Bearded Dragon Mites

Bearded dragons have risen in popularity as exotic pets, thanks to their enchanting appearance and relatively simple care requirements. Bearded dragon mites, scientifically referred to as Ophionyssus natricis, can become a distressing problem for both the reptile and its owner. However, like all pets, they can encounter health issues, one of which is mite infestation.

In this comprehensive article, we will delve into the Bearded Dragon Mites’ causes, symptoms, prevention strategies, and treatment options for mite infestations in bearded dragons.

Understanding Bearded Dragon Mites

1. Types of Mites

Bearded dragons can play host to various types of mites, with the most prevalent being snake mites (Ophionyssus natricis). These diminutive arachnids sustain themselves by feeding on the blood of reptiles and are frequently found in their enclosures, on their skin, and even within their ears, nostrils, and mouths. They can gain access to the reptile’s habitat through contaminated substrate, live prey, or direct contact with other infested reptiles.

2. Life Cycle

Understanding the life cycle of mites is crucial in effectively combatting an infestation. Mites undergo a short life cycle typically comprised of four stages: egg, larva, nymph, and adult. Under favorable conditions, mites reproduce swiftly, emphasizing the need for prompt action when a suspected infestation arises.

Recognizing Mite Infestation

1. Symptoms

Identifying mite infestations in bearded dragons is pivotal for timely intervention. Common indicators of mite infestation include:

  1. Restlessness: Bearded dragons afflicted with mites may display heightened activity, restless behavior, or frequent scratching.
  2. Loss of Appetite: A noticeable reduction in appetite is a common red flag for mite infestation. Infested dragons may refuse to eat or show disinterest in their food.
  3. Skin Changes: Mites can incite skin irritation and inflammation, resulting in alterations in the reptile’s skin pigmentation, such as the appearance of dark spots or redness.
  4. Discomfort: Bearded dragons may become agitated and exhibit signs of discomfort, which can manifest as frequent head shaking or rubbing against objects in their enclosure.
  5. Visible Mites: In severe infestations, mites may become visible on the bearded dragon’s skin, especially in areas around the eyes, mouth, and ear canals. They appear as tiny, dark specks crawling on the reptile’s body.

2. Checking for Mites

To inspect for mites, gently examine your bearded dragon’s body, with special attention to the head, neck, and under the scales. Employing a magnifying glass can aid in identifying these minuscule pests. Additionally, scrutinize the reptile’s habitat for any signs of mite infestation, such as minute black dots in the substrate.

Causes of Bearded Dragon Mite Infestation

1. Substrate

Mites can infiltrate a bearded dragon’s habitat via contaminated substrate, which may encompass materials like wood chips, sand, or soil. These substrates can harbor mite eggs and nymphs, which subsequently infest the reptile.

2. Infected Feeders

Feeder insects, such as crickets, mealworms, and roaches, can serve as carriers for mites. If these insects are infested and subsequently fed to your bearded dragon, they can transmit mites to the reptile.

3. Contact with Infested Reptiles

Direct contact with other reptiles afflicted by mite infestations can propagate the problem. Therefore, it is imperative to quarantine and thoroughly inspect any newly acquired reptiles before introducing them to your existing reptile enclosure.

Preventing Mite Infestations

1. Quarantine New Additions

Whenever you acquire a new bearded dragon or any other reptile, it is crucial to quarantine them for a minimum of 30 days. This period allows for the monitoring of their health and the detection of any signs of mite infestations before they are introduced to your existing reptile enclosure.

2. Maintain a Clean Habitat

Frequently clean and disinfect your bearded dragon’s enclosure. Remove and replace the substrate as necessary, and ensure the entire habitat remains dry, as mites thrive in humid conditions.

3. Inspect Feeder Insects

Prior to feeding your bearded dragon, thoroughly inspect live insects for signs of mites. Refrain from using insects from questionable sources, and consider breeding your own to minimize the risk of contamination.

4. Regular Health Checks

Conduct routine health checks on your bearded dragon, paying close attention to their skin, eyes, ears, and mouth. Early detection of mites or other health issues can prevent more severe problems from arising.

Treating Mite Infestations

In the event of a suspected or confirmed mite infestation in your bearded dragon, swift action is imperative. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to address mite infestations:

1. Isolate the Infected Dragon

Isolate the affected bearded dragon from other reptiles to prevent the spread of mites. Place the afflicted reptile in a clean, temporary enclosure.

2. Clean and Disinfect the Habitat

Remove all substrate and disinfect the entire enclosure, including hiding spots, decorations, and water bowls. Dispose of any substrate in a sealed bag to prevent mites from spreading.

3. Bathe the Bearded Dragon

Provide the affected bearded dragon with a lukewarm bath. This can help soothe their skin and may encourage mites to detach. Gently rub their skin with a soft cloth to remove visible mites.

4. Use Mite Treatments

Several commercially available mite treatments can be employed to combat infestations. Consult a veterinarian experienced in reptile care to determine the most suitable treatment for your bearded dragon. Common treatments include:

  1. Mite sprays or powders: These products are applied directly to the bearded dragon’s skin. Follow the instructions diligently and avoid contact with the reptile’s eyes and mouth.
  2. Ivermectin: This medication may be prescribed by a veterinarian and can be administered orally or via injections. It is crucial to adhere closely to the veterinarian’s guidance when using Ivermectin.

5. Repeat Treatment as Necessary

Due to their brief life cycle, it is important to continue treatment as directed by your veterinarian until the infestation is completely eradicated. This may necessitate multiple treatments over the course of several weeks.

6. Prevent Reinfestation

Reinfestation can be avoided by using the same preventative procedures that got rid of the mites in the first place. Keep the habitat clean, check the feeder insects frequently, and use a quarantine on any new additions.


Bearded dragons with mite infestations are a major cause for alarm among reptile owners. They can, however, be contained and eradicated with diligence and caution. It is crucial to keep your beloved bearded dragon healthy and happy through early detection, effective treatment, and preventative measures.

If you’re caring for one of these magnificent reptiles, you should always see a trained reptile veterinarian for advice and treatment choices customized to your individual circumstances, and you should also keep learning as much as you can about reptile care. This article given information about “Bearded Dragon Mites.”  I hope you like it.

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