Reptile Tank

How To Properly Clean Your Reptile Tank

Your reptile tank requires routine cleaning to ensure a safe and healthy environment.  Since reptiles are prone to bacterial and skin infections, their housing must be kept sanitary at all times.  Fecal matter will often carry salmonella and other bacteria, making it even more important to disinfect the tank periodically.

Anything in the reptile tank such as branches and rocks that you introduce to the environment should be sterilized first.  It is recommended to clean rocks and then boil them for a half hour or so.  If you are adding natural sand to the tank, you should rinse any debris away and then bake it in the oven for a half hour at 225 degrees Fahrenheit.  Additionally, tree branches should be sanitized like the sand as well.

Tools You Need For Cleaning

It is a good idea to put together a cleaning kit that is specifically for using in your reptile tank.  These items should be stored separate from other household cleaning tools to ensure that cross-contamination does not occur.  You do not want to clean the tank with something you cleaned your toilet bowl with nor is it a good idea to clean any areas that are used for food preparation with a tool that you used on the tank.  Below are the tools you should put in your tank cleaning kit.

  • Buckets – Any size will do.
  • Brushes – In addition to a cleaning brush, a toothbrush is ideal for corners.
  • Terrarium Cleaner – Be sure to get a type that will dissolve any matter that has hardened on surfaces.
  • Tiny Tools – Toothpicks, Q-tips and razor blades are necessary to clean every corner.
  • Paper Towels – Be sure to discard these right away.
  • Rubber Gloves – Always wear these when cleaning your tank.
  • Sand Sifter – This will remove fecal matter and debris from the tank.
  • Dish Washing Detergent – Be sure to not use a product with pine scent or phenol.
  • Cleaning Sponges – You should have one to clean with, one to rinse and one to sanitize.

How Often To Clean Your Tank

How often you clean your reptile tank will depend on the habits and size of the animal you are housing.  A daily cleaning is a good idea to remove shed skin, spills, uneaten food and feces.  You should also get in the habit of cleaning and disinfecting water and food dishes every day.

The entire reptile tank typically will need to be cleaned and disinfected approximately once a week.  You should wear rubber gloves when cleaning and always remember to wash and sanitize your hands every time you handle your reptile.

Weekly Cleaning Routine

  • Remove all of the decorations out of the tank.
  • Clean and disinfect water and food bowls.
  • Discard all disposable substrate.
  • Clean every surface with hot water and soap and then rinse well.
  • Use a terrarium cleaner to clean tough hardened spots.
  • Scrub and sanitize all decorations.
  • After the tank is clean, thoroughly disinfect it and rinse completely with hot water to be sure that there is no residue left over.
  • Let the tank and all of the accessories dry thoroughly before you reassemble anything.
  • Clean and disinfect all of the cleaning equipment that you use including buckets, sponges, sinks and gloves.

It is vitally important that your reptile tank receive a complete top to bottom cleaning once a week to keep your pet clean, healthy and disease-free.  It also ensures that the environment is odor-free for you to enjoy its presence.  Any spills or obvious areas that need cleaning can be wiped up daily to keep the maintenance from getting too out of hand.