My Snake Has Mites!

What are Mites?

Mites are tiny external parasites, and you never want to find mites on your snake. They suck the snake's blood and can transmit diseases. But, unfortunately, they are very common in captive snakes.

You can bring mites home several different ways, including:

  1. Bringing home a new snake.
  2. Going to a reptile show or event, or a petstore and playing with the snakes there.
  3. Bad batch of snake bedding, whether it be aspen or forest bedding.

But, more than likely, the number one cause of mites is introducing a new snake into your collection.

APPEARANCE:

Mites can look like small black beads on the snakes skin. A good indicator that your snake has mites would be tiny white flakes on the snake's body, which are usually mite feces. You can check your snake by running your hand down its body; then check your hand for crawing black dots or blood smears from squished mites.

Many times snakes with mites are found coiled in their water bowls, so dead mites can sometimes be seen floating in the water. Mites will hide in the corners of the snakes eyes, creating a slight lift in the eye rim.

Getting Rid of Reptile Mites

Mites are VERY hard to get rid of due to their rapid reproductive rates. But, if you notice that your snake has mites, or even think that you snake may have mites, it is fixable.

Place the snake in a separate enclosure with a lid, and spray the snake with an Ivermectin solution. Keep the snake in an isolation setup, so that it is easier to treat. You need to treat the snake every five days for a total of four treatments, just to make sure that all the mites are dead.

Other treatments include:

  • Placing the snake in a well-ventilated container and putting pyrethrin-based flea powder on the snake.
  • Overnight exposure to a section of insecticidal strip. (A 1 by 2" section of strip will treat snakes in a 20 gallon enclosure.) After 24 hours remove the strip, and in seven to ten days, repeat.
  • Over the conter- commercial mite remedy such as Reptile Relief. Follow the directions on the bottle. Reptile Relief, among other mite remedies, can be purchased at most petstores.

You want to remember to remove EVERYTHING from the snake's normal enclosure. Throw out old bedding, sterilize any décor (be careful to get ALL nooks and crannies), and thoroughly clean the enclosure itself.

To make sure that you have killed all the mites in the enclosure, to include all crevices in the décor, remove the snake and the bedding from the cage, leaving the décor. Place a large piece of insecticide stripe in the cage, and seal the top with a plastic sheeting. Be careful to tape it completely shut. Leave it alone for at least three days, allowing the miticide to reach all small cracks and crevices. Repeat this twice every ten days. Remember to still wipe the outside of the cage with a mite remedy solution.

And, because mites can travel in and out of a cage at will, you will want to wipe down the area around the cage with a cleaning solution such as Windex.

Throw out old bedding, treat all decor, disenfect inside and outside the enclosure, to completely get rit of mites.
Throw out old bedding, treat all décor, disenfect inside and outside the enclosure, to completely get rit of mites.

How to Prevent Reptile Mites

Don't get mites to begin with.

Your best bet when bringing a new snake home is to quarantine the new snake away from existing snakes.

You really don't want to house multiple snakes in the same enclosure, ESPECIALLY if you're bringing home a new snake to put with an existing one. By quarantining the new snake, you can watch for other signs of illness as well. The minimum quarantine time should be no less that seven to fourteen days.

Disclaimer: Please be aware that the advice in this article should in no way replace that of a licensed veterinarian. The methods outlined above may or may not work for your pet. If you have any concerns, you should consult a specialized reptile veterinarian.

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Comments 66 comments

snake boy 5 years ago

my snake has been in his water for 3 days does it mean he has mites


Irekirakirok 5 years ago

Olive oil on my olive python has done the job quite fine. Bahaha


Del 5 years ago

The author says infestation by wood bedding is a reason why snakes get mites. I beg to differ. If you see mites after changing your bedding, it is because bedding cleans the infested snakes. Lack of good husbandry is the # 1 cause of snakes getting mites. Mites also are very species specific meaning that some mites from one snake species will not go onto another snake species to feed. You can have one species of snakes with others where one will have mites and the other will not host the mites. Mites of any kind, need a continuous supply of blood to feed on. Bedding doesn't have any blood to offer and mites will not stay with the bedding if there aren't any snakes using it. Bedding that has been bagged up will not maintain a mite population.


