When I got my first corn snake — because they are just the cutest and I’ve got two — I thought taking care of my snake would be easy.
I made sure that I had the vivarium set up correctly with the right substrate, temperature, water bowl, and more so my corn snake could thrive.
Everything was going well until one day. I noticed that my corn snake was taking long baths, like longer than usual. It also had less of an appetite and I was actually a bit worried about handling my snake.
I called my vet for advice and after a visit, I learned that my corn snake had a big mite infestation. Here’s what I did to get rid of snake mites:
How to Get Rid of Mites on Snakes
To get rid of mites on snakes, gather your supplies, and then with a solution of water and povidone-iodine, soak your snake in a container with a lid with holes for 30-60 minutes daily for 1 week. With a Q-tip and mineral oil, gently remove any remaining mites. Make sure the vivarium’s disinfected before returning your snake in it.
How to Get Rid of Snake Mites: A Step-by-Step Guide
Follow this step-by-step guide to rid your snake of mites:
Step 1: Gather the Supplies
To get rid of snake mites, you need:
- A shallow plastic tub or container that has a lid with holes
- Povidone iodine (Betadine)
- Mineral oil
- Cotton-tipped swabs (or Q-tips)
- No pest strip
- Trash bags
- Hand-held vacuum with a crevice attachment
Step 2: Soak Your Snake
Place your snake into the plastic container. If your lid doesn’t have holes, you can drill some with an electric drill.
This is to make sure your snake can breathe while it soaks and the lid keeps your snake in the container.
Step 3: Fill the Container
Next, with your snake in the container, fill it with 1 part povidone-iodine to 10 parts warm water at a temperature of 75-85 ℉ (24-29 ℃).
Depending on how large your snake and the container are, you’ll have to adjust how much water you’re giving it. Be sure to not add so much water that your snake can drown.
Step 4: Let Your Snake Soak
Your snake should soak for 30 minutes to an hour in the solution.
Place the container close to you so you can keep an eye on your snake.
Step 5: Use the Mineral Oil
Remove your snake from the container, and with a cotton swab dipped in mineral oil, remove the dead or still alive mites that are still on your snake’s skin.
Gently rub the swab on the scales and folds of the snakeskin. Pay close attention to cleaning the chin, belly scutes, and vent fold.
Step 6: Repeat the Soaking for One Week
Every day for a week, soak your snake and wipe away the mites with the cotton swab. If your snake’s condition gets worse, then you need to take it to a vet for specialist treatment.
You’ll know to call your vet if your snake doesn’t have an appetite, if it vomits, if it breathes with its mouth open, and if there are changes in how your snake sheds.
Step 7: Clean the Vivarium
While your snake soaks in the container on day one, you need to clean the vivarium:
- Remove any food and water. Dispose of this to ensure it doesn’t get contaminated by cleaning chemicals.
- Clean water and food containers thoroughly.
- Remove and throw away the substrate and any porous items (like wood).
- With a hand vacuum, clean the inside of the vivarium. Remember to use the crevice attachment to thoroughly vacuum the corners of the snake enclosure.
- With a solution of 30 parts water to 1 part bleach, wash out the enclosure. Remember to wear gloves.
- After 10 minutes, rinse out the vivarium with clean water.
- If there were rocks in the vivarium, you need to boil these for 20-30 minutes to ensure any mites on these are killed.
- Get your no pest strip and place this inside the vivarium. Read and follow all the instructions. Close the vivarium and ventilate it accordingly for 3 hours to kill any remaining mites.
- Once your snake and the vivarium have been cleaned, set up the enclosure with a new substrate, thoroughly clean water and food bowls, etc.
- Return your snake to its enclosure.
How to Know Your Snake Has Mites
Mites are tiny, tiny insects that are the size of a pinpoint. If your snake has been infested with mites, then you’d see small dots of red and black moving on your snake’s skin.
Mites prefer to congregate around the chin, nostrils, and eyes as these areas are thinner skinned. This makes it easy for the mites to feed on your pet snake’s blood.
To check if your snake has mites (if you can’t see them moving on the snakeskin), then you can take a Scotch tape and place this against the skin of your snake. Pull it off and place it on white paper.
You’ll see black or red dots.
Your snake may also spend more time in its water bowl in an attempt to rid itself of the mites. In this case, you’ll see specks of black floating in the water.
Why You Should Get Rid of Snake Mites ASAP
Mites replicate quickly, so a small infestation can quickly get out of hand.
Since these mites constantly feed on your snake’s blood, your snake may suffer from anemia and become lethargic. In severe situations, large mite infestations that aren’t treated can kill your snake.
So monitoring your snake for mites is crucial, and taking swift action is a must.
Frequently Asked Questions about How to Get Rid of Mites on Snakes
How long does it take to get rid of mites on a snake?
Unfortunately, getting rid of mites on your snake is not a quick process. It can take 2-3 weeks or a few months, depending on how many mites there are.
What causes mites on snakes?
The typical causes for mites on snakes are visiting a pet store to buy a new snake, a bad batch of substrate, poor maintenance of your snake’s vivarium, touching an infected animal at a reptile show, or handling someone else’s snake.
The Last Mite
Mites are quite icky for your snake, but keeping a close eye on your snake so you can spot and remove these pesky little insects before the infestation grows helps a lot.
If the infestation is relatively small, you can get rid of snake mites in as little as a week. Soak your snake in a container with a water and povidone-iodine solution daily for a week and thoroughly clean the vivarium.
Once the vivarium is clean and your snake has soaked for 30-60 minutes and any other mites have been removed, you can return it to its enclosure, and then soak again the next day until all the mites are gone.
If you aren’t sure, call your vet.