Mite Infestation in Gerbils



As with other cases of ectoparasitic infestations, mite infestation is treated by topical application of antiparasitic mite-killing medicated dusts and sprays. The medication may be in the form of an injected solution, or it may be administered orally through drinking water. Treatment will be influenced by your gerbil's health status and age, and your veterinarian will advise you accordingly about the route of administration, and whether you need to make any other changes while your gerbil is recovering from the infestation. Choosing a medication on your own is not recommended, as some anti-parasite drugs can be toxic for a small animal.


Even if only one of your gerbils is found to be infested, you will need to treat all of your gerbils, and you will need to aggressively treat the surrounding environment in which your gerbil has been living. It is known that mites will lay eggs in the lining of plastic or glass tanks, so you will need to to remove the tank entirely, treating it for a few weeks to be sure that it is free of mites before using it again. All of the bedding material will need to be disposed of, and it is further recommended that the materials be sprayed with pesticides and bagged securely before disposal. The cage and/or tank should be cleaned with a safe disinfectant, and all of the food and water bowls cleaned thoroughly or replaced. Lastly, new bedding materials should be cleaned thoroughly before use.


Living and Management


Follow your veterinarian’s advice regarding the application of antiparasitic medicated dusts and sprays for your pet gerbil, making sure to continue the treatment for the recommended duration. Gerbils that are under stress are at increased risk of infestations, since it is the immune system that suffers under duress, and the immune system that keeps a check on the population of mites that are able to survive on the body at any given time (that is, a small amount of demodex mites are normal and live on almost all mammals, including humans). Therefore, it is important to keep these things in mind when making changes in the household that might make the gerbil feel stressed.




Mite infestation in gerbils can largely be prevented by maintaining good hygiene and cleanliness both inside and in the surrounding environment of your pet gerbil’s cage. Disinfecting the cages on a regular basis is also a good habit.


In addition, proper care and nutrition, avoiding stress to your pet gerbil, and keeping the cage separate from locations in which the gerbil might acquire the avian form of mite can all help to prevent mite infestation in your pet gerbil.


Because one of the potential sources for mites is the pet shop or previous home from which the gerbil came from, you may want to take steps to prevent new gerbils from spreading mites to your existing gerbils, or talk to your veterinarian about products that may be used to prevent mite infestation. At the least, you will need to observe your gerbils for any symptoms that would indicate the presence of mites.