Mites on reptiles – another solution
After browsing your most interesting and fascinating site I came across “Mites on Reptiles (11/10/2005) and Mite Remedy (12/312005) and would like to add the following. The mites are most probably of the family Dermanyssidae, and are commonly referred to in South Africa as Red-mite because, when the mites are gorged from sucking blood from their hosts, they actually have a red appearance. These mites also live on birds and mammals, and this is usually where an infestation originates from in captive reptiles. For example, there may be red-mite present on mice fed to the snakes, or they may come from birds which have alighted near to the place where the snake is being kept. These mites are nocturnal and hide in small cracks and crevasses within the cage during the day, emerging to feed on the snake at night. However they might also hide under the scales of the snake during the day. When infestations become chronic, the snake will lie in its water dish in an attempt to drown the mite and reduce the infestation. The mite found in the water dish were as a result of this action, and the best way to check for mite is to examine the bottom water dish for drowned mite, or to observe the snake spending extended periods of its time in the water dish. There are many remedies being put forward for controlling red-mite, but I have found the following to be the safest and to work the best. Apply a copious amount of natural seed oil (preferably sunflower or olive oil) to ones hands, and wipe the snake down from head to tail, making sure to wipe the eyes, and under the chin. The advantage of seed oil is that it penetrates under the scales where the mite hide as well as in around the eyes. The oil blocks the breathing pores of the mite and they suffocate and then fall off. If the infestation is severe the oiled snake should be removed to another cage and the original cage sprayed with a pyrethrin based aerosol, taking care to spray all the joints. The cage should be left closed for 24 hours and then left open to air for a further 24 hours. Failure to spray the cage may result in reinfestation after a relatively short time. Do not use just any oily product, such as glycerine, to wipe the snake down with. Best regards Rod Douglas
Herpetology Department, National Museum
PO Box 266, 9300 Bloemfontein
We are sure our reptile fanciers will find your expert advice helpful.