Over the weekend, the Animal Welfare Society of SA treated a tiny hamster for sarcoptic mange (a form of mange caused by the itch mite). The infestation was so severe that the little hamster scratched his head and much of his upper body bald.
Upon enquiry, the owner stated that he had been bought from a local pet shop as a gift for her two young children. She went on to explain that this was not a planned addition to the family and that they were clueless about the needs and care of hamsters.
“Shortly after placing the hamster in his “shoebox” enclosure (that we explained was totally inappropriate) they noticed that he scratched incessantly and had started to go bald,” says the Animal Welfare Society of SA.
“She was a ‘little worried’ that whatever was causing their hamster to itch all over may be contagious and when we confirmed that he was suffering from sarcoptic mange that is highly contagious to humans (and dogs) she was horrified and blurted out “now I feel like vomiting!'”
The Animal Welfare Society of SA asked the woman if the children had complained about being itchy and when she said that she had noticed them scratching, the Animal Welfare Society of SA suggested that her next stop be their doctor as the entire family would need treatment for exposure to this mite that causes severe itching in humans.
Appropriate treatment was provided to the hamster and the Animal Welfare Society of SA explained that in order to rid him of this condition, it would necessitate several follow-up treatments that she readily agreed to.
Today the Animal Welfare Society of SA’s Inspectors will be inspecting the health, welfare and living conditions of all the animals at the pet shop as it would appear as though they are living in parasitic conditions and leading utterly miserable lives.
The pet shop owner will be given 48 hours to remedy any shortcomings noted and all sick and injured pets will be confiscated into the care of the Animal Welfare Society of SA.
As we head towards Christmas, may the plight of this little hamster serve as a reminder to desist from giving pets as presents and to always adopt instead of shop.