This month readers have asked questions about issues that require immediate action.  We have tried to forward the responses to those who asked the questions as soon as we received them, and we reproduce them here for the purpose of educating and informing.

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Question 1:

I have just recently found mites in my gecko collection. They are small & dark grey/black in color and I am pretty sure they are the same as snake mites.  I have contacted several vets here and no one can help me with a treatment. Can anyone recommend any treatments? I want to get rid of them as soon as possible I am worried about them spreading.

Dan Martindale responds: Removing snake mites can be a long, drawn-out process.  They are very prolific and they can travel some incredible distances.  You can use vegetable oil and a Q-tip to remove mites on the geckos themselves.  Be careful not too get any oil in the geckos eyes or soak the gecko in oil, just use the Q-tip and oil to remove visible mites.  The cage and furnishings will need to be treated with Provent-a-mite; this stuff will kill mites and their eggs.  I do not recommend using it on any reptile directly as it can be toxic to some species.  Any substrate will need to be baked to death at 450 degrees (F) for 10-15 minutes to kill anything hiding in it before being disposed of.  You don’t want to just dump it in the trash (snake mites can roam far) or outdoors.  The mites could come back in on a cat, dog or even you.

If the gecko has a lot of mites you should give a it Betadine bath. This is simply water with Betadine mixed in.  The Betadine does not kill the mites – it is an antiseptic used in treating the wounds caused by the mites feeding on your reptile.

If you have a lovely natural vivarium setup that you don’t want to destroy Hypoaspis Miles can be a great thing for you.  These are predatory mites that will eat the snake mites, fly larva or any other tiny bugs in your substrate.  You should consider a new home for the gecko while the predatory mites hunt and eat the snake mites to prevent re-infestation.

Harold Chapman responds: The first thing you want to do is to quarantine the affected animals (move them and their cages) to a separate room. (If any mite-infested animals were previously living communally, assume all the others are also infested).  At this point, I would separate all of the affected animals into smaller, more basic cages (hides, water bowls, and feed bowls that can be sterilized and paper towel or butcher’s block paper for substrate). Take all the original cage decorations and tanks and clean them well using a 10% bleach solution. Rinse and let air dry if possible. Any cage decorations than can’t be disinfected should be discarded and replaced. The key to controlling and managing parasites in captive collections is to isolate the hosts, minimize contact between affected individuals and the rest of your collection, and initiate effective treatments to curb their presence if elimination is not possible. If you haven’t already, I’d take this opportunity to get fecal samples from infected individuals. The stress from mites and other external parasites can impact the level of parasites in the animal’s gut. As a result, the relative abundance of internal parasites can increase to levels that impact normal function (most parasitic organisms encountered in captive collections would rather live symbiotically with the host, rather than bring about its demise).
Assuming these are indeed snake mites and not one of the other mites we encounter in the hobby, there are a few choices we have for treatment. Personally what I’ve found to be most effective is a product called “Reptile Relief”. It is an organic spray that works apparently by softening the exoskeleton of mites, ticks and the like without negatively impacting the function of the affected reptile. Using an appropriately sized tub (a 6qt will do for most geckos), spray the product onto the gecko according to instructions, but be sure to avoid the eyes, nose, and mouth. I typically leave the product on the animal for 5-10 minutes to ensure it has had a chance to work. What I do next may be at odds with what the instructions say, but I “rinse” the excess off the gecko with mild water. Place the lizard back in its quarantine cage so it has an opportunity to dry. Repeat for all affected animals being careful to clean the “spray-tub” out between applications. Animals should remain in quarantine for at least 60 days (preferably 90 days) to allow any other health issues to be screened and treated. Following the first treatment, look for mites on the animals, in and around their cages during the quarantine period and treat accordingly. Provided the mites haven’t already migrated outside the cages of those animals now quarantined, there’s a good chance you won’t see an outbreak of mites. But remember, mites can hitch a ride on non-reptile hosts and find their way back into your collection. Simply handling animals at trade shows, herp meetings, etc. (especially wild-caught animals) raises the risk of having them re-introduced into your collection. Good husbandry and handling practices can curb the spread of most common parasites.

Question 2:

I need some help. I have two eggs that my golden gecko laid.  They are  in the plant by the side of the plant, I  need to known what i have to do and not do. Do I keep them together? Do I remove the male or the female?

Golden Gecko
Maurice Pudlo responds: Congratulations on finding the eggs. Successfully breeding golden geckos and raising the offspring can be a very rewarding experience.

