If you have pets, they’re bound to contract some type of blood-sucking organism at some point. This also goes for bearded dragons, which might get mites from time to time.
Mites are small organisms similar to ticks. Bearded dragons usually get mites due to poor hygienic practices, which is why it is important for you to keep your beardie and its cage as clean as possible. Getting rid of mites is a difficult process, and can be very debilitating for both you and your beardie.
Of course, your first plan of action if you suspect that anything is ever not quite right with your bearded dragon is to take it to the vet so you can get proper advice. After that, here’s a basic guide on what you can do to treat your bearded dragon with mites.
What are Mites?
Mites are small organisms similar to ticks that will spread disease and suck the blood from your reptile. This is especially why you need to treat your beardie as quickly as possible if you suspect mites.
You will usually be able to see them if you get up close to your bearded dragon, but they often hide in folds and other places on your beardie’s body. They especially like to hide near the ears, eyes, and head.
Bearded dragons will usually get mites from poor hygienic practices, including a dirty tank or just it being dirty itself. Or, it may have contracted the mites from another bearded dragon, so if you do have multiple, make sure that you pay attention to all of them so that you can treat them well.
Since poor hygiene is a contributor to this, you will absolutely need to clean out the tank as thoroughly as possible- and keep it as clean as you can to prevent any future attacks.
Other than actually seeing the mites yourself, there are some other symptoms that you will need to look out for.
These include mite defecate on your bearded dragon’s body, which will look a lot like dust, redness near the eyes and other areas where the scales are smaller, which signifies bites, fatigue, and a lot of rubbing or itching on your bearded dragon’s behalf.
You may also notice that your bearded dragon is not acting like its usual self, and it may not want to bask, be fed, or even be picked up because it is in a lot of pain.
Now that you’ve determined that your bearded dragon has mites, here’s a guide on what you can do.
How to Get Rid of Mites
First thing’s first- you need to call the vet. This goes for any instance in which you feel that something is not quite right with your bearded dragon. This is because you might not have all the knowledge necessary to treat your pet, which could end up having bad consequences.
You need to understand that there are some products which will completely get rid of the mites, but those products are toxic for bearded dragons, too.
The best way to get rid of mites is by starting off with a product called Betadine, which is a povidone-iodine (you can get it here).
You will first need to fill the area in which you will be bathing your beardie with warm water that is approximately 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
Then, add some of the Betadine product to the water, which will end up changing its color.
Start to pour this all over your bearded dragon and make sure to get as much as you can, since this will especially help to get rid of mites that might be hiding out. If you feel that you need to submerge your bearded dragon in the water, you can, but try to avoid doing this if possible.
If your bearded dragon defecates at any point throughout this process, make sure that you empty the bath and fill it again, because you don’t want your bearded dragon to sit in contaminated water.
You also will want to avoid letting it drink the water, so try to see if it will drink before you add the chemical solution.
Water and Betadine are important to use because both are okay for bearded dragons, which is not always the case with products marketed towards killing off mites.
The water will help to wash the mites off the beardie’s body, and the Betadine will help to get rid of any infection that might come about due to the bites. So, you can rest assured that you are using safe materials.
After you are finished with the bath, dilute some Betadine in water.
Take a washcloth that you don’t plan on using anymore and (carefully!) rub the bearded dragon everywhere, including near its eyes and neck, so that way you can get rid of any extra mites or disinfect any bites that you weren’t able to get during the bath.
Leave your bearded dragon for approximately ten minutes, and then wash off the solution.
You must clean the tank thoroughly
It is usually recommended that while you have your bearded dragon in the tub, you completely clean out its tank. This is because there might be mites sitting around in the tank, and since poor hygiene can lead to the contraction of mites, this will help to ensure that they are completely gone.
And, you obviously will not be able to leave the bearded dragon in its tank as you do this.
You will want to vacuum out the tank completely, especially getting into all the nooks and crannies, since this will help to get rid of any eggs or defecate.
Get some hot and soapy water to then clean the tank completely. Once you have done this, you can either create a solution using bleach and water or Nolvasan (get it here), which will especially help to disinfect the tank.
Leave the solution in the tank for around ten minutes, and then rinse thoroughly in order to get rid of the smell completely. Make sure that you don’t forget to clean the lights in the tank, too.
