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Caring For Your Reptile Habitat

Are you looking to get a lizard, snake, turtle, frog, or other kinds of reptiles? Owning reptiles and amphibians is a big commitment, and taking care of them requires lots of care and knowledge of the species. While it is a very rewarding experience, it is very important that you maintain the health of both you and your pet reptile.

The first thing that you must do to keep your reptile healthy is by keeping its tank or enclosure clean. Your reptile’s living space must be clean and regularly maintained to make sure that it is a safe and healthy environment for them. This will also ensure that you keep your home clean and odor-free.

Determine A Schedule

Depending on the size and habits of your reptile, you may have to clean its habitat more thoroughly or more often. For example, a snake typically requires less cleaning, while a large iguana would need more work. Be sure to keep an eye on your pet’s habitat every day, checking to remove spills, leftover food, feces or shed skin. You will need to conduct a full cleaning of the habitat, including disinfecting, once a week.

Cleaning Habitat Accessories

If you choose to include decorations in your reptile’s cage – such as rocks, branches, and sand – these items should be cleaned thoroughly. Rocks can be cleaned by boiling them in water for 30 minutes. Before introducing sand into the environment, rinse it with water, and then heat it in an oven at 200-250 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes. Branches should also be cleaned and then heated in the oven, just like the sand.

Cleaning the Cage or Habitat

Before you begin cleaning your reptile’s habitat, make sure that you have a plan and all of the items you will need. This should include a clean second cage, buckets, terrarium cleaner, sponges, brushes, rubber gloves and goggles, and soap or dishwashing detergent.


  1. Remove the decorations and accessories from the habitat or cage
  2. Wash, rinse, and disinfect the bowls of food and water
  3. Discard of any disposable substrate
  4. Wash all surfaces, decorations, and non-disposable substrate with soap and hot water. Scrub with brushes, and rinse well.
  5. Use a herp-safe terrarium cleaner and brush to loosen any tough spots in the habitat or cage
  6. Use disinfectant on the cage and decorations. Afterward, rinse the cage and all items with hot water until all residue is removed.
  7. Dry the habitat or cage completely
  8. Reassemble the habitat, and replace any decorations that do not easily dry (such as wood branches)
  9. If bathing is recommended for your reptile, give your pet a bath before placing him or her back into the newly cleaned habitat
  10. Clean and disinfect all equipment that you used, including the buckets and sink
  11. Lastly, wash your hands with hot water and soap.

Since reptiles are susceptible to skin and bacterial infections, it is very important that you take extra care when cleaning their living spaces. If you are looking for a veterinarian in Anaheim that is knowledgeable of reptiles, look no further. Dr. Lauren Heit at Brookhurst Animal Medical Center is experienced in treating a variety of herps, and will take good care of your beloved pet.