Bobby 5 years ago

its not that complicated.Place the snake in an olive oil water soak while you treat the enlosure.The olive oil suffocates the mites and creates a barrier.No chemicals need to be placed on the snake.I have rid my snakes of a mite infestation in one night with ease.Lice spray called RID can be effectively used to treat the enclosures.Spray the enclosure all over and let sit for 30 min to an hour.Rinse and wash.You can also use the spray to spay your carpets and anything else in the room.It kills mites and eggs.This method is extremely effective and uses NO chemicals on the snake.Worked wonders for me and many many others.Good luck to anyone with mites,they suck but are far less difficult to deal with the right method.


Rick 5 years ago

Whitney- thanks for all your advice. It really is helpful. Folks- I had a great ArgentineXColumbian baby I brought home from a reptile show. Wow- my prize snake - well she died last week and I just realized that my Mexican Black Kingsnake has been camping out in his water dish - and temps are good - and he's not in shed. I realized that my new snake had mites and it killed her and my Kingsnake and my Ball now also have them. They are a real problem to get rid of. Please be dillignet and do whatever you have to do. I was lucky I saved my other two but - wow - lesson learned.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Ivermectin is great as long as it is diluted. You don't want it in the eyes, but you want to get it around the eyes. You will need to use the solution for the tank, décor, and all the surroundings in the tank.


tyson 6 years ago

i have a south western carpet python its only 4 mths old and iv got a large tank made of wood and glass doors iv discovered the snake has mites on it so i took him to the vet and he gave me some solution called ivomectin which is dituluted is this good stuff and how often should i use it, also is it safe to get it in the snake eyes,and how long will it take for the mites to die.iv read the comments posted on here and some people are putting olive oil on the snake can i also do that and soaking him in dishwashing water,the snakes also hasn't eaten for about 4 weeks


boajen 6 years ago

coconut oil is more effective fasterworking and less harmfull than any other treatment available

smooth onto snake before a shed it kills the mites within hours don't wash off once snake has shed its skin repeat once and thats it your snake is clear i did that with all my 43 reptiles 6yrs ago had no reappearence since


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Although it's possible, I don't think the snake would be getting the mites from the mice. You have to thoroughly clean all bedding, décor, and area around the enclosure more than once or twice in most cases before really getting rid of the mites. It typically takes time to get rid of them.

There's no reason why it's not safe. Mice and rats are also kept as pets, they're not just feeders for reptiles. In most cases, lyme disease from from ticks not mice.


Y Whaley 6 years ago

I have a ball python who has mites. the first time she had them we used olive oil. then they came back. We bought mite spray from the pet store and got rid of them but now she has them again. Should I continue using the mite spray or should I try something different? We've even change the bedding and everything. And coud it be that she's getting them from the mice we feed her. Plus I read in another comment about mice carrying lime disease....I have 3 children in the house from ages 2months to 7 years....Is this safe for them?


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

You can try another brand.


candice 6 years ago

does it have to be nix or can i use any head lice treatment.


Ashley 6 years ago

We got a baby ball python about 4 weeks ago and just noticed this morning that he had one mite crawling across his belly. We have been handling him and watching him specifically for mites (as we have seen them in past snakes), and he did not seem to have any mites whatsoever until the single one I found today. We just fed him 3 days ago, and I was wondering if it was the mouse that caused the mites to get into the enclosure, and also is it at all possible there was only one mite? I have looked thoroughly and rubbed down the snake, changed the substrate for newspaper, and taken out all other décor items, and I have still only seen the one mite. I know it must be improbable, but I am hoping the snake may not be completely infested with mites. I also bought something called Mite Off and used it accordingly, but still only saw one mite so far.Any advice you can give would be appreciated.


Greg 6 years ago

A great way to get mites off your snake is an over the counter lice treatment you can get at any Canadian drug store it's called 'nix.' When I first got my ball python I had found that he was crawling with mites in his nostrils on his face it was terrible, I rubbed it entirely over his body (excluding his head) waited around 10 minutes w.e the instructions said and boom mites were gone first treatment! but if you do decide what I have said be sure to keep it out of his/her eyes and clean the entire enclosure with a water bleach solutions including all of the hides/rocks/branches


Angie 6 years ago

Do you all know how to get rid of ticks off of a bald python?


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Michael, You'll want to treat the entire cage, supplies, and area around the enclosure, not just the snakes. Diluted listerine or olive oil are both fine to rub on the snake. Or you could purchase the reptile mite solution.

Cassandra, clean the enclosure, décor, and surrounding area. Take the solution you have and dab on a paper towel and rub around the eyes and over the entire snake.


Cassandra_982 6 years ago

I just got a baby ball python and be has mites, I've been spraying him with mite killing solution and taking the mites off by hand but there are still mites berween his eye and eye socket, I don't want to poke his eye out when trying to get the mites and u don't want to spray the solution on his eyes either, what should I do ????


