Recently the small furries at Vectis have needed to be treated for mites. I wanted to share the treatment that they had. I asked my vet about using selamectin instead of the more common ivermectin as it requires less frequent dosing (and therefore cleaning), although it is significantly more expensive.

Mites (Cheyletiella sp.) were identified on 5 Syrian hamsters and 2 duprasi in the hamster room. After consultation with our excellent vet and much research and calculation selamectin (Stronghold) was prescribed. The dose listed for hamsters and gerbils by the British Association of Small Animal Vets (BSAVA) is the same, although the BSAVA Manual of Exotic Pets notes that there is no reported use of this in duprasi. The gerbil dose range was used for the duprasi, and they have now completed their treatment course.

In total 17 duprasi were treated, 6 males and 11 females. The oldest was 3 years old and the youngest 6 weeks old. The average weight was 61g with a range of 38 to 98g. Only one duprasi, an adult female, had had any pre-existing health problems; she had undergone a hindlimb amputation in January 2017 following an injury. Only 2 of the 17 duprasi were affected by the mites: a 5 month old female and a 3 year old female. Neither duprasi showed symptoms; there was no itching and no fur loss. The mites were visible at the roots of the fur and in the most severely affected animal (the older female) they were visible in the bedding. Two doses of selamectin were applied to each animal 2 weeks apart, in addition to thorough cleaning of all cages, equipment and the hamster room with each treatment.

There were no signs of mites on the affected animals after the first treatment, and no unaffected animals subsequently became affected. No side effects were noted in any duprasi after either the first or second dose.

I really hope I don’t experience this again, but should mites re-visit Vectis I would be happy to use selamectin again.

Update:

Sadly mites did re-visit the hamster room in Spring/Summer 2018. Mites at another hamstery failed to respond to ivermectin, with the sad loss of many hamsters during the initial unsuccessful ivermectin treatment. I once again used selamectin, and although some hamsters died at the start of this second infestation, the treatment once again worked promptly and effectively. It was not possible to determine the type of mite on the second outbreak as my sample was not adequate to send to the laboratory.

Since the second outbreak, quarantine procedures have been redesigned and made more robust. Also, all hamsters and duprasi are now treated monthly as a preventative. So far so good and no more ‘little visitors’!