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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-11-2009, 03:10 AM Thread Starter
 
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Question Tiny white bugs?

I was feeding my gerbils tonight and noticed a lot of dust on the tank lids - except it turns out that the 'dust' is actually tiny white bugs of some sorts. They're about the size of a grain of salt or big fleck of dust, so I can't really get a picture of them. We're in the process of moving, so I thought it was just dusty until I took a closer look. I'm guessing they might have been there for at least a few days by now.


The gerbils themselves don't seem to be acting any different, so it seems the bugs aren't bothering them. They're also only appearing on the tanks and other hard surfaces right next to the tanks (metal frame of futon but not the mattress part, for example). I cleaned out the tanks and everything in them, switched to a different bedding, had the gerbils take a sandbath - and between cleaning tanks (maybe 30 mins at most), the first tank I had cleaned up already had more of them crawling on the lid, even though I'd just disinfected it.


I'm not really sure what they are - google searches bought up all kinds of suggestions - book moth or fruit fly eggs, flour mites, springtails, etc. But these things don't really look like larva - they're just really tiny little white flecks that are infesting the cages suddenly. I saw a few in the actual bedding while dumping it out, but most of them seemed to be on the metal cage lids (granted, white dots on a black metal lid are easy enough to spot when you look closely).


Anyone have any experience with a problem like that, or any ideas what they might be? Since I'm moving in a few weeks, I'd rather get the problem dealt with now so they don't trail along to the new apartment.


Thanks!
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-11-2009, 12:59 PM
 
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They could possibly be mites.


I had mites come in on some bedding I got for my snakes. So I got some lice bedding spray (its for humans) and sprayed down all the bedding to kill them off and then let the bedding dry out and air out until it didn't smell like the spray anymore before I used it.
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-11-2009, 03:24 PM
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I had some little nasty black bugs in my mouse food!!!!!!! Gah I have no clue what they are, but I threw that away and now I am heading to get more, I guess I have to keep it better sealed...


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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-12-2009, 06:23 AM
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white bugs????? would a vet know what they are???


if they are mites would u be able to see them...

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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-12-2009, 07:15 AM
 
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sounds like some sort of mite. I know just what you are talking about. I have bought two bags of dog food with those all it it!
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-12-2009, 09:43 AM
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do they do anything to your pet? and why are they only around animals??? wierd litttle bugs....

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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-12-2009, 01:41 PM
 
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Mites feed off of the blood in animals. They can be very damaging to an animals health, especially a small animal. They can become anemic in a short amount of time due to mite bites. If these are mites, and they are all over the cage, then most likely they are on the gerbils, or have laid eggs on the gerbils and you just can't see them.


I would suggest you check out this page. I've never owned Gerbils, so I don't know the specifics. But this page has a lot of information on it specific to gerbils and mites.

http://gerbilforum.proboards.com/ind...d=11597&page=1
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-12-2009, 09:22 PM Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the replies! I cleaned all the aquarium tanks up again, and I've been wiping the outside on the tanks where I've seen the bugs with rubbing alcohol - evaporates quick and seems to kill the mites, so it seems to work pretty nicely. The amount of the mites (or whatever they are) has drastically decreased - I'm guessing the last batch of corn cob bedding I put in had harbored them, and the gerbils covering their water bottles in bedding (i.e. causing the water to leak out) probably made it a great breeding ground for them. I've only seen a few mites on any of the tanks today, so I'm hopeful that with diligent cleaning I'll be able to get the infestation wiped out.


I haven't seen any of the mites on the gerbils themselves, and all the cages have 2-3 gerbils so I figured at least some of them would have been exhibiting odd behaviour (itching, excessive groomimg, acting apathetic, etc) if they were getting bitten. The odd thing is that the bugs seemed to be congregating on the top of the tank (black metal cage top), very few of them were IN the tanks except for the top of one water bottle - which is all the way up at the lid anyway.


I read a post somewhere that was suggesting that the tiny bugs appearing on cages might be some kind of scavengers going after the waste in there (buried food, fecal pellets, etc), especially if they get the tank moist. I don't remember there being any recommendations to get rid of them, but now that I'm at home I can't find the post anywhere through Google.


Also, I have seen a good amount of posts complaining about bugs coming from corn cob bedding, so I really think the bedding combined with moisture was the source. I guess I should get a freezer trunk just to freeze the 40lbs bags of it before using it.


