Mites in Terrarium? Here’s What You Should Do

Mites can be difficult to handle, especially for new reptile owners and even experienced reptile keepers who have never experienced the stress of dealing with a mite infestation. It can be very frustrating when mites make it to a terrarium because they affect the reptile’s comfort and quality of life.

This has made many pet owners ask what to do when they are disturbed by mites.

Here’s an article that lays it all on the table when you are lost for what to do. You will learn to tell if your terrarium has mites, what you should do, and a few helpful tips to prevent an infestation.

Read on to find out.

How To Tell If Your Terrarium Has Mites?

There are a few signs to tell if your pet has mites. Usually, the most common and reliable way to tell is to pay close attention to its skin. You will normally find many tiny dots on your animal.

You may find them moving; at other times, you may not. But the tiny dots are the mites and may even appear under the scales of your pet.

Other signs that may accompany the tiny dots are listed below:

  • Irritation

You will find your pet constantly irritated. This is because of the discomfort from the mite infestation in its body. You might find your pet soaking in its water dish more than usual because it wants to drown the mites.

Sometimes, when you look at the water in the water dish, you will find a few of these black dots floating. That is another confirmation that your pet has mites.

  • Decreased Appetite

This is a natural consequence of mite infestation. The mites usually make your pet so uncomfortable that it will lose interest in food.

Once you notice a significant change in your pet’s feeding routine, you may need to pay attention to ensure that it is not a consequence of the discomfort from mites.

What Should You Do?

Here are the steps to take if you want to rid your terrarium of mites as soon as possible.

1) Clean out the original tank

Cleaning out the original enclosure is perhaps the first way to get rid of a significant number of mites.

You want to clear out the substrate. While some may treat the substrate, it would be best to discard it if you want to limit the chances of dealing with mites again.

It is normal to find driftwood and other decorations infested with mites. You can clean out the driftwood by baking. Alternatively, you can soak it in a 10:2 water bleach solution to eliminate the mites in the driftwood.

If the other items of decorations can be baked without being destroyed, that would be the best way to handle it. You may have to throw away hides that cannot be baked or soaked without getting damaged if you want to get rid of the mites in your enclosure.

Many reptile owners who have suffered the same ordeal opine that cleaning the enclosure with Dawn dish soap is one of the most effective ways to get rid of mites when you wash the enclosure. This is true and may work for you because Dawn Dish soap really seems to kill mites.

You want to thoroughly wipe out the entire enclosure with the Dawn Dish soap and rinse it. You want to leave it out to dry after washing and rinsing.

2) Treat Your Pet

Remove your pet from the enclosure and put it in a tank or container that it cannot get out of. After that, you want to spray your pet with some Natural Chemistry Reptile Spray. Putting them in a tank they cannot get out of is important because you want to spray them down all over with the product and leave them to soak in it for about half an hour.

Take care not to spray it in the reptile’s eyes or face. But you have to spray it all over your pet’s body and kind of rub it all over it. Although you can also wipe your pet down with a paper towel after spraying it, the best way to get enough coverage is to work it all over your pet’s skin with your hands.

After working the Natural Chemistry Reptile Spray into your pet’s body and under its scales, you want to leave your pet to sit in the spray for about 60 minutes. You can then rinse off thoroughly with warm water. Follow the rinsing with a 10-minute soak in warm water to drown any mites that may have survived the treatment.

3) Prepare A Quarantine Enclosure

You will need to prepare a quarantine enclosure for your pet. You may do this with one of the market’s most effective products, Prevent-a-Mite.

Note that if you are quarantining a new addition to your tank, using paper towels instead of the loose substrate is a great way to tell whether it has mites. But when you are quarantining an animal that already has mites, you will have to use loose substrate in the enclosure, especially since the manufacturer’s instructions are to use only in a loose substrate.

A good way to prepare the quarantine tank is to have a very light substrate. You want to leave the substrate at a depth of not more than 2 inches. This is very important because the next step would be to spray the enclosure with the Prevent-a-Mite.

You want to spray the wall, hides, and substrate. After spraying the enclosure, you want to place your reptile in the treated quarantine for about 14 days.

The idea is to ensure that any other mites that may have survived the earlier treatment bath and the soaking will be eliminated when they come in contact with the Prevent-a-Mite in the quarantine enclosure.

Prevent-a-Mite will kill any mite that comes in contact with the quarantine enclosure for up to 14 days. So after 14 days, you want to clean out the substrate in the quarantine tank and repeat the quarantine tank preparation with Prevent-a-Mite all over again. You have to repeat this process every 14 days for about two calendar months.

If you do not see any sign of mites after the 2 months quarantine period, you can stop the treatment and return your pet to its main enclosure. Of course, you would have to prepare the main enclosure before re-introducing your pet back into it.


Do not leave the water dish in the quarantine enclosure while preparing it. Take out the water dish before you spray the quarantine enclosure. This is very important to avoid having your pet ingest the treatment chemical.

Also, you must remove any feeder insects in the room when you spray Prevent-a-Mite in the quarantine enclosure. If you keep any other smaller critters in the room, like tarantulas, you want to remove them from the room. You also want to remove birds from the room.

Prevent-a-Mite will kill your feeder insects and birds if you leave them in the same room where you prepare the quarantine tank. But the product is safe for use on your reptiles, like snakes and lizards.

You also want to prepare the quarantine tank in a well-ventilated area.

Helpful Tips to Prevent Mites from Your Enclosure

Given how frustrating it can be to deal with mite infestation, it is important to imbibe some standard handling practices when dealing with pets in general.

As a responsible pet owner, here are some ways to prevent mite infestation in your terrarium.

Although going this extra mile to keep your terrarium safe may seem frustrating, it would be best to practice them because they do not compare to the stress of dealing with an infested terrarium.

1) Always Wash Your Hands After Handling New Pets

One way mites move from one pet to another is by improper handling practices. When you touch an infected reptile, you may unknowingly transport some of the mites on its body to another pet if you fail to wash your hands before handling the other pet.

This risk is especially high when you attend expos and fail to wash your hands before handling your pets. It is important to always wash your hands after handling pets outside before touching your critters.

Also, if you keep more than one reptile in a terrarium, you want to wash your hands after handling one before touching the other. This will reduce the chances of an infestation and a rapid spread if any one of your pets is infected.

2) Thoroughly Check Reptile Before Introducing It To Your Enclosure

Checking your reptile thoroughly for mites is another way to prevent mite infestation. Before or after buying the reptile, one of the first things you want to do is inspect the animal for any black dots.

You want to check well. Check the skin and pay close attention to the areas between the scales. Pat the pet gently and repeatedly for a few minutes. If there are mites on its body, you should feel some walking on your hand. You may want to do this about 4-5 times.

3) Always Quarantine New Animals 

Quarantining any new pet is the first and most important step for introducing a new reptile to your house.

You want to keep it in a separate enclosure for about 60 days to ensure it does not have mites in its body. Quarantining is also a great way to avoid spreading diseases from a new addition to your old reptiles.

But unlike a treated quarantine enclosure for a reptile that already has mites, this quarantine enclosure is for a reptile that you only suspect has mites. So, using paper towels instead of loose substrate would be best if you want to know whether your new addition has mites.