Snake Mites

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Snake Mites

Post by Tony W on Mon Aug 23, 2010 4:20 am

Hi all,

I saw Buddy's post of his great looking Jag Sib earlier...and he mentioned that his animal had just been freed of the dreaded snake mite....my response to him is as below....I don't think we have a thread on this particular subject so thought it would be valuable to have a read and listen to other folks experiences, remedies and so on...this seems to be a subject people don't like to talk about...I don't know why...I can't imagine there's anyone out there that hasn't experienced the same....

Mites...if it makes you feel any better, I periodically have mites turn up and I class myself as fastidious in hygiene and husbandry....treat snakes, scrub housings, vivs etc....have removed rugs/carpets...hoover so none of that fluff appears in corners where fluff gathers....no dogs/cat in the room....no people without appropriate footwear etc etc.....and still every few weeks one or two of the little buggers appear... wiping out successive generations is the key of course and that's not so easy...being on top of your animals and set ups is key and eradicating as soon as they become apparent is my solution....I've seen a lot of animals kept on bark, shavings and other substrates, these are damp and warm relatively high maintenance and must encourage mites as they do other insects but you don't hear folk talking about them.....

Personally I don't think there's a product or method out there that completely reduces the mite issue to zero, you know, so that it's gone forever [I may be wrong] if there is let's start a new thread and talk through it...


So here's that thread, your own experiences and resolution to the problem I'm sure will be an interesting read...


Last edited by Tony W on Mon Aug 23, 2010 10:16 am; edited 2 times in total

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Re: Snake Mites

Post by Buddy on Mon Aug 23, 2010 4:29 am

In this case I applied frontline to the snake, avoiding eyes, mouth and heat pits. All bedding , branches etc were removed and destroyed before scrubbing the rub out with boiling water and milton fluid, then rinsed out. The bedding was replaced with kitchen roll and water bowl removed for 24 hours, as with all hides, etc......the snake moved out of the rep room for 3 weeks until I was sure they had vanished.
Now just a matter of keeping a close eye on him and the others, keeping all new arrivals in quarentine set ups for 4 weeks until I'm sure they are clean as well
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Re: Snake Mites

Post by Tony W on Mon Aug 23, 2010 4:56 am

Link to French site for inexpensive Frontline spray....if this is the way you decide to go...please do your research prior to purchasing or using these products, although very effective, I don't think they're designed for reptiles, rather our furry friends [cats and dogs]...those folk that have used this product to eradicate mites from their snakes rave about it.....this product normally retails at around £14-15...the below site offer a 100ml spray bottle for under a tenner....if you bulk buy you may be a little better off!

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Re: Snake Mites

Post by morelia on Mon Aug 23, 2010 8:09 am

I have had mite outbreaks in the past and have tried most of the methods out there until I came across one which has worked for me ever since. Its a no-nonsense approach that I now apply to every new arrival here.

The last outbreak I had was 4 years ago and it started with a carpet python I acquired; coming from a supposedly reputable source, I made the mistake of housing it in the same room as my other snakes. That is the last time I ever made that mistake as, once I spotted the mites, everything - every animal and every viv - had to be treated. I first used defender mites but they died as I found it hard to provide the adequately damp conditions they needed to thrive. I decided to go for a combination that hasn't failed me since......Frontline and Provent-A-Mite. It cleared the mite problem up and I have never had a mite outbreak since.

Here's my personal tried-and-tested method for eradicating mites:
1. Remove snake from viv and house in bare tub
2. Remove all viv decor and spray enclosure with Provent-A-Mite (ensure no animals are near the fumes)
3. Wash snake in tepid, soapy water and scan closely for nymph and adult mites, removing any if found; particular attention is given to the head area
4. Spray rubber gloves with Frontline and let snake crawl through gloved hands, ensuring the Frontline covers everywhere but the head area; set snake in tub for around 30 minutes
5. After 30 minutes or so, remove snake from tub and wash in tepid, soapy water
6. Check snake again for any signs of live or dead mites and remove any found manually
7. When fumes have cleared from the viv, return snake and house on newspaper with minimal furnishings for a few days; water is offerred for an hour or two a day only
8. Provent-A-Mite spray lingers inside the viv for weeks and so will catch newly hatched mites i.e. all stages of the mite life cycle

The 3 washings the snake gets - two of tepid soapy water and one of Frontline, together with visual checking for mites, basically cleans the animal of all but mite eggs; the Provent-A-Mite lingers in the viv and will catch any mites in the viv together with any mites that hatch out after treatment....so it breaks the mite life-cycle.

