Terrarium Cleaning Checklist
Drs. Foster & Smith Educational Staff

Reptile Cage Cleaning: The Right Tools for the Job

Cage Cleaning Recommendations
Reptiles require special care to maintain cleanliness. Routine cage maintenance is necessary to keep a safe and healthy home for your herp, and an enjoyable, odor-free, and attractive showplace.

Natural Chemistry Healthy Habitat Because reptiles are susceptible to skin and bacterial infections, cages and housing must be kept scrupulously clean. And since their fecal matter may carry bacteria (e.g., Salmonella) which can cause disease in humans, your reptile's cage, furnishings, and the equipment itself need to be regularly cleaned and disinfected.

Start with a Clean Cage
Make sure any natural items such as rocks and branches that you introduce into the environment are sterile. Rocks should be cleaned, and then boiled in water for 30 minutes. Sand can be rinsed with large amounts of water to remove any particulate debris and then heated in the oven at 200-250°F for 30 minutes. Branches should also be cleaned and then heated in the oven at 200-250°F for 30 minutes.

Cleaning Tools
Assemble a cleaning kit expressly for cleaning the cage. This will save you time when cleaning if all your tools are in one place. Here are items we suggest you include in your reptile cleaning kit:

  • Back-up cage - a clean environment for the minutes, hours, or even days your herp must be relocated.

  • Buckets

  • Brushes - small and medium sizes depending on your cage. A toothbrush is good for corners and crevices in decorations.

  • Rubber gloves and goggles

  • Sponges - one set for cleaning, one for rinsing, and one for disinfecting.

  • Paper towels

  • Terrarium cleaner - dissolves matter hardened on surfaces.

  • Natural Chemistry Healthy Habitat - great for disinfecting and deodorizing terrariums.

  • Q-tips, toothpicks, putty knives, and razor blades needed to reach into the smallest of spaces, and remove hardened material.

Store these items separately from your other household cleaning supplies. To prevent cross-contamination, never use sinks or tubs that are used for human bathing or food preparation.

Selecting the proper disinfectant for cages must be done carefully. The disinfectant must be strong enough to kill disease-causing viruses, bacteria, and fungi, yet not cause harm to your herp. Reptiles are sensitive to toxic fumes, so choose a disinfectant specifically formulated as "herp safe."

During cleaning procedures, we recommend using rubber or latex gloves and protective goggles. After every contact with your herp, and every cleaning procedure - no matter how large or small - wash your hands thoroughly; it is beneficial to use a hand sanitizer.

With the proper tools and a mind for regular cage maintenance, terrarium cleaning is the key to helping your herp live a longer, healthier life in the habitat you provide.