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Mites between the scales of a water snake - Eutrombicula

Mites between the scales of a water snake - Eutrombicula
Slidell, Honey Island Swamp, St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana, USA
September 25, 2011
Size: tiny
I caught this snake, which was on the verge of shedding its skin, and saw that it had hundreds of red mites under its scales. Poor guy.

Moved from chiggers.

Surely a species of Eutrombicula - the most common chiggers on reptiles. Attaching between scales is typical.

These are larval trombiculids (chiggers). They will engorge on the snake, then drop off to "pupate" into predatory post-larval stages. I'm not sure what species get on snakes, but it's my impression they are not host specific... attacking other reptiles and small mammals. I think these are the ones that mistakingly attach to us... they only remain for a couple hours though, because apparently we taste nasty :) So they are somewhat host specific.

That's fantastic!
I have extensive and...intimate...experience with chiggers, and I even have a masters degree in parasitology, but I've never actually seen a chigger in the wild! Thanks for the ID.

Moved from Mites and Ticks.

Moved from ID Request.

Not Nerodia
Nerodia always have keeled scales, and these are not keeled. This looks a lot more like a Racer (Coluber constrictor) to me. Do you have a pic of the snake's head?

I just posted a picture. I appreciate your help with the ID. I'm also curious about the host specificity of orange snake-mites. Do you think different snake species in the same habitat are likely to have different species of ectoparasitic mites? Based on what I know of parasitic mites on birds, I'd say they may be extremely host specific.

Snake Mites
The most common reptile mite that I know of is Ophionyssus natricis, or, as I like to call them, "Parvulus spurius."---I'll leave it up to you to translate that.


Taxonomic info here:

- Bill

P.S. - You can get rid of the mites by completely coating the snake with olive oil for about 30 minutes each day until the mites are completely gone.

Had a few issues with these o
Had a few issues with these on my pet pythons. Both times, they arrives with a new addition or with an enclosure. The eggs are microscopic and such a pain to be rid of. Here's a macro shot of one after feeding:

I would highly recommend not using oil, and none of the pet store mite treatments will touch them. I ended up solving the problem by using the no-pest strips from Home Depot. I cracked open the plastic housing and then cut apart the yellow strip inside into 1x1" squares and put each just outside the enclosures, letting the natural air flow distribute the insecticide. This dose didn't harm the reptiles, but was the only thing that ever worked. Once a month goes by, you can throw out the dried up squares. I would only do this when you have an outbreak, and not as a regular thing.

Snake chiggers
The mites between the scales are clearly chiggers (Trombiculidae). The chiggers on snakes are usually Eutrombicula species whose post larval stages are predators in the soil. These shouldn't be confused with the "snake mite" (Ophionyssus matrices) that commonly infests captive snakes. Eutrombicula chiggers in the eastern USA are real generalists (they also bite people),

Thanks. I was referring to O.
Thanks. I was referring to O. natrices since mine were capture snakes.

That is a very good question
I don't know much about native snake ectoparasites. Hopefully someone more knowledgeable can answer them. Did you take specimens? Having a specialist check these out is likely your best bet for an identification.

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