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bugs in snake tank

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by cap77442000, Aug 15, 2005.

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  1. cap77442000

    cap77442000 Elite Member

    Hi. I've just noticed little white bugs all over my snake tank. They look alittle like head lice but have their legss in front of them near their heads. I brought deflea for herps and a reptile tank cleaner. What kind of bug do you think it is and what else can I do for him? Does he need to go to the vet or will the deflea work? I also gave him something for worms.
    Please respond as soon as possible. Thanks in advance, cheryl
  2. furryscaly

    furryscaly Elite Member

    Hmm, head lice DO have their legs up near their heads. It could be another species of louse. Its also possibly a larva of something. Hard to say without a picture.
  3. cap77442000

    cap77442000 Elite Member

    head lice

    Sorry don't know much about head lice just what I hear. I don't have kids and really don't remember if I ever had head lice. Do you think that the deflea will get rid of them? I used regular potting soil, maybe them came from that? Anyways thanks for responding so soon. I can't take a picture of the bugs they are to small. They are just little white dots that are running all around.
  4. Jay DeMore

    Jay DeMore Elite Member

  5. Bitis Gabonica

    Bitis Gabonica Elite Member

    Sounds like whatever it is what brought in on the soil - we often see millions of tiny white bugs crawling around in the snails' tank, and i believe they come from the soil and appear to eat the poo! They don't do any harm, but I would prefer them not to be in my snake's enclosure - give the tank a good clean and leave the soil for now, see if that helps.

    I would be reluctant to use any products such as the flea stuff without consulting a vet, or making sure you need to use it, and would see if a thorough clean of the tank works first.

    Couple of questions - what snake is it? And why do you have soil in the tank?
  6. Jay DeMore

    Jay DeMore Elite Member

    I should have mentioned this earlier, Do Not Use!!! any type of pesticide (my personal opinion) there are many all natural remedies. If you find that the soil is the reason for the mites simply put it in the microwave for about 45 seconds before putting it in the enclosure. Antibacterial soap is another good way to disinfect and debug a tank, just make sure it is rinsed thoroughly before any animals are returned to it. Vinegar is also good in some cases. There are always options other than poisoning the environment.

    Okay, I'm getting off my soapbox. lol
  7. BlackJack

    BlackJack Subscribed User Premium Member

    It sounds like what you have there are the protonymph stage of snake mites. (they are of a similar family to lice). This is a few stages after hatching and before they feed again, shed again and become adults. If you look carefully, you'll probably find a lot of them crawling on your snake and drowned in the waterbowl (looks like fine pepper, but with legs). You might also find some tan sticky stuff all over the inside top corners of your terrarium or on the outside walls and ceiling... these are the eggs or the newly hatched larvae.
    I wrote a long post to esbat a while ago on how I've dealt with mite infestations. It's not the quickest way but it's a safe way to get rid of them. (Not very practical for someone with several dozen snakes, but I've managed this quarantine and treatment with 4.)
    Do NOT spray or wipe pesticides around your snake.!!!!!!!!.. what kills mites is also highly toxic for reptiles. (I just got an e-mail from someone who accidentally killed their GTP by putting it back into a terrarium treated with Provent-A-Mite and not fully ventilated afterwards!) Whether you use Reptile Relief or Provent-A-Mite or one of the other treatments READ the instructions carefully. If you have arachnids or turtles too, you must be EXTREMELY careful...

    Good luck. They are awful beasties for the snake, fortunately they don't bite people, but they can hitchhike on you to another snake's enclosure.
  8. Bitis Gabonica

    Bitis Gabonica Elite Member

    I thought of that too Andrea - snake mites in the first stage are white, but as adults are black. Best to be safe and check carefully for mites, particularly around the eyes and under the chin, and also watch the snakes behaviour - is it soaking excessively? Is it aggitated or off food?

    However, what is being described and the way it is being described doesn't sound to me like mites - for starters, if they are so obvious then the adult mites should be more so, and it does sound similar to the bugs in our snails' tank.
  9. BlackJack

    BlackJack Subscribed User Premium Member

    That's just the crazy thing Rachel: I almost never saw a live adult mite during our infestations, so it was very confusing at first!
    The two times we had mites, the first thing we noticed was these tiny white bugs crawling on the glass doors and beige sticky stuff on the walls. I had to look VERY carefully on the snakes and saw some more of these little guys: but only after soaking them in water did a few of the adults drown and fall off. I never saw adults drowned in the water bowl, though.
    Also a-typical: my snakes never soaked or showed any signs of being bothered by the mites. But almost like it happened over-night, those little white buggers were everywhere and then we noticed the eggs and found a few adults in the tiny grooves and dark places in terrarium and under some raised scales on the snake; also around the vent.
    We looked at them under the microscope and confirmed that they were snake mites: the larvae only have 6 legs, but after they shed and morph, they grow another pair as adults.
    Once you've found them, you have to look well EVERYWHERE in and around your terrariums and treat everything! I took apart one of my terrariums and found eggs, larvae, protonymphs and adults INSIDE the florescent light fixture, even INSIDE the plugs and cables!!!
    Strangely enough, I never saw any mites in the "typcial places" on my snake " the eyes and the mental groove under the chin. But there were quite a few that fell off and drowned when I soaked the snakes in a tub of lukewarm water for 30 minutes or so.

