Lapis ISSN 2398-2969

Cheyletiella parasitovorax

Synonym(s): Cheyletiella parasitovorax, Host adapted C. yasguri, Walking dandruff

Contributor(s): Richard Saunders, Will Easson, Elisabetta Mancinelli




  • Phylum: Arthropoda.
  • Class: Arachnida.
  • Subclass: Acari.
  • Order: Trombidiformes.
  • Family: Cheyletidae.
  • Genus:Cheyletiella.
  • Species:parasitovorax.
  • Five species are currently recognized.


  • Cheyle= lips; tiella, a diminutive meaning that this is smaller thantiaortea.
  • It was initially theorized that adultCheyletiellamites preyed on other mites, hence the scientific nameCheyletus parasitivorax.
  • The mites are visible to the naked eye, and can be seen walking under the scales, hence it is also known as "walking dandruff".

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Clinical Effects



  • Adults, larvae and nymphs on the surface of the dorsum of rabbits   Cheyletiella yasguri: walking dandruff  ; egg attached to hairs.
  • Mites   Cheyletiella sp 01: mites and eggs    Cheyletiella sp 02: female mite    Cheyletiella yasguri: mite and ova    Cheyletiella sp 03: exoskeleton  normally do not live on man, just transferring over to bite (live for a maximum of 3 weeks).


  • Adult.
  • Egg.
  • Larva.
  • Nymphs.


  • Direct contact.
  • Mites are very mobile and so contagious, transferring readily.
  • Transfer of mites from an asymptomatic doe to her young is important and, with the young rabbits not developing clinical signs until perhaps 3-4 months old, the source of the infection may remain untreated.
  • Females shown to survive off the host experimentally probably play little part in transmission.
  • The level of transmission, if any, between rabbits and dogs and cats is unknown.

Pathological effects

  • Signs of dermatitis relate to host's hypersensitivity reaction to mites.
  • Man: Commonly, first reaction is erythematous, papular, pruritic dermatitis probably due to delayed type IV hypersensitivity reaction.
  • May be asymptomatic, eg carrier rabbits.
  • Affected rabbits   Cheyletiellosis    Cheyletiella sp 04: coat scaling  usually show mild or severe seborrheic lesions with dry or oily scales (very dandruffy) with or without a papular eruption beginning usually over the lumbosacral area and spreading along the dorsal surface to the head and sometimes down flanks.
  • The distribution of lesions (alopecia and scales) follows a typical symmetric V-pattern on shoulder and dorsum.
  • Pruritus varies from very mild to intense.

Other Host Effects

  • Feed on keratin layer of epidermis and also penetrate skin with mouthparts to suck tissue fluids.


Control via animal

  • Acaricide; treat all in-contact animals particularly older (asymptomatic) carriers.

Include dogs and cats in the same household because the level of transmission, if any, between species is unknown.

Infection often persists because of failure to treat at least 2 times at weekly intervals if using non-persistent acaricides.

Control via chemotherapies

  • Cheyletiellamites are susceptible to most commonly used insecticides/acaricides, eg sprays, sponge-ons (organophosphates, carbamates, pyrethroids, avermectins).

Fipronil is contraindicated for use in rabbits.

Control via environment

  • Assuming females can survive in the environment, it may be useful to vacate hutch for several days. Ensure that all bedding is removed and destroyed. Often environmental treatment of the hutch with an acarcide is recommended.


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Further Reading


Refereed papers

  • Recent references fromPubMed andVetMedResource.
  • D'Ovidio D & Santoro D (2013)Orodental diseases and dermatological disorders are highly associated in pet rabbits: A case-control study.Vet Derm24(5), 531PubMed.
  • Fehr M & Koeslinger S (2013)Ectoparasites in small exotic mammals.Vet Clin Exotic Anim16(3), 611-657PubMed.
  • Palmeiro b S 7 Roberts H (2013)Clinical approach to dermatologic disease in exotic animals.Vet Clin Exotic Anim16(3), 523-577PubMed.
  • Rosen L B (2011)Dermatologic manifestations of zoonotic diseases in exotic animals.J Exotic Pet Med20(1), 9-13VetMedRecourse.
  • Mellgren M & Bergvall K (2008)Treatment of rabbit cheyletiellosis with selamectin or ivermectin: A retrospective case study.Acta Vet Scand50, 1PubMed.
  • Sang-Hun Ket al(2008)Efficacy of selamectin in the treatment of cheyletiellosis in pet rabbits.Vet Derm19(1), 26-27PubMed.
  • Sang-Hun Ket al(2008)Prevalence of fur mites in pet rabbits in south Korea.Vet Derm19(3), 189-190PubMed.
  • Fisher M, Beck W & Hutchinson M J (2007)Efficacy and safety of selamectin (Stronghold/Revolution) used off-label in exotic pets.Int J Appl Res Vet Med5(3), 87-96VetMedResource.
  • Hoppmann E & Barron H W (2007)Ferret and rabbit dermatology.J Exotic Pet Med16(4), 225-255VetMedResource.
  • Cooper P E & Penaliggon J (1997)Use of frontline spray on rabbits.Vet Rec140(20), 535-536PubMed.
  • Clyde V L (1996)Practical treatment and control of common ectoparasites in exotic pets.Vet Med91(7), 632-637VetMedResource.
  • Akintunde K Cet al(1994)Cheyletid mite infection in laboratory rabbits.Vet Rec134(21), 560. Erratum appears inVet Rec134(23), 608PubMed.
  • Merchant S R (1990)Zoonotic diseases with cutaneous manifestations - Part 1.Compend Contin Educ12(3), 371-375.

Other sources of information

  • Meredith A (2006)Skin diseases and Treatment of Rabbits.In:Skin diseases of Exotic Pets. Ed: Paterson S. Blackwell Publishing, Oxford. pp 300-301.