Diatomaceous Earth, what is it and how can it be used for mice?
Diatomaceous earth, often referred to as DE for convenience, is a silicone based sedimentary rock that is ground down into a fine powder. This powder can then be used as a preventative measure to common infestations of insects and mites in mice cages.
How it works
DE has excellent at absorbing lipids and has a very abrasive texture, because of this, can cause excessive damage to the exoskeletons of insects and external parasites that come into contact with the powder in the environment. The lipid absorbing properties of DE cause the insects and mites to be unable to take in water and other nutrients from their environment which often have fatal results, leaving your cages and enclosures insect and mite free!
DE comes in a number of grades, special, food and medical. Special grade is the lowest grade available, often used for animals as a parasitic treatment. Commonly used for chickens to treat red mites, special grade can be used for most animals though is not recommended for snakes as this can dry out their scales and for certain species that require high humidity will cause issues.
Food grade DE is what can be used for people that is safe to consume as the powder has been purified. Although not the tastiest of supplements, it can be added to smoothies etc. to work as a natural anti-parasite treatment.
Medical grade DE is the same as food grade, except it has been sterilised to be safe to use for treatments but we don’t need to talk about that here!
Here at Burford Mousery, we use special grade DE as a preventative measure for our mice alongside using a monthly treatment of ivermectin to ensure that our mice stay fit and healthy and free of parasites. To use DE we apply a thin layer sprinkled over the base of the cage using a flour sifter for more even coverage, substrate is then placed on top of this to avoid dust being agitated and reducing the risk of your mice breathing in large amounts of dust, this is because DE in excessive quantities inhaled can lead to silicosis in the lungs over time, this should also be taken into consideration by owners when dealing with this powder!
Do you use anything else to help with preventative treatments with your mice? We would love to know in the comments section below!