Ball python babies have ticks...

Dear VPI,

I am basically writing to ask a dumb question. I bought several 11 "CH" ball pythons from a guy who said they had no bugs. I looked them over for a good length of time and then moved them into isolation. Every three days I would just look at them for health and bug reasons. 

I have had them for almost 3 weeks and now I notice that there are a few ticks on their eyes. Your book suggests putting alcohol on the tick and waiting a few seconds to remove it.  Is safe to do this near the eyes? Are ticks hard to get rid of, do they re-infest like mites do?

 I am disappointed in finding ticks, and now expect to find other ectoparasites—so far I see no mites. I hope to hear from you, but I completely understand you’re busy and may not get to this for a long time.Best Wishes,  Mike  


Dear Mike,

 Mites are a big deal, ticks are not--at least not so far as getting rid of them is concerned. However there was one instance where ball python ticks were blamed for a small outbreak of Q fever. In fact, it was never demonstrated conclusively that the ticks from the ball pythons were the cause, but if you should come down with any mysterious disease symptoms…. Alcohol won’t hurt the eyes of a ball python as the eyes are covered and protected by the “spectacle” or “brille”, both terms that refer to the clear “contact-lens-like” part of the skin that covers the eyes. I just grab the ticks with forceps and pull them loose, then drop the ticks into isopropyl alcohol. When there are ticks (on ball pythons) there often (but not always) are mites, so keep an eye out.  DGB