Mites!

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AnthonyC

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Recently I've noticed that the "M-Word" has been coming up! All this talk about them has rekindled some old fears, as well as nightmares, I've had about them. About 10yrs ago I had a Cayman Island Iguana come in infested with them. Unfortunately I noticed them a little too late & ended up with an infestation that spread throughout my collection. Back then the cure for them was death by dehydration. There was a product that was sold (can't remember the name) that consisted of clay dust and b.b. sized clay pieces. What you would do is empty all of the substrate in your tank and replace it with the clay. Then you would put a bright light over the tank (supposedly mites hate light and retreat into the substrate when they see it), return the reptile to its enclosure, and not give it food or water for 24hrs. Within that 24hr period the mites would dehydrate and die. The biggest problem was that reptiles such as Madagascan Chameleons, Green Iguanas, Green Basilisks, Chinese Water Dragons, Black Roughneck Monitors, and Cayman Island Iguanas need A LOT of humidity. If the mites didn't die the animal would. Man, this seems so Medieval now!

So my BIG question is... Is there any preventive maintenance that can be done to assure that a mite outbreak won't happen again? I take my baby Sulcatas outside and let them roam (while I supervise) and now I'm paranoid that the mites will hitch a ride on them and infest their enclosure!
 

jbean7916

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Provent a Mite or P.A.M is big in the ball python industry. Baking the substrate and spraying down the enclosure letting it dry fully, then replacing the substrate and the animal has seemed to work for them.
 
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Claireabbo

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so i had the same problem with snowfleas. i have heard that they dont harm the animal but it was annoying and sketchy because his enclosure is in my room. i dont want a bunch of bugs in my room. hahah so i replaced the substrate. cleaned out my enclosure with a power sprayer. well kinda. it was just like a really powerful hose nozzle. and washed it out with soap. and of course i made sure the soap was out (hints the power sprayer) hehe and i changed substrates to a different type and brand. i had this stuff that was cypress mulch from a local store but it was not a good brand. so it had pests in it. so i changed to zoo med coconut fiber. and so far it has worked wonderfully! i also had to soak my little guy for about 20 minutes and i think it drownded them. so yeah thats my story :) hope it helped! :D
 

Tony the tank

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No pest strips..can't beat it... Buy a couple break it up into 3" pieces and place it between around the outside of the enclosure...I have actually placed it inside a sock in a rather lg snake enclosure with some rather lg snakes that were loaded with mites.. Next day..they were mite free...I wouldn't use it for the tortoise unless there was a way to keep it out of there reach..

If you use a sweater box setup for your snakes..just place a small piece between the boxes..
 

AnthonyC

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No Snakes! I kinda have a snake phobia thing going on! I think I've been in Catholic Schools too long and now every snake I see I relate to Satan! ;) My tortoises don't have mites. What I'm looking for is a way to make sure that they don't get them. A little preventive maintenance!
 
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Claireabbo

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just keep him/her clean and keep checking is all i can say :)
 

Tony the tank

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Mites are everywhere... Most you don't see.. The ones that infect our reptiles are usually brought in on substrate , furnishings or on a new animal.... Again no pest strips pieces placed around the ouside of the enclosure..will ensure none get in and none get out...

Prevention is your best bet..You can bake your substrate and hides before you place it in your enclosure.. You can quarantine your newly acquired animals on newspaper..( if your not sure yanimated think your animal might have mites... Give them a soak and watch around there eyes..as mites will migrate to higher ground real quick around water..(spread out they are hard to see..when they hook up on the lifeboats they really stand out)
 

ascott

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I wonder what those little buggies are that you find when you move a plant pot from the cold concrete and they scamper about looking for something else to hide under....if you move a rock from a sunny spot they are under it and scamper to another shady spot????

I have seen them even try to scamper under my foot just to get under something....they are very tiny and dark greyish color...they have been on my hand and I tried to look at them closely ...they don't seem to bite or bug that way????? after the redfoots were out one day I went out to collect them and as I picked up the torts there were some under them and as like when picking up a rock, they scampered about trying to find someplace to hide under...they did not seem interested in staying on the tortoise or me????

So I used a spray bottle and soaked the torts down/washing em off just incase :D
 

lynnedit

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I think that most of the recent discussions of mites have been the soil mites, which don't really infect the torts, but certainly *bug* us when torts are living in inside enclosures.
Not really too appealing in your living room...
 

ascott

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Wheewww....I was hoping that was it :p I have a few houseplants that will procure these these little critters as well.....I don't mind em so much if they are not a harm....I even have a couple daddy long legs that I let be in a couple random spots within my home...as they seem to like to eat any chance buggie that may make it in the house during the summer months....not like draped from one end of our house to the other but just a couple tucked away ones....LOL

Thank you :D
 

lynnedit

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Yeah, losing a reptile to reptile mites would be a nightmare, no wonder!
If I had my wits about me I would try to have a bioactive substrate in my indoor enclosures: pill bugs (isopods), worms, etc., to eat things like mites. Kind of like a 'mini outside'. Not sure if there is a minimum size to accomodate this. Apparently after several months the soil is odor free and smooth, poops are dispensed with to some extent, and no mites! Someday...
http://www.tortoiseforum.org/Thread-bio-active-substrate#axzz1Z0xiGZZZ
http://www.tortoiseforum.org/Thread-Bio-Active-Substrate-Recipes#axzz1Z0xiGZZZ
 

CtTortoiseMom

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One thing I try to do is to freeze the substrate before adding it to the enclosure.
 

AnthonyC

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What a nice and simple preventive idea! Thanks Erin!!! :):):)

CtTortoiseMom said:
One thing I try to do is to freeze the substrate before adding it to the enclosure.
 

Levendis

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I pour boiling water over my coco-noir substrate to expand it properly and also to remove things like mites, mold, bacteria...I thought most of these pests cannot be killed by freezing only?
 

fbsmith3

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I just just thinking that, the mites might just hibernate if frozen.

This whole topic makes me itchy, like when anyone mentions fleas to me.
 

AnthonyC

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The boiling water solution sounds pretty simple too. Luckily my substrate has been intact since Mid-August and I didn't have any mite problems. The next time I change it out I'll definitely try one of the preventive methods mentioned here. Thanks to all! :)
 

Tom

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In 25 years of dealing with torts on a professional level (retail, wholesale, my friends, and my own), I have never seen a single case of mites on a tortoise. Even when they lived in snake rooms infested with mites. We are talking about wild caughts from all over the world as well as captive breds. Mites seem to be very species specific. It is very unlikely that someone who lives in an area with no native torts would ever come across a tortoise mite.

Those pesky substrate bugs are usually phorid flies. I call the smaller grayish/greenish ones "substrate flies", but I don't know the genus. Both of them are present everywhere and find their way into any area with warmth, humidity/moisture and a food source (like tortoise poo or leftover food). They are detrivores. They eat detritus and don't bother our torts. They are harmless, and short of heavy duty pesticides in copious quantities we will never prevent them. Doesn't matter where you buy your substrate or what you do to it.

On the no-pest strips: These things were all the rage in snake rooms for a few years, but they are SOOOOOOO toxic. All sorts of anomalies have been attributed to them and I don't know anyone who is still using them. I mean think about it. They give off such a high level of toxic fumes that a passing fly in a well ventilated outdoor area, like a barn, will be killed as he passes through the unseen cloud. I don't want to breathe that stuff and I would not ever get it anywhere near any of my animals. Sorry to shoot you down Tony, but those things went the way of the Dodo long before even the "protein causes pyramiding" theory did.
 
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