Mites help needed!

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Post   » Thu Apr 04, 2002 1:01 pm

Make sure she has protective houses to go in with a soft washcloth or something to sit on. That way she might not try to hide.


Post   » Thu Apr 04, 2002 2:01 pm

Okay, I just cleaned out the cage and put a towel down. Mitzi is SO mad. The first thing she did was go in her Pigloo, start digging and chewing like crazy, and pulled the towels away from the wall, up under the base of the Pigloo. Then she flipped over her food dish (the ´untippable´ one) and then flipped over her Pigloo. Now, 5 minutes later the entire cage looks like a tornado went through it. The towel is a crumpled heap in the middle of the floor, her houses are tipped over and her food dish is tipped over. She has absolutely no flat space to move on top.

I am so frustrated! I just don´t know what to do! Now my mom is really mad at me because we´re having so many problems with the pigs. She´s constantly yelling at me and she´s mad because I haven´t found the "solution" yet.

Is it me? Am I giving off some kind of bad vibes or something? Does ANYONE else have pigs that behave like this?

I also feel terrible because before I cleaned out the cage, I was sitting in a chair next to Mitzi´s cage and holding Piglet in my lap. She was SO agitated just to be next to Mitzi´s cage that she started freaking out and snapping at me and somehow managed to jump right off my lap. It happened so fast I couldn´t do anything about it. She fell down the side of the chair to the floor. She didn´t get hurt but I feel awful about it.

If she´s going to get that upset just from being near Mitzi, is it really realistic to think about keeping them in side-by-side cages as I´d planned? I have this feeling we are going to go to all the trouble and expense of making the new divided cage and then it isn´t going to work out. THEN what??? The room is small and we don´t have the space to keep two large cages that are seperate from each other. I´d put them downstairs in the rec room, but my dad absolutely won´t let me.

Also, I don´t think I´ve posted about this here (I have on CM) but Piglet´s bar chewing is getting out of control! I had to get up at !5:30! this morning to feed them (usually that stops it - if I don´t feed them as soon as it starts, she´ll go for hours on end until the food comes). But she ate, and then started right back up again. This is really interfering with my sleep. My room is right next door to theirs and the racket is unbelievable - it sounds like someone drilling into cement. And I´ve tried just about everything to stop it, bitter sprays, ingnoring it hoping she´ll give up, etc. Several people have suggested to me blocking off the area that she chews with houses or higher walls, but it´s not that simple. She will chew anywhere so I would have to block off the entire perimeter of the cage. If there´s ONE bar she has access to she´ll grab it and start shaking it and chewing it with all her might.

I´m sorry to complain so much but I can´t believe all the problems I´ve had with these pigs. It´s just been one problem after another ever since Day 1! I´ve done everything right, and EVERYTHING goes wrong! HELP!

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Post   » Thu Apr 04, 2002 5:38 pm

I´m sorry to make work for you, but can you start from the beginning and describe how many pets you have and their cages? Why are they apart? Without knowing anything, I would suggest if the cage was large enough to put ridgid plastic on the walls that could not be grabbed and shaken. If they are apart and want to be together, they may persist in trying to break out. Sewing a tie on the edge of the towel and ensuring that the heavy string cannot be bitten might let you secure it in place. I wish you were nearby. I might be able to suggest another living arrangement. They don´t all have to be expensive. The more space the less cage rattling you will have.

My daughter had a hamster that would climb to the top of the cage and chew on it making an awful racket. Do you have any other animals in the house? If you could give them more space and no animal would bother them, you might be able to line the floor with some linoleum, a towel on top, bathrooms in the corners -- something so they don´t feel trapped.

Anyway, pics or a real good description of your animals and everything would help (what you feed them and what their food dishes are like).


Post   » Thu Apr 04, 2002 6:16 pm

Oh, forewarned, this is going to be very long!

For starters...I have two guinea pigs and a cat. The cat isn´t a problem - she doesn´t spend a lot of time in the room and even when she does, she doesn´t bother the pigs. The cages are cat-proof though, because she does occasionally get up on them (the pigs don´t mind!). Piglet is in a 2x5 cubes and coroplast cage. Mitzi is in a hagen rabbit cage (5 sq ft) but I´m planning on making the C&C cage 2x7 with a divider down the middle so they can share. That is the absolute biggest we have room for. Free range is not an option. I live at home with my parents (I´m 17) and they absolutely will not have it. They do get floor time. Mitzi gets it more often than Piglet, as you will learn why further down. By the way, I am quite sure that Piglet´s bar-rattling doesn´t have anything to do with Mitzi - she has been doing this since long before we got Mitzi.

