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Thread: A Cautionary Tale: Bed Bugs and Hideaways

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    Cavy Slave
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    Unhappy A Cautionary Tale: Bed Bugs and Hideaways

    I reviewed some old threads on this issue, but I figured my story was worth sharing as this was an issue with the hideaway rather than fleece.

    Background: NYC is notorious for rampant bed bug infestations. This has now become my life after moving to a new apartment a few months ago. I have heightened sensitivity to their bites which occasionally developed into cellulitis requiring a visit to Urgent Care or the ED. As a result, I am generally very aware of infestations or even the presence of a lone bug picked up on the train - I usually wake up very quickly after being bitten and can locate the offending parasite. When we first moved in, I was getting bit 2-3 times nightly, but it was difficult to find them as sometimes they would scurry into the stack of boxes yet to be unpacked by my bed. I cleaned meticulously and constantly checked my mattress but could never find their nesting spot, but used CimeX heavily behind/underneath the furniture and against all the floor boards. The guinea pigs were temporarily relocated whenever we did treatments and I ensured that they were never by to furniture where we had set the pesticide. Within a month, I stopped getting any bites at all. I have now been 2 months without any bites - I firmly believed that I had miraculously eradicated them without professional treatment as I could not believe that they would live in my small apartment without biting me at all.

    I have 3 guinea pigs who have always lived separately (2 and 1). They used to live in a divided C&C, but given the space of the current place, now live in a Midwest and a slightly smaller cage respectively. They used to be on fleece, but I switched to Carefresh so that the cage would be cleaned more frequently and be less wet (simultaneously battling a cockroach infestation). My lone pig is blind in one eye and has always been very quiet and withdrawn. She always sits in her wooden hideaway and never outside, only doing so to eat or poop. Her cage is stacked above the Midwest. The entire set-up is situated about 2 feet from my bed. Of note, since moving, my guinea pigs have remained a healthy weight and have been eating/drinking their usual amounts. They never once exhibited any noticeable hair loss or scratching beyond their baseline grooming habits.

    Yesterday, I woke up very early to clean their cage before work. I turned the light on and noticed a dark spot sitting atop my lone pig's hideaway, in the corner. One of my 2 loves to jump on top of her own hideaway and poop/step in it, but this was too perfect of a shape. When it moved, I realized that it was a bed bug. I grabbed a flashlight and realized that the crack between the wall of the hideaway and the ceiling of it had the knots of the wood filled with black poop from the bed bugs. As the guinea pigs are to the side, they are not in the most well-lit area, and I had never noticed this black build-up in the cracks until now. I flipped the hideaway over (stupidly, as I must have spread some eggs/lymphs that were hiding) and discovered even more poop, showing that they must have been there for quite some time as bed bugs only feed about once a week. I saw more than 1 bed bug fall out.

    None of my wooden items in the Midwest cage were affected, nor did I find any other bed bugs along the edges of their cages. I immediately threw out every wooden item in both the cages, just to be safe. This morning, my partner woke up with a new bite - the first either of us have had in 2 months. I feel absolutely horrible about how I felt so relieved to have liberated myself from them and the whole time, they had moved into the hideaway and were likely feeding off my solo pig. It didn't seem to cause her any significant health issues that I noticed (I scrutinized her feet/nose/ears/hairless parts for signs of bites or irritation), but the thought is still horrifying. Most bed bug forums that I frequented in the past always discussed the low likelihood of them honing in on pets due to the sheer difficulty in feeding off a small furry animal compared to a comparatively hairless human.

    This is my warning to anyone living with or in the vicinity of bed bug infested areas. Please check your hideaways regularly! I spent so much time in the past checking old coroplast pieces for possible cockroaches that I never considered the cracks in the wood. In the picture attached (crummy quality, but I was already late to work), you can see a bed bug in the upper left area where the two walls meet. I know that I will be much more diligent in searching for the signs.
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