Ear Mites

By: Taylor O'Connell

The Name of the Parasite

The scientific name for animal ear mites is Otodectes cynotis.

Where do ear mites live?

Ear mites live in the insides of the ear of many animals, like cats, dogs, birds, bunnies, even humans! They live inside the walls of the ear canal, though sometimes migrates out onto the face and head of its host.

How do ear mites feed?

The ear mites survive by ingesting nutrition from the pet’s ear tissues and blood. The ear mites can live along the dirt and oil of the ear and stay healthy while they reproduce.

How do ear mites reproduce?

Ear mites can reproduce sexually or a sexually. They Eggs are laid in the ear, and it takes about 3 weeks for eggs to hatch and develop into adult mites that can reproduce.

What is the life cycle of an ear mite?

Ear mites live their entire lives, about 2 months, on the host animal. Adult females will lay eggs in the ear canal or the surrounding fur. After a four-day incubation period, the eggs will hatch into larva which will feed on the ear wax and oils for about a week. At that time the larva molt into a protonymph, this will then molt again into a deutonymph. The deutonymph, which is neither male nor female, then mate with the males. The deutonymph that become females will already have eggs from the mating and those that become males will go on to mate with other deutonymph. This entire life cycle from egg to adult takes about 3 weeks.

What are the ear mites host if choice?

An ear mites host of choice is any animal with waxy, deep ears. Such as cat, dog, rabbit, ect. They have hairs inside their ear canal that the mites can crawl and stick too. Usually transmitted from animal to animal, research has proven that most dogs, cats and fox are carriers of the ear mites.

What are some special adaptations to deal with it's host?

Ear mites have adapted to living in ear canals by having hair on their legs that help them stick to the hair and having the ability to move though the sticky ear wax of the host.

What are the ear mites size?

Egg -- The egg is soft, sticky and pearly white at first, but soon dries and sticks to the substrate. The egg is oblong and almost round in cross section and is about 0.2 mm long.
Larva -- Ear mite larvae are microscopic (about 0.2 mm), pale mites with three pairs of legs. The front four legs have cup-like structures at the tips and the hind two legs have long setae at the tips.
Deutonymph -- Deutonymphs (about 0.3 to 0.4 mm long) have only three pairs of legs and two small bumps on the rear called copulatory tubercles. This stage has cup-like structures on the front four legs and long setae on the hind two legs.
Adult -- Female ear mites are microscopic (about 0.4 to 0.5 mm), pale mites with cup-like structures at the tips of the front four legs and long setae at the tips of the hind four legs. Male ear mites are smaller (about 0.3 mm) and have cup-like structures at the tips of all eight legs. Males have a pair of copulatory suckers (devices that hold the male to tritonymphs and females) on the lower rear. The third pair of legs has especially long setae near the tip. The fourth pair of legs of male and female ear mites is noticeably smaller than the other legs.

10 Interesting Facts-

  1. Ear mites do not pierce the skin but live on debris composed mainly of dead shed skin, wax and lymph fluid that leaks out as a result of the cat's excessive scratching.
  2. Treating indoor cats that have ear mites is easier than treating cats, outdoor because outdoor cats are more likely to become reinfected.
  3. Otodectes cyanotis is the latin word meaning “picker of the ear”.
  4. Ear mites do not suck on the pet’s blood nor do they pierce the animal’s skin.
  5. Ear mites are not dangerous to the skin of the animal, though their secretions are capable of leaving your dog or cat partially deaf due to plugged ear canals.
  6. Thousands of mites can enter and live in your animal’s ear at one period at a time.
  7. In worst case scenarios these parasites can rupture your animal’s ear drum which may lead up to your pet either experiencing deafness or seizures.
  8. Some cats may have the ability to resist scratching and shaking their head. Some cats do not react to ear mite attacks, even if large numbers of mites are present.
  9. The entire life cycle of an ear mite can be spent on your animal.
  10. There are 4-5 stages in an ear mites life cycle.