Golden geckos are egg gluers; females attach their eggs in areas they believe will be safe and provide the proper environment to ensure their eggs will hatch.  Do not attempt to remove the eggs from the plant as this will almost always cause damage to the eggs and kill the developing embryo.

If the eggs are fertile and you have always maintained a proper environment for the adults, incubation in situ (Latin for “in the place”) is the best method to allow the pair of eggs to properly develop and hatch.  It is important that temperatures remain as close to the 78°F to 80°F range as possible.  Humidity should be held between 80 and 85% without directly wetting the eggs.  Expect the eggs to hatch between 2 and 2 ½ months (up to 15 weeks has been reported).

When they do hatch keep each of the hatchlings in its own enclosure; this prevents excessive stress which can make them unwilling to eat and less likely to thrive.  Attempting to raise the hatchlings in the same enclosure as the adults will result in the babies being chased down and injured or consumed.  I feel it is best to move the adult pair to another enclosure to prevent this as you may not be there to witness the eggs hatching and remove the babies in time.

Basic care for hatchlings is the same as for adults except the feeder size must be reduced and feeding should be more often.  Properly fed and cared for, the young can reach maturity in their first year.

If your female was freshly imported as most golden geckos are, it is possible that her eggs are not fertile.  The stress of shipping and lack of proper diet is very hard on gravid females and they often lay infertile eggs shortly after entering decent care.  Not to worry though, a good diet and a proper environment can correct the issue and her next clutch should be just fine.

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Harold Chapman responds: Golden geckos or Gekko ulikovskii– are true geckos of the genus “Gekko” along with another widely kept reptile: the Tokay gecko (Gekko gecko). Like them (and every other member in the genus that I’m aware of), they are egg-gluers. For the most part, that means that wherever the female lays (or rather attaches) the eggs, that’s where they’ll stay until hatching. Most Gekko (at least the females) are protective of the eggs, so any advance towards them might provoke a bite. Even upon hatching the parents appear to tolerate their offspring quite well (at least for a while). So I’d recommend you leave them where they are, even though they are on a removable plant (as opposed to a cage wall). The old saying “If it was good enough for my parents, it’s good enough for me” comes to mind. If you’re keeping the parents appropriately (and your having eggs is a good sign), chances are hatchlings will emerge in the next 90+ days. (There aren’t many people reproducing golden geckos in captivity, so hatch time is an estimate based on that of other representatives of this genus.) If you want to keep your pair compatible and producing eggs, I’d leave them together as well.  After about 10 weeks, check on the eggs once a day until you’ve hatched your very own “goldens”. Good luck!

Authors

Harold Chapman is half of the duo that makes up Chapman & Chapman Herpetoculture (or CC Herps for short). He has always been interested in a variety of animals, but just became seriously interested in keeping reptiles back in 2004. Along with his wife, the two have grown their collection to include over 70 species from around the world. Aside from the reptiles, he also gets to work with an impressive breed of dog: Dogo Canario. These large molosser-type dogs are fun to have around and provide a break from all the other animals. More information can be found at their website.

Dan Martindale has been keeping herps since he was 8 and loved working with various lizards, geckos, skinks, frogs and toads and many others.  Currently he has a small business and hopes to offer a wide variety of captive bred reptiles.  He does not raise his animals on a simple diet of just 1 bug; his critters enjoy a varied diet of about 5 regular prey types and a few extras like Silkworms now and then.  He is currently working with Leopard geckos(Eublepharis macularius), crested geckos (Rhacodactylus ciliatus), flying geckos (Ptychozoon kuhli) and mourning geckos (Lepidodactylus lugubris).  He is  a co-owner of Chaotic Nights Reptiles.  One day he hopes to be able to do what he loves for a living and a hobby.

Maurice Pudlo has been maintaining reptiles since 1975 where he kept green anoles found around his Florida home.  After moving to California he was introduced to larger reptiles and found great interest in both Nile monitors and Green iguanas.  His current collection of reptiles includes Nile monitors, Golden geckos, Mourning geckos, Leopard geckos, 5 species of Hemidactylus geckos, and Common green anoles to which he remains forever attached as the spark that fired his interest in reptiles.  In 1990 he joined the army and remained there for 13 years leaving only after being injured while on duty.  Now residing in Louisville Kentucky he owns and operates Maurice’s Exotic Pets with his wife Sharon.

AlizaVisit Website

Aliza is a home care speech therapist living in the Boston area. She has been breeding leopard geckos since 2005 and has also been successful in breeding Coleonyx, African Fat Tail and Gargoyle geckos. Other interests which she pursues in her copious free time include work in ceramics, practicing tai chi and surfing the internet.

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