If you have put any decorations or toys in the tank, you will especially want to clean those, too. There are multiple ways for you to do this. You can use bleach and water to clean off the toys.
The best way to do this is to soak everything in such a solution for several hours, and then leave them to dry for several more. You can also potentially put any rocks or wooden toys in the oven for 2 hours at 200 degrees, but you will have to constantly keep an eye on them for the possibility of burning.
The next step for you is to include a pesticide strip in the tank, which can be easily found in pet stores. You need to completely close the tank then using tape or other materials and not leave anything exposed to the air.
Depending on how big the tank is, you will need to let this sit for several hours.
Once that is finished, you will want to allow your bearded dragon’s tank to air out completely. You can either do this by letting it sit outside or by the window.
If you have other bearded dragons, you will want to completely repeat this process with them, too, since mites tend to also be passed on from reptile to reptile.
And, make sure that you don’t forget to clean out the room that your bearded dragon’s tank was in, too. This may include having professional cleaning services come to clean. This is simply to make sure that you and your family members don’t get sick.
Once this is all done, you may return your bearded dragon back to its tank.
Your Next Steps
The next thing that you will want to do is to make sure that you monitor the bearded dragon and its cage for several weeks afterward. If you find that, after cleaning your bearded dragon and its tank several times, the mites still don’t go away, you will need to take another visit to the vet.
When you go to set up the tank again, try to put as little decorations as possible in it so that way if you need to clean it out again, you will have less work to do. You can put everything back the way it was once the mite infestation has gone away.
For the next week, you will also want to continue to take the diluted Betadine and wipe your bearded dragon with it in order to prevent infection on any of the bites.
Most pet stores will sell products that claim to get rid of mites, but many bearded dragon owners found that these are not very effective.
You should also be using paper towels as substrate for the tank because this will allow you to see any mites that have been left behind.
After six weeks, if you have noticed that the mites have gone away, make sure that you completely clean your bearded dragon and its tank again to ensure that no eggs, mites, or mite defecate remain.
By this point, you can switch back to a real substrate like this.
You will also want to keep an eye out on your bearded dragon’s nutrition. It is likely to have lost quite some blood during the mite infestation, and it probably did not eat normally during this period.
So, you will want to feed it with as nutritiously rich foods as possible, including its usual feeder insects, vegetables, and vitamin supplements. See what your vet might recommend with regards to this.
Here are some articles that help you with that:
- 5 Bearded Dragon Diet Tips you must know
- What to feed a bearded dragon?
- How to make your bearded dragon eat greens within 7 days
And finally, you may wish to keep your bearded dragon quarantined. Try to purchase a smaller tank so that when you go to clean the larger one, your bearded dragon will have somewhere to rest.
This is a debilitating process, but it is important to ensure that your bearded dragon is as healthy as possible. Don’t forget to take a shower yourself, fully wash your clothes, and fully clean the areas in which you were cleaning the tank (including the room that the tank is in) to prevent any unwanted illnesses.
Creatures lurking around on your bearded dragon could carry diseases that will be harmful to humans, too.
Fleas – Beardies can get them
Some bearded dragon owners wonder if it is possible for their beardies to get fleas, too. Fleas will only feast on animals that have warm blood, such as dogs and cats. Since bearded dragons are cold-blooded creatures, they are not able to contract fleas.
This is important to understand since some bearded dragon owners will mistake the mites for fleas.
Ticks and bearded dragons
Bearded dragons can, however, get ticks. It is especially important for you to keep an eye out for these because ticks may carry diseases that are harmful to humans, such as Lyme disease.
If you suspect that your bearded dragon has ticks, you will definitely want to take it to the vet. You will also be able to see the ticks and will want to take care of them soon so that they can’t get into your beardie’s respiratory system and cause suffocation.
And, of course, ticks carry diseases which can harm your bearded dragon.
The best way to deal with ticks is similar to how you would deal with them on a human- by pulling them out with tweezers. Make sure to not use your fingers and not to twist the tweezers as you pull the tick out.
Get the tick near the mouth in the place where it has entered your beardie’s body. Don’t apply anything to it, as some people online may suggest, because this can cause the tick to expel more saliva into your pet.
Next, fill a jar with some alcohol solution and drop the ticks in there. That is the only way that ticks can be killed.
Important – Before you do any of this
It is important to remember that none of this information is meant to substitute any information that your vet may have given you.