External Parasites

External Parasites

External parasites that affect reptiles are usually very small and hard to diagnosis with the naked eye. Most reptile owners don’t even know their pet has mites until they see large groups of them on the skin or notice them on lighter pigmented areas of their pets. 

Mites and Chiggers

These types of external parasites are usually red but can also be black or gray and are six-legged. They are bloodsucking parasites. Pet reptiles can get infected with mites or chiggers from bedding, being outside, coming into contact with another reptile that has them, or if you handle an infected reptile you can transmit them to your pet.  Typically they can be seen when they group together around the reptile’s eyes or in any crevice such as the cloacal opening. Mites and chiggers are somewhat difficult to get rid of and are quite painful to the reptile.


Ticks are larger external parasites that can be seen pretty easily. They are also bloodsucking parasites and can also infect people. The reptile gets infected by ticks by being outside or coming in contact with another reptile that has ticks. There are different species of ticks but all of them are dangerous to the reptile and can transmit diseases.

First Aid for Ticks

  1. Grab the tick by the head/mouthparts right where they enter the skin
  2. Pull firmly outward. Do not twist the tick.
  3. After removing the tick, place in a jar of alcohol to kill it.
  4. Wash your hands

Snakes and lizards with ticks can also be treated with a medication called Ivermectin but must be prescribed by a licensed veterinarian.


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