This will be a bit of a doozy.
Hi! I’m Tande, I’ve introduced myself before and then disappeared and check the forum here and there when I need to look at other people’s processes. I am also an idiot. I’m sure we all have our bad days and good days and I’m going to look a fool in this story in a multitude of ways.
First way I was an idiot: I bought a store (Petco) animal. We go there for feeders and they had just gotten in this little fella and he started buzzing his tail and well, it was sort of a done deal as soon as I was allowed to hold him. I am usually not this foolish! I have many many other animals that I’ve gotten from trusted breeders I’ve met thru the last three years. I have read the horror stories and seen the pictures of animals bought from big box stores.
But I, in my hubris, thought that I was not those people! I already had a quarantine tank setup in my bedroom and ready to go (we’ve been debating garters for the last few months and generally if there’s a good deal on a Eastern Hognose I’m one to jump for it. This is how I have 17 animals). My quarantine tank should be enough to handle whatever a store bought animal could come with, right?
First few days he’s a great little guy, I set up paper towels, a water dish, a hide (we picked out a silly strawberry one just for him). We leave him alone sans the few times I check on him to refill his water and such. He’s a curious little guy and tends to watch us or the dog/cat when we’re in the room. It’s genuinely adorable. I don’t get him to eat when I offer him a pinkie but that’s alright, its just his first week and he needs to settle in.
After a bit it starts to get obvious he has mites. He’s a pink little guy and mites are black little dudes crawling around on him. I’ve dealt with them before on a skink several years ago and had little issue getting rid of them (PAM is a godsend). But ratsnakes you can’t do that with. I’m super cautious about how to deal with them so I give the little guy a soak with dawn dish soap, clean out his tank, and then order some predatory mites. I’m in America so Taurus mites are not an option, at least from my knowledge.
Alas, there are other options on amazon so I went with those and tossed them in to his cage when they showed up and keep a lookout on progress.
They do nothing. The little guy still has mites, every so often I give him a bath, keep checking on the progress of the predatory mites and alas. Nothing. Perplexing. I decide that maybe I should try a different brand from another website.
These take longer to ship but while that happens, I’m still doing as I do - feed the hognoses every week, the ball pythons monthly, and the little texas rat snake starts eating two pinkies every five days. He’s never refused since and its nice to have an animal that actually eats (I say as someone who had a hognose go on a food strike for 5m+). It’s when one day I’m feeding one of the hognoses I notice.
Mites. There’s mites on the hognoses - well, one to be specific, but all the same, they’re in a rack so I assume the whole rack has them. Panic sets in. I want to cry. The hognoses all eat fine, oblivious to how much their gracious food giver worries over their health and maybe just soak a little more.
While the Texas rat snake was in quarantine in a whole different room, the mites made it to my office and into the hognose tubs. My assumption is its caused by my own stupidity, most likely forgetting to wash my hands after handling the rat snake or even the tongs I fed him with. I am a failure. This is the only time I’ve felt absolute shame in my four years of reptile keeping. It’s all my fault.
When the predatory mites come in, I add them to the hognose tubs and the rat snake enclosure. Shame is upon my family. My impulse purchase has directly influenced my other snakes for the worse. Surely the predatory mites will work, I’ve seen people on mm and fb talk about them like they’re a silver bullet.
They do not work.
I give it a week and there’s no change. Baths every other day in dawn soap (a few drops), changed out between each snake. There are 8 hognoses and the rat snake. I am tired. Life is suffering. We’re only here to suffer. In this suffering I hope the hognose rack will not effect anything else in the room. I am a fool. Though to be fair, I should have just assumed everything in the room to be infected to be safe.
I find mites on my banana champagne boy who is in a bioactive enclosure. He looks oblivious beyond the fact he’s clearly rubbing on stuff because he’s itchy. If only I had the outlook of a banana ball python. Life wouldn’t be so hard. As the orange cats of the ball python morphs, bananas are my favorite yet they’re best explained as their turn for the brain cell is not today.
So I’m stuck, my bioactive has mites. I have two other bioactives that I have to assume are with mites, and as well as two skinks above those. Seven more animals were now easily assumed to have mites (there’s two in a rack as well). I don’t want to clean out my bioactive completely, and the predatory mites clearly aren’t working.
Laced between all this time I have complained to Petco over the phone about it since I was concerned for their other animals. I was not called back. I complained to them over their corporate email. They said they’d have the store manager get back to me. He did not. I have only recently made a twitter (ugh) post about it, had petco respond to me in a DM saying they would reach out and crickets (not the kind my skinks like). That’s currently where we stand there.
Anyway with the help of my SO we decide on what to do. If cleaning the bioactives completely out were not an option, how long do snake mites live? Two weeks, give or take. In that time they’ll probably lay some eggs, so that’s another two weeks. I decide two months is long enough to make the enclosures mite free just by them dying out. That is, if they don’t have a food source.
Cue more suffering. The skinks and ball pythons can handle PAM, so we just get seven totes that each of them will live in temporarily (in the living room). The totes get wiped down with PAM, each animal gets their own baths, I set up some under the tank heaters on a thermostat, ta da. But we still need to worry about the hognoses since its clear the “predatory mites” aren’t doing their job.
I move the hognose rack into the bedroom. This is where the quarantine tank is with the rat snake who also cannot handle PAM and if anything their treatment should be about the same.
I get some nature’s miracle stuff after reading thru reviews and mm posts, as well as fb stuff. Surely this will be enough (far too much but you know what, when I want something dead I do as my country (America) does. We bomb it to hell and back). I set up myself with what I need in the bedroom, paper towels, trash bag, spray bottles of water and nature’s miracle, and a gallon of water. One by one the hognoses get their little dawn dish soap bath, their tub gets wiped down, and they get a short wipe down with Nature’s Miracle.
I do not feel bad for these little bastards, not one single bit of sadness for a mite dying before its time from my hand. I am judge, jury, and executioner.
Bubble clearly enjoys her bath, though, and her name sake. The chubby girl is visibly frustrated when she is put into her tub with no substrate, just a paper towel. I make sure everyone has their water topped off since the chemical has a warning that it will dry out the snake quite a bit. Guess we’ll see how their next sheds are…
My hands are now very dry. The Nature’s Miracle stuff dries the heck out of your hands. But it is a small price to pay. When I finally wipe down the rat snake, he actually seems to appreciate it. He doesn’t buzz his tail or bite me. The poor guy has not been on substrate since we brought him home and has had to deal with my reluctance to use chemicals at first. To be honest I don’t think he cares, he just wants more pinkies.
I guess at the very least he’s cute. But has he been worth the trouble? I never want to say I absolutely regret an animal purchase but I surely wish I went about it a different way.
That’s where we stand, with the timer set for my bioactive enclosures to be ready for their snakes again, and said snakes happily taking their dinner even in their tubs. The skinks, Hotdog and Little Smokey, hate it. But they hate everything.
I’ll keep this thread updated with how things go and if anyone has any suggestions on what to do from here I’m happy to hear. I know I’m an idiot. Hindsight is 20/20 and I know full well what mistakes I did and will learn from them. I’d like to think almost every keeper has their run in with mites at one point in time whether they admit to it or not but if you’ll learn anything from my rambling hopefully it’ll be more careful in regards to quarantining animals. Sure as heck I will.