Pocket Pets and Parasites

We typically think of parasites afflicting our cats and dogs, not pocket pets. However, it’s entirely possible for pests like these to latch onto hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils, mice, ferrets, and others! Below, learn more about the potential dangers from a Niwot, CO veterinarian.


Ticks aren’t picky about what they bite—just about any warm-blooded mammal will do. Pocket pets are no exception. Of course, tick bites are most likely to occur if a pocket pet spends time outdoors. For this reason, pocket pets like rabbits and ferrets, more likely than other rodent pets to spend time outside, are the pets most commonly seen suffering from tick bites. Since ticks are known disease-carriers, it’s very important that you check your pocket pet over for ticks if you let them outdoors. If you do find one, don’t try to remove it right away; call your veterinarian for further instructions.


Flea infestations are also a possibility for pocket pets. Rabbits and ferrets, again, are the most commonly diagnosed since they tend to be taken outdoors more frequently than other pocket pets. A serious flea infestation can cause life-threatening symptoms, such as anemia, in a pocket pet thanks to their small size.

As soon as you notice your pocket pet itching more than usual, check through the fur. If you find black specks or crusty material, a flea infestation may be to blame. Let your veterinarian know right away.

Mites and Lice

Like other pets—and humans—mites and lice can infest our pocket pet companions. Symptoms include inflammation, hair loss, excessive scratching, and crusty patches on the skin. Ear mites are particularly common amongst pocket pets; let your vet know right away if you see your pet itching around the ears more than usual.

While unlikely, it may be possible for some species of mites or lice to be transmitted to other pets or human family members. For this reason, you should treat an infestation promptly with medication and proper cleaning procedures. Your veterinarian can give you more information.


Worm infestations aren’t nearly as common in pocket pets as they are in cats and dogs, but they can happen. Flatworms, roundworms, and even heartworms have been known to infest pocket pets. De-worming medications and other treatments may be necessary if your pet is diagnosed.

Does your pocket pet need professional veterinary care? Call your Niwot, CO animal hospital today.

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