So, you just ordered a new pet snake and it came with a nice surprise of being infested with snake mites?
The last thing you want are mites, parasites, or respiratory infections spreading throughout your healthy collection of animals. They WILL spread like wildfire and could cost you thousands of dollars, or even kill your entire collection.
Here’s how to get rid of snake mites if it happens to you.
How to Avoid Snake Mites
Although it’s very uncommon, especially when buying from well known and experienced keepers/breeders, sometimes you get in a snake that may have just a few snake mites, or a full blown infestation.
First let me say this, we should all be practicing proper quarantine procedures with any of our new reptile arrivals to prevent our already established healthy reptiles from catching any illness, disease or unwanted parasites.
I always quarantine my reptiles in a separate room and on clean paper towels rather than a substrate with only a few plastic hides and a water bowl for at least 60 days, and depending on their condition some of them ill quarantine for 90-120 days. This ensures you enough time to monitor your new arrival, check it over for things like mites and ticks and also monitor their food intake and their bowel movements.
As you inspect your new arrival, if you start to notice little black dots all over your snake under its scales and usually by their cloaca as well. You probably have mites!
But, have no fear, with 6 simple steps that may have to be repeated a few times you can get rid of these pesky little parasites and have your snake back to a full clean bill of health in no time!
Step 1: Isolate the Infested Snake
First you will want to start by isolating the infested snake to a part of your quarantine room where it is far away from all of your other that are in quarantine. This will help keep others from becoming infested with the same mite problem.
Step 2: Setting Up Your Snake’s Mite Bath
Second you will want to find a sturdy table where you can set up a heat mat connected to a thermostat and set the temperature to about 79-80 degrees. This will help keep your snakes bath warm but not to warm where it will add stress to your snake.
Place a plastic container with a lid on the heat mat and let the water warm up to the appropriate temperature.
Make sure the water is only as deep as about half of your snakes body height, this is VERY IMPORTANT because if the water is too deep your snake can drown.
Once the water has warmed up adequately add one drop of Dawn dishwashing soap to the bath water and mix it around with your fingers until the water becomes slightly bubbly. The Dawn dishwashing soap will coat your snake help suffocate and drown the unwanted mites.
Step 3: Soak Your Snake In the Mite Bath
Remove your infested snake from its quarantine enclosure and place the snake in its warm mite bath. Secure the containers lid and let that snake soak for at least 24 hours in the mite bath for a hatchling but, we usually recommend 48 hours for a juvenile or adult snake. As previously stated, soaking the snake for long periods of time in the warm water/ Dawn dishwashing soap mixture will help drown and suffocate the unwanted parasites and give your snake some relief.
Step 4: Clean/Sanitize Your Snake’s Enclosure
While your infested snake is soaking in its warm mite bath, make sure to thoroughly clean your snakes enclosure, water bowl and any hides you may have in there for them.
I start off by spraying the entire enclosure, the table it may be sitting on, the heat mat and any water bowls and hides with a product called PAM (Prevent A Mite). I let that sit for about 3-4 hours after spraying everything down and then its time to wash and sanitize everything.
I usually throw everything into the bathtub and do two cleanings. For the first cleaning I turn the water all the way as hot as it can go and add a good amount of Dawn dishwashing soap, I fill the tub up enouGh so that everything can be fully submerged in the hot soapy water. Again this will help drown/suffocate any unwanted mites and the extremely hot water will also help break down the mites exoskeleton so they are more vulnerable and easily killed by the Dawn soap. I let this soak for about 24 hours.
The second soak I do is a sanitizing soak and again, I add very hot water as hot as the tub faucet will go (be careful not to get burned by the hot water) and then I add in some Chlorhexidine solution which is a veterinary strength sterilizer/sanitizer solution (Can be found on Amazon) and let that soak for about 3-4 hours.
This will make your snakes enclosure if fully cleaned and sanitized before returning your snake back into it after its warm mite bath.
Step 5: Set Up Your Quarantine Enclosure and Put Your Snake Back
Set the freshly cleaned and sanitized enclosure back up with a bedding of clean paper towels, add the plastic hides back in and the water bowl full of clean water.
Your enclosure should now be mite free and ready for your snake to be returned back to its home after it has finished its proper amount of soaking time in the warm bath solution. When your snake is done soaking place it back in its home and keep an eye on it checking it often.
You can also offer your snake a meal at this time if it is due for a feed.
Step 6: Monitor Your Snake and Its Enclosure
Monitor your snake on a daily basis, give it a look over and inspect both the snake and its enclosure/water bowl every day to make sure no mites have returned.
If you happen to notice more little black dots appearing on your snakes white paper towels, on your snake or in the bottom of its water bowl you are not out of the woods yet, but chances are you have significantly reduced the amount of mites on and around your snake.
Repeat steps 1-5 again as needed until you no longer see any mites in your snakes enclosure for 60 days straight. After 60 days of no mites, chances are you have properly got rid of all mites and your snake is now clean and mite free. Great job!