    I'm not sure why my mite infestations sound different from what others have described, but that's the way it was for us both times! I'm not sure, but perhapswe caught our infestations very early: as there seemed to be hundreds and hundreds of larvae but hardly any obvious adults, so maybe we got them before they had a chance to grow up. ?????????

    Good luck!
  10. cap77442000

    cap77442000 Elite Member


    Thanks for responding so soon. I did clean the tank and I left out the soil. I'm going to put it back soon though because the snake is freaking out to much. He has no where to hide right now. I just want to wait a little longer and see if they come back. I didn't see him soaking or anything like that but he was always climbing to the top of the cage like he was trying to get away from something that is the reason why I looked in the first place. They are just little white dots that run around on everything. What do the eggs look like? Maybe if I know what to look for I could stop them before they start and keep my snake happy and in good health.
    Again thanks for everything,
  11. BlackJack

    BlackJack Subscribed User Premium Member

    Hi Cheryl
    I wouldn't put the soil back in so soon. I REALLY think you have a mite infestation and unfortunately it's not going to go away with one thorough cleaning!
    You should, however, give your snake some type of hide box which can be discarded every day or every other day: depending on the size of your snake, anything from a cardboard cereal box to a shoe box would be fine. In the meantime, I wouldn't have much else in the cage except paper towel as a substrate and a waterbowl. Everything else should be taken out and treated or thrown away and replaced... but don't put anything back until you've gotten rid of the mites! An adult can live 32 days without a blood meal, so you shouldn't relax too soon. It just takes one pregnant female hiding in your carpet or somewhere else to re-infest your snake again!
    You can take a piece of moist paper towel (gauze would be better if you have it) and wipe it along the snake, then look for mites. Also wipe the top corners of the lid and sides of the terrarium and check for beige, white or black dots... those would be the eggs, larvae or the protonymph or deutonymph stages, and the black ones or dark red would be the adults.

    It's not easy to get rid of these beasties, but you must take the problem VERY seriously. Mites are VERY dangerous to your snake! They can pass bacteria and viruses to your snake or cause severe, life-threatening anemia in a large infestation.
    There are a lot of mite treatments available: popular ones include Reptile Relief and Provent-A-Mite. Be aware, however, that there is no treatment that is both 100% effective against mites and 100% safe for your snake. Always read the directions carefully and follow them to the letter!
    In the link I put in my first post, I clearly outlined how I've successfully and safely gotten rid of mites in my collection of 4 snakes. (It may not be practical for someone with 20+ snakes, but it is safe and it works.)
    Check out this link for more info on mites:
  12. Bitis Gabonica

    Bitis Gabonica Elite Member

    Hmm that is unusual Andrea, but definitely something to bear in mind.. we always spotted the black mites first, in heavy and not so heavy infestations.

    Cap, i guess the thing is to treat these things like mites - even if they're not mites then it can't do any harm to be over-cautious. Leave the soil out, your snake doesn't need the soil for hiding, just make sure you put in plenty of other hiding spots, which can be easily cleaned or discarded - things like plant pots or plant pot bases, tupperware boxes or even old cereal boxes make good hides, and hides are imperative to your snake's health, it needs to feel secure.

    What kind of snake is this and where did you get it from, and when??
  13. cap77442000

    cap77442000 Elite Member

    Hi and thanks for the advise. I only had him for around three months. He is a northern brown and I took him from a bunch of kids in the neighborhood. They were abusing him. I never had a snake before nor did I know anything about them. This site is a blessing. I did take him to the vet for a checkup and because he would'nt eat for a least a month. He won't eat now but I guess because he is really stressed out. I'm afraid to clean him or the tank again because I don't want to kill him. I'm going to clean it on sunday and just prey that he doesn't have a heart attack or stress attack.
    Again thank you and I will take your advise on the dirt and hiding boxes. Thanks alot.
    Also can crickets get mites? I have pet crickets in another tank that is on another dresser but there is only a small gap between the two dressers.
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