Cleaning Your Pet Snake’s Enclosure

Snakes and other reptiles are very clean animals, which do not thrive in a dirty enclosure. They are also particularly susceptible to carrying and developing bacterial conditions and skin problems, such as salmonella, which is transferred through their faecal matter. Salmonella can of course also affect humans, and in order to keep both you and your snake safe and well, regular cleaning and disinfecting of their enclosure is vital.

Taking care of your snake’s enclosure will keep their home healthy for them, and keep unpleasant odours from hanging around the tank! In this article, we will look at the right way to clean out your snake’s tank, and how and when to do it.

The tools you need to clean the tank

To begin with, you will need to make sure that you have all of the necessary accessories you will need to clean out the tank, and also pay some attention to keeping these clean and regularly disinfected as well.

It is important that you keep these tools separate from the cleaning products you use for the rest of your house, to avoid cross-contamination. Also, never wash or rinse anything that you use for your snake in a sink that you use for food preparation or washing your face.

Here are the things that you will need:

  • A back-up tank to use for your snake while you are cleaning their permanent home
  • A selection of small and medium brushes, such as a toothbrush, to clean the corners and crevices of the tank
  • A couple of buckets
  • A terrarium cleaning detergent, which can dissolve hard matter
  • Paper towels or kitchen roll
  • Rubber gloves
  • Three sets of sponges, for scrubbing, cleaning and rinsing
  • A snake-safe washing up liquid or detergent
  • A sand sifter

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When to clean the tank

The cleaning routine that you will need to set up for your snake will vary, depending on the size of your snake and their routine in terms of eating and pooping! These are things that you can learn by building up your background knowledge of your own snake through observation, and learning more about the species.

As a general guideline, you will need to perform a basic clean-out on a daily basis to remove shed skin, uneaten food, spills and poop, and also to disinfect the dishes.

You will then need to schedule a full, thorough weekly clean, to disinfect the entire tank and everything in it.

Wear rubber gloves when working within the tank, and always wash and sanitise your hands immediately afterwards.

Daily cleaning and tank checks

Use your daily clean outs not only to clean the tank, but to check for any anomalies and ensure that your snake is ok.

Things to check for include:

  • Has your snake eaten as normal?
  • Is the tank temperature within the correct parameters?
  • Are the faeces and urine normal?
  • Is there any shed skin, and does this appear normal?
  • Are there any signs of parasites in the tank or on your snake?
  • Are all of the tank fixtures and fittings in good condition?

As part of your daily cleaning and checks, remove uneaten food and any waste products, and clean up any spills. Use a sand sifter to sift poop and debris out of the sand. Wash the food and water dish in hot, soapy water, and replace them in the tank.

Your weekly cleaning routine

On a weekly basis, clean the tank out thoroughly, removing your snake to the spare tank while you do this. This is what you will need to do on a weekly basis:

  • Remove all of the ornaments and decorations from the tank
  • Remove water dishes and food bowls, and disinfect these
  • Remove and dispose of the old substrate
  • Clean all of the surfaces of the tank with hot, soapy water, and rinse and dry it thoroughly
  • Use your brushes or a putty knife with a terrarium-safe cleaner to loosen and remove any hard spots
  • Wash and disinfect all of the ornaments and non-disposable items from the tank
  • Ensure that everything you have washed is perfectly dry before setting the tank up again, as otherwise the damp atmosphere may encourage mould growth
  • Re-assemble the tank’s fixtures and fittings, sticking to its previous arrangement as much as possible
  • Clean and disinfect the tools that you used within the tank
  • Check that the tank’s temperature, humidity and other parameters are stable before re-introducing your snake to their home
  • Thoroughly wash your hands in hot, soapy water, and use hand sanitizer afterwards

If your snake is one of the species that benefits from being bathed regularly, it is a good idea to do this while cleaning the tank, so that your snake and the tank are both clean and ready to start the new week.


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