Michael 6 years ago

Our snakes have mites, we have a columbian red tail and 2 ball pythons and the 2 ball pyhtons are together the red tail is separate, we just found out a couple days ago that they had mites and have been soaking them since, we still have them, I see some people say listerine and water? olive oil? there are 2 under the scales of the red tail, how would we get those out without hurting the snake?


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

I have not heard of any household products that are proven effective. To treat the snakes, themselves you can dip them in betadine and put a little mineral oil at their eye and heat pits.

For then enclosure, disenfect with a bleach-water solution, bake all wooden decorations. But, you'll still need to use a pest strip or one of the other suggestions above to fully get rid of the mites. You'll also need to clean the area around the cages, as mites will travel outside the cage.

Hopefully these snakes are all housed separately. Corn snakes can be cannibals, and are best housed individually, and ball pythons do not have the same enclosure requirements as corn snakes. You should have 4 snakes in 4 different enclosures.


taylor 6 years ago

My ball && 3 baby corns have mites bad!! I meen all soaking 24/7 and whenever you pick one up you get at least 5 mites on your hand. I need to get rid of them soon!!But i am a kid and my parents are making me buy everything & i don't have money right now. I don't want my snakes to suffer so is there any household item that i can use to get rid of this pest?


Crazdwriter 6 years ago

Phew okay for a minute there I thought your snake had mites. Glad to hear that they don't. And AAAAAAA He's so cute! :-)


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

My snake has never had mites. That was just the title. Thanks though. I have two males and a female. The one pictured is one of the males.


Crazdwriter 6 years ago

wow a very interesting hub and kind of scary. Poor snakes! I hope your snake is all better Whitney...is he/she?

Great information with a lot of great tips for snake lovers and snake owners. I do hope to one day own a baby albino corn snake :-)


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Follow the tips above. There are many suggestions above.


Catherine 6 years ago

My snake got very bad mites... Just tonight I noticed... I am just learning about this... I'm scared.. I love my Ball Python!!!!! What should I use to get rid of these mites?? Bleach??? Listerne??


roncook retic owner 7 years ago

mites r hard to get rid of > but i use listerine and water it help draw them out in the soak.


outdoorguy38 profile image

outdoorguy38 7 years ago from Brookings,Oregon

mites carry lyme disease so be very careful not to get them on your person or let them infest your home. When treating with permethrin remember that a second treatment is needed after 6-7 days to kill the new hatch of mites. To kill mites in your carpet you need to use borax powder or arm and hammer powdered laundry detergent. Rub it into your carpets, vacuum, then reapply for a week to kill the adult and larvae. If your home is badly infested you will need to keep doing this to your carpet to keep from reinfesting. Mites are horrible parasites so be very careful to eradicate them quickly and thoroughly.


Grim 7 years ago

When my snake got mites i cleaned her and treated her and her cage then after i got Derdra (my baby aka snake) out of the house i bug bombed my house shaved my head and all the mites be gone. you don't nessseserily have to shave your head either but i look good as a skin head =p


vetherppath 7 years ago

Nice hub, I was going to post one similar to this, but I saw this one and see no further need. I would say (reading some of the questions) that ivermectins should be avoided. The margin of safety is very slim. Overdose is very easy to do. Furthermore, if there are any turtles in the room and you handle ivermectins and contaminate the turtle cage that could be fatal. Turtles are very sensitive to ivermectins. Lizards and snakes too are sensitive but less so than turtles. Chrysanthemum derived products (permethrins and pyrethrins) can be used with some safety in reptiles. I have successfully treated reptiles with permethrin 10 (a large animal product) that I diluted to about 1%. Spraying the cage with a mist of this and allowing it to dry has been successful without changing of the furniture. Substrate should always be changed.

I would not recommend a no pest strip. The reason is that the concentration of the pesticide cannot be regulated, the exact pesticide used depends on the brand of the strip, and the amount of time it needs to remain in the cage is far more than 24-48 hours, depending on the species of mite. The no pest strip method also depends on mites that move about after feeding. Some species (and many species of the mite's larger cousin, the tick) do not move about but just settle down into the substrate.

I would also not recommend flea powder. The powder can get into the lung of the snake and cause pneumonia. Remember that most species of snake (sunbeam snakes and booids have a small vestigial left lungs, though other groups have these inconsistently) have only the right lung. Most gas exchange actually takes place in the cephalad (cranial) 30% or so of the lung. The caudal portion of the lung is generally modified into an air sac. This means that any lung irritant can do major damage since they have such a small amount of lung tissue doing most of their gas exchange. I have seen the results of flea powder use, and it is not pretty. Best not to risk it. On the other hand, the lesions in the lungs are fascinating if you are a pathologist.

