By reading Boa constrictor forums, dedicated groups we find snake keepers time after time that have been struggling to get rid of mites, seemingly with no success. This current article is supposed to help those snake enthusiasts by describing how we could get rid of snake mites as quick as 3 days...
Actually, when one can not get rid of those blood sucking parasites in a week, one should conclude 2 things:
1. Applied quarantine system is not effective enough (if there is any applied at all).
2. Treatment against mites is not effective.
Assuming an effective quarantine and antiparasite treatment, one can and must get rid of mites in less than a week.
Treatment can be effective by both external treatment (fipronil agent, like Frontline, Effipro, etc.) or internal endectocide treatment (ivermectin agent). The latter has some advantage over the external products, namely they can not be washed off, furthermore they are also effective against wide-spectrum of intestinal and lung worms. Ivermectin products should be dosed and applied subcutaneusly by veterinarian, while fipronil products are commercialy available for external treatment.
Freshly acquired snakes are to be treated externally by fipronil at time of taking over already, even if there is no sign of being infected with mites. By doing that we can spare lot of time, energy and prevent a more serious mite infection, in contrast with starting anit-mite treatment only after new snakes have been housed.
Proper quaratine is a key for successful prevention. I found over the years the plastic boxes are the most suitable for that purpose, with small number of holes for ventillation. Most keepers fail to have an effective quaratine system, because they use cages that can not be cleaned or disinfected properly, mites can literally migrate from one enclosure to another, infecting other snakes or even the whole collection.
A proper quarantine enclosure is to be disinfected quickly and easly by its definiton. Talking about a mite infection, it is crucial that enclosures (plastic boxes) must be perfectly disinfected 2 times a day aside from treating the snakes themselves. At the same time, one must remove newspapers, paper towels and all the other things that can not be disinfected. Drinking tanks, hideaways must be disinfected.
Only disinfectants with alchol base (Mikrozid Af liquid) are suitable to fight against mites, as only those can kill mite eggs as well.
When the disinfections are not effective or not frequent enough, snakes will often be re-infected by hatching mites from eggs in the surroundings. Therefore, treating the snakes with anti-parasites is not enough, regular disinfections of enclosures are just as important.
Hereby, we are describing a current case where we could get rid of a severe mite infection of a freshly obtained snake completely in 3 days.
This specimen showed no signs of being infected when we took it over from the previous owner. However, after housing it in a quarantine enclosure, presence of those tiny black mites on the white paper towels became obvious, so we began an external mite erradication by using Frontline spray (fipronil) and disinfecting the enclosure 2 times a day.
In the next 12 hours, we saw large number of mites in the plastic container (6-8 mites each time), therefore we also applied ivermectin injection subcutaneously by dosage 0,2 mg/body kilogram to be more effective.
During the first week, the enclosure of this infected specimen was disinfected every 12 hours approximately. By the 3rd day, number of mites decreased to zero and they never appeared again.
I would conclude the effective fight against mites as follows:
I. Snakes should be treated as soon as possible by external and/or internal medicine.
II. Disinfection of cages and surroundings is a key factor.
III. Effective quaraintine system is a must.
Hopefully, this article will be found useful by every snake keeper who is struggling with mites.
Dr. Botond Ádám
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