If the infestation does comes back, I'll take in at least a few of them to get checked out and ask the to give me a perscription for medication for all of the gerbils. Since there's 10 gerbils (I learned that the pet store employees had no idea what they were talking about when they sold me only 'males'), and the recommended exotics' vet here charges $89 per animal, I'd rather avoid that $900+ dollar trip if I can. I checked the link posted above and saw some other posts about mites, but they all look bigger and darker in color - these bugs are really tiny and light colored, so they don't fit the typical mite or flea descriptions.


I did find recommendations for diatomaecous earth on a variety of pages. Sounds like the food-grade stuff is safe to pets and people, but kills insects - I might pick up a bag of that and have the gerbils take their sandbaths it for a few weeks. Anyone used it around their pets to any good results?
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-13-2009, 01:43 AM
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Most mites you can't see without a microscope.

I would freeze any kind of bedding you buy if you have a big enough freezer. If you don't, just freeze the amount you need or whatever. Remember that corncob bedding can be nasty stuff because it molds so quickly when it gets moist. That might be a reason why it is attracting bugs, but really it sounds like they are coming from the bedding itself.

There is a product called revolution that you can get that would kill any lice or mites that are on the gerbils and it is relatively cheap. If you want the link, PM me.

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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-13-2009, 09:14 AM
 
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mites are usually black, not white....
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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-13-2009, 10:18 AM
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Sounds like you have grain mites.
From everything you say,I am 99% sure this is what you are dealing with.


Grain mites are tiny and white or yellowish in color and CAN be seen.They thrive in moist conditions.They will not harm your gerbils or you,but they are a pain!


I dealt with these things when I had geckos and my millipede.


Here are a few links.
http://www.grainscanada.gc.ca/storag.../gm-cf-eng.htm


http://blogs.trb.com/features/lifest...festing_1.html


http://ento.psu.edu/extension/factsh...nd-grain-mites




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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-13-2009, 10:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by emmzie87 View Post
mites are usually black, not white....
Not true.Depending on the species of mites,they can be any color from white to gray to red to black to brown! Many species are microscopic as well.




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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-13-2009, 06:50 PM Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vanilla_Rat View Post
Sounds like you have grain mites.
From everything you say,I am 99% sure this is what you are dealing with.
I think that's exactly what they are, you're completely right. I found a reference to flour mites earlier, and I guess that's just another name for grain mites. It's been pretty humid and the gerbils did cause their water bottles to drain into the bedding a few times, so that's probably the reason. I'll have to be sure to keep the cages dry and the food sealed in containers, doesn't sound like there's much else you can do to get rid of them. I just checked in on the cages a few minutes ago and there were essentially no moving dust flakes, so I think the problem got solved.


As far as the bedding goes, I agree that the corncob bedding is probably the culprit at this point. The problem is that the gerbils seem to like corncob the best out of the bedding options I've tried so far. I've tried shredded paper bedding (Eco..something, I don't have a bag right now), Carefresh, recycled paper pellets (Yesterday's News and the likes), timothy hay, aspen bedding and mixtures of all the above. But so far, they seem happiest corncob with a bit of aspen and/or cardboard thrown in.


I guess I'll try to freeze the new sack of bedding I bought (I always get 40lbs bags since it's cheaper in bulk) and hope for the best with this batch. In the meanwhile I'll try to find some other bedding that would work as well for digging and burrowing but that wouldn't attract mites. I keep seeing websites say Carefresh is "good" and "vet recommended", but I really didn't care for it. The gerbils didn't seem to like it too much and our rabbits weren't big fans the couple of times I used it with them. Sand seems too heavy and dusty unless it's kept moist - at which point the humidity is a problem again.


I've had the gerbils for about 4-5 months now, and this is really the first problem I've had with them - well, except for two being mis-sexed and the resulting breeding mishap. And since these mites seem like more of a nuisance than a serious problem, I guess I've been pretty lucky all in all.

Last edited by ak82; 08-13-2009 at 06:53 PM. Reason: Typos >.>
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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 08-14-2009, 09:04 AM
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Thats what I thought they were! Since everything you explained sounded like them.Flour mites is another name for them.I had them before,not fun.I managed to get rid of them after changing all the substrate and disinfecting the tanks (I had geckos and a millipede at the time).And once I froze the new substrate I never had issues again,even though the millipede tank was always humid.


I got my infestation from a batch of mealyworms.They were all in the cup of chicken mash and next thing,I had an infestation.It is annoying.But yeah,they are more of a nusiscance (sp?) then anything and are not harmful.


I don't like corncob bedding,as I had a rat dye from choking/impaction and it can get moldy fast.I always found Yesterdays News mixed with aspen works great! I also am not a fan of Carefresh!


Good luck! I hope you can get rid of the little buggers soon!




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