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7:33 PM   April 18, 2015
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Cleaning Terrariums

Courtesy of Dmitrijs Mihejevs,

Like most critters, a reptile requires a clean place to live. It provides a safe and healthy home for pets, and it minimizes odor and makes for an attractive display.

Because reptiles can easily develop skin and bacterial infections, their terrariums must be kept clean. In addition, because their fecal matter may carry bacteria, such as Salmonella, which can cause disease in humans, a pet’s cage and furnishings need to be scrubbed and disinfected once a week.

What follows is a list to offer your customers on how to clean their herps’ houses:

  1. Gather supplies: Keep them in a bin separate from household cleaning supplies to avoid cross-contamination. Here’s what is needed:
    -- Rubber gloves
    -- A temporary shelter for the pet
    -- Paper towels or sponges -- one set for cleaning, another for disinfecting
    -- Small and medium brushes -- a cotton swab or old toothbrush works well for hard-to-reach corners.
    -- Putty knife or razor blade to scrape away hardened material
    -- Bucket or large bowl
    -- Soap or dishwashing detergent, steering clear of products that contain phenol or pine scent
    -- Commercial terrarium cleaner designed to dissolve material hardened on surfaces
    -- Sand or substrate sifter to remove feces and other debris from substrate
    -- Clean substrate to replace the old.
  2. Move the herp to the temporary shelter.
  3. Empty the terrarium: Put on rubber gloves. Remove all the cage accessories, decorations, bowls and rocks and place them on paper towels to protect the surface from bacteria. Sift through the substrate, or if it needs to be replaced, scoop it out, bag it and throw it in the trash.
  4. Prepare the cleaning solution: In a bucket or bowl, combine about a half-gallon of warm water with a teaspoon of soap.
  5. Scrub the terrarium: Dip the sponge or paper towel in the solution, wring it dry and start cleaning the cage’s top, bottom and sides. Use brushes and scraping tools to remove any stuck-on debris, and if necessary, loosen tough spots with the terrarium cleaner.
  6. Rinse it clean: Using clean sponges or paper towels, rinse the terrarium thoroughly, removing all traces of the soap.
  7. Clean the accessories: Clean and rinse the cage accessories using the hot soapy solution and brushes. Also, sanitize the herp’s food and water bowls in the dishwasher.
  8. Disinfect and sanitize: Using a commercial terrarium cleaner and clean sponges, thoroughly wipe all the surfaces and rinse to remove any residue. Let the terrarium dry completely before replacing the clean and sanitized accessories.
  9. Wash both the cleaning supplies and your hands: Using hot soapy water, scrub the tools and let them dry before putting them away. Then wash your hands one last time.


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