Snake mites and how to spot them

Hey all, im sure all you longtime keepers are well acquainted with how to look for snake mites and how to deal with them should they hide through quarantine, however, for the newer keepers (and myself) im posting a PSA for just how hard to ID mites can be. I recently found a snake in my collection whos eyes were very sunken. They are usually hiding, and with me being on the road for work often, they hadnt gotten alot of handle time in the past couple months. Well, i couldnt find any mites in the substrate, and he isnt the fondest of me putting my face near him, so i figured perhaps it was dehydration.

Just to be safe, i looked through the rest of my collection and found a couple others with minor sinking in the eyes, but again, saw no mites, so figured my husbandry was slacking due to being on the road. The guy who was bad went into a humid box, and the others got a fresh mist.

Fast forward to night time, i am checking on the guy i put in the humid box, no noticable difference. Well booplesnoot who always wants to come out sees me and starts climbing. I pull him out and out of curiosity i start to give him a very thorough look. With him i could put his head in my mouth and he wouldnt care, so i had no fear of being bit in the face. Well, low and behold, i notice a slightly raised scale, and when i look at just the right angle, a mite!

I start relooking at everything now that i know how small the buggers are and confirmed one of my carpets had at least 1 as well.

So, my weekend is about to be very busy, but instead of hiding my shame, i want to post some pictures so some of the newer keepers can see how easily these buggers can hide before they swell up from feeding on your snake.

I will post more pics throughout the weekend as i deal with this scourge so hopefully my bad fortune can help others in the future. Hopefully they catch it at the individual level, but i had no idea what i was looking for and thought mites would be far more obvious. Seeing them now, i can tell my search on new animals wasnt nearly thorough enough.

Any treatment recommendations im open to. Im getting ready to wipe the slate clean, change all substrate, spray everything, and treat all snakes, just to nuke the problem, but ill be doing some research for safeties sake first, to ensure i dont accidentally poison my snakes.

Isopods will be getting moved to a different room, fortunately i never switched anything to bioactive yet, so it will be easy to move them.

Please forgive the mess, the past 2 months have been hectic. Been getring sent all along the east coast to fix helicopters, while receiving alot of snakes, while upgrading the snake room, while doing full time college. I am at the perfect storm of busy…


Did you notice any of the snakes soaking? I haven’t had to deal with mites personally, but I’ve heard that is a common thing you’ll notice.


The enclosures the affected snakes are in dont have water large enough to soak at the moment due to tank size. The other issue is most snakes ive had simply enjoy soaking if they do have one, so it wasnt exactly a good tell for me.

That being said, thats why in treating all of them and changing everything. Some arent freindly enough for me to inspect close enough, so im going to play it safe. Medicine and substrate is cheap compared to sick snakes.


When dealing with a scorched earth policy situation I have found the following to be the best course of action:

  1. Acquire your mite killer of choice (Frontline spray, Prevent-A-Mite, Nix, whatever)
  2. Spray the inside of four times the number of bags as animals you are having to treat and allow them to dry
  3. Grab a few simple holding bins
  4. Take every animal out of its enclosure and tie it inside a bag
  5. Set the bags in the bins to keep them out of the way.
  6. Strip EVERYTHING from inside the enclosure and anything that cannot be baked in an oven or soaked in bleach - throw it away
  7. If you are working with cages, take them outside. If you are working with a rack, take the bins outside
  8. Hose everything down and scrub with dishsoap
  9. Let dry
  10. While drying, return to room and:
    a. If only dealing with cages - lightly spray entire floor area, with special attention to along the baseboards and corners, with your mite killer of choice
    b. If dealing with racks - spray the floor as above but also spray inside each shelf of the rack, with special attention to the corners and the underside (e.g., the “top” to each bin) of each shelf
  11. Go back outside and lightly spray the inside and outside of each enclosure/cage/bin with your mite killer of choice
  12. Go back inside and, now that the floor is dry, vacuum everywhere
  13. Take out the full trash bag that is probably teaming with mites. Begin your bake and/or bleach of non-disposable items. Two hours minimum for 200F bake, thirty minutes wet contact time minimum on 10% bleach for soak
  14. Spray the inside of the trashcan with mite killer of choice
  15. Go outside and get your enclosures
  16. Put everything back in the room
  17. Take the bin of bagged animals outside
  18. One at a time, remove an animal from its bag and gently wipe down with a rag lightly sprayed with mite killer of choice. One rag per animal
  19. Put wiped-down animal in a new bag (from step 2)
  20. Put newly bagged animals into a new holding bin
  21. Take the bin back inside
  22. Go and strip down, bag your clothes, and take a shower
  23. Put on new, clean clothes
  24. Return to snake room
  25. Outfit enclosures with simple furnishing/bedding. I prefer paper and generic hides. If you must use some kind of organic bedding, make sure it is dry
  26. Lightly spray furnishing/bedding with mite killer of choice
  27. Let dry
  28. One by one, return animals to enclosures.
  29. DO NOT place water bowls in enclosures!!
  30. After 2-3 days, you can return water bowls
  31. Monitor a minimum of weekly. If you are using paper, you will likely see dead mites. A dust buster is a great tool for removal
  32. After 4 weeks, place the animals in one of the unused sets of bags from step 2
  33. Empty and dispose of all items in enclosures
  34. Repeat steps 25-33
  35. Hopefully by this point you have broken the reproductive cycle of the mites
  36. Set up enclosures however you like and return to status quo

