Sadly, mites can be quite frequent issue among many hermit crab enclosures. Indeed, mites are far relatives of hermit crabs, so it is not unusual to realize that they share the same environmental preferences.
High temperatures, lots of dark corners, amazing humidity, plenty of food, and even live animals to attack… mites will gladly stay in any such tank for a long, long time.
That is why treating the problem before it turns out into a major infestation and destroys your pets is crucial. So, how to treat mites on hermit crabs once this happens?
Identify Mites Infestation
First of all, it is necessary to identify the mites infestation at the earliest stage possible. There are various mite species that can eventually find their way into your enclosure, but what they have in common is that they are all extremely small.
Therefore, it is necessary to constantly monitor your pets and look for any tiny ˝spots˝ moving across their bodies or shells. This is the only way to detect them.
Mites can be of various colors and they all breed at crazy levels, so spotting them as early as possible is really important. They will mostly hang around the substrate which is ideal for them as dark and really humid.
However, they will also multiply around the tank corners and they need to feed, so they will often be spotted around food dishes and on hermit crabs.
Getting Rid of Mites
Once you are sure that your hermit crab enclosure is infested by mites, all you need to do is act quickly and arm yourself with lots of patience.
– Cleaning the Tank
The first step is creating a safe and clean space for your pets to return to once they are treated. Start with taking your hermit crabs out and placing them into a temporary tank (or any other place where you usually keep them during tank maintenance).
Next, you will need to remove absolutely all items from the enclosure, with no exception. Water and food dishes, decorations, branches, houses, shells, and anything else from inside the tank have to be cleaned up and thoroughly disinfected.
You will realize that some items can be boiled into the water, while others are probably better to get baked. If you have some items which you are not really attached to, you can simply throw them away and get new ones afterward.
– Change the Substrate
Next, you will need to completely replace the entire substrate across the tank. Some people prefer boiling it and baking it afterward, but the substrate is really not that much of an investment and it is certainly safer and simpler to replace it with a new one.
Be careful not to throw away the old substrate into your indoor bin. This will probably be full of mites because the substrate is their favorite place ever, so make sure to bring them outside the house to avoid them coming back.
Once you have completely emptied your tank, it is vitally important to thoroughly clean it up. It is suggestable to vacuum it first (especially the corners!) and then to wash it out with water.
Remember, hermit crabs are somehow related to mites, so any chemicals which can harm mites will eventually harm your pets, too.
Once you have carefully cleaned up your tank, you can double the chances of doing it correctly by leaving the tank upside down on a window for a while. These tiny pests are not big fans of direct sunlight, so they can decide to leave if exposed to it for some time.
You can check every few minutes if there is any sign of movement across the empty enclosure, as they are probably easier to spot then.
Once you are sure there are none left, it is time to place a new substrate and all other disinfected items on its top. It is really important to keep everything as sterile as possible.
– Treat Your Crabs
Finally, you will need to treat your hermit crabs before placing them back into their mites-free home. The best way to do it is by giving your pets a nice bath. Start with de-chlorinated water, preferably salted.
Mites do not like salt and this will certainly make them leave the shells. Start with turning your hermit crab upside down to release all the air bubbles first. Once this is achieved, you may start gently pouring water onto it.
Make sure to carefully rinse out the inside of the shell, too. If your hermit crab is not up to a bath, repeat it after some time.
Any mites which are rinsed out and are visible on the water surface have to be poured away. Then, add some clean de-chlorinated saltwater and repeat the bathing process.
Some hermit crab owners like using apposite commercial products as the JurassiMite as they are advertised to be efficient yet non-toxic.
– Quarantine New Hermit Crabs
Whenever you adopt a new hermit crab and wish to add it to your already inhabited enclosure, please always make sure to quarantine the newly arrived pets for a while. This will ensure there are no mites or any other parasites on them before placing them along with the others.
Also, it is important to disinfect all items you place into their tanks (apart from food). Their home needs to be sterile and the best to do so is by keeping any infestation chances at the minimum. This also includes conducting frequent cleaning activities, as well as regular check-ups.
Realizing you have some unwanted roommates inside your hermit crab enclosure is never easy and can get quite stressful both to you and your pets.
However, staying calm and performing all the necessary cleaning and disinfection is the only thing that will certainly help you in dealing with it. As well as patience- you will need lots of it.
And remember, the best way to keep your delicate pets safe and healthy is by constantly performing preventive measures.
Do regular check-ups to notice any parasites on time, scoop visible waste and food residues up each day, and placing a lid on the top of your tank may also be a good idea. Your pets will be thankful.