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EAR MITES

Home > Medical Reference > Parasites > Ear Mites
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Rabbit Ear Mites

Rabbit ear mites (Psoroptes cuniculi) may affect guinea pigs. The guinea pig may be seen scratching and shaking its head and the wax in the ears may appear dirty and reddish brown (sometimes just described as "dark"). A dried sugary exudate has been described in some guinea pigs, which may be an early case of psoroptes cuniculi.

This mite is large enough to be seen with the unaided eye, though they are often covered with debris. Round to oval in shape, the females have two front leg pairs tipped by "bell-shaped " suckers . In rabbits, the psoroptes cuniculi are found almost exclusively in the ear (outer ear typical, middle and inner ear extremely rare if at all). These non burrowing mites chew and pierce the skin causing inflammation and multiple layers of "thin, tan, flaky crust" . Under neath the crusts, the skin is "hairless, moist and raw." On rare occasion there may be bacterial infections that could move into the inner ear or brain, causing torticollis or other signs. "The egg-to-egg life cycle of P. cuniculi requires approximately 21 days (Sweatman, l958)." (Harkness and Wagner).

Treatment: Ivermectin properly administered at standard accepted doses on rabbits and repeated 18 days later, eliminated ear mites in rabbits (Harkness and Wagner) and should effectively treat ear mites in guinea pigs (orally or by injection). Ivermectin can also be applied topically in precise doses in the ear itself. Before the advent of ivermectin, oils were used to "smother" the mites. This provided control but not elimination of ear mites.

One vet used a week long course of Gentocin drops in the ear and oral Baytril twice daily to treat the infection. Since some drops for mites can be irritating, another person's vet recommended an Otomite and Panalog mixture for ear mites. The Panalog helps to soothe the ear canal and the Otomite reportedly kills the mites.

Dirty ears: For dirty, waxy ears and no mites, use either a drop of mineral oil or a product specifically formulated to clean ears. A vet-approved ear cleaner like Oticlens used every other week (safely swab out the particles with a cotton ball) works well.

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