Treatment for Snake Mites

I can’t have a website on snake hacks without mentioning a treatment for snake mites. Still, it’s a very controversial subject that I would rather avoid talking about. This is due to my own controversial method of treatment using a no-pest strip.

Snake mites, the scourge of snake keepers

It’s said that snake mites first arrived in the hobby on ball pythons imported from Africa. Snake mites are parasitic arachnids related to ticks and spiders. While they’re closely associated with snakes, most any reptile can get them. Snake mites have always been problematic for snake keepers. Their extermination is just as controversial.

A snakes mite infestation can happen to any keeper

The more new snakes added to your collection, the higher the risk of snake mite infestation. Especially when adding wild-caught specimens to your collection. It happens to all of us and it doesn’t mean that your husbandry skills are poor. Somewhere down the line, you simply made a mistake.

The best way to treat mites is to never introduce them to your collection in the first place. An effective way to go about this is to quarantine all new snakes you acquire. Keep them in a different room until you’re sure that they’re mite free.

Quarantine preferences

There’s no magic number of how many days or weeks to keep snakes in quarantine. Different people suggest different time periods. Some recommend six to eight months. Personally, I think you’ll know before then. The general idea is to watch them closely during their stay in quarantine.

Use a single layer of white paper towels as bedding which makes mites more easy to spot.

Look for evidence of mites in their water bowl and on the snake itself. Especially around the eyes, mouth and on the scales under the bottom of the jaw. They appear as red and black specks reminiscent of pepper. Eventually, the infestation becomes more noticeable. You’ll see them crawling over the snake with the naked eye.

Treatment for Snake Mites
This captive bred yearling Great Basin gopher snake delivered to me with a light infestation of snake mites. After one treatment I achieved 100% eradication. Today, he is happy, healthy, and growing like a weed.

Symptoms of an afflicted snake will include

  • Refusal to eat
  • Irritability
  • Excessive soaking in their water bowl
  • Anemia
  • An overall appearance of lifelessness
7 pet snakes that stay small
Wild-caught ball pythons are responsible for bringing mites to American reptile collections.

Remove snakes from quarantine when you’re certain that they’re free of mites and other diseases.

Conditions that are conducive for snake mites

Snakes mites originate from warm, tropical climates. As such, they need certain environmental conditions to survive. Warmth and humidity are both necessitates for these mites to advance through further life stages. There are five life stages of snake mites.

Only during the fifth stage can a snake mite tolerate low humidity levels. This is when mites are capable of leaving the safe confines of their humid enclosure in search of a new host. They then spread to other enclosures where they smell other snakes.

My treatment for snake mites

There’re different ways to successfully treat snake mites. I have a treatment that always works for me. After implementing this method, I haven’t been defeated by a snake mite infestation since the late 1980s.

The problem with my preferred treatment is that it’s highly controversial and I can’t say it’s okay for you to do. There are also supposed health risks involved with this treatment. The old-school way of dealing with mites is by using a small piece of No-Pest Strip.

No-Pest Strip

I’ve always achieved 100% eradication by the second or third treatment. Many times it only takes one treatment. I ‘ve never observed any adverse effects on any snake while utilizing this treatment, or afterward. That’s just my experience.

On the other hand, there are people who claim that snakes have gotten sick and even died by my method of treatment. Ironically, I once used a product back in the 1980s labeled for snake mites that ended up killing my snake. As far as the No-Pest Strip goes, I only recommend following the directions by the label.

Treatment of the enclosure

In my opinion, simple is the best way to go when setting up a snake enclosure. I prefer paper towels as opposed to any other substrate. They’re both absorbent and change out quickly. Paper towels are also relatively cheap. I keep nearly forty snakes and feel that paper towels are the best option for most of them.

They also offer less suitable living conditions for mites and spotting them is easy. I would hate to have a mite infestation with aspen bedding or something similar. What a nightmare that would be.

Display enclosures

I understand that everyone has their own preferences. Many times, keepers prefer to set up a display enclosure for their snake. This includes large fish tanks used as snakes living quarters.

In the case of having a display enclosure infested with mites, one must treat the entire tank along with the snake. This means that such ornaments as plastic plants, wooden branches, and stones need treatment. Snake mites do not usually lay their eggs on the snake itself. Instead, they lay their eggs in the corners of the enclosure.

Provent-a-Mite

One might try Provent-a-Mite as a treatment for snake mites. To be perfectly honest, I haven’t used it. Reviews that I’ve read are mostly positive. I understand it’s a permethrin-based pesticide that’s also used in treatment for head lice in humans.

When the label’s instructions are properly followed, Provent-a-Mit could make cleaning an enclosure infested with snake mites easier. If I had an active infestation, I wouldn’t mind trying it out.

Ticks

Ticks are another parasitic arachnid that is occasionally found on snakes. My only experience with such a situation was when I worked at a pet store during my youth. We had received some ball pythons imported directly from Africa. While they were mite free, they arrived with a different surprise, ticks.

Luckily, dealing with ticks is easier than mites. We simply took tweezers and manually removed them. Ticks won’t return once they’re all removed. With all the captive breeding today, it’s probably unlikely that you’ll have to deal with a tick infestation. Just be aware that it’s possible with imported specimens.

Treatment for snake mites
Ticks sometimes come in on snakes imported from other countries.

Conclusion

Snake mites are a problem that must be dealt with as soon as you’re aware of their presence. If ignored, the problem gets worse as the mites increase their numbers possibly spreading to other snake enclosures.

Remember to quarantine all new reptiles before introducing them to your collection. Inspect them thoroughly for snakes mites a few times a day, and especially at night. Nighttime is when snake mites are most active. Also, remember that mites usually don’t lay their eggs on the snake but in and around its enclosure.

That’s why the snake, its enclosure, and in some cases, the entire room must be treated to become completely mite free. It depends on how bad the infestation is and how long it’s been let go.

What’s your way of successfully treating snake mites? Feel free to add your comments in the section below!

Treatment for Snake Mites

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