Cleaning a Reptile Cage

Reptiles are very low maintenance, as far as pets go. However, you will need to clean your pet’s cage regularly. If your pet’s tank is dirty, he could develop skin or bacterial infections, or get infested with ticks or mites. Dirty cages can even house dangerous bacteria, such as Salmonella, that can make you and your family sick! Here, an Ellicott City, MD vet discusses cleaning a reptile cage.


We recommend putting together a kit for cleaning your pet’s cage. This should contain scrub brushes; two sets of sponges; a safe terrarium cleanser; paper towels; putty knives or razor blades; rubber gloves; goggles; and soap or dishwashing detergent. When buying soap, avoid pine-scented products, as well as anything that contains phenol. A toothbrush is handy for cleaning small corners and crevices. A good disinfectant is also a must. There are many commercial products available, but you can just use bleach. Mix one cup of bleach to 32 parts water. You’ll want to put your pet in another place while you’re cleaning his home, so a backup cage is also recommended.

Daily Tasks

Every day, you’ll need to remove waste and uneaten food, and wipe up any liquid, such as spilled water. Wash your pet’s dishes in hot, soapy water, and then rinse well and dry them thoroughly. You may want to get two sets of dishes. That way, one can be in use while the other gets cleaned.

Weekly Tasks

You’ll need to deep clean your pet’s cage regularly. With many reptiles, this should happen once a week, but in some cases, you’ll only need to do this every few weeks. Ask your vet for specific advice. Remove all decorative items from the cage, then wash and disinfect your pet’s bowls as usual. Remove the old bedding, and then clean the cage surfaces with soap and hot water. Be sure to rinse well! Use a toothbrush, putty knife, or terrarium cleaner to remove any gunk. Then, clean and disinfect decorations and non-disposable pieces, like reptile carpet. Use soap and hot water on these things as well. Rinse well, and let the tank dry thoroughly. Then, you’ll want to put everything back, along with some fresh substrate. If your pet needs baths, bathe him before putting him back in his habitat.

Do you have questions about reptile care? Call us, your Ellicott City, MD vet clinic!

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