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Ask The Entomologist question about bugs in hamster cage

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Question:
I have a hamster that when I went to feed him today, noticed the smallest white bugs I have ever seen all around his cage. There were also tiny black bugs that were much larger but still about the size of a flee. What do you think they are.

Answer:
Based on your description I cannot tell exactly what you saw.  Things that come to mind are psocids and mites.  Many times in animal cages particles of food will accumulate and attract a variety of insects.  Mites and Psocids are extremely small and would be present if there are some wet areas (when food particles get wet from the water or urine).  Phorid flies will also be attracted to these conditions.   Phorid flies are very small, black flies.  The larvae are small and white and when they pupate (turn into a cocoon) they are larger and darker in color.  If you start seeing little flies flying around the cage then that is probably what you were seeing.  The presence of any of these insects or arthropods indicates that the cage needs to be thoroughly cleaned.  Maintaining a clean cage with fresh bedding, fresh food, and water will keep most insects away and you will have a healthier hamster.