Mites are small, tiny tick-like parasites that inhabit the outside skin of many reptile species, including Bearded dragons.
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. Often diseases are transmitted from one Bearded dragon to another via mites. Mite infections also affect the overall health and appearance of Bearded dragons.
Mite infections in Bearded dragons
How will you know?
Mite infections in pet Bearded dragons are fortunately not common. When present, mites can often be seen as little moving specs on the skin of Bearded dragons. One will also find them attached under the edges of larger scales, around the eyes, ears, and any place on the body where the scales are thinner.
Other signs indicating mite infections in Bearded dragons 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 Bearded dragons will spread to other Bearded dragons. Because mites hide and breed in small places like cracks, under cage furniture, and inside the bedding and substrate, they can be tricky to get rid of.
Before doing anything else, isolate all affected Bearded dragons 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. Apart from being contagious, mite infections in Bearded dragons can be a serious, life-threatening condition.
The safest home treatment that can be attempted is careful soaking in lukewarm water (taking care not to drown the Bearded dragons). Mites won’t be able to breathe underwater and will either drown or try to move to the surface.
Apart from affected Bearded dragons, the environment should also be treated for mites. Emptied-out enclosures and cage furniture should be thoroughly cleaned and treated properly for insects. The substrate, any wooden and/or finer cage furniture should rather be discarded.
Prevention of mite infections in Bearded dragons
As with many conditions, mite infections should rather be prevented. The most important aspect of Bearded dragon mite prevention is proper hygiene and quarantine. Before the introduction to a colony and/or permanent enclosure, newly obtained Bearded dragons should be quarantined. This will allow proper inspection, monitoring, and prompt treatment if mites (and other diseases) arise. This will also prevent mite infestations and the spread of mites and their diseases to other Bearded dragons.
Regular health checks
As with all pets, it is recommended to have even a healthy Bearded dragon 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 Bearded dragon evaluated for parasites at the time of purchase, before or during its quarantine period, and then at least every six months after that.