top of page

Snake Mites - the life cycle of those tiny, ugly little pests we love to hate.

Updated: Aug 8, 2021

#reptilemites #reptiles #parasites #reptileparasites #snakeparasites #lizardparasites #mitelifecycle #pythons #snakes #husbandry #keepingproblems #justasbadasnits #reasonsfordiseasesinsnakes #reasonsfordiseasesinlizards #plaugeporportions #mitessuck

#everykeepersnightmare #lizardhealth #lizard #snakehealth

Ever wondered why mites are so damn hard to eradicate? Turns out they thrive in the conditions most of our reptiles need to thrive in. Read on to discover more…..

The Snake mite (Ophionyssus natricus) is a small mite which belongs in a class of invertebrates know as Arachnida. Snake mites are extremely small but are visible to the naked eye. Mites are ectoparasites. This is a parasite that lives outside the host and will infest the skin of its host. It is not known exactly where the Snake mite originated from, but it is it thought Africa. The clinical term for a mite or tick infestation is known as Acariasis.

Snake mite are among the most commonly found parasites in reptile collections worldwide. It was historically thought to be a result of bad husbandry and quarantine practises, but there are many factors which can lead a keeper to be dealing with mites. Mites can be transferred as simply as a visitor who unknowingly has mites attending your residence, a visit to a local petshop, a reptile show, there are seemingly endless ways they can enter by accident. Mites can also be transferred via clothing, reptile equipment or from adding a new reptile to your collection.

Engorged Snake Mite, Ophionyssus natricus

Engorged Snake Mite, Ophionyssus natricus

Mite photos taken by Dann Thombs.

In their natural habitat, snakes have the ability to move from place to place. As they do not stay in one spot, this exposes the parasites to their predators such as other mites Taurrus sp. Combine this with fluctuation of temperatures and sloughing of skin; snake mites do not present the same problem to wild snakes as that they do to a captive animals.

If left untreated, an infestation of Snake mites may have serious consequences. While Snake mites have a short lifespan (up to 40 days) they can wreak havoc in that time. They are a blood sucking parasite which can severely weaken reptiles causing illness. Snake mites were once thought to be only found on snakes, but can also occur captive and wild lizards.

Mites cause weakening the reptile in question by feeding off their blood. The mites cause shedding problems, scale damage and subsequent infection, anaemia, dehydration, weight loss, dermatitis, irritation leading to severe stress and depression. In severe cases infestations may lead to death. Snake mites have also been thou