I find it really difficult to describe Piglet to people. Aside from her medical problem (chronic colitis) she just is...difficult. She´s very, very stressed, Very high-strung. Very aggressive. A biter. Just about anything can stress her out and totally throw her off. She is not a "normal" pig. Even floor time stresses her out. What she really wants is to be left alone in her cage. she seems quite content this way - walking around, clucking, eating hay and popcorning.

We got Mitzi about a year after we got Piglet, hoping they´d be able to live together. We introduced them gradually during floor time, just like everyone says, for a few weeks. Mitzi wanted to be friends with Piglet and I wanted to just let them sort it out but Piglet kept biting Mitzi (I don´t just mean nipping, I mean serious biting). She kept attacking her out of nowhere. Piglet bites really hard, and I knew it wouldn´t be long until Mitzi was seriously hurt, so finally after a few weeks of trying, I decided to give up (at least temporarily). Maybe if we could let them take a LONG time to get used to each other, eventually they would. But then there is the problem of Piglet´s chronic colitis (which we have determined is definitely aggravated by stress). The stress of being with Mitzi just about did her in. Every time they were together, she would poop constantly (like 1 poop per second, literally) SCREAMING in pain. Piglet is stressed enough as it is. I certainly don´t want to make things worse for her or cause any unnecessary pain. I thought that as she got used to Mitzi, she´d be less stressed and her bowels would calm down, but that wasn´t the case. And then of course they´d both get a ton of Piglet´s pop mashed into their feet (ew).

So, certainly for the forseeable future, keeping them together just isn´t an option. I´ve had quite a few discussions on this with the folks at CM, and pretty much exhausted all suggestions on what to do. Keeping them apart seems to be the only doable thing at this time.

I´m not sure what you mean about having "ties" on the towel? What do you attatch the ties to when the cage is smooth plastic? I don´t know what´s with Mitzi and the towels - but she definitely hates them. She much prefers bedding. I´ve never had a problem with the towels and Piglet - she´s never even tried to pull it up or go under it. I´m also not sure what you mean about the plastic on the walls - all the way around? Wouldn´t that be a problem with ventilation? And how would you attach it?

Piglet is really pretty good (aside from the bar chewing) as long as she is alone. Mitzi, though, really wants a companion desperately. There is no way my parents will let me get another pig, though. We really can´t afford it anyway. If I could get a part-time job to help pay, it might be worth trying to persuade them, but I am too sick to work.

What I feed them...well, pellets (timothy for Piglet, alfalfa for Mitzi) unlimited Timothy hay, of course, and a cup of veggies per pig, per day. (Divided into two in the morning - though it will soon be the middle of the night if it keeps going like this! - and one in the late afternoon.) They get a good variety, though they have been rather deprived of romaine lately, considering the quality/prices! The food dishes that the pellets are in are those earthenware/ceramic ones with the straight sides that are supposed to be untippable. (Yeah, right!)

I´ve been wanting to get pics online for ages, but our scanner is broken. If/when it is fixed, I will show everyone the pics they been long awaiting! I have some really good ones.

Thanks for being so patient about all the problems I´ve been having with them. I think the posters at CM are getting tired of hearing about all the troubles with them. You really must be wondering by now, "How could two little pigs have this many problems...what the hell is that girl doing to them?!"

Anyway, I´m off for now to go give Mitzi some floor time. Sorry this is so long!
Last edited by Laura823 on Thu Apr 04, 2002 6:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.


Post   » Thu Apr 04, 2002 6:27 pm

I think the thing to do is deal with Piglet´s medical problems. Is the chronic colitis a definitive diagnosis?

I think she´s in pain and that´s why she bites - as a defense. The bar chewing can also related to pain. When my pigs are in pain they get frantically active as though trying to escape/outrun the pain. Bar chewing could be just another way of "escaping". (My pigs don´t have bars to chew on). Even the description of her behavior in your lap seems to indicate pain.

How was the colitis diagnosed? What is she taking for it? Is there a thread in here somewhere I missed or forgot about?

There are meds to relieve pain even if the problem isn´t curable.

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Post   » Thu Apr 04, 2002 7:20 pm

If she needs something to chew on, maybe you can get a fruit tree branch. I had been thinking of the possibility of lining the cage with let´s say coroplast so she couldn´t chew on it. But she´d need something else to chew on. I wondered about the size because if it was too small, there wouldn´t be enough air circulation but if it was large enough, it really could work. Another alternative might be to get some very tightly woven hardware cloth so she could not get a bite on it.

By the way, ear plugs work wonders if you are trying to sleep. Really.

It sounds like she has hay to chew on. Another possibility for the towel is to make a pocket you slide a tight fitting piece of corroplast or something in and then lay it down on the floor. As for ties, what I have done is sew a heavy nylon cord on opposite edges, let the ends hang out for tying.

I´ll give it some thought and see if I can think of anything else for the little dears.