I have 600 reptizorb pads, so dry substrate wont be a problem, i assume it is a good idea to give the snakes water to drink once a day while not leaving the waterdish in with them?


You don’t necessarily have to throw everything away. The wood hides can be baked at 275 for two hours (there’s more specific directions out there) as can ceramic bowls to kill any possible organisms. Plastic bowls (or unsure material) can be soaked in an antibacterial soap bath for several hours then rinsed with hot water and sanitized with a 10% bleach solution (10 units of water per 1 unit of bleach), then rinsed again and dried. I would throw away any substrate however. Hope all goes well! It can happen to anyone so thanks for posting!


Yeah, the substrate is all going to be replaced, but my intent was to drown them off the enclosures items. Most of my hides are plastic atm anyways, so not a hard process haha

1 Like

An example of the heavily afflicted snakes eye. It is embarrassing it got so bad without me noticing, but again, id rather it serve as an example for others why proper quarantine and knowledge are so important!


Are they causing an issue with the mouth too?

1 Like

I believe that was just a wet piece of cypress from the humid enclosure i put him in to help rehydrate him.


@eaglereptiles is there a way we can immortalize this post? @t_h_wyman put together a ridiculously complete set of instructions here.


Great idea!

I’ve just added Travis’ instructions into the Parasites section of Lumps, Bumps and Parasites! - Community Wiki


Awesome, thank you!

1 Like

It was your idea, thank you! :blush:

1 Like

That was a great idea!


It starts. Im doing a temporary run at treating the snakes and enclosures because im about to be on the road again, so wont be able to do the full protocol that wyman suggested at the moment. But i also dont want the issue getting worse, so switching all substrate to reptizorb, treating all snakes with reptispray (avoiding the head area as the poison can cause them harm if ingested!)

This should at least be a food first step to reduce their numbers and give some relief so the situation doesnt deteriorate by the time i return.

On a side note, supposedly there were some rumors that springtails may eat the eggs of snakemites. That would be pretty cool to test, but unfortunately my colonies arent nearly large enough to start bioactive yet, so all id be doing is giving the mites a better breeding ground atm if i attempted it.


Basic setup for now. Will remove water each night and replace it to ensure no lingering fumes from the parasite poison gets into it. Will need to leave it in starting tuesday however to ensure they have water while i am gone. I have somebody that checks the water to ensure they dont poop in it and to spot clean it, but they dont have the time to replace all water daily, so sadly i have to make due.

I treated booplesnoot last night with the mite poison , left it on an hour, then rinsed him twice to dilute it. I didnt want to risk him poisoning himself if he tries to climb into his little water dispenser and then poisoning himself.


Fury is next… please pray for my hands…


Only got me once!



Scalding water bath with soap for the items that cant be easily baked. Vine being baked at 250 degrees. 3rd pic is a mite that was hitchhiking on me.

The 3rd pic is especially important and why Wyman says to bath and change clothes between steps, i was wearing no shirt, but had i been wearing a shirt with any darker colors, there is no way i would have noticed the hitchhiker. Do not skip decontamination just because you dont see any!