Have you heard about reptile mites?
Did you know reptiles get parasites?
Have you noticed mites crawling around your reptile or its tank?
If so, then you’re probably wondering:
How do I get rid of reptile mites?
Reptile mites are very difficult to get rid of, but they are not impossible to exterminate if you treat them aggressively by thoroughly cleaning your reptile and environment.
What Are Reptile Mites?
Reptile mites are parasites similar to ticks.
They are small bloodsuckers, and they feed off of the blood of another animal or host.
Reptile mites don’t generally feed on non-reptile hosts, but they may use humans or other animals as transportation from one reptile host to another because they are mobile parasites.
They also reproduce quickly, so if you have even one mite, one could turn into several in a short period.
Mites experience metamorphosis from various larvae to adult stages.
Some of these stages the mites do not suck blood.
There are several varieties of mites ranging in colors from black and tan to bright orange and red if they’ve recently had a blood meal.
The most common species of mites are the snake mite, lizard mite, and chigger mite.
Like fleas and ticks, mites may carry and transmit diseases from one reptile to another.
Because of their ability to move quickly and the danger they cause to your reptile’s health, you will need to take precautions, so your reptile does not get them.
If you discover your reptile does have mites, you will need to kill them off quickly.
How Do Reptiles Get Mites?
All reptiles are susceptible to mites, whether they live in captivity or the wild.
However, wild reptiles have a much easier time dealing with mites because the mites are not confined to a small space like they are with captive reptiles.
In a small space, mites reproduce at a fast rate and will quickly take over.
In the wild, generally, a reptile gets rid of mites when they shed their skin.
Even shedding skin does not help a reptile in captivity because the skin is still part of their enclosure.
Mites happen if a reptile is in an environment where other reptiles are present.
You’ll want to be careful when introducing a new reptile to your environment and follow quarantine procedures, so mites do not spread.
Mites tend to be a sign an enclosure or reptile has not been cared for well.
This could be because of poor sanitation care, or improper quarantine practices when introducing a new reptile to your household.
It could also mean other reptiles your pet was exposed to have not had proper care.
How Do I Know If My Reptile Has Mites?
It is very easy to identify if your reptile has mites.
In severe cases, the mites will assemble on the top layer of the reptile’s skin and around your reptile’s eyes, ears, and scales.
In less severe cases, you may notice dark specks—mites—in your reptile enclosure, water bowl, or reptile.
Mites are also obvious when you handle your reptile.
Sometimes they will come off the reptile and travel onto your hand.
Less severe cases may cause your reptile to spend more time soaking in its water dish.
Other symptoms include raised scales, swollen eyes, irritability, and loss of appetite.
How to Get Rid of Reptile Mites
The easiest way to treat reptile mites is not to let them show up in the first place.
To prevent mites, make sure you are using healthy sanitation practices and properly quarantining any new reptiles.
You will also want to be mindful to wash your hands after handling a reptile with mites, so you don’t transfer them.
If you have discovered mites on your reptile or in its enclosure, you will need to treat the reptile and its cage quite aggressively.
The first thing you will want to do is isolate the reptile and tank with the mites.
Check the rest of your reptiles to make sure they do not have mites. Isolate any other reptiles and tanks you find with mites.
Treating Your Reptile’s Enclosure
Once you’ve isolated the tanks with mites, it’s time to start treating them.
There are a few steps to keep in mind when treating your reptile tank for mites:
Step 1: Empty the Tank
Start by moving your reptile into a temporary enclosure and empty the tank.
Bag up and throw out the substrate.
Mites are hard to exterminate from the substrate and other porous wood items.
It’ll take less time and energy and be more effective to replace the substrate and other wooden accessories.
If even one mite is left, it will reproduce, and you’ll have to go through this whole process again.
Better to act aggressively now than to have to deal with mites again.
If you are attached to the wood accessories in your tank and do not want to replace them, spray them down with mite spray, tie the items up in a black garbage bag, and place it outside in the sun for a few days.
The heat and pesticide should kill them off, but you may need to repeat it a few times before returning the items to the cage.
Step 2: Clean the Tank Thoroughly
Once the items and substrate have been removed from the tank, clean the entire tank and screen.
Spray down the tank with water and use paper towels to wipe up any of the substrate still in the bottom.
Be sure to use paper towels instead of cloth towels, because mites hide in the cloth and continue to migrate.
Any used paper towels should be contained in a garbage bag and throw away.
Step 3: Treat the Tank with Mite Spray
Be sure to follow the instructions on the can.
Keep in mind this is a pesticide, so you will want to spray the tank in a well-ventilated area.
Do not inhale the fumes.
Once the tank has been thoroughly sprayed down, including all the nooks and crannies, wipe it with another round of paper towels.
Respray the tank with water to clean out the pesticide and any remaining mites.
Repeat the same process for the screen. Let all the items dry.
Step 4: Prep the Tank for Your Reptile
In addition to cleaning the tank, you will need to prep it for your reptile.
Do not return any of the items you initially removed from the tank.
Instead, use transparent or white items so any remaining mites in the tank will be easily spotted.
For a substrate, lay down some paper towels across the bottom of the tank.
Following product instructions, lightly spray down the new substrate with mite spray then let it dry.
Air out the tank of any remaining fumes before returning your reptile to the tank.
Use plastic dishes for the water bowl.
Create a new hide for your reptile by flipping a plastic container over and cutting an opening into the side.
Just be sure to sand the edges down because the plastic may be sharp.
Step 5: Treat Your Environment
Once the tank is cleaned, you’ll need to consider where the mites have traveled.
Bags of substrate may need to be disposed of.
Other items with mites will need to be removed from the environment and isolated for a while.
Treating Your Reptile
While you were cleaning the tank, your reptile should be isolated in a temporary tank.
Now it’s time to treat your reptile.
The easiest way to get rid of mites from your reptile is with water.
Let your reptile soak in warm water for about 30 minutes.
Depending on the kind of mite spray you choose, you may be able to spray down your reptile.
Be sure to read the bottle carefully and follow instructions.
These sprays are toxic if ingested.
Next, rinse off your reptile and spray it with warm water.
You will likely need to repeat this process every few days for a little while until the mites are completely gone.
You will also need to repeat the tank cleaning process daily until the mites are gone.
Once your reptile and tank are mite-free, you may consider adding back in a real substrate and new accessories.
If the infestation is really bad, consider consulting a vet for guidance about how to treat your reptile.
Reptile mites are a challenging health hazard for your reptile.
They carry diseases and suck the life out of your pet.
While it is possible to get rid of mites, if your reptile has mites, you will need to begin treatment immediately and aggressively.
After the mites are eliminated, make sure you take the necessary precautions, so they do not come back.