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Pet Snakes provides easy to understand, practical information and facts to help the new snake owner take care of their animals. At Pet Snakes we want to provide information that will help you enjoy your reptile more than ever.

Pet snakes and mites

If you’ve ever been handling your snakes and noticed a tiny black spot moving around on its body you have likely been introduced to a mite. You’ll be lucky to just see one black spot as mites usually travel in groups and infest your snake. Mites can actually be rather difficult to get rid of even and sometimes will take multiple treatments. Needless to say a might infestation on your snake is not something to be taken lightly.

What is a mite?
By no means am I an entomologist, but I believe it will be beneficial for you to know what a mite actually is. We don’t need to get into great detail about them for the purposes of this article, but an overview of what they are and how they can affect your snake is important.

  • A mite is a parasite
  • Mites are well represented with over 48,000 different kinds in the world
  • They are closely related to ticks
  • Some have speculated that mites may have killed off the dinosaurs
  • Mites carry diseases that can affect both snakes and people
  • Snake mite

  • They can be notoriously difficult to get rid of once they have established a foothold
  • Spiders are distant cousins of mites, with both being member of the same class, arachnida

Mites are not in any way beneficial to your snake and can quite easily be deadly. In the next section we will take a look at problems mites can cause your snake.

How mites affect snakes
Out of the 48,000 different types of mites there is only one, Ophionyssus narticis, that commonly affects reptiles. It is often called by its common name of snake mite. That’s not to say that no other mites can infest snakes but those are the most common. A snake with mites can be affected several ways. Some of them are listed below:

    Snake mite

  • Cause a loss of appetite
  • Cause poor shedding
  • Cause anemia

Not to mention how irritating it is for a snake to have mites laying eggs in their eyes, around their anal vent. Ultimately mites are far more dangerous than simple discomfort. They can kill your snake if left untreated. Furthermore they can infest other snakes in your collection and snakes in other collections. As a responsible snake owner it is your duty to do everything in your power to rid your animals of any mite infestations they might have.

Getting rid of snake mites
The very moment you discover mites you should begin taking measures to get rid of them. Even if you can’t immediately begin treating to kill the mites and sterilize the tank you can at least begin the process.

  • Move the snake onto plain, white paper towels. This will help you to start seeing the mites
  • Remove everything from the tank and replace with new stuff if possible
  • Items you do not replace set aside to treat and do NOT use them until they have been treated
  • Schedule a vet visit. For the most part when you actually see a mite infestation you have big problems

Once you are able to begin a focused assault on the mites you have a couple of options. One is called Provent-a-mite which has proven itself to be a formidable ally in the battle against snake mites. Another option is an injection of a drug called ivermectin. If you decide to use ivermectin you should be very aware that it has the potential to cause severe health issues in your snakes.

As reader JSCRICK pointed out you should never inject invermectin! In fact it should only be used under the direct and skilled eye of an experienced herp vet for a variety of reasons.

Thanks to JSCRICK for pointing out my error relating to this information!

Whatever method of treatment you choose expect it to fail. That probably isn’t what you wanted to hear, but by expecting it to fail you will be even more vigilant. Since mites are notoriously difficult to get rid of being vigilant is very important. Once you believe an infestation has been erradicated spend the next month or two checking each and everyday for any signs that the mites are still there. I’m sure this sounds extreme but a mite attack on your snake is also extreme.

One last word, snakes naturally have mites (and ticks) all over them in the wild. It is a finely balanced ecosystem out there unlike in your plastic tub which are fertile breeding ground for mites. Especially when they are kept at the right temperatures and humidities. As soon as you suspect that your snake is carrying mites start working on dealing with it. Your snake can’t afford for you to wait.

  • aj

    Are mites easy to see? What are somw easier ways to see if ball python has mites.

  • nancy

    can people and dogs get mitrs from a snake that has them if you handle it and pet your dog?

  • PetSnakes

    AJ,

    If you think your snake has mites start by putting it on plain white paper towels as bedding in place of whatever else you might be using. If it has mites it won’t be long before you see them crawling around on the paper towels. Another way is to check the water dish. A snake with mites will spend a lot of time soaking in its water (if it can fit) and you can often see the mites in the water.

  • PetSnakes

    Nancy,

    Yes and no. One or two might get on you and eat a quick snack (blood) but they don’t infest humans or other mammals. We simply aren’t good hosts for them.

  • tabitha

    what would i look like if there was mite eggs in my pythons anal vent?
    please help

  • tabitha

    what would i look like if there was mite eggs in my pythons anal vent?
    please help
    how big are the mites do i need a magnifying glass to see them? and if i pick up my snake would they rub off on my hand?

  • Got the Bug

    tabitha,
    If the mites are adults you should be able to clearly see them with your naked eye, they are little black bugs. I recently purchased a baby dwarf boa and noticed 1 tiny black dot moving and under closer inpection realised it was a mite. The little horrors tend to bury under the snakes scales so can be difficult to see unless they are travelling aound. As avove i suggest placing the snake in a tbu large enough for it to move with paper towel as the substrate and that will make it alot easier to see. Follow above directions e.g clean its habitat and treat your snake, then you should be fine. Just keep a close eye on your snake for the next few weeks.

  • Blackdiamond67

    Can mites infect people that handle it? Or dogs

  • http://pet-snakes.com Pet Snakes

    They don't infest people or other mammals

  • MonkeyLoveSteve

    I am a vet tech and I just did a NaCl fecal on a milk snake and it looks like a sarcoptic mite in the fecal. It is most definitely a mite but looks exactly like a sarcoptic mite. Is this possible for a snake to have a sarcoptic mite?

  • Trouble_Stubborn

    I have 2 California Kingsnakes 1 male and 1 female. My female who is currently eggbound had a really bad outbreak of mites last week she was covered from head to tail but my male was not. The most effective treatment i have found so far is as follows every three days i treat both snakes and tankwith a mite-off solution and bathe both snakes in luke warm water for minimum of 1 hour everyday and so far i have not seen anymore mites.

  • rider

    very interesting thanx

  • Bryce

    I have a very young red-tail boa and I found out today he has mites  so now  i’m sad what should  I do if he still has mites after i take everything out of his tank P.S im only 10 years old so i’m broke                                                                                      

  • David

    I have a red tail that I have treated and I feel that I have killed them all. How long should I keep her separated from my male? It’s been about a week and a half since I first treated her. Can I put her with my male now or after she sheds?

  • Jrs mom

    my eleven year old son has a red tail boa as well and we just found the mites on him. Put him in a bath tub with warm water and use a dry towel to wipe the mites off. Put white paper towels in the bottom of tank so that you can see the mites if they are still on him. Bathe him daily. Slowly they will be gone. Also use your heat bulb on the tank, the mites die from heat

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