- tiny red dots around eyes, ears & other sensitive areas
- ash-like “dust” (mite poo) all over body
- poor hygiene, contamination from another reptile
If your beardie has mites, roll up your sleeves—you’re in for a long haul. But with diligent effort, you can get rid of the little bloodsuckers for good.
First, give your beardie a Betadine bath. Fill the tub or sink with 80-85 degree (Fahrenheit) water. If your beardie likes to drink, wait until s/he is done before adding Betadine (povidone-iodine) to the water, enough to make it a light tea color. Using your hand or a small cup, pour the bath water over your beardie, being sure to get in all the nooks and crannies the mites might be hiding in. Water flushes them off, while the Betadine disinfects the bite wounds. If your dragon poos at any time during this process, drain the tub, clean in, and then try again.
Once your beardie has been rinsed off, remove him/her from the tub. Soak a soft cloth in diluted Betadine and gently wipe the lizard all over: between the legs and body, in the joints, in the folds of the neck, vent, etc. Think like a mite—where would you hide? For the eyes, nose, and spikes, use a cotton swab soaked in the Betadine solution. Wait 10 minutes and then rinse off.
While your beardie is in the tub, clean the enclosure.
1. Throw away all substrate.
2. Vacuum out the tank, in the corners and under the lip along the top edge. If the enclosure is made of wood or ungrouted melamine, scrape the corners and then vacuum again. This will get any extra eggs, mites, or mite poo hiding in there.
3. Wash it out with hot, soapy water. Rinse thoroughly.
4. Wipe down with a strong Nolvasan (generic: chlorhexidine) solution or 1:30 (1/2 cup per gallon of water) bleach solution. Let it sit for 10 minutes, then rinse until you can’t smell it anymore.
5. Disinfect cage decor. Wood and rocks can be baked in a 200-250 degree oven for 2-3 hours, checking on them every once in a while to prevent scorching/burning. Large decor must be soaked in a 1:30 bleach solution for 8 hours, rinsed, and then soaked in plain water for another 4-6 hours. Dry thoroughly (preferably in the sun). Plastics can be rinsed out with a hot bleach-water solution.
6. Wipe down light fixtures. Use a damp cloth to thoroughly wipe away any mites that may have wandered in.
7. Fumigate. Place a pesticide strip or cat flea collar inside the enclosure, then close and seal it up with plastic wrap and painter’s tape. Close off all gaps! Let sit for 3+ hours, longer for large enclosures.
8. Vacuum and wipe down surrounding area around the tank. If there are curtains/blinds behind the tank, you may need to get those professionally cleaned. If you have other reptiles housed nearby, check them thoroughly.
9. Air out tank. Dispose of the pesticide strip and expose the tank to open air. If possible, take it outside. If not, open a window and turn on a fan.
10. Set up tank with minimal furnishings. That way you’ll have less to clean later if the mites come back. Also use paper towel as substrate so you can see remaining mites more easily.
11. Return beardie to tank.
Apply straight Betadine your beardie’s bite areas daily for one week after. Keep an eye on him/her and its tank for the next 2-6 weeks or so. If the mites come back, repeat the above steps. If they seem to be gone by the 6-week mark, do a full treatment of the lizard and terrarium to kill any remaining eggs.
If the mites persist, consult your veterinarian.