Mites are fairly common problems for iguanas. However, taking care to get rid of them is very important because left unchecked the parasitic mites can actually kill your iguana. There are several steps that must be taken in order to get rid of the mites and often it is a battle between your will and theirs. However, if you work at it, your iguana can become mite free!
Identifying the problem. It is likely that you are reading this because you either know you have a problem, or think you might have a problem. With that, the first step to getting rid of mites it to identify them as your problem. Mites are very small (most running smaller then a pin head). They will crawl around your iguana and they prefer tight warm places such as that between the folds of skin, the toes, and around the iguana's vent. They also cause the following problems:
- Excessive scratching
- Shedding problems
- Strange looking or damaged looking scales
- Small bugs on or around the folds in the skin, the eyelids, and the armpits.
You may also see mites in the cage with the iguana. They may crawl across any branches or decoration and can even be hiding in the corners.
Begin by removing everything from the cage (including the iguana). You will want to get everything out of the cage. Only move it to the area of treatment or you could spread mites all over the house. If you have a travel cage or other temporary home for your iguana, that is a good place to put your iguana for now.
Treat all non-wood items in bleach solution. Mix 1/2 cup of bleach with 1 gallon of hot water. Soak all non-wood items for ten to fifteen minutes in this solution.
Treat all wood items with heat. Put all wood items in the oven set at 350 degrees and bake for two to three hours.
Treat cage. If you have a glass or plastic cage then treat it with 1/2 cup bleach to 1 gallon hot water. Thoroughly wet all areas of the cage and let sit for 5-10 minutes so that it can kill off all the mites.
If your cage is wooden then it can absorb the bleach water and cause respiratory problems with your iguana. Instead use 1/2 cup lemon juice and 1 Tablespoon of antibacterial dish soap. Soak the cage and let it set.
Treat your iquana. Treating an iguana isn't always easy. Often times it is dangerous to treat with chemicals because your iguana is sensitive. Also, iguana types of mite pesticides often don't work because they are weaker than other versions (such as those for birds). The best option is to try home remedies and if that doesn't work, take your iguana in to see the vet.
- Begin by rubbing baby oil or mineral oil (baby oil is mineral oil with scent) over the skin of the iguana. Use a cotton swab to get the oil between the toes and in the skin folds. Be careful around the eyes while oiling the areas that have mites. This will cause the mites to suffocate.
- Rinse the oil off with warm water and Betadine solution (the water should be tea colored and about 80 degrees). If you can get your iguana to sit in the solution this is best.
- Spray your iguana with warm water to rinse him off.
- Finish by using a cotton swab to dab Betadine into the folds, between the toes, around the eyes and vent, and in other areas where he or she has mites.
Because mites are nasty little creatures and it only takes one to start a whole new batch, it is best to repeat this treatment daily for three to five days. If you no longer see mites you can stop doing the treatment daily and move to once a week for six weeks to make sure that all the mites are gone.
Rinse everything off thoroughly. Bleach is a really bad for the lungs of your iguana, but is the best way to kill the mites. With this in mind you need to rinse the cage and materials that will go back into the cage several times. It is best if this is done three or four times to make sure there is no more bleach in the items.
Treatment of cage should be once a week for six weeks and then look for signs of mites after that. Always keep a close eye out for these nasty little buggers because catching them early can mean saving your iguana who will get weak from the parasite.
Reassemble the iguana's cage. Put everything back to normal. Make sure that your heat lamps and pads are in place and that you are feeding a healthy diet. Your iguana will need lots of good nutrients to get healthy and recover fully and quickly.
Clean any spaces that held the iguana or the iguana's items. You can spread mites to other parts of your house. Normally they will die off fairly quickly without a good food source, however it can be a good way for your iguana to get the mites back. Make sure you clean that area and any temporary cages you used with bleach water solution to kill off any mites that escaped to these places.
Treating mites on your iguana isn't any fun, but it is important to do so as soon as you identify a problem. Mites can cause disease, infection, weakness and death. It is also important that you take care not to put dangerous chemicals in with your iguana. Some recommend putting flea collars, flea powders, and other chemicals in the cage. This may be effective at killing mites, but it is potentially dangerous to your iguana. Keep it safe and get rid of the mites as fast as you can while keeping your iguana healthy!