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September 2010 Editor’s Note

A mite-y useful parasite article.

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“The Scourge of Skin,” by Tom Greek, DVM, is an article about ectoparasites that may plague your reptile pets and how you can combat them.

My primary experience with reptile parasites is with the most common type, and I’m sure many of you have had to deal with the nasty little buggers, too. Of course I’m talking about mites.


When you acquire a new reptile for your collection, a thorough inspection should always be part of the process. Always look for any sign of possible parasite infestation, including mites. Look around the eyes, because mites are attracted to the moisture there, as well as the folds of skin where lizard legs join the body. On snakes, mites may be seen beneath the scales. Mites suck blood, and an infestation can weaken, and eventually kill, a reptile.

I first learned about mites when I noticed some moving specks on one of my green iguanas. I employed the drowning method of eradication, holding my iguana under water — his entire body, except for the nostrils — to drown the mites. This had to be done repeatedly to ensure freshly hatched mites were drowned, too (eggs are not affected by the water).

Ectoparasites are a pain to deal with — read “The Scourge of Skin” for excellent vet advice.