For every new animal I acquire they are now treated as above and kept in quarantine for several months at least before going anywhere near my other snakes. Whats the reason for my paranoia? IBD......mites transmit this viral disease and it affects all boids (boas and pythons), as well as vipers. Boas in particular can carry this virus and not show external signs of disease for months, years even, and in so doing can infect all other boids / vipers in your collection. IBD in pythons attacks faster and within a few months you could lose everything.

There are also plenty of other, unknown and unstudied viruses that are carried by snake mites and can probably wreak havoc just like IBD.......IMO why take the risk? A good washing, quarantine and hygiene protocol is worth its weight in gold.


Last edited by morelia on Mon Aug 23, 2010 2:47 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Snake Mites

Post by Tony W on Mon Aug 23, 2010 8:13 am

Excellent post Karl...

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Re: Snake Mites

Post by hudsy13 on Mon Aug 23, 2010 9:23 am

to keep away the promblem i use sheets of newspapers,
and change the sheets every 2-3 weeks depending how much mess they make,
and i have bottle of mite-off by zoo med that i give the tanks a mist down with every months and when a new snake comes the tanks get sprayed down every 2weeks
my reason for zoo-med's mite off is that it works quite well
i bought a royal from a pet shop in portadown,
well in about 2 weeks the tank and snake was covered in mites,
at the time i had no idea what they were did some research and found out it was mites, so i searched for products to get rid of them and zoo-med came up quite a number of times,
so i order 2 bottles and i only neede like 1/4 of 1 bottle to clear them
now after 1yr i still have a bottle left so it last,
simply spay the tank and the snake/lizzard
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Re: Snake Mites

Post by Tony W on Mon Aug 23, 2010 10:18 am

Thanks for that Hudsy...I think I'll go with Karl's regimen in this instance... Very Happy

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Re: Snake Mites

Post by jonty on Mon Aug 23, 2010 10:42 am

I think most people shy away from talking about this issue as a lot of people do consider hygene to be a hugr factor when it comes to mites, but as you've stated Tony, you're a bit of a hygene nazi and i would be the same, and as someone once told me, if you've never had any snake mites, then you've never kept snakes.

I have had mites on a couple of occasions and have used prety much the same method as Karl with the frontline. In addition i have used a steamer in round all of the nooks and crannies as mite eggs cannot survive temperatures of over 105 degrees.

Another method i have used for younger snakes is to smother the snake with olive oil which suffocates the mites and then clean the excess off. The viv was then cleaned with a 50/50 vinegar/water solution, this worked to great effect.

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Re: Snake Mites

Post by Tan on Mon Aug 23, 2010 11:08 am

Excellent thread guys. No body used defender mites?? I think they are awesome (not if you have insects mind you so you need to be careful). I read so many people giving off how they wouldn't use these natural little predictors because whats to stop them turning on the snake when all the foods gone and I thought it would be a similar line of thinking that once an Elephant has eaten all the crops they'll hunt lions so they don't perish, we know this is not the case as they can and do starve to death in dry seasons and enough research out there to show these mites only feed on other insects and they die off once the food source runs out. I also don't believe they will evolve at the speed of light (like some have suggested on other sites) and suddenly add a new species to their diet. I don't crawl the net but when I did a lot of reading into them I couldn't find one person (at that time) who said they had had any adverse reaction in their animal due to defenders. In saying that it's been a long time since I read about them so things could have changed.

Of course you do not have to keep your snake in the viv with the defenders and can do similar to Karl & Tony as they have suggested, they really are excellent methods but even to release defenders into the room in which the mites have been spotted and seal up the door for a day or so. Mite can travel a fair distance too so moving your snake from one room to another will not prevent the mite finding him but the parasites will be hunted if you use defenders.

For myself, my only experience with snake mites was a few years ago when I took in Big Al and the female he was living with (she was very sick and eventually died) but he was crawling. My own method was firstly gloves on, people remember many of the products we use on our animals like frontline, selemectin etc...are absorbed through the skin and are designed for our animals, we too will absorb these as our skin is thin and there is not enough study to show the effect on our bodies long term but IMO it only makes sense to keep the animal treatments for the animals especially if you are treating on a regular basis (as with furries) as the load will be heavier.