Have you tried the Nizoral yet? Please let me know how it works and if your pig gets any relief. It might help both of them.
Last edited by Lynx on Thu Apr 04, 2002 9:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.


Post   » Thu Apr 04, 2002 9:20 pm

"Chronic colitis" was really a diagnosis of exclusion. (There is a post about it on page 4 called "Anyone have experience with chronic colitis in pigs?" where I asked if it was treatable, and no one said it was.) We had her stool tested for parasites, etc. and nothing showed up, she has had an x-ray and ultrasound of the abdominal/pelvic area and those were normal too. Actually at the time the ultrasounds and x-rays were really because we thought she was having bladder problems, but then we realized that it was actually pooping that was hurting her, not peeing. My vet said that she would have noticed any other abnormalities, though. She said that her sypmtoms sounded like colitis, and that while she had never seen it in a guinea pig, she has seen it in many other animals. She told us to observe Piglet and see what aggravated it. Sure enough, every time Piglet got stressed, her bowels acted up. She isn´t taking any medications for it. My vet said it wasn´t treatable. I would have a hard time getting her to think otherwise. I had better wait until Mitzi´s problems are fixed first before bringing this up again. She thinks I am absolutely nuts and she really doesn´t listen to me when I try to give her suggestions. I am going to try to get her to consult with an exotics vet. I can´t make her listen to me, though. I´m really not sure how to handle this.

Just so no one is confused about who has what problems - Piglet is in the 2x5 grid cage and she is the bar-chewer with chronic colitis. Mitzi is in the small cage (but she will be moving into a bigger one) and she is the towel-wrecker with skin problems (mites or allergies?).

Piglet does have other stuff to chew on (a wooden house, cactus chews, hay, bird links) but she only wants to chew on metal.

I´ll try and get some Nizoral tomorrow. Do you think we should bathe Piglet too (even though she doesn´t seem to be having and skin problems)?

I would try earplugs, but my parents really don´t want me to. I am the only one in my family who can hear well and they don´t think it would be safe for me not to be able to hear at night (for smoke alarms, break-ins, etc. or if one of them was trying to call for me.)
Last edited by Laura823 on Thu Apr 04, 2002 9:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post   » Thu Apr 04, 2002 9:30 pm

If it is fungal, I imagine it´s possible they could both have it. And if Pinta´s theory of Piglet being in pain is possible there is also an outside chance a fungus is bothering her.

If you don´t want to stress Piglet, see if it works on Mitzi first. If it does, then give them both at least a couple baths (wet thoroughly and work up a lather in the fur -- try to leave it for a couple minutes at least (I´m guessing) and rinse) and more if it seems to be working. I´ve heard people recommend Lymp-Dip too but it´s supposed to be messy and stinky.

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I gave what I could!

Post   » Fri Apr 05, 2002 12:25 am

Laura, while the price for shots doesn´t sound too outrageous, would you really recommend your vet to me if she is so pig-headed about her diagnosis? There are vets at the St. John´s Veterinary Hospital on Freshwater Road that looks at guinea pigs that I was planning on visiting instead of your vet. I don´t want to get into a racket with some pig-headed vet over the treatment of my little guy.

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I gave what I could!

Post   » Fri Apr 05, 2002 12:27 am

Oh, and my brother is 19. He´s just an ass sometimes.


Post   » Fri Apr 05, 2002 11:30 am

Dobby, I´ve never personally talked to the vets at the animal hospital, but my mom has phoned there just to see if they did have any vets that treated pigs and asked a few basic questions. None of the vets there will even perform a neuter. I wouldn´t want to go to a vet that couldn´t even do a simple surgery - what if your pig ever needed surgery? My vet has done several neuters, all successful, and a number of other surgeries on pigs as well. She doesn´t have a whole lot of experience, but I do get some comfort out of the fact that she´s done it before and that if one of my pigs needed some sort of surgery, she´d be able to at least try.

As for the pig-headedness (LOL) well, you never know, but I would be surprised if the vets at the animal hospital were any better. None of them specialize in small animals or exotics. A lot of people have a hard time getting their pigs treated for mites without a scraping/tape test. Be prepared to be insistant. You don´t necessarily have to get in an argument, but you very well may end up having to tell the vet what to do (no matter which one you go to).

If I can´t get anywhere with mine on Piglet´s condition, (and/or Mitzi´s) I might go to the Animal Hospital for a second opinion.
Last edited by Laura823 on Fri Apr 05, 2002 11:32 am, edited 1 time in total.


Post   » Fri Apr 05, 2002 3:20 pm

If you do end up going to the Animal Hospital, let me know what vet you saw and how it went. I´d certainly be interested in hearing about it. If you haven´t already read this page, has a list of questions you can ask a vet to help determine the extent of their knowledge on pigs.

