top of page
  • Writer's pictureKarina Schulz

A Healthy Habit: Quarantining New Reptiles

With the excitement of bringing a new reptile home, it can be tempting to immediately place them into a beautifully decorated terrarium to watch them explore and interact with their environment. While intricate terrariums have long term benefits, they can make it tricky to assess a new reptile’s health. If you own multiple reptiles, ensuring that your new animal is healthy before placing them in the same room as others is critical to prevent potential viruses or parasites from spreading.

Keeping a reptile separate from other herptiles is known as quarantine, and is important for monitoring health and preventing the spread of any illnesses to existing pets. While quarantine is usually talked about when adopting a new reptile, these measures can also be used to help an existing pet recover from a serious injury or illness.

The terrarium should:

● Use simple, easy to clean decorations (e.g., plastic or resin hides) or items that can be regularly disposed of such as cardboard or paper. Avoid difficult to clean materials such as wood or cloth.

● Have a substrate that is easy to change and allows for feces and urate to be monitored (e.g., paper towels). Reptile carpet is a poor choice as it harbors bacteria.

● Regularly disinfected using an effective cleaner (e.g., F10 solution). Do not place the reptile back into the enclosure until it is dry and has aired out.

● Be placed in a separate room away from other herptiles to prevent the spread of mites or airborne viruses.

To avoid the accidental spread of viruses, it is good practice to have separate equipment (e.g., feeding tongs, bowls, decor, cleaning supplies) for quarantined animals. Additionally, any rejected food should be discarded instead of offering it to other reptiles. Some keepers prefer to complete tasks for their existing reptiles before feeding or interacting with quarantined pets. Be sure to wash your hands between reptiles to prevent cross contamination, or alternatively wear and change disposable gloves.

During the process, documenting the animal’s behaviour, weight, shedding, feeding, and bathroom habits can be helpful to track any abnormal behaviour and overall well being. A veterinarian should be contacted if the reptile exhibits symptoms of an illness such as being unable to maintain a healthy weight, discharge from the eyes, nose, or mouth, or unusual stools. In addition to watching for illness, recording this information offers the opportunity to track the growth of a new reptile if they are adopted as a juvenile or hatchling.

Before the end of the quarantine period, the reptile should be checked by a veterinarian regardless of the presence of symptoms. Some reptiles may be asymptomatic until it is too late, as in many cases of nidovirus and inclusive body disease. A check up typically includes a stool screening, which makes sure the reptile is free of more common gastrointestinal parasites that can become fatal if left untreated.

The quarantine should last at least 90 days, and not be considered complete until the reptile has been identified as healthy by a vet. Once completed, you are free to set up a complex terrarium and introduce them to their forever home. It is wise to continue to sanitize tools, wash your hands, and discard of rejected food to help maintain the happiness and health of all your reptiles.



bottom of page