Quarantine is a term used for anything, from animals and plants, to inanimate objects, and it is used to prevent the spread of illnesses or disease within an environment or a collection.
Now you know the definition of Quarantine, you should be able to understand how essential this procedure is when keeping a collection of species within close quarters, whether it’s in your own home, a warehouse or a place of education.
Unfortunately, countless businesses and keepers around the globe fail to acknowledge this essential piece of information, causing ALL of their animals to fall prey to the most common illnesses which could otherwise have been prevented with minimal effort.
A solid quarantine procedure should be at the heart of your husbandry plan to help protect new and old pets coming into your home or place of business. These skills can be transferred to ALL instances where quarantine is necessary.
I suggest that your quarantine period should be around 4 months – 6 months, this provides a long enough period of time to establish if any problems are present. However, this will not show ALL problems, you should ALWAYS get your pets faecal sample tested at least twice throughout this period, this is to be certain there are no internal parasites, or underlying conditions which may not present themselves for a very long time.
I will now go over the basic rules to stick by whenever handling or interacting with a new animal or their enclosure;
- ALWAYS clean your hands before AND after coming into contact with the animal or his/her environment. I recommend keeping anti-bacterial hand wash within your quarantine and reptile room(s), preferably something like this which has no alcohol and is proven to not irritate reptiles.
- Try to avoid ANY contact with fabrics or items of clothing as these are fantastic harbourers of bacteria. If any contact does occur, put the item into the wash ASAP.
- Ensure any decorations, whether its hides, bowls or fake plants, are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected BEFORE using them in your pets enclosure, this is especially necessary if the item has been used by another pet, no matter how short the period of time it was used for.
- Thoroughly disinfect the enclosure and all decorations AT LEAST once a week, and replace all dirty substrate for spanking clean substrate. If performed properly, this can prevent a once ill animal from re-infecting itself from it’s surroundings. (I recommend using F10, which is a veterinary grade disinfectant, I will speak about this more further down as well as a brief overview of the process of disinfecting)
- You must perform frequent health checks on new pets, this will help you get to know them and their personalities better and allow them to adapt much easily to their new environment. Check out my Health Check guide for more information.
Make sure anyone else also follows these rules, as it can be costly to treat reptile illnesses. Also do not forget to limit handling when you first bring a new pet home, this gives them their own time to settle in and absorb all the new sights, sounds and smells of their home, without this cautiousness, you could be causing undue stress which in-turn can lower your new pets immune system and even throw them off their food!
I cannot stress how important this procedure is for the captive keeping of reptile & amphibian species.
F10 veterinary disinfectant is the most affordable, high quality disinfectant available on the market today, it provides a safer alternative to cheap, shop brought disinfectants which may cause irritation due to the scents used within them. It is available in pre-distilled spray bottles and three strengths; F10, F10SC, and F10SCXD.
Disinfecting your animals enclosure is the main point of quarantine, without this step, you could be leaving them susceptible to illness and diseases they may have had before. It’s also essential to prevent parasites completing their lifecycle.
- To start, place your animal in a separate, already cleaned enclosure, this could be a suitable sized Tupperware box or something similar, even an old shoe box, just make sure they can breath, move around and that they cannot escape whilst you are pre-occupied. (I keep a box for each individual, ensuring they all have their own temporary enclosure for times like this)
- Begin by removing all decorations and clean these first, depending on the material, some decorations can be disinfected with distilled F10, You can soak man-made materials in a distilled bath of F10 then bathe in clean, hot water to remove any remnants of disinfectant, these items can then be dried using paper towels, however remains of water will not cause any discomfort to your animal.
- DO NOT use ANY chemicals on natural materials such as wood, stone, or bark as these materials can absorb the chemicals and will cause discomfort to your animal over time. For natural Materials, you should soak in just Boiled water to kill off any bacteria, many people also bake these natural materials in their oven, however in many cases, the item will not fit in a conventional oven. Not to mention you are then transferring the bacteria into a place where you cook food for yourself. I believe this is the lazy way to go about it and should be avoided wherever possible. Once soaked, the items should be left somewhere to dry, (outside in the sun or in a airing cupboard will do) especially if the animal in question dwells in a minimally humid climate ex. Leopard Geckos.
- Now you should concentrate on the enclosure itself. Remove all flooring/ substrate and throw it away (Some flooring options can be cleaned to be re-used, however most of them will continue to harbour bacteria no matter how thorough you are), ensure all remnants of substrate are gone BEFORE using any diluted disinfectant.
- Spray the disinfectant throughout the enclosure sparingly, there is no need to over do it, we just want it to be enough. (Make sure to cover the lower walls and areas your animal has/will touch) Wipe the disinfectant round with some fresh paper towels and dispose of these ASAP. Now you can use a spray bottle of pure H2O to rinse down the enclosure, when using chemicals always ensure there is no trace of the chemical, if there is, rinse again, and make sure you use fresh paper towels every time!!!
- Once all scent of chemicals has dispersed you are now ready to replace the substrate and decorations, I find this a great time to switch things up a bit, reptiles thrive in a changing environment and gives them much more confidence (especially in young lizards/snakes) you may find they explore much more often if you ‘redecorate’ every now and again.
- Don’t forget to put your animal back into it’s home! Watch their curiousness as they discover their new layout!
I truly hope this guide has helped you understand why quarantine is such an essential part of keeping animals within captivity, if you do have any queries about this subject please leave a comment below.
Is there anything you do that I haven’t mentioned? Do you have a different way of doing things? I’d love to hear your views on the subject and whether or not his post helped you.