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  1. #1
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    Unhappy 6-month mite infestation battle, donít know what else to do

    Cross-posted from a small Facebook group, if this looks familiar.

    I have been fighting a mite infestation on my solomon island tree boas for 6 months now and Iím at my absolute wits end.


    Iíve been using provent-a-mite on paper towel substrate, regular water soaks, dilute ivermectin spray prescribed by the vet on a weekly basis applied all over every snake. Iíve vacuumed and bug-sprayed my carpet, bleached and bombed the entire rack with PAM, bleach-soaked every tub and water bowl, stripped everything out of these poor animals quarantine bins to deny secret breeding space... but the number of dead mites piling up on the paper towels never seems to decrease.


    My genocidal efforts have kept the infestation at a constant low level, but I canít get rid of them. My smallest male died not long ago despite vet intervention and I know the mites helped do him in. The rest of them are hearty and eating, but the constant parasitization and pesticide treatments canít be good for them, and I havenít been able to return them to proper enclosures for half a year.

    What are my options at this point? Does anyone have experience using carnivorous mites that could offer a run down? Are there injections that can get rid of this infestation? I will try about anything at this point.

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    Re: 6-month mite infestation battle, donít know what else to do

    I wrote this after my second battle with mites for people in the US. While other treatments, such as ivermectin injections and wiping the snakes with Frontline, do exist, I have not tried them so I've not included them in my own writeup. You can find out about Frontline at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BwCAuhSVRV4

    Mite Eradication 101:

    *** Permethrin ***

    Permethrin comes in many forms - Provent-A-Mite (PAM), NIX/RID head lice treatment, Permethrin-10 from a livestock supply store, etc. Once mixed with water its half life is 30 days if kept out of direct sunlight.

    PAM has several advantages. It has been tested for use with reptiles, and it comes ready to use. The disadvantages are that it's expensive and most reptile stores don't have it in stock, so you have to wait for it to be shipped to you if you don't have any on hand. Meanwhile the mites are busy feeding and breeding.

    NIX/RID is cheaper than PAM and is readily available at WalMart, CVS, and other drug stores. It is also easy to dilute: mix one two ounce (59 ml) bottle of the cream rinse with one gallon of water.

    At a dollar per ounce Permethrin-10 is the cheapest of the three options; one eight ounce bottle will make 240 gallons of solution, as only 6 milliliters of it are needed per gallon of water to make an effective mite spray. The upside is that if you have a lot of snakes to treat this will do it very economically. The downside is that it's all too easy to make too strong of a permethrin solution which can seriously injure or kill your snakes.

    No matter which product you use, it must be used correctly. I've never applied any permethrin product directly onto my snakes as it's not needed for mite treatment, and permethrin poisoning in a snake can cause irreversible neurological damage or death.

    Permethrin use: spray the enclosure, paper substrate, and hides with the diluted solution or PAM. DO NOT SPRAY THE WATER BOWL. Allow everything to dry completely before returning your snake to its home. Also keep a supply of treated and dried newspaper or paper towels and treated hides available so that when a snake makes a mess, you replace the soiled paper and hides with treated ones. Treat the enclosure every two to three weeks.

    *** Natural Chemistry Reptile Spray ***

    Reptile Spray kills mites on contact while wet, once it dries it loses its effectiveness pretty quickly. Reptile Spray is a solution of salts rather than an insecticide; it kills mites by dehydrating them. I don't spray the snakes as more ends up on the floor than on the snake. Instead, I spray a white paper towel with it and wipe it on the snake. That way you get even coverage on the snake, you can work it into the area under their chin really well as that's a favorite hiding place for mites, you don't stress out your snake, and you can look for mites on the paper towel to see how quickly they're being eradicated. Apply twice a week. Note - this stuff hurts like hell in an open wound.

    *** Hot Shot No-Pest Strips ***

    Some people take a Hot Shot No-Pest strip, cut it into pieces, put each piece into a small sealed container, poke some holes in the container, and put each container into the snake's enclosure. I've used the No-Pest strip but I just hang it in the snake room and close the door. Either way is effective, especially if you have a major outbreak.

    If you do use it, remove the water bowls as the insecticide is strongly attracted to water and you don't want the snake drinking it. After 24 hours remove the strip (or pieces), put them into an airtight container for future use, air out the room, and put the water bowls back. Repeat treatment weekly.

    Important! If you also keep tarantulas, feeder roaches/dubias, crickets, etc. do not use the No-Pest Strip as it can kill them too!!!!

    *** Mild Dish Soap ***

    One or two drops of mild dish detergent in your snake's bath water will break the surface tension and prevent mites from floating in the water so they drown. No more than that is needed, your snake should not look like it is taking a bubble bath.

    *** Heat ***

    Don't laugh, but a temperature of 135*F for five seconds will kill mites and the eggs. I purchased a heat gun used for stripping paint that can be set to blow hot air from 180*F through 1200*F. Using the heat gun and a temperature gun I heated the surfaces and crevices of my racks and enclosures to kill off any mite eggs that may have been laid outside the tubs. Don't get your enclosure surfaces and joined/glued areas too hot or you can damage them.

    Mite treatment should continue for 30 days after you stop finding mites on your snake, as an egg can take that long to hatch.

    *** FINAL NOTE ***

    Effective quarantine means that you treat every new arrival as if it has mites, and new snakes are kept as far away from your established collection as possible for at least 90 days. I treat the quarantine enclosure, hides, and paper with permethrin a day or so before the new snake arrives, and I wipe it with a paper towel soaked in Reptile Spray as part of my inspection process when it comes out of the shipping box. If it has mites I will know it within a day or two at most. This also goes for snakes from "trusted" sources, my first mite outbreak ever came from someone I trusted.

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