possible. We ask that you remember that it is not our intention nor place to criticize the professional advice given by your veterinarian, nor is it appropriate for us to comment on the correctness of a diagnosis made by a licensed physician. Our knowledge is experience based. Although many years of breeding and showing cavies gives me a wealth of experience it cannot change the fact that we as experts are not veterinarians and therefore may occasionally have to reject questions that appear to be asking us to criticize advice given by the licensed professional. Having raised and exhibited cavies for many years I have extensive experience in cavy care and husbandry. I currently have an active breeding program for pedigreed show animals but do not encourage backyard breeding for inexperienced owners. Although I don't encourage breeding for fun I'm always happy to answer any questions from an owner who is in sincere need of help. Pet owners wanting to breed should understand that even experienced breeders have litter losses. The mortality rate is high in cavies. The chance for losing both sow and pups is always present, even with experience. Although this is a site for experts to assist owners, there is no expert in any field who has all the answers. The wisest thing a good expert can know is their limitations. Not having an answer does not diminish one's ability or knowledge. It simply shows that we recognize our limitations and operate within them.

Experience

Raised and shown cavies for many years, having aquired my first cavies in the early 1970's as pets. My caviary currently handles 65 + animals in two different breeds and several varieties. Having been in the health care industry as a licensed nurse for 35 years I have hands on experience with care and needs in both humans and cavies. Member of American Rabbit Breeders Association and American Cavy Breeders Association.

Organizations
Awarded Lifetime Membership in of one of the oldest cavy clubs in the United States, on whose Board I served as Sec/Treas for six years and currently serving as President. Also editor/publisher of the club's quarterly newsletter. We are strong supporters of our youth exhibitors, most of whom are 4H members who are working on cavy projects. Through these projects they become good responsible citizens. We deal with all aspects of showing, breeding, caring for and sharing experiences in the fancy. The cavy fancy is not a new one but in some areas is still relatively unknown. Our goal is to inspire interest in high quality, responsible breeding to improve the species, not just the reproduction of guinea pigs. Our job is to educate owners to help them make the right decisions and choices in the care of their cavies.

Education/Credentials
Graduate in nursing. Certified in emergency medicine.

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