Can Dogs & Birds Get Snake Mites?

by Ben Team Google
    Snake mites access the soft skin between a snake's scales.

    Snake mites access the soft skin between a snake's scales.

    Tom Brakefield/Stockbyte/Getty Images

    Thousands of parasites, including at least 250 mite species, plague wild reptiles. Snakes and lizards can carry mites with relatively little trouble, but their numbers can build up to plague proportions in captivity. The snake mite (Ophionyssus natricis), is by far the most common mite seen in captive snakes, but it is unlikely to cause pet dogs, cats or birds any trouble.

    Snake Mites

    So-called snake mites are tiny arthropods who feed on lizards as well. Geckos and other smooth-scaled species are typically less susceptible to snake mites, as the mites have trouble accessing the lizards’ skin. Scientists, veterinarians and zookeepers have identified these mites living on crocodilians and turtles, though it is exceedingly rare. A 1975 article published in “British Journal of Dermatolgy” documented a human family that suffered bites from snake mites; but given the number of captive snakes kept around the world and the paucity of similar cases suggests this is a rare phenomenon.

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    • Tom Brakefield/Stockbyte/Getty Images

    About the Author

    As a lifelong environmental educator and International Society of Arboriculture-certified arborist with more than 17 years of animal care experience, Ben Team writes about pet care, natural history, environmental issues and outdoor recreation. Team has authored, co-authored and ghost written more than 1,000 articles, blog entries, educational references and books, in both print and electronic form.

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