Pig Mites: Pig Sarcoptic Mange and What You Can Do

Biting insects can cause severe irritation for pigs DLX1 fin

Sarcoptic Mange, or pig mites, is a parasitic disease also known as scabies. Unfortunately, it’s commonly underdiagnosed and should be one of the first causes you investigate when your pig is scratching.

Sarcoptic mange is caused by either the Sarcoptes scabiei or Demodex phyllodes mite.

Scabies is highly contagious and spreads from direct skin-to-skin contact with a mite-infected pig or a recently contaminated surface area. Male pigs are known to spread mites quickly as they are usually in direct contact with females when breeding.

These nasty host-specific parasites create scaly and rough skin that causes intense itching all over your pig’s body. The area often becomes inflamed and bleeds due to continuous scratching and licking.

A tell-tale sign of a mite infection is when you notice your pig scratching behind their ears vigorously and often shaking their heads from side to side. If your pig has become hypersensitive to the scabies mite, they’ll form small, pimple-like lesions all over their body. This usually occurs about three to eight weeks after infection).

Eventually, thick crusts of flaky skin will form behind your pig’s ears, hind legs, and elbows which causes extreme discomfort. Basically, the mites dig into your pig’s skin and feed on them. Plus, your pig may react from an allergy-like reaction to the bacteria on the mites.

How to Tell if Your Pig Has Pig Mites:

Here’s a look at some of the common symptoms to look out for if you suspect your pig has Sarcoptic mange:

One of the first obvious symptoms mites in your pigs is excessive almost crazed rubbing and scratching of the itchy areas. Frustrated, your pig may also start chewing and biting their tail, vulva, and ears (as they can’t reach the itchy spots).  

As a result, pigs often become aggressive as the itchiness is frustrating. Other symptoms to look out for include lethargy, listlessness, and in some cases, even depression.

Top Tip: A good way to check if your pig has mange or pig mites and not just dry skin is by rubbing your hand over the flaky area. The dry skin will be wiped away easily, while mange scabs penetrate the skin and are harder to remove.

  • Excessive rubbing and scratching of the itchy areas
  • Chewing or biting on their tail, vulva, and ears (out of frustration as they might not be able to reach the itchy spot)
  • Obvious aggression and frustration 
  • Lethargy
  • Listlessness
  • Depression

How to Treat Pigs With Mites:

Follow these steps to prevent your pig from scratching:

Eradicate the parasites, and the most effective treatment is Avermectin products, such as Ivomec. These injections will need to be repeated every two to three weeks.

Spray on Amitraz solution (insecticide) to kill off the parasites.

Deworm your pigs regularly to eradicate any parasites.

Rub coconut or olive oil over the crusty and itchy areas of your pig to provide some relief. The oil will also soften the scabs.

Purchase over-the-counter medicines to relieve your pig scratching. 

Talitha van Niekerk

Hi, I’m Talitha van Niekerk, and I made the leap to farm animal ownership when I decided to fulfil my lifelong passion to own horses. Now, over a decade later, I run a public stable facility on 180 acres of land, caring for over 75 horses of all breeds and sizes. I love to write about my experiences, sharing the knowledge I have gained and helping others achieve their life’s passion to live on the land. See my about page here.

Recent Posts