Mange mites live on the skin of small furries such as guinea pigs and rats (rarely) and are highly contagious, either by mites moving when animals are in direct contact, or via sharing contaminated items such as bedding. Once the mange mites have infected a small furry, they burrow into the top layer of the skin – this is incredibly itchy, and small furries often cause themselves damage by rubbing, chewing and licking at their skin.
This intense itching can lead to self-trauma, and may cause bacterial infections to develop in the skin. Small furries that are infected for a long time may end up with thickening and darkening of the skin, hair loss and crusts forming. Importantly, pets are more likely to develop visible signs if they are stressed, either due to the environment or by being unwell.