ISSN 2398-2969      

Sarcoptes scabiei





  • Phylum: Arthropoda.
  • Class: Arachnida.
  • Order: Sarcoptiformes.
  • Family: Sarcoptidae.
  • Genus: Sarcoptes.
  • Species: Scabiei.


  • Mites of the genus Sarcoptes are often considered to be one species, S. scabiei, but may be further identified in the literature by a name corresponding to the host species, for example, S. scabiei var. cuniculi, which has occasionally been reported in rabbits.

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Clinical Effects



  • Mostly found on host.
  • Spread by close contact.


  • Egg → larva → 2 nymphal stages (protonymph and tritonymph ) → adult.
  • The lifecycle can be completed in 2-3 weeks.
  • The gravid female mite tunnels within the stratum corneum to lay eggs in shallow burrows.
  • Eggs hatch into larvae.
  • Larvae molt into the nymphal stage. There is a second molt to a larger nymphal stage.
  • The nymph then molts into the adult.


  • Close contact.
  • Cross species infection is unusual but may be zoonotic.
  • Indirect transmission via fomites is rare, however, it has been reported that transmission may occur if mites survive in sloughed epidermis for a few days.

Pathological effects

Other Host Effects

  • Burrowing and feeding causes an irritation which → scratching.
  • Skin becomes thickened and scaly.
  • Pruritic dermatosis characterized by yellow discharge and serous encrustations. Thick brown to grey crusting with fissuring may be seen.
  • Secondary bacterial infections may occur.
  • Secondary infection with the yeast Malassezia Malassezia pachydermatis has been documented.
  • Anemia and leukopenia may also be seen in affected rabbits.
  • Amyloidosis of the liver and glomerulus have been reported in severely affected rabbits.


Control via chemotherapies

  • Ivermectin Ivermectin 200-400 microg/kg, 3 doses intervals of 10-14 days by injection SC.
  • Selamectin Selamectin:
    • 10-12 mg/kg administered topically as a single application has been found to reduce the number of mites found on skin scrapes.
    • 30 mg/kg has been found to eliminate parasitic infestation in a group of mixed breed rabbits.
    • 6-18 mg/kg topically twice, 28 days apart has also been reported.
  • Treat all in-contact animals.

Control via environment

  • Thorough and regular cleaning of the environment.

Other countermeasures

  • Prevent exposure to infected rabbits and wild rabbits.


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Further Reading


Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Farmaki R, Koutinas A F, Papazahariadou M G et al (2009) Effectiveness of a selamectin spot-on formulation in rabbits with sarcoptic mange. Vet Rec 164 (14), 431-432 PubMed.
  • Kurtdede A, Karaer Z, Acar A et al (2007) Use of selamectin for the treatment of psoroptic and sarcoptic mite infestation in rabbits. Vet Dermatol 18 (1), 18-22 PubMed.
  • Radi Z A (2004) Outbreak of sarcoptic mange and malassezias in rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus). Comp Med 54 (4), 434-437 PubMed.
  • Arlain L G & Vyszenski-Moher D L (1998) Life cycle of Sarcoptes scabiei var. canis. J Parasitol  74 (3), 427–430 PubMed.

Other sources of information

  • Nowland M H, Brammer D W, Garcia A & Rush H G (2015) Biology and Diseases of Rabbits. Laboratory Animal Medicine. 3rd edn. Academic Press, 411-461.
  • Graham J &Vella D (2013) Ectoparasites. In: Clinical Veterinary Advisor Birds and Exotic Pets. Eds: Mayer J and Donnelly T M. Elsevier, USA. pp 366-367.
  • Baker A S (1999) Mites and Ticks of Domestic Animals - An Identification Guide and Information Source. The Stationery Office, UK.
  • Hofing U R & Kraus A L (1994) Arthropod and Helminth Parasites. In: The biology of the laboratory rabbit. 2nd edn. Eds: Manning P J, Ringer D H & Newcomer C E. Academic Press Inc USA. pp 231-257.

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