The most commonly encountered ectoparasite in captive snakes is the hematophagous snake mite (Ophionyssus natricis). Infected snakes often exhibit lethargy, dysecdysis, pruritus, crusting dermatitis (sometimes progressing to abscesses), and behavioral changes (increased bathing time, rubbing against objects). Anemia and septicemia are occasional complications. Eliminating snake mites from a collection is frustrating. Insecticidal and acaricidal compounds used in mammals can be used against O. natricis infestation in reptiles, but they all are potentially neurotoxic to reptiles. The use of a biological agent to control the snake mite was first developed by using the predatory mites Hypoaspis miles and Hypoaspis aculeifer. However, no data are available regarding the potential of these mites to control O. natricis. Furthermore, the survival and predatory behavior of H. aculeifer and H. miles decreases above 28°C, which is the lower value of the optimal temperature zone range required for rearing snakes. The aim of this study is to identify the ability of the predatory mite Cheyletus eruditus to control O. natricis. In the first experiment, 125 O. natricis mites where placed in separate plastic tubes together with the same number of C. eruditus mites. After 48 hr, the survival rate of snake mites was 6% compared with 92% in the control group (n = 125, P < 0,001). In the second experiment, 11 infested (average of 13 O. natricis per snake) ball pythons, with an average of 13 O. natricis per individual, were placed in separate cages with 1,000 C. eruditus mites vermiculite. After 15 days, only an average of two mites per snake remained, compared with 48 per snake in the control group (t-test, P < 0,01).
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