Ear Mites Under The Microscope

Photo of author
Updated On

I Love Veterinary blog is reader-supported, and we may earn a commission from products purchased through links on this page, at no additional cost to you. Learn more About Us and our Product Review Process >

What Are Ear Mites?

ear mites

Ear mites are tiny little microscopic parasites living their life cycle in the inner ear canal and feeding on dead skin cells. The most common type of ear mite is Otodectes cynotis.

They usually inhabit dogs, cats, rabbits, and ferrets. They are highly contagious and can get transferred from one animal to another with direct contact.

The presence of ear mites in the ear canal can lead to serious inflammation and/or secondary bacterial infections.

General Info About Ear Mites

The life cycle of the pesky ear mite is about three weeks in which they grow from eggs to their adult form ready for reproducing, going through a total of five stages. The lifespan of the adult ear mite is about two months in which a female can start laying eggs after three weeks and will continue to lay throughout her life.

Once an egg is laid, it hatches in about three to four days. Тhe egg then undergoes several larval stages, with resting periods of development between the different stages when the ear mite pupates. Finally, an adult emerges.

Usually, ear mites are not contagious to people. There are rare cases where they infest an arm or leg but never travel to the ears. When bitten by an ear mite, a person may develop a skin rash.

All veterinarians have encountered ear mites in their everyday work. Ear mites are very easy to diagnose with just a microscope. The confirmation of the diagnosis is made by spotting them on the slide under the microscope.

On our YouTube channel, we have some cool videos sent by our Facebook followers and we decided to share them here with you. Have fun looking at these pesky creatures that can cause pain and discomfort to our beloved pets.

Diagnosing Ear Mites in Animals

They get into the ear canal and burrow where they feed on the wax, occasionally even biting the eardrum. This can cause severe itching (and our pets don’t really know when to stop scratching) as well as some secondary infections.

dog scratching his ear as a result of ear mites

What Do Ear Mites Look Like?

An adult ear mite is very small, about the size of a grain of sand. They are brown-red in color and are typically found burrowed in the ear canal. They have no wings and cannot fly or jump, but can run quickly. Their movement is visible when your pet is shaking their head or scratching their cheek after a bite. You may also be able to hear them rustling within your pet’s ear as they move around.

The most obvious sign of ear mites is itchy ears, but they can also lead to other health issues. They are a secondary bacterial infection (they can’t survive on their own, so they must get into your pet’s ear to feed) and ear mites are known to cause inflammation and irritation in the ears. If there is extensive damage that prevents normal movement within the ear canal, then it may be too late for treatment.

How Do I Find Ear Mites on My Pet?

Check your pet for ear mites by carefully brushing the fur around their ear and examining the fur under a strong light. This is a great way to find adult mites in an infected animal, especially if they are not scratching. Adult mites may be found with a magnifying glass.

If you find any evidence of itching, check them again at the end of the day or after your pet has scratched for quite some time.

ear mite under the microscope

Let’s See Some Ear Mites

For more cool veterinary videos, visit our YouTube channel.

If you would like to learn more about the symptoms and treatment of ear mites, read Ear mites – Otodectes cynotis on our blog.

Sharing is caring!

Photo of author


Project dedicated to support and help to improve Veterinary Medicine. Sharing information and raising discussions in the veterinary community.