By Roger J. Klingenberg
The important external parasites in reptiles are mites, ticks, biting flies, and, to a much lesser degree, leeches. Although many reptile keepers view these external parasites as just a nuisance or an inconvenience, the truth is that they can cause or contribute to very serious pathology. To keep reptiles in captivity and not treat, prevent, and control these pests is foolhardy. The drugs and insecticides used for mites and ticks include ivermectin, dichlorvos (No-Pest) strips, and various pyrethrins and permethrins. The treatments for fly strike (myiasis) and infestation with leeches will also be presented.
Rosskopf (1992) reported that he has had good success in eliminating mites from snakes by giving SC injections dosed at 0.2 mg/kg once a week for three weeks. The author has noted that ivermectin given orally at the same dose every two weeks appears to be sufficient if it is used for a longer time frame (six to eight weeks). Ticks are probably best treated with both topical and oral administration.
Ivermectin sprays work well against mites. They can be created by mixing 1 mL (10 mg) of a 1 percent solution to a quart of water. Ivermectin is very poorly soluble in water, so the product must be mixed well prior to spraying. The mixed product is good for thirty days and should be stored in a dark cabinet between uses because ivermectin is light sensitive. Lightly spray on the reptile and environment every three to five days for a period of time deemed adequate. Information provided about the life cycle of the mites suggests that any treatment carried out for less than eight weeks is unlikely to resolve the infestation (DeNardo and Wozniak 1997). This information, based on the detailed life cycle of mites, is expanded upon in the section on treating mites.
Excerpt from the book Understanding Reptile Parasites by Roger Klingenberg with permission from its publisher, Advanced Vivarium Systems, an imprint of BowTie Press. Purchase Understanding Reptile Parasites here.