One aspect of reptile care and husbandry that deserves particular attention is cage maintenance. Because reptiles are susceptible to bacterial infections of the skin and digestive tract, cages and housing must be cleaned thoroughly and regularly. Routine cage maintenance is necessary to keep a safe and healthy home for your herp as well as an attractive showplace that is enjoyable and odor-free.
Certain precautions need to be taken during cleaning since the fecal matter of reptiles may harbor harmful bacteria such as Salmonella. It is most commonly transmitted to humans through oral ingestion after handling a herp or contaminated equipment, through open cuts or sores during handling, or through contact with contaminated soil or environmental items. For this reason, your reptile's cage, furnishings, and cleaning equipment need to be cleaned regularly and periodically disinfected.
Wear protective gloves during maintenance and wash your hands thoroughly with hot, soapy water after handling reptiles, reptile cages and equipment, and the stool of reptiles.
Clean Cage Accessories
Routine Daily Cleaning
If the inside of the cage has stubborn material that requires a cleaning solution, remove and temporarily relocate your herp to a clean spare cage. Clean, rinse very well, and wait until the cage is completely dry before returning your pet.
Wash food and water dishes in hot soapy water and dry thoroughly. Use a disinfectant or antibacterial soap to sanitize. Be sure to rinse thoroughly, leaving no trace of soap or disinfectant behind. To make the cleaning process more efficient, consider having two or more sets of dishes. By doing so, you can quickly and easily replace one set while the other is being cleaned.
Routine Weekly Cleaning
Loosen hardened material with a commercial herp-safe cleaner, a toothbrush or other applicable tools from your special tool kit. Thoroughly clean all cage surfaces with hot soapy water and rinse and dry well.
Wash all decorations, food/water dishes and non-disposable substrate such as indoor/outdoor carpet with hot soapy water. Scrub with brushes to remove wastes and dried liquids, and rinse well.
After the entire cage and all accessories are cleaned and thoroughly rinsed, sanitize them by using a disinfectant. Then, rinse the cage, accessories, and decorations with hot water, to remove any residues.
Air dry all items completely before putting everything back together. Re-install everything when completely dry. Replace natural wood or any decoration that will not dry easily with easier to clean artificial decorations.
If bathing is recommended for your herp, it's a good idea to bathe your herp before introducing him into his clean, dry, and odor-free cage.
After cleaning your reptile cage, always remember to thoroughly clean and disinfect all the cleaning items you used, including the sink. Don't forget to wash your hands as well. By taking proper precautions, you can create an environment that is safe for both you and your pet reptile.