The two most common types of mite in guinea pigs are static mites and sarcoptic mites. Static mites are parasites that run up and down guinea pigs’ hair shafts, whilst sarcoptic mites are parasites that burrow under guinea pigs’ skin and cause the extremely painful condition known as sarcoptic mange. Whichever of these your guinea pig has, it’s important that you don’t try to treat it using anti-flea medication, as lots of flea treatments contain ingredients that are poisonous to guinea pigs.
Healthy guinea pigs like this one have smooth, clean, good-quality hair
If your guinea pig has what appears to be dust in their hair, a dust that doesn’t easily blow away, then it’s likely that they are suffering from static mites. These are extremely small creatures invisible to the naked eye. Although small, they cause a lot of irritating itching, and often live on guinea pigs in very large numbers. One of the symptoms of a static mite infestation is a ‘dust’ on your pets which is actually the shed skin of the mites, that has been left attached to your guinea pig’s hair. Static mites are treatable with a special shampoo or spray that you can purchase from your local veterinarian.
If your guinea pig has sarcoptic mange, then it will likely have bald patches where it’s been scratching and biting its own skin in an attempt to get rid of these painful pests. It’s a very unpleasant condition for your pet, so it needs to be dealt with quickly and prevented from spreading to your other guinea pigs. To treat a guinea pig with sarcoptic mange, you’ll need a guinea pig shampoo containing ivermectin, and an oral wormer, both of which you’ll need to get from your vet. Since it’s such an unpleasant condition, many owners choose to undertake preventative measures and use an anti-mange shampoo after their pets’ monthly or every-other-month bath. This needs to be done less often in the winter than the summer.
Running lice can also be treated. Like many other parasites, they're really contagious, so you'll need to treat all your guinea pigs at once. Ask your vet or veterinary nurse for a diagnosis, and then they'll offer you the right treatment, which will probably be in the form of a anti-louse powder or spray. As with mites, anti-flea treatments won't work and shouldn't be used around guinea pigs.