Ear Mites

Ear Mites in Small Mammals

If you see your rabbit or ferret shaking his head and scratching his ears excessively, or if there is an abnormal odor emanating from his ears, he may be suffering from ear mites.

Ear mites are tiny crab-like parasites that live in the ear canals and heads of pets, and sometimes their bodies. Imagine thousands of these tiny insects crawling around in your pet’s ears. The mites live on the surface of the skin in the ear canal, where they feed on tissue debris and tissue fluids, but they can also spread to the skin. When this happens your pet’s back, neck and tail areas will itch. The presence of mites can cause severe inflammation in your affected rabbit’s or ferret’s ears.

Although they can occur at any age, ear mites are more common in younger pets because they haven’t built up an immunity. The mites have a three week cycle and can survive off the host for several weeks. Unlike fleas, they do not pierce the skin or suck blood.

Ear mites not only generate irritation and scratching, but also increase the secretion of earwax, which combines with mite debris to form a thick, black crusty substance that looks something like coffee grounds. Your pet will then scratch his ears and shake his head.

What to Watch For

Veterinary Care


To Prevent Further Infection