Pets Room

The affinity that many people have developed with animals has led to the inclusion of pets within our homes. Over 250 species of mites are known to cause problems for humans and domesticated animals. Much more important, however, are the countless species of mites that do not cause any obvious pathology to animals. The number of microarthropods brought into the home by our pets may be greatly underestimated.

Birds, for example, have been found to have a considerable number of mites that reside within their feathers. Feather mites are a widespread group of mites that have contributions from 33 families. More than 440 species of feather-related mites are known. All areas of the feather have been exploited. Mites can be found within the shaft, in the base and on the feather surface. Walter and Proctor indicated that only three families in two orders of birds do not have associated feather mites, the Dromaiidae (emu's) and the Causuariidae (cassowaries) from the order Struthioniformes and the Spheniscidae from the order Sphenisciformes (penguins) (Walter and Proctor 1999). However, a relatively recent study reports feather mites on a cassowary as well (Proctor 2001).

Mite species are found associated with fish and amphibians, and mite families such as Pterygosomatidae (Prostigmata) and Omentolaelapidae (Mesostigmata) have been found with lizards and snakes. The snake mite Ophionyssus natricis (Macronyssidae, Mesostigmata) is the most common ectoparasite of captive snakes.

Members of the family Demodicidae (Prostigmata) are found in the hair follicles of most dogs, some cats, gerbils, hamsters and humans, and cause no problems in the large majority of mammals. The mites that live on our pets may often be found in our homes and could be described as house mites.

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