Let’s say you already have a reptile and like many other reptile enthusiasts, you would like to add another one to your home. Irregardless of the source of the new reptile, it is absolutely critical that you quarantine any new acquisition to ensure it acclimates properly and does not pass on any potential pathogens to your other pet(s).
But before I go any further, please keep in mind that reptiles typically do not NEED company. In fact most reptiles thrive better when housed individually. I do not house any reptiles communally – all are kept separate, even after the initial quarantine period.
During this period, you should spend considerable time each day observing the reptile and adjusting your maintenance schedules and procedures to meet its needs.
So how do you quarantine a reptile properly?
- New reptiles must be kept in a separate area, in a separate enclosure and as far away as possible from any established reptile(s).
- The recommended quarantine period is a minimum of 30 days, with 60 to 90 days being preferred. The longer the quarantine period, the better.
- Thoroughly wash your hands before you handle, feed or clean the reptile and afterwards as well to help prevent the accidental transfer of pathogens from one reptile to another. You might also consider a change of clothes.
- The established reptile(s) should be fed and cleaned first and the quarantined reptile(s) second. Make sure there is no transfer of reptiles, cages, food and water bowls, uneaten food items, or cage furniture between the two.
What things should you be paying attention to during this period?
- Definitely make sure you have an experienced reptile veterinarian thoroughly examine your new reptile during this period.
- Watch to see if the reptile is feeding and drinking, as well as if it is maintaining/gaining/losing weight. During this time, you will also be able to determine food preferences.
- Keep an eye on the reptile’s stools. I advise that you use newsprint or butcher paper as a substrate during the quarantine period because it will allow you to easily assess the stools. In addition, you should also have weekly fecal examinations done to check for the presence of internal parasites.
- Use cage furniture that meets the needs of the reptile, but that can also be easily discarded and/or disinfected.
- Some people like to use opaque paper taped to the outer sides of the enclosure to help make the reptile feel more secure and less stressed.
- Check the reptile over for the presence of external parasites such as ticks and mites.
- See if you have t0 make any modifications to the enclosure setup such as adjustments to the thermal gradient (ie if the cage is too hot or too cold for the reptile).
- Keep your eyes open for any obvious signs of illness that will require prompt treatment. The sooner you identify a health problem, the more likely it is that the reptile will recover. Signs of illness includes:
- failure to feed
- weight loss
- runny and/or discoloured stools
- swellings of limbs or lumps on the body
- inability to move or keep the eyes open
- sunken eyes
- unusual behaviors (ie twitches) or spasmic behaviors
- gaping and forced exhalation of air (typically indicative of a respiratory infection
If any problems are observed during this quarantine period, obviously it should be extended until the problems are corrected.
By Candace, SaveTheReptiles.com