Anyway, I use kitchen roll, sprayed with frontline and out to the garden we go, this product should always be used in a well ventilated area as the fumes can be very harmful (and cause death in some cases). Big Al was then allowed the pass through the kitchen roll coating his body and also allowing me to rub him down. When dealing with mites one thing to keep in mind is the environment in which these little critters thrive so remove water bowls and all furnishings or if you relocate the animal in question to new surroundings you can always turn up the temps and attempt to cook the mites. I remember reading they cannot survive above a certain temp (40degrees or something similar) nor can the other stages of development from egg to mite so turning everything on full in the viv for a few days will eventually eradicate them. I'm not sure how true this is as I've never done it myself and I wouldn't relay on this alone if at all but something to keep in mind (maybe someone can shed some light or correct this).

IMO an enclosure should contain only necessary items for the duration of the treatment until you are happy you've eradicated all the little blighters. I kept Big Al on liners with no water dish and a resin hide. Daily he was washed and while out of his tub his hide and tub sprayed with frontline and left for a half hour each time with the lid on the tub. Once this had dispersed I used a hand held steamer to get into any nooks or crannies. Then they (tub & hide and NOT the snake) where submerged in a bath of very hot water and once the water cooled down I washed them and allowed to air dry. As Karl has mentioned a little liquid soap is the way to go. I did this for two weeks (treating Al twice with frontline) and never saw the mites again.

Another thing to remember is treating mites in mammals and reps is a very different thing. We know how frontline (fipronil) works in our mammals, it's absorbed into the body, in a nut shell it's storred in the skin once distributed by the blood stream and then fed to the flea, mite or tick who feed on that animal and causes them death. My wondering is what does frontline do to the snakes internally or Ivermec for that matter as some favour this over frontline.

I've only had them once on reptiles but as I keep mammals and treat them on a regular basis, on any given day I've frontline, ivermec and stronghold at my disposal and I always treat any news snakes coming in and keep them in another house for a few months (the perks to having great parents & a home), this being the quarantine zone and no one is aloud enter that room without wearing disposable surgical foot coverings, gloves and disposable aprons (a funny sight to see) and all available to the general public to buy on ebay for anyone interested. It's worked for me so far :) and my last words are no matter how clean you or your animals are you cannot completely prevent such things happening at one stage or another and I for one am glad this thread has gone up because it really is a taboo subject especially in the rep world which surprised me. Good on you Tony and everyone else for being so open, only helps bring the community together.

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Re: Snake Mites

Post by jonty on Mon Aug 23, 2010 11:28 am

Here's a really good link to an article on snake mites

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Re: Snake Mites

Post by Tan on Mon Aug 23, 2010 12:03 pm

Excellent link Marty and they answer my 'cooking' question :)

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Re: Snake Mites

Post by Tony W on Mon Aug 23, 2010 12:30 pm

Great link Marty...well worth the read...

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Re: Snake Mites

Post by Big Dogg on Mon Aug 23, 2010 2:00 pm

Glad you posted this up Tony. I only got into reptiles at the beginning of this year, but my collection has grown really quickly. I done plenty of research into different reptiles as my collection was growing, but I must admit, although reading about quarantining new additions, my idea of quarantine was keeping the rep at the other side of the room from the others as my house is rather small lol. Anywho, needless to say, a snake I got had an infestation of mites and it spread to nearby snakes. After a lot of reading, I decided not to go with frontline as I didn't like the risks with me being quite inexperienced.

My method was to bath the snake in a luke warm bath with olive oil added to it. This is apparently great at flushing out and drowning any mites on the snake. Then the viv itself was soaked in water + bleach solution (if it was a plastic penine viv - wooden vivs I had to just hand wash with water + bleach solution). This was a painstaking operation with so many snakes & vivs, but needed to be done. After they were bathed with water & oil, I then let them slither through paper towels so I could see how many mites were coming off, then I'd bath them again with just water to rinse any oil off etc, then dry with paper towels again and see if any more mites came off. Then the snake was kept in a RUB with either paper towels or newspaper substrate so you could monitor any mites. This is a fairly cheap method, though this wasn't the reason I went down this route - it was more because it was the least risky option in that nothing could cause the reptile harm.

I have since switched to using newspaper substrate for pretty much all of my enclosures as it offers a number of benefits, including easy to spot mites.

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Re: Snake Mites

Post by morelia on Mon Aug 23, 2010 2:43 pm

I have tried defender mites in the past Tan, I bought loads of them as my last outbreak was bad, and they seemed to slowly die in my snake room despite having warm, moist tubs in each viv from where they spread out. After a few weeks of persevering with them the snake mites were still present so I switched to chemical tactics.

