Cage Cleaning • Sanitation ISTYT (Part 2) Weekly Cleaning

Weekly Cleaning

Supplies: paper towels. 70% isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) or white vinegar diluted 1:1
Optional: activated hydrogen peroxide like Clorox Healthcare® Hydrogen Peroxide Cleaner Disinfectant, Hot steam cleaner

No matter what products you use, read and follow the manufacturers directions and pay special attention to the warnings. Used incorrectly they could harm you or your pets.

I'm calling this weekly cleaning but It doesn't have to be weekly. I find that once you establish a routine schedule it is easier to maintain and the cleanings are shorter and less of a hassle. My choices for this cleaning pack more punch so you should only use them while your chameleon is out of the cage. I put my chameleons in outdoor cages but you could put yours on a plant in a sunny window, a mini free range or the head of your spouse or sibling if your chameleon likes that kind of thing. It's good to make the change of scenery a reward for them. Trust building and cleaning make it a win win situation.

Cleaning should still be performed from the cleanest area to the dirtiest in descending order. (see basics in part 1) This is a good time to clean feeder cups, pinch back over grown plants and get to the spots your grumpy chameleon won't let you reach at other times.

My selection for weekly cleaning are mild disinfectants that leave little or no residue with proper handling so the chameleon can go back in after the cage is wiped down and dry. The goal isn’t kill every germ in your enclosure but to keep their numbers down to a reasonable level, primarily by physically removing them. I use rubbing alcohol because it is good at removing oily substances and evaporates quickly with no residue. It is better at removing sources of contamination than disinfecting because it requires a minimum contact time of 10 minutes to be effective and will evaporate too quickly. I use it on plant leaves all the time with no issues. Because it is volatile don't use while smoking or near open flame. Once it has dried and the fumes evaporated it is safe to put your chameleon back.

Vinegar diluted 1:1 (one part vinegar to 1 equal part water) a has very minimal disinfecting properties but is very cheap and can be found in any grocery store. It is safe for use on plants. It just needs to be wiped away with a wet paper towel.

Activated Hydrogen Peroxide is another choice and only requires a minute or so of contact time to kill many microbes. Like any other disinfectants it only works well if used on a surface that doesn’t have organic material on it like dirt or feces. I have not used it on plants so I don’t know if it will harm yours. It comes with this warning "Causes moderate eye irritation. Avoid contact with eyes or clothing. Wash thoroughly with soap and water after handling and before eating, drinking, chewing gum, using tobacco or using the toilet." so would rinse and wipe dry any surface cleaned with it before putting your chameleon back. Can leave a white residue behind if allowed to dry completely.

Hot steam cleaners can be used on any surfaces with out rinsing or drying. If the steam is hot enough it will kill most microbes. Make sure to allow surfaces to cool before putting your pet back on them. Obviously this system will not work on plants unless you want them cooked.

Since you have your chameleon out of the cage anyway this is the perfect time to take a good look at your pet for potential problems. You should check for stuck shed that could cause strangulation of an extremity, clear eyes, mouth issues, jaw alignment, straight clean limbs, bumps, swellings or any unusual changes. Be sure to check both sides of the body, chameleon's try to hide weaknesses from potential predators and the competition. If you track your chameleon's growth this is also a good time to get a base line weight and length. As always setup before you get your chameleon to minimize any stress and keep the interaction positive.

To be continued...
I will cover deep cleaning and more disinfectant options in Part 3

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