Animal Island

Mites a mighty big problem for ball python



Q. My son’s ball python has an infestation of mites. We have cleaned his tank and keep him on a sheet of newspaper. We rub him all over with mineral oil as that is supposed to smother the mites, but they crawl right over the oil. People on the Internet have suggested putting a no-pest strip in the tank with the snake, but that seems extreme. Any suggestions?

Years ago, I tried all the home remedies with very limited success. Then a drug came out called Ivermectin. When properly applied by a vet to any reptile, it eliminates the mites. The animal must be kept in a very clean environment afterward.

Q. Our 8-month-old fox terrier goes crazy when guests come into our home. She jumps all over them and tries to lick them. We just cannot calm her down. We have to pry her off the guests and then put her in her training crate. She does not listen to us and ignores the squirt bottle that we use to try to distract her.

Your pup is feeding off the drama, so it is best not to raise the curtain on the drama in the first place. When guests ring the bell, attract her attention with a big piece of cheese and then throw it into her crate. When she runs into the crate after the cheese, calmly close the door. Then go to the door and greet your guests. When she calms down, you can let her out of her crate. As she matures, she will feel less of a need to act up as long as you maintain a calm manner when guests arrive.

Q: How do I get my cats to stop scratching my new leather furniture? I have sprayed the furniture with anti-scratch spray and put aluminum foil on, but the scratching continues. They use their scratching post as well.

You are doing everything correctly in rendering the new furniture unattractive to the cats. The only thing I would add is some strips of double-sided tape in addition to the foil in the area where they are scratching.

You have to remember that cats act in the moment. You need to have the scratching post right next to the couch for a while so that using it rather than the furniture becomes second nature. When it is finally a habit for the cat to use the post only, you can gradually move it away. When the cat no longer using the couch, remove the deterrents.

Marc Morrone hosts the Hallmark Channel’s “Petkeeping with Marc Morrone.” Email him at

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