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Cleaning a Reptile Habitat

Reptiles have some great qualities that make them wonderful pets. Although each type of reptile has their own unique needs, they do have some things in common … such as the fact that they live in enclosures, tanks, or terrariums. One of your biggest—and most important—tasks as a reptile owner will be keeping your pet’s habitat clean. As your Marion, IA vet, I’m happy to provide great care for reptiles. I offer some tips on cleaning reptile habitats below.

Get Organized

You’ll need paper towels, disinfectant spray, a spray bottle filled with water, garbage bags, old towels, and possibly gloves. Keep all of your cleaning supplies in one spot. A storage tote works great for this.

Have Dinner Ready

We recommend having your pet’s next meal ready, so they can enjoy having supper in a nice, clean cage. If you have a snake, and you feed it frozen mice or rats, take your pet’s supper out of the freezer a few hours before you start cleaning.

Temporary Tank

Your pet will need somewhere to hang out while his home is being cleaned. A plastic storage tote with air holes put into it will work. This can also double as a travel case.

Diving In

The first thing you’ll want to do is take all furniture and accessories out of the tank. Put anything that can be washed, like decorations, hide boxes, and soaking pools, in the tub or sink. Heaters, misters, and other equipment can be set aside. You’ll need to remove the substrate as well. (Tip: a shop vac may come in handy here.)

Cleaning

When you have everything out of the tank, start cleaning. You can use water and paper towels for round one. Use a toothbrush on corners and edges. This should get most of the gunk and grime off. Next, spray the tank down with disinfectant. Let that sit for a bit. In the meantime, wash the things you put in the sink with hot water and antibacterial soap. Wipe down the other equipment. Anything that’s really dirty should be soaked overnight in a bleach/water solution. (One part bleach, four parts water.) Finally, rinse everything with hot water. Once everything is dry, you can reassemble the tank and give your pet his supper.

Please contact me, your Marion, IA vet, with any questions about reptile care. I’m here to help!

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