White Mites and Cat Hair

fangurley

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Hello everyone!

The last time I changed out my leopard tortoise's substrate it seems like some pests tagged along. They look like little white mites to me. It doesn't look like any on my tortoise and from what I've seen on other posts I think they might be harmless but they are annoying. I should be getting my new substrate today, I saw people suggesting to freeze it.... How long does it need to be in the freezer to be sure I killed anything in it? Is there a specific way I should clean the enclosure?

Also another thing is I'm noticing a ton of cat hair is getting into the enclosure, the cats do not have access to the tortoise but all their hair is getting in there. I'm going to try brushing out my cats so they shed less but is the cat hair harmful at all to the tortoise?

Thank you for any advice!
 
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Unsure about the cat hair issue - but when it comes to little critters, pouring boiling water over the substrate and letting it soak works really well also!
 

wellington

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I bake the substrate at 200-250 for about 3 hours. It works better and longer then freezing it.
As for the cat hair, its not good for them. They could eat it and become impacted or it could get tangled around their limbs. It's also a fire hazzard.
Depending on the torts age it should be in an enclosed chamber. Hair wouldn't be able to get in it.
Post pics of your enclosure and tortoise and we can help with suggested changes.
 

fangurley

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I bake the substrate at 200-250 for about 3 hours. It works better and longer then freezing it.
As for the cat hair, its not good for them. They could eat it and become impacted or it could get tangled around their limbs. It's also a fire hazzard.
Depending on the torts age it should be in an enclosed chamber. Hair wouldn't be able to get in it.
Post pics of your enclosure and tortoise and we can help with suggested changes.

That's a perfect idea for the substrate, thank you!

I don't have pictures with me at the moment, I'm on my work computer. What I have is the Exo Terra Natural Terrarium Large Wide which is completely enclosed and the top is like a wire mesh material and that's how the hair gets in. My cats like hanging around the area because its warm but I live in a one room apartment currently and don't have a spare room to move him into to keep them away.
 

wellington

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Yes, I second what Jacqui said. If the lights and heat sit on that wire mesh, then rig a tent over it with some wood or pvc pipe and drape a plastic shower curtain or something similar over the wood/pvc.
 

Tom

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Hello everyone!

The last time I changed out my leopard tortoise's substrate it seems like some pests tagged along. They look like little white mites to me. It doesn't look like any on my tortoise and from what I've seen on other posts I think they might be harmless but they are annoying. I should be getting my new substrate today, I saw people suggesting to freeze it.... How long does it need to be in the freezer to be sure I killed anything in it? Is there a specific way I should clean the enclosure?

Also another thing is I'm noticing a ton of cat hair is getting into the enclosure, the cats do not have access to the tortoise but all their hair is getting in there. I'm going to try brushing out my cats so they shed less but is the cat hair harmful at all to the tortoise?

Thank you for any advice!
It won't matter if you bake, boil or freeze the substrate. The springtails aren't coming from the substrate. They are harmless detrivores and they come from the surrounding environment. They colonize any warm damp place with an abundance of food. Like a tortoise enclosure, for example.

I agree cat hair can cause impaction if enough is ingested.
 

Jan A

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Hello everyone!

The last time I changed out my leopard tortoise's substrate it seems like some pests tagged along. They look like little white mites to me. It doesn't look like any on my tortoise and from what I've seen on other posts I think they might be harmless but they are annoying. I should be getting my new substrate today, I saw people suggesting to freeze it.... How long does it need to be in the freezer to be sure I killed anything in it? Is there a specific way I should clean the enclosure?

Also another thing is I'm noticing a ton of cat hair is getting into the enclosure, the cats do not have access to the tortoise but all their hair is getting in there. I'm going to try brushing out my cats so they shed less but is the cat hair harmful at all to the tortoise?

Thank you for any advice!
Hey, welcome to the forum. It's spring here, & this is when my long hair cats shed the most, so yes, brushing is good for you & your cats & your tort. Fewer hairballs, too
 

wellington

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It won't matter if you bake, boil or freeze the substrate. The springtails aren't coming from the substrate. They are harmless detrivores and they come from the surrounding environment. They colonize any warm damp place with an abundance of food. Like a tortoise enclosure, for example.

I agree cat hair can cause impaction if enough is ingested.
I disagree Tom. My first tort was housed three floors up in my apartment building. There is only one source of them and that's the substrate. The right conditions of hot and humid brings them out from substrate either thru hatching eggs or hibernation. I never had them before my tort and never had them since torts been outside, years now.
Baking does work. Freezing just delays them longer.
 

Tom

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I disagree Tom. My first tort was housed three floors up in my apartment building. There is only one source of them and that's the substrate. The right conditions of hot and humid brings them out from substrate either thru hatching eggs or hibernation. I never had them before my tort and never had them since torts been outside, years now.
Baking does work. Freezing just delays them longer.
How is it that they still show up even after people boil, bake or freeze their substrate then? Phorid flies and springtails are every where and they are mobile. Even three floors up. They exist at the tops of mountains. They can and do climb or fly. They come from the surrounding environment and colonize any suitable living space.
 

wellington

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How is it that they still show up even after people boil, bake or freeze their substrate then? Phorid flies and springtails are every where and they are mobile. Even three floors up. They exist at the tops of mountains. They can and do climb or fly. They come from the surrounding environment and colonize any suitable living space.
Then why is it I never had them, ever, in my house before or after? Plants, lizards, frogs, have been housed. I never used coir for anything but torts. I dont know if just using bark brings them but likely so.
When I used to bake mine, coir only, i didnt have them appear for at least a year or so.
I'm also not sure what they were called, but these I'm talking about didnt fly and didn't invade the rest of my house. Now I did also get some little flying bugs, almost fruit fly looking that did invade the other areas of my house and never lived long and the baking kept them at bay also for a very long time.
Baking does work, just not forever.
I believe they reappear because either more or new substrate added without baking or tort is being taken outside or foods being picked and brought in.
Any tort dish outside sitting on the ground usually has them crawling on the bottom.
 

wellington

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Reading on fungus gnats which loves coconut coir and is what we are probably talking about. The baking would kill the stages before it can fly. Once they can fly they live a short life so if any had remained in the area they would lay their eggs back in the coir. Most people don't do anything about the bugs until they have appeared. If bottom of dishes, rocks, hides, etc have not been cleaned or even baked, the eggs or pupae could remain on them or if the flying adults have not all died off.
 
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