If you noticed that your iguana has shedding problems, excessive scratching, has strange looking or damaged scales or you have noticed small bugs on or around the folds in the skin, the eyelids, and the armpits, these are the signs that your iguana has mites.
Mites are close relative to the ticks and fleas. They can be difficult to kill because we often fail to kill all of them. Mites cal live and hide in spots where they are known to lay their eggs. The mite’s life cycle is fairly straightforward. They hatch, find a prey item (the reptile), feed and then lay more eggs before they die. Mites are more active during the hotter and wet months of the year. Often these mites will leave behind nasty wounds and scars as well as infection. Mites are very small, most running smaller then a pin head. To identify them correctly use the magnifying glass. They will crawl around your iguana and they prefer tight warm places such as that between the folds of skin, the toes, and around the iguana’s vent.
Look for white scabs next to damaged scales. If you carefully scratch off the white little scabs you will see mites with a magnifying glass if they are there. Mites will look like very tiny red-orange dots.
How to kill mites with a non-toxic application.
If mites are the cause of the problem, you can easily take care of it by applying generous amounts of mineral oil all over the specific spot of the body. The mineral oil is non toxic to iguanas, but may give your iguana laxative side-effect if ingested accidentally. You can coat the entire body as a precautionary treatment including the head and ears. Use a cotton swab to get the oil between the toes and in the skin folds. Be careful around the eyes while oiling the areas that have mites and be careful covering the nostrils.
The way it works is that mites breath through tiny holes on their body. The oil coats the breathing holes and the mites suffocate.
You can leave it on for a 1/2 hr or permanently. But it will be a little messy and will make cage furniture a little slippery. It is best to repeat this treatment daily for 3-5 days. If you no longer see mites you can stop doing the treatment daily and move to once a week for 6 weeks to make sure that all the mites are gone.
Thorough cage cleaning with non-toxic solutions like F10 is also advised to avoid future contamination.
If you do not see mites or not sure about any of the symptoms, please visit a vet who is qualified to treat exotic reptiles and iguanas.