Defender mites do get great reviews so I put it down to them not thriving in my particular set-up; for a lot of other people they work great! Heres a link to where I got mine: [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

There's been some mention of minimal viv furnishings etc. during treatment.....the beauty with using Provent-A-Mite is that there is no need to remove any of the viv contents other than the water bowl (for obvious reasons) and this means that even wooden decor .e.g. branches where mites LOVE to hide and lay eggs can be left in situ. When you have quite a few vivs to treat, this can save a heck of a lot of time and energy! Its a no-nonsense spray and very safe for use on reptiles....actually its specifically for use on reptiles. Here's a link to the product: [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

.....DISCLAIMER: Provent-A-Mite has not been passed for sale in the UK and as such, if buying from the States, it is at the buyers risk as it MAY be confiscated at customs; that said, I always have a tin here and I've never got any confiscated. Also a bit of digging around on the net will find you a UK supplier of Provent-A-Mite, I just canny recall the name at the moment.
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Re: Snake Mites

Post by Tan on Mon Aug 23, 2010 3:27 pm

Thanks for the info Karl and tbh had you not posted this, if I ever have them again which I'm sure I will, I would have done the same as I've done before, removing everything, throwing out loads if I cannot boil or bake it lol

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Re: Snake Mites

Post by pitviper on Sun Aug 29, 2010 12:34 pm

What do mites look like? I got the other Jag sib which may have been housed together with buddies.
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Re: Snake Mites

Post by Tony W on Sun Aug 29, 2010 12:39 pm

Adult mites are pretty easy to identify, they're black and roughly pin head sized....maybe a tad smaller.....

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Re: Snake Mites

Post by pitviper on Sun Aug 29, 2010 12:49 pm

there may be some in her water dish. brown and black bits?
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Re: Snake Mites

Post by Big Dogg on Sun Aug 29, 2010 1:28 pm

Karl, if you remember where in the UK sells that provent a mite stuff, let me know - I'd get a few bottles to keep here just in case :)

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Re: Snake Mites

Post by Tony W on Sun Aug 29, 2010 7:09 pm

pitviper wrote:there may be some in her water dish. brown and black bits?

It's always a sign...if you wet your snake down and let it slide through your hands any mites will become apparent...treat as per Karl's method...

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Re: Snake Mites

Post by inkriminate on Mon Aug 30, 2010 2:20 am

Big Dogg wrote:Karl, if you remember where in the UK sells that provent a mite stuff, let me know - I'd get a few bottles to keep here just in case :)
yea +1 on that please Karl, i heard someone talking about a spray that you can use a while ago but i could never find anywhere that sold any sort of mite spray
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Re: Snake Mites

Post by Tony W on Mon Aug 30, 2010 2:33 am

All,

I've recently dealt with Bob Pound who heads up Pro products in the States....drop him a line, tell him what you need and he'll help you out. He'll likely inform you that there is a slight risk of products being stopped at customs, this is simply to cover his own back and to ensure you accept sole responsibility for anything lost in the post.

Pro products routinely ship to the UK and Europe...as it's not a registered product...it's kind of hard to get a hold of.

Hope this helps.

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Re: Snake Mites

Post by trunx on Mon Aug 30, 2010 2:38 am

emerald isle reptiles in lurgan have PAM on their websie, 22 notes a can, gonna order some myself.
anyway, i like chemicals for killing mite. i used to use frontline,but last time i used ivamec as i had some for doing the dogs. the dogs get injected, obviously i didnt jag snakes though!

i make a dip(like a sheep dip). 2ml ivamec to every pint of water is strong enough. just fill a tub with the solution, dip each snaake then rub it down wearing gloves. put the snake in another tub to let it dry naturally then rinse it and watch dead mites fall off.


tubs and vivs get a good scrub with bleachy water. i have some vapona left, wooden racks and soft furnishings get sprayed with that, but i will use PAM when i get some. the animals go back when the fumes have died down.
mites are annoying, but they are easy enough to sort too..................
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Re: Snake Mites

Post by Tony W on Mon Aug 30, 2010 2:41 am

Thanks for that update Trunx...good man...

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Re: Snake Mites

Post by inkriminate on Mon Aug 30, 2010 2:45 am

thanks Tony
will have to check it out and get some sorted
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