Amazingly, there are over 250 species of mite which can affect reptiles. Thankfully, most of these are very rare or not found in the UK. Spider-like, and ranging in size from as small as 0.1mm, many mites are not parasitic at all and are in fact free-living – some mites in fact are really useful, working as decomposters in our environment!
Parasitic mites, who live on our pets, can cause more trouble. Captivity can be a blessing or a curse for reptiles where parasites are concerned – the clean conditions, and low interaction with new environments and other reptiles, can help keep parasitic infection rate low. If captive reptiles do become infected, however, the close quarters of captivity can meant that the parasites grow rapidly in numbers and can cause serious problems. There is also a suggestion that mites in reptiles may help transmit other diseases, such as roundworms and aeromonas (a bacterial disease which causes ‘mouth rot’). Snake mites are also believed to act as a transmitter of IBD (Inclusion Body Disease), a potentially fatal illness of snakes such as pythons and boas.
Knowing the signs of parasitic problems in your reptile can help you keep you spot problems early, keeping your reptile in tip-top condition.