One of the most widely and common asked questions time and time again is around mites and “How do I get rid of mites?”. If you have mites, do not panic, do not beat yourself up over it, everyone that has snakes has dealt with mites at one point or another. If you have not dealt with mites, chances are you have not had snakes long enough..LOL As common of a problem as mites are when keeping reptiles, there are as many ways to get rid of them. Everyone has their own favorite method, product, etc, etc. I won’t touch on all of them, but only what I have used myself during outbreaks and maintaining a mite free environment. My weapon of choice is Provent-a-mite which has (0.5% Permethrin), you can also find 0.5% Permethrin in other aerosols. I don’t endorse PAM and am in no way affiliated to PAM. But, to keep it simple I will simply refer to PAM in this write up as it’s what I’ve used….
The way I treat a mite situation is simple and as followed. Do not think of treating the snake or the mites as this is pointless. For every mite you see, there could be 100-1000 across the room on other snakes, throughout the floor, behind cabinets, everywhere. So with that in mind, simply treating the snake or the mites you see is pointless. You have to treat the environment! If I see ONE mite on ONE snake, I assume there are many more and treat EVERYTHING! I will start by cleaning the tubs and everything! I am fortunate to have extra tubs so this helps…what I do is pre-treat the clean tubs with a mist of PAM over the rim all around. What this does is regardless whether mites are on the snake and getting off after feeding, or elsewhere and trying to get on the snake, at some point they will come in contact with the PAM and die!
1) Take everything out of the tub, snake, hides, water bowls, bedding, etc.
2) Clean everything with soap and water, rinse well!
3) I also hit the tub and everything with a mist of F10 to disinfect.
4) When dry I hit with a light mist of PAM around the rim all around the tub.
5) Let the tub air dry for a few hours and then place bedding, hide, water bowl and snake back in.
6) After all tubs are treated in the rack, clean the entire rack itself with any disinfectant. Once dry, spray PAM directly onto paper towel and wipe rack from the legs to each shelf getting into the edges and corners.
7) Repeat on ALL your racks and cages!
Repeat all of the above every 2-3wks for the next 2-3MO!
Treating mites is not about killing the mites that you see! This action is pointless as I mentioned before as there could be 2-3-10 mites on your snake and 100-1000 across the room that you don’t see and won’t! Also mites lay eggs! Even killing all the mites you see and think to yourself you are done! Don’t be shocked if in a month you find a whole new infestation as those eggs hatch! This is why it is important to retreat every 2-3wks for the next 2-3MO! This is not a day to day battle so do not stress yourself each day you see mites! This is longer term maintenance to treat and followed by a constant NEVER ENDING state of alertness to make sure you keep mites out! Even long after you stop seeing mites, you must remain vigilant to keep them out! One thing I do is a regular preventative maintenance routine of treating all tubs and racks once every 3-4MO. Regardless that I have no seen a mite in my collection in years…I treat for them once every quarter as above! I also follow other preventative measures such as…..
I am fortunate enough to have a rack/tubs I use specifically for new additions. This rack is kept outside of my main collection and this rack and tub are always pretreated for mites any time any new snake arrives! It does not matter who I buy the snake from! I assume it has mites and take precautions to keep them out of my main room. I quarantine the snake for a month or two before it enters my main room and which during this time it is watched and evaluated. Ideally it should be kept longer in QT but reality is not everyone has an extra rack or room to QT new additions. At the very least, pre-treat the tub and rack your new snake will go in for mites a day before it arrives.
Mites can also hitch a ride on you, your friends! If you attend a Reptile Expo, go into a pet shop, visit a friend with snakes that happens to have mites! You could very well have mites hitching a ride on you back home! Be vigilant of your surroundings and what comes into your reptile room! Whenever I visit a friend with snakes, or attend a reptile expo, anywhere that there are other snakes and could potentially have mites…I make sure and take precautions so that I minimize the chances of having any unwanted hitchhikers into my collection! It may seem very anal and paranoid, but ask anyone that has lost a snake or a collection to disease and you too will think a bit more the next time you handle those snakes at the local pet shop!
WHERE HAS YOUR SNAKE BEEN?
Many think about price when buying a new snake! Many think about looks, pattern, quality, health when buying a new snake! When the snake arrives they look for mites, signs of RI, infections, any visible signs of something wrong! But, what about what you can’t see? How was that snake housed and cared for before you bought it? Did you know that healthy looking snake you just bought may have spent the night, a week, a month or more in the same room with 100s and 1000′s of animals passing through from all over the state or maybe even across the world with little care for history or health? Did you know your snake may have spent the night next to 100s of snakes that were shipped in the week before with possibly dozens of dead snakes from multiple causes? Did you know your snake may have come from a collection where the previous owner lost 1/2 his snakes to IBD and wholesaled the other half? Makes you wonder where did your snake REALLY come from?
Are you buying direct from the breeder? The person who owns and maybe even hatched out the parents of your new addition, maybe even the grandparents? Has a record of everything from the day your snake hatched? Got it feeding it’s first meal, cared for it as they do all their snakes and every snake that has ever come in contact with your snake and every animal in their care? That only sells what they produce and know from A to Z from the egg?
Are you buying from someone that simply bought your snake along with 100s or 1000s of other animals that year? Purchased wholesale for the lowest price, simply to flip/resell ASAP for the highest price they could get, along with the other 100s and 1000′s of animals that have come and gone through their doors? No history, probably no controls, not a care in the world other than how low they paid for your snake, how much can they profit, and how fast can they sell it? Makes you think, who are you buying from, where has your snake REALLY been? Where did your snake really come from? Do you even care? I do….