My piggy is scratching, what does this mean?

Piggies, like us, have occasional itches. Be sure that what you are seeing isn't part of the piggy's normal grooming routine. They'll stand up on their back legs, use their front legs like a cat whilst cleaning their faces, behind the ears, and around their cheeks. They will then stand down on all fours, turn around, and clean their shoulders, sides, and tummy. They'll sometimes reach up with a hind foot to itch a side or a back part, and that's pretty normal. What you don't want to see is a piggy itching so much that he's losing hair in a pattern where he's itching or irritated skin because of it.

Let's say your piggy is scratching more than you think is normal. Do you see a "V" shaped pattern of hair loss over the shoulders? If so, and it is coupled with possibly little red irritated lumps on the skin that look like insect bites, and if the piggy turns and becomes quite worried or jumpy and screeches when you rub the area lightly or drag your nail over the bumps, then this is a case of mites. If the piggy has an area over the back or the rump that has very bumpy flakey skin, almost crusty skin, then this is skin fungus. If the piggy is generally itchy all over, and the coat doesn't look as lush or shiney as it used to, take the piggy in your arms and gently lift up the ear flap. Look closely at the short hairs on the face just in front of the ear flap, and see if there are any little white wormy looking things on the hair (sometimes these can be seen quite easily on the body of dark haired animals, or as little red egg cases on the ends of white hairs) - do not be concerned as you cannot catch this form, but your piggy has a cavy only type of lice. Don't be terribly concerned, pigs catch these things all the time and both can be very easily treated at home.

Go here for information on mites.

Go here for information on lice.

Go here for information on fungus

If the piggy is itchy all over and shows a slight problem with the coat, you might want to try treating for fungus or mites initially, but be aware that other problems can lead to itchiness such as your piggy being allergic to the bedding or feed (if you've suddenly switched brands) or also your piggy may have a different problem with the diet, such as too much Vit A or E, or not enough Vit C. Things things can be rectified, but should be done with the experience of a local breeder or a cavy competent veterinarian if you don't feel comfortable doing so yourself.

If you have a piggy that you cannot diagnose I would highly advise taking your piggy to somebody who is experienced in cavy care. Your piggy may need to have a tiny skin scraping done to determine what is the cause of the problem and to direct you to the best course of treatment. If you would like me to take a look at the piggy in question, please send me an email at to let me know you are sending a photo of a scrachy piggy, and I will make sure that my inbox is cleared out enough to accept that photo. While I cannot guarantee that I can diagnose the piggy I can certainly rule some things out and help you with some easy at-home treatments that will not only make your piggy feel better immediately, but may help alleviate the cause of the problem. Some pigs may only have a single condition, others may be harboring different problems simulataneously. Let's get your piggy feeling better now!

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at