Lizard and Snake Day to Day Practice

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Day to day management

Upon entry into the quarantine area the keeping of records for individual animals should begin. Identification is extremely important for this to be successful.


Hygiene is probably the most important part of a preventive medicine program and includes attention to food and water, personnel and the environment. A food preparation area (especially one for humans!) should never be used for cage cleaning. Maintaining personal hygiene will also help reduce the risk of catching a zoonotic condition. Sterilisation of the environment is not possible but the frequent use of disinfectants is extremely important in addition to the vigorous removal of faeces and other debris.

Vivarium disinfectants

Chemical Trade Name Safe or Toxic Comments
Phenol/Cresol Lysol Toxic Effective against acid fast bacteria, less so against fungi, no effect against spores.
Quaternary ammonium compounds Ark-Klens / Cetrimide Safe Effective, broad antibacterial activity. Poor efficacy against spores, viruses and fungi. Inactive in presence of soap.
Chlorhexidine Hibitane Safe Effective, broad spectrum activity in presence of organic matter and other antiseptics. Inactive in presence of soap.
Hypochlorites Milton Safe Unstable in solution and repeated use may cause skin irritation and burns.
Iodophores Tamodine-E / Betadine / Povidon-iodine Safe Good against gram positive and negative bacteria, viruses and spores. Poor against acid fast bacilli and spores. Solution active as long as brown colour remains.
Dodecyclo-di-glycine Amprotect Safe Good spectrum of activity against gram positive and negative bacteria, fungi and viruses.
Formaldehyde - Toxic Poisonous but can be used to disinfect empty vivaria.

Vector control

Preventive medicine includes elimination of mechanical and biological vectors. For instance the snake mite has been incriminated in the spread of viral diseases and Aeromonas hydrophila. Flies, ticks and ants are potential vectors for disease. The eradication method must be effective against the vector but safe for snakes and lizards. For instance the vapours from dichlorvos strips can be potentially toxic to reptiles.

Formite control

When moving between cages or exhibitions it is possible to transfer organisms between snakes. Care must be taken to minimise transfer of disease by fomites.

Prophylactic treatments

Prophylactic treatments are especially important in quarantine but may be useful on a regular basis. For snakes parasiticides are probably the most important.

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