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Tropical Rat Mite

Actual Size: 0.75 to 1.40 mm

Characteristics: Very small; cream-colored or red when engorged.

Legs: Juveniles have 6 legs; adults have 8 legs

Antennae: No

Wings: No

Habitat: Often found accumulating in walls close to hot water pipes, stoves, and other heat sources.


  • Most commonly found as a parasite on rats.
  • As small as the period at the end of a sentence. 
  • Can travel several hundred feet in search of a new host.

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Tropical Rat Mites in Kailua Kona

The tropical rat mite is commonly only found on Norway rats. Due to the Norway rat’s spread, they are now found worldwide. They are more common in warmer climates and are often found in inhabited and uninhabited rat nests. Even though they are small, they are able to travel several hundred feet to find a new host. It is unclear whether these mites can transmit diseases to humans.

Tropical Rat Mite Habitat

Tropical rat mites have been found in stores, restaurants, theaters, and other buildings where Norway rats have invaded. They are nocturnal, feeding at night or in areas of semi-darkness, and will hide in cracks, crevices, and other dark places until it is time to feed again. These mites prefer warm, dark areas, often accumulating in walls in close proximity to a heat source such as hot water pipes, stoves, and dishwashers.

Tropical Rat Mite Behaviors, Threats, or Dangers

Tropical rat mites can become a significant issue in areas where rat eradication programs are in progress, as they will resort to attacking humans and other animals for survival. Even in the presence of abundant rats, these mites are known to attack people. Their bites can lead to irritation and sometimes painful dermatitis lasting for two or three days. Both nymphs and adults will attack humans, but the nymphs seem to be the most troublesome. If you suspect an issue with tropical rat mites, it’s important to contact a professional tick & mite control expert.