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Read Louise Rayment-Dyble’s advice on protecting reptiles from ticks and mites

February 21, 2021

Ticks and mites really suck, literally! Both of these common pests feed on blood and if the infestation on your reptile is severe it can cause anemia, amongst other issues.

Louise Rayment-Dyble has this advice when it comes to protecting your reptile from ticks and mites this spring.

Did you know there are 7 types of ticks and over 250 types of mites that can affect reptiles? Not all are common in the UK thankfully.

Ticks are blood-sucking parasites with powerful mouths that can pierce even a reptile’s skin. They mostly live in long grasses, so indoor reptiles are less at risk than tortoises for example, but ticks still pose a threat if they’re brought into the home by humans, cats, or dogs. Ticks can be fairly easy to spot on your hairless pet as they can be up to 1cm in size after a feast.

As well as causing anemia, ticks transmit a number of serious diseases and can spread protozoan parasites that will live in your reptile’s bloodstream. One disease that can be spread to humans is Lyme disease, which can be debilitating.

Mites are typically small, spider-like creatures and can be harder to spot. Not all mites are parasites, but you don’t want them making a home on your pet.

How to protect your pet reptile against ticks & mites

There’s not much you can do ahead of time to protect your reptile, apart from keeping grass short in your garden for your tortoise. If you have cats and dogs though, you can protect them during the spring to autumn tick season in particular, to lower the chances of them bringing ticks into your home. Also, check yourself for ticks after walking in areas deemed high-risk for ticks.

  • Regularly check your pet, especially areas with thin scaling and where critters can’t be easily nibbled or brushed off eg. eyes, nostrils, vents, behind legs.
  • Get your reptile used to regular handling so you can feel all over for any lumps (get these checked by a vet) or small legs at the skin level i.e. parasites.
  • Monitor your pet’s behaviour and if you notice any unusual changes, contact your vet for advice.
  • Clean out your reptile’s habitat regularly and thoroughly to minimise the risk of a mite infestation.
  • Keep your reptile in good health by giving them the correct diet, lighting, heating, space, enrichment and other needs for their species and time of year.
  • When bringing a new reptile into your home, consider quarantining them for a short period to make sure they’re not bringing parasites with them.

Beware that tick treatment for other species containing ivermectin is deadly to tortoises, so always talk to your vet about safe reptile parasite treatment.

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