Mites on versicolor sling

ArachnoJoost

Arachnobaron
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To my horror I found mites on the chelicerae of my versicolor sling. since this is the first time this happens to me (or the spider) I have some questions:
1. the most obvious: How do I get rid of them? (spider is about 1 inch)
2. I know they are parasitic, but what exactly do they eat? (do they eat the spider or do they eat the crickets the t is feeding on?)
3. I've tossed the container he/she was in away, how should I keep him while he has mites?
4. How easy do the mites travel from one spider to another? (I've thorougly cleaned the paintbrush and tweezers, so I won't distribute them from one spider to another.

If anyone has some answers, I would love to hear them, cause I'm a bit stressed out!
greetz,
Joost
 

Gail

Arachnopixie
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We'd need a little more info on what kind of mites they are. There are several types, one of which is a scavanger mite that usually is found of food boluses, etc. The scavanger type is very tiny, whitish colored and in my experience more of an irritant than a danger unless they get out of control. You should be able to brush them off of the T with a stiff artists hogs hair brush of an appropriate size. The hardest thing will be to get your sling to hold still.
The other type of mite is an actual parasite on T's and is usually, from what I have read, tan or reddish. I, fortunately have never had this type of mite, so I can't really give you any first hand advice on removal or control.
Many people simply let the tank and the spider go "dry" to kill mites but I wouldn't recommend that with a 1" sling as it could kill the sling too. I control the white scavanger mites by making sure I keep all vials and cages emaculately clean and I switch out the spiders at the first sign of infestation. I also found that I practically have eliminated the scavanger mites in my sling vials with my new method of keeping slings. I bought one of those large plastic pull out storage drawers, set it on a cookie cooling rack over top of a heat mat (so that the heat warms the drawer but doesn't melt it) and I keep about 1/2 inch of water in the drawer for humidity. No pebbles, just the vials sitting in the water. Since I make sure there are no mites when I clean the vials and initially put them in the drawer I have no mite problems because the mites can't "swim" across the water to infest the vials. It's been working fantastic for me.

Hope all of this can help you in some way,

Gail
 

Wade

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Your mites are most likley the scavanger type, the true parasites tend to turn up on wild caught adults, and are relatively rare. Scavangers are often introduced with feeder insects. One method to get rid of them I read about in the ATS forum is to temporarily keep the infected T in a bare-bones container (like a deli cup)without substrate. This is to deprive the mites of the organic material in the substrate that they normally feed on. Punch some holes in a second, smaller container. The holes should be small enough to prevent the spider from entering. Inside the small container, place a smashed, dead cricket. Place this inside the larger container with the tarantula. The idea is that the mites, being scavengers, will migrate to the cricket. The cage should be cleaned and disinfected every couple of days, and the cricket replaced. Eventually, the spider should be mite free, and can be returned to a normal, CLEAN set up.

As Gail mentioned, slings are prone to dessication, so a bare bones cage might not work as well in your case, so it may be best to modify the approach a bit. Instead of a totally bare cage, slightly moistened paper towels (that are changed during cleaning) may be included as a temporary substrate. The moisture, unfortunately, may help the mites, but hopefully they will still migrate to the cricket.

Good luck,

Wade
 
Last edited:

Code Monkey

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There is another viewpoint (which I subscribe to). If you are keeping a moist environment T, you _will_ have mites and other tiny scavenger arthropods and unless you enjoy constant futzing with substrate changes, moisture levels, etc., you might as well accept that they're in there. Scavenger mites won't harm your T unless it's already seriously ill.

So long as you keep uneaten food and boli removed and they aren't obviously stressing or otherwise harming your T, there's really not much within reason to do about them. You could try adding isopods which compete with the mites for fungi and other potential foodstuffs but could never harm your T under any scenario.
 

Wade

Arachnoking
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Code Monkey-

I agree that mites, to some degree, are going to be present in most moist cages, and will often be seen on prey remains, etc. With a reasonable degree of cleanliness, and occasional dryout period, numbers can be kept in check, but probably not eliminated. Most of the time, the spider is probably fine.

In this case, however, the mites were actually found on the spider, so they might be a bit more than just an annoyance. The fact that their gathering around the mouth makes me wonder if they may also be gathering around the booklungs, a potentially lethal situation. Also, this is a 1" sling, at this size, the mite population may build to dangerous levels (for such a small spider) quickly. All in all, I felt that some sort of treatment was warranted.

Wade
 

ArachnoJoost

Arachnobaron
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Thank you for your very helpfull replies,
from what I understand it's definately the scavenger type mites (thank god for that). The bone-dry method will not work here, most of all because the sling is getting ready to molt. I've put him in a small container that has no substrate, only a water dish.

Wade: I want to give your smashed-cricket-method a go, but I'm worried that it will rot and mold because of the humidity. I know that's what attracts the mites but won't it hurt the sling?

Then another wild idea, let me know what you think: As I said, the sling is about to molt, and all the mites are around the chelicerae of the sling. couldn't I remove most of the mites by quickly removing the old skin, or would this stress the sling too much?

Thanks again!
Joost

p.s. I've checked the booklungs, they're clean
 

Wade

Arachnoking
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You would want to change out the cricket pretty frequently, it doesn't take long to become attractive to mites.

Pulling out the molt ASAP would indeed help. Since slings recover from molts very quickly, you may want to have a new cage set up for it. When it molts you can move it over soon after, hopefully leaving the bulk of the mites behind.

Wade
 
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