Mites are small, tiny tick-like parasites that inhabits the outside skin of many reptile species, including Leopard geckos.
These tiny (only a few millimeters in length) parasites attach themselves to their host, bore through the skin and suck blood – leading to significant blood loss, loss of appetite and a weakened immune system. Mite infections also affects the overall health and appearance of Leopard geckos.
Mite infections in Leopard geckos
How will you know?
Mite infections in pet Leopard geckos are fortunately not common. When present, mites can often be seen as little moving specs on the skin of Leopard geckos. Other signs indicating mite infections in Leopard gecko include the following:
- excessive water soaking behaviour
- loss of appetite
- weight loss
- poor body condition
- shedding problems
What should you do?
Being an infectious disease, mite infections in Leopard geckos will spread to other Leopard geckos. It can also be tricky to get rid of mites because they can also hide and breed in small spaces like cracks, between furniture and inside the bedding and substrate.
Before doing anything else, isolate all affected Leopard geckos by placing them in separate, large enough, plastic containers with a paper-based substrate and as little as possible cage furniture.
Although some home treatments can be considered, rather make an appointment with your closest reptile friendly veterinarian. Mite infections in Leopard geckos can be a serious, life threatening disease.
The safest home treatment that can be attempted is careful soakings in lukewarm water (taking care not to drown the Leopard gecko).
Apart from affected Leopard geckos, the environment should also be treated. Emptied out enclosures and cage furniture should be thoroughly cleaned and treated properly for insects. The substrate, any wooden and/or the finer cage furniture should rather be discarded.
Prevention of mite infections in Leopard geckos
The most important aspect of Leopard gecko parasite prevention is proper hygiene and quarantine. Before introduction to its permanent enclosure and/or friends, all newly obtained Leopard geckos should be quarantined (kept separately) for at least 3 months. This will allow proper inspection, monitoring and prompt treatment if diseases arise, and will prevent these diseases from spreading to other Leopard geckos or the enclosure.
Regular health checks
As with all pets, it is recommended to have even a healthy Leopard gecko evaluated by a reptile friendly veterinarian on a routine or regular basis. Important problems like mite infections can be identified early and rectified before it becomes a problem. It is preferable to have a Leopard gecko evaluated for parasites at the time of purchase, before or during its quarantine period and then at least every six months after that.
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