My advice is to not treat your animal for mites if you can help it, but go see an exotic veterinarian and let them suggest a method that works for them. I generally treat my clients pets, that way owner compliance is not an issue.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 7 years ago from Georgia Author

It is highly likely that the mites have spread, especially if you're housing all the snakes in the same enclosure. Mites can travel outside the tank, and there is high possibility that your other snakes could get them in their tank.


Kyle.M 7 years ago

Hi i just got 2 new boas about 3 weeks ago and i have 3 other snakes the 3 have never ever had mites and the new boas didn't seem to either but for about a week my one boa was soaking in water like 24/7 and now my other is and i have seen a few mites in there water and a couple on there hides but not on the snake the 2 boas that have mites have been in the same room as my other snakes the whole time but im wondering if it is possible that the mites haven't spred to the others? Or is it highly unlikely?


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 7 years ago from Georgia Author

I'm not sure about the yellow dot. I have never heard of that in a case of mites. It could be something else. I'm not really sure.

Sometimes it takes longer for them to pass what they've eating. Is his belly hard? Has he been drinking? It could be that he's just not done digesting. If the belly is hard, then it could be impacted. By a few weeks isn't usually that bad.


Alex  7 years ago

My snake has not been the toilet since I got him a few weeks back is the something wrong? should I see a vet about it? thanks


Alex 7 years ago

I have cleaned it out and keeping on newspaper until they are all gone and I keep disinfecting the decor- taken some out and left it, and cleaned cage every day, but the yellow dot stuff in the snake eyes that looks like glitter is it mite eggs? how do I get rid off them? or is it shedding? help!! thanks the last comment did gave me really good advice to go on!!!


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 7 years ago from Georgia Author

You need to change the bedding and clean out the entire cage, décor, and the outside around the tank, as well as the snake. I'm not sure why you're using olive oil though. Use an actual mite killer for reptiles. If you're using the same bedding and haven't cleaned the snake, then no wonder the mites are coming back.


Alex 7 years ago

My boa has mites I have disinfected the cage and all the items in it(every day), and washed the snake but they keep coming back what should I do? should you put olive oil on the snake? I think it has come fro the bedding, the snake has glitter stuff on its eyes is it the mites? or is it shedding as it is hiding more than often please help!!


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 7 years ago from Georgia Author

they're a parasite, similar to fleas basically. reptiles get them from other reptiles, other animals, etc.


hey_u_peckerwood 7 years ago

what causes mites in the first place....


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 7 years ago from Georgia Author

I haven't heard of fleas bothering snakes, but I guess it's possible. I'd definitely try to figure out how to get rid of the fleas in the house, and that may help get rid of the fleas in and around the snake's tank. I'd try the mite treatment for the snake cage.


burny 7 years ago

i had really bad fleas in my apartment and on my cat, i got the fleas off my cat w/ advantage and after that they were bitting me like crazy for a while, but i did carpet treatment and they appeared to be kind of gone. But now they are all over my snake cage all of the sudden and on him, and he is pissed off. i cleaned his cage. -----Do normal house fleas attack snakes------ because these are not mites he had mites along time ago, they are normal fleas..... also since i noticed the fleas my snake tried to bite me four times and he has never done that before???


kriss moss 7 years ago

Mice can also be afected by mites. so if you feed live you get the chance of getting mites. don't feed in your cage and feed frozen. mites can get traped in the mouth wile feeding. and grow and start an infestation. I find it best to treat you snake and cage seporatly. bath you snake in "reptile relief" for a day. then I keep my snake in a plastic tub. the mites have a life cycle or 27 days if you can keep everything mite free for 1 month you in the clear. with that said for at least one month after, your still on the look out. one little collony of just 2 can bloom huge one in another 27 days.if it is winter you can place your tank out side and freeze thoes little bastards for 27 days.

you can treat your tank with any product that will kill mites. don't for get that its mainly the eggs you gata worry about. you can use "mite off" or "bk 2" also known as black night" you can even spray. "home flea and tick spray". tick spray will work. you can even spray your home with some chemicles but nothing to toxic. onley cleaning constantly will rid you of them.