In a situation like ours where the only vets available have very little knowledge or experience with pigs, I think it´s especially important to do a lot of research on your own. It isn´t possible to "rely" on the vets here where small animals are concerned, very often WE have to tell THEM what to do, not the other way around. Be sure to read the Guinealynx pages on mites ( and Ivermectin ( before your appointment. It´s always best to know what you´re talking about. And make sure to ask what dose he will be getting, so you can ensure that it´s correct.

Good luck!
Last edited by Laura823 on Fri Apr 05, 2002 3:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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I gave what I could!

Post   » Mon Apr 08, 2002 8:57 am

Laura, I cancelled my appointment with the Animal Hospital and got one with your vet on Elizabeth Ave. It´s for the 18th, so I still have 10 days to research stuff on mites to read and possibly bring along. Thanks for your concern, and for informing me that the AH doesn´t do neuters. What kind of vet isn´t capable of a neuter?
Anyway, the receptionist seemed pretty familiar with mites in pigs and how they treat them and told me the exam would cost $37.50 and each shot was calculated by the weight of the animal and was usually approximately $15 a shot. So, apparently you have taught the entire crew at that vet´s office a few things since you´ve started going there. :)

Lucky for me, I don´t have two pigs so I shouldn´t have your woes of reinfestation. Once Buddy is cleared up, that should be that. Yay! Now all I have left to worry myself with is this foolish tape test. Perhaps I should comb a few loose clumps from his back and Ziploc them as evidence that I don´t need her to use tape. :) Ha!


Post   » Mon Apr 08, 2002 4:05 pm

Both of the assistants/receptionists (Andrea and Bonita) are really nice. :) And I´m sure they are all mite experts by now!!! You don´t need to bring any info or anything, I mentioned that mainly in case you went to the other vet and they didn´t know much. The dose my vet does is 0.3 mg/kg which is right in the middle of the standard range. Depending on how bad Buddy´s symptoms are, she´ll probably do either 3 or 4 shots. They have a special small animal digital scale in the waiting area, with a so you can weigh them while you wait. And if Buddy is a good boy he just might get a carrot on the way out! :) (She keeps a supply of them now LOL) I went in for Piglet and Mitzi´s last shot this afternoon and told her she´d soon be seeing another pig patient. :)

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I gave what I could!

Post   » Tue Apr 09, 2002 12:02 am

You told her I was coming? :) Thanks! If she didn´t check her appointment book, at least now she´ll be semi-prepared for my visit. That was pretty nice of you. :)

Buddy´s symptoms aren´t too severe. No painful fits or agonizing sounds when touched. He´s still just as happy and popcorny and squeaky and hungry as ever...he´s just got scabs and hair loss w/ excessive scratching. Classic symptoms. :P

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Post   » Tue Apr 09, 2002 10:56 am

um, I have a dumb question.

I keep reading in the forums about mites and how to treat them... but not about where the pigs are picking up the infestations in the first place. My assumption has been the mites came from previous owner/petshop/breeders, who are manifestly negligent in the quality of care they provide. Is that correct? Or are the mites showing up in established colonies, where there is no new pig -- coming instead from a lawn or another kind of pet or a room where the piggers roam?

Just curious -- and wondering and assuming this is something I should continue to keep an eye out for. (My twosome are indoor pigs but I do occasionally bring in grass from the lawn, and the cats they interact with are indoor/outdoor brats).



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Post   » Tue Apr 09, 2002 3:01 pm

You´ll get alot of opinions on this. I kind of think many pigs have Selnic mites (the classic cavy mite), which can reportedly exist on a pig subclinically and only get out of hand if the pig is ill or under stress (like a pregnancy).

However, some people seem to have great difficulty getting rid of them. It´s been suggested that they are picked up at pet stores or by handling other cavies. While the med books claim mites are species specific and only reproduce and thrive on a single species, I sometimes wonder if this is true. Take one variety of mite -- fur mites. I have absolutely no idea how my pigs could have caught them and can only guess that they might have been from greens I picked and be instead some other species of fur mites that I somehow picked up (in other words, this mite would not be called species specific).

Mange mites do need an animal to survive and live on, so hay seems to be out (it dries and you´d think mites would not be there) and of course bedding seems pretty unlikely. I do think there are many skin parasites that have the potential to bug our pets, some of which could be carried by mice or rats.

I think the main thing to come away with is to try to do something about them if they are suspected. Surely some people have never had pigs with hairloss.

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Post   » Tue Apr 09, 2002 9:54 pm

Knock on wood, but my two girls haven´t had any hairloss. They do get what I heard called "hay lice" which occassionally live on the shafts of their hair, but a bath with EctoSooth takes care of them easily. They don´t seem to be bothered by them either. Both my piggies graze on grass all the time.

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