Pulling my hair out, here!
We’ve recently noticed a mite in our bedding. It is light brown, the same rough size as a snake mite, very difficult to squish, and never has any blood when it is squished.
This bug has not been observed on any of our animals, and no, I am not in denial. I dealt with snake mites over 20 years ago, so I know how to find them on snakes. Eyes are clear, chins are clear, zero raised scales, fresh sheds are perfectly clear, etc. We have over 50 ball pythons and a number of them are pure white.
I have been finding these mites dead in water bowls (no animals have been soaking in them for as long as I can remember). I’ve also found them crawling on damp bedding and humid sides of the tubs.
I have dealt with wood mites from poor quality aspen. That was remedied easily by ditching the aspen. Those buggers were super tiny.
We are dumping bedding and treating paper towels with provent-a-mite as a temporary bedding until the issue is clear.
The problem I am struggling with, is spraying poison to eliminate something that doesn’t pose an obvious threat to my animals.
Hoping someone will chime in with experience, I’ve had no luck finding a similar mite in google searches.
We use a coconut chip bedding, I’ll keep the brand quiet unless anyone has a known link to bedding as a source of bugs.
Following to learn. Recently had an out break of my own. One snake in my 5 level rack was infested. It came out of no where. Fed on Monday, no bugs. Next feeding on Thursday they were crawling all over him. They were under his scales, all over his belly. Happened shortly after a bedding change. Just his tub was changed. They never spread to any other herps and I keep all 11 in that room.
Your herp vet should be able to pop one under a scope and ID it for you same-day.
Edit: Woodlice are very common in purchased bedding.
you can use food grade Diatomaceous Earth. it is safe for the snakes but will kill any type of mite or you can freeze the bedding.
also putting it in the oven at i want to say 120* for like 30min should kill anything as well.
I would lean toward the freezing or baking method you mentioned. I would personally stray away from Diatomaceous Earth for reasons listed in the tail end of this thread:
Mite treatment efficacy: Frontline vs. Reptile Spray
While I have not seen these adverse effects from DE first hand, it just makes sense to me that this could be a likely outcome.
An update, there has been zero sign of the bugs since I switched to paper towels treated with provent-a-mite.
I reluctantly pulled all water sources for treatment, and maintained feeding schedules with carefully dried F/T rodents.
The last time I had mites, the popular method was Revenge No-Pest strips, with water sources removed. I employed similar tactics to prevent water dish contamination.
I am filled with sorrow to see just how thirsty the animals were after treatment, despite being fed.
For adult snakes, it’s not so concerning. For anything young, I would advise providing water outside of the enclosures periodically during treatment. Perhaps a quick rinse and placement in a temporary tub of water that meets the specie’s temperature preference.
For those seeking knowledge in the future, I use rack systems that are very enclosed, not very breathable. The established adults got treated paper towels, and I additionally sprayed a burst of provent-a-mite into the empty slot of the rack system with a moment to air out before reinserting the treated tub. I did not apply this tactic to hatchlings or anything less than a yearling.
Caution was high, but I wanted to eliminate bugs the best way I saw fit. My results have been good so far, but for essentially dehydrating the animals more than I would like.
Sure sucks to go to any extreme to eliminate a bug that wasn’t affecting the animals in the first place… I intentionally put one of these mites in a zip-loc bag for observation and it dessicated within 3 days. Still unclear what they were, but water was their sole interest.