Are mites the kiss of death? Seems that a lot of people in the reptile hobby equate mites with being the plague… As if mites are as bad as IBD, respiratory infections or Herpes for that matter. Of course nobody wants to deal with mites, they are a pain in the butt and are something that everyone that keeps reptiles hopes to avoid.
It’s not secret that we have had issues with mites popping up in our baby Ball Pythons. There’s been plenty of conversation on the forums about it along with colorful threads on the BOI. First off let me say that as a reptile business it is inexcusable that I ship a snake out with mites.. This should NEVER happen, but it has and at some point in the future probably will again.. Uh.. Oh.. did I just admit that I will send out a snake in the future with mites??? Would you guys feel better if I lied and said “BHB will never send a snake out with mites in the future.. .ever!” As a matter of a fact I am willing to guarantee that every major and most minor snake collections in the country, at some point, has dealt with a mite problem. There was an old saying that says “If you haven’t had snake mites, you haven’t kept snakes long enough”. They come in on bedding, they come in on live rodents, they some in on “new snakes and they hop a ride on snakes that have been to reptiles shows. With a small collection they are very easy to treat and get rid of, normally gone within one treatment of Prevent A Mite.
Now let me take a minute before your guys head explode and tell you that we have had mites, and we are doing our best to rid of them 100%. But they’ll be back at some point and we have do to do better job of not only irradiating them from our collection, but certainly NEVER sending them out to your collection. But when someone tells me they will never do business with us because we sent someone a snake with a couple of mites by accident, then I lose my mind. When someone contacts me that has had an issue with a snake we sent them with mites, I offer to take the snake back with a complete refund, I offer to pay for the treatment and I offer them a discount on future business for their hassle with the problem that I created. Of course this is bad business for us and something we “will” get ahead of, but lets take a look at things with a level head. Mites are terrible, but as long as you take care of them they are harmless and nothing more then a inconvenience. Yes they “can” transport disease when not eradicated, but lets hope your “other” snakes are not disease ridden. Other then being a pain in the ass, are they the plague? Are they so vile that a snake business with mites should be ostracized and black listed? Come on people, if you get a great snake at a good price that is followed by good service, but unfortunately the animal has a mite on it, does that mean you should never do business with that person again? Especially when that company is willing to bend over backwards to help you get past it.
Listen, I hope I never have another snakes leave my place with a mite, but if I stopped dealing with people because I got an animal with a mite on it, I would have to throw my address book out and scratch off 90% of the biggest breeders in the countries names from the list of doing future business. We ship out tens of thousands of snakes each year and have had a very “few” leave this place with mites. When I say a few I mean less then 5-10 animals out of the 20,000 plus animals we have shipped. Of course one is still too many…
Certainly mites, suck… but if I was sending out a “sick” snake, then I think I would deserve the bad wrap that seems to be following us around because of a few animals that slipped out of our place with those pesky mites. I’ll do my best to stop it from happening again, but I think people need to be educated on what some “real” health issues are when it comes to their reptiles.. Until then I guess I’ll just keep working on better procedures to stop this problem while my competitors talk people out of buying snakes from us because of the dreaded mite problem.. I wonder if those people will be willing to do all the things we do to help promote and protect our hobby? Lets hope we never have to find out!