Snake Mites? uhg those lil’ monsters!
CAUTION: viewer discretion advised (seizure video)
Ok it’s high time I wrote about mites. They are much more common than people want to admit.
This video shows a ball python suffering a Permethrin overdose. This was an honest mistake by someone who really knows quite a lot about snake care. Unfortunately a simple dilution or dosing error can happen to anyone and may result in dire consequences. The owner of this animal realized their mistake quickly, sought out assistance, and made immediate changes and treatments that saved the animal. We are happy, and thankful, to announce that the animal in this video did survive.
Unfortunately Snake Haus has mites ever on our minds. We often work with animals in terrible condition and mites are a common part of that. We have strict quarantine and handling protocols in place to prevent spread.
Any time you take in a new animal you risk bringing in mites. So, lets talk about how to prevent and treat them.
There are several products available for treating mites but they mostly all fall into just a few categories and are all insecticides.
- Pyrethrin: This is a natural compound found in some flowers and is often used in the form of a powder for ecto-parasite control in poultry.
- Permethrin: NIX and Provent-a-mite; Take note here that Permethrin, the man-made version of Pyrethrin, is MUCH more toxic. It should never be used on cats and must be diluted correctly for use in reptiles. It is the compound that caused the snake in this video to have muscle tremors and seizures.
- Fipronil: Frontline spray; This is a flea product made for dogs and cats. The active ingredient is fipronil and is safe to apply directly to the animal in most mammals AND reptiles. However, fipronil is toxic to rabbits.
- This is a common insecticide used in agricultural animals for parasite prevention. It is also commonly used in dogs for the prevention of heart worm as the active ingredient in Heart Guard. Be careful though, because certain dog breeds (shepherds and collies) can have a genetic mutation (MDR1) that makes them extra sensitive to Ivermectin. A high overdose causes extreme sedation in mammals and reptiles, however those breeds with MDR1 gene can experience severe sedation from just normal doses.
For many years our go-to in the veterinary field for snake mites has been combined injections and topical Ivermectin. Unfortunately we have been seeing resistance in many types of organisms these days. We all know about bacterial resistance. Resistance is also possible in insects, plants, and viruses as well. We have unfortunately been seeing some cases of Ivermectin resistance in snake mites. Try to remember that good hygiene and strict preventative measures are the best way to keep mites from entering your collection.
We prevent mites at Snake Haus with Frontline spray. The enclosures are prepped before arrival of a new animal with a full cleaning and then a light coating of Frontline is applied inside the enclosure that is allowed to dry and is not washed away. The paper that is put into the enclosure is also sprayed with Frontline and allowed to dry. Then every new intake gets a direct contact treatment. I spray the back half of their body and then I spray my hands and blot it onto their face, chin, and head. Doing two separate treatments like this 3 weeks apart will keep any mites from entering the resident population.
The moral of this story is twofold:
1) An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Don’t forget to quarantine new animals and pre-treat your enclosures. Assume EVERY snake has the possibility of carrying mites.
2) Do not try to make your own mite treatments unless you have the guidance of someone who has done it many times and can double check your math.
This is not meant to scare you away from using these products rather it should remind you that any product out there can cause problems when used incorrectly. Please use common sense and ask for help or guidance when you aren’t sure about something. 👍❤️