for the eyes you can soak your snake in reptile releif for a day. shaking the container to make sure it gets under the scales about four or five times . half say through that time you can look for the mites under the eyes in albinos it is easy. this methed is by far the best methed after the soak they are gone Ive done a baby red tailed boa. and 8 corns. take care and good luck


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 7 years ago from Georgia Author

Make sure to clean around the cage as well. You're off to a good start as it is. Definitely make sure that you let the pet store know that they have mites.


david cameron 7 years ago

I got a new baby red tail boa i got it yesterday found out today has mites.i bleached everything from my 3 cages, cage stand ,carpets blankets, any other advice on what to do for me . The snake is getting a lukewarm water bath twice a day for 40 mins. And I am going to call my vet and ask if I should use olive oil.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 8 years ago from Georgia Author

You baby corns should be housed separated from the balls and on the other side of the room preferrably. That should help prevent them from getting the mites or at least reduce the risk. Also, make sure to house the corns separately in 2 different enclosures bc colubrids are cannibals and they can eat other snakes at times.

As for the mites, you want to treat the enclosure and complete area around the enclosure. if you see mites in your carpets, then I'd treat that as well with a powder.


jenny 8 years ago

I just noticed my balls have mites and i just brought home 2 baby corns what do i do and do i have to treat my whole house carpet? and which is the best method the provent a mite, nix, oils, or betadine ? This is my first time having this problem I think we got it from the bedding. Help i really am clueless and don't know which one to use. can people get these how do i get rid of them ?


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 8 years ago from Georgia Author

Yes, wear the gloves. You want to minimize the risk of spreading the mites.


Jessica 8 years ago

Should you worry about mites getting in your skin or do they just bite you like a flea. Should you wear rubber gloves when you are handeling the snake? I have a ball python about 3 months old and she has mites. I have clean her enclosure and also I sprayed her with stuff i bought from the pet store. I need a new soultion to this problem. Something that works. Please help me? Thanks......


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 8 years ago from Georgia Author

Is it a mite or could it be another parasite? Either way you want to try to remove it.


gtrarmstrong 8 years ago

i notied today that she has one in the last little pit thing before her mouth. what should i do about THAT one?


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 8 years ago from Georgia Author

I have listed options within the article for cleaning the the area around the cage to make sure that you get rid of them.


gtrarmstrong 8 years ago

what should i treat the area around my cage with? or should i maybe just move the cage?


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 8 years ago from Georgia Author

It is possible, which is why you need to treat the area around the tank, as well as the tank and the snake.


gtrarmstrong 8 years ago

damn. im just worried that if she has mites now then she will get them again if they are all over the house.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 8 years ago from Georgia Author

You should worry about mites all over your house, but I don't necessarily think that you can "catch" something from them, if that's what you mean. I believe that they, like ticks and fleas, can cause blood problems, but I'm not 100%. You should do whatever you can to get rid of the mites.


jeremiah  8 years ago

what kind of deseases do mites carry? do i have to worry about becoming contaminated?


Horizon Reptiles 8 years ago

Another good thing to do is coat the snake in Olive Oil. It lacks the chemicals found in a lot of other mite treatments. I then use Provent A Mite on the entire vage.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 8 years ago from Georgia Author

I would consider a diluted ivermectin, but i'm not 100% as to the eyes. I would just try to work around the eyes. Consider a vet it you need to.


alliy-mc 8 years ago

What can you do about the mites on the eyes?


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 8 years ago from Georgia Author

Try following the directions outlayed above for the snake. As for the carpet, is it the carpet in your home or the carpet in the snakes tank?


dragon069 8 years ago

i need to know how to get ready of mites in the corpet my snake it a 10 foot brmise and i don't know how to treat her and the corpet they got into the carpet form her incloser can you plz help


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 8 years ago from Georgia Author

You could vtry it. I'm not sure how effective it is. Just make sure to rinse out the cage afterwards. Remember to get all the regular décor and around the cage as well. You'll still need to put something on the snake, too.


Nathan243 8 years ago

i was wondering if i could spray the Ivermectin solutionon in the cage and let it dry for a day while the snake is kept in another encloser???


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 8 years ago from Georgia Author

I really wouldn't suggest it.


bill 8 years ago

what about soaking then in 10%dish liquid 90%water?


python 1 8 years ago

these thinges are pure evil this is not my first time but i am going to make it my last


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Shaddie 8 years ago from Washington state

VERY nice hub, thank you for posting such helpful information for snake owners.

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    Whitney (Whitney05)3,491 Followers
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    Whitney has raised and bred different species of geckos, snakes, lizards, tortoises and other exotics since 2003



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