If you’re planning to get a pet chameleon, there are things you must do in order to keep them happy and healthy. One of the things is keeping their enclosure clean.
So how often to clean a chameleon cage? You should have a routine to clean the cage daily and weekly. Daily cleaning is needed to get rid of uneaten food, feces, and other waste product. On a weekly basis, cleaning and sanitizing the enclosure and any decorations or substrates as well.
A clean enclosure will prevent parasites and diseases from infesting the chameleon’s cage. Chameleons are prone to diseases and can get sick easily.
In this article, we’ll go through the basics of cage cleaning and how often to clean it so you can have a happy chameleon that lives a long life.
Why Cleaning The Chameleon Cage Is Important
In their natural habitat, all the food the chameleon eats and poop they excrete will drop to the ground and nature will handle the rest. A chameleon living in captivity is different since all those waste has nowhere to go but to pile up in the cage.
All of these pile-ups of waste is an excellent breeding ground for parasites and dangerous bacteria. Most species of chameleon are easily prone to getting sick. Therefore, if the cage is not cleaned, they will start to make your pet chameleon sick.
Chameleons are creatures that like to live in clean areas. They will eat in one area of the cage and sleep in another area. If everywhere in the cage is dirty, they will start to get stressed. With chameleons, stress is the biggest factor that contributes to sickness.
If the chameleons are left in a cage that is filthy and dirty, you may notice they start to get stressed. They will have a loss of appetite and will not be very active. Also, the
Another reason to clean the chameleon cage is the overall appearance of the cage. A cage that is regularly cleaned will look great and make the chameleon even a more beautiful creature to admire.
How Often To Clean a Chameleon Cage?
When it comes to the health of your pet chameleon, cleaning should be done whenever the cage becomes dirty. Chameleons eat and poop often so cleaning will need to be done often.
However, for most people, the task to clean the chameleon’s cage is finding the time.
If you want to keep your pet chameleon healthy, you’ll need to keep their cage clean. You’ll need to do daily cleaning and weekly cleaning. Below are more in-depth for daily and weekly cleaning:
Cleaning the chameleon’s cage daily will remove uneaten food, dead insects, shed skin, urates, and other waste that the chameleon produces. Also, live plants and trees will also lose their leaves and branches which falls to the bottom of the cage.
When cleaning the feces from the cage, always wear gloves and carefully dispose of it. Feces from chameleons contains harmful bacteria that can be transferred to a human and cause unwanted diseases.
Weekly cleaning is a more thorough cleaning process. Not only will you be cleaning the cage, but sanitizing the cage as well. Besides cleaning the cage like you would do daily, you’ll need to sanitize the cage and everything that’s in the cage as well. This includes all the decorations, pieces of equipment, accessories, substrates, lighting, and anything else that’s in the cage.
Some people feel weekly cleaning may be too much. If that’s the case, you can clean the cage every two weeks. Make sure to not go over two weeks as the bacteria and other parasites can develop within the cage.
Daily Cleaning Routine
Chameleons are easily prone to sickness and other health issues. Therefore, when cleaning the cage daily, make a note to look for signs that they may be sick. Observe the following:
- Has all the food been eaten? Check to make sure all the foods are eaten. Sometimes, live food such as crickets may hide in the decorations and equipment.
- Are the feces and urates appear to be normal?
- Is the temperature of the cage within the proper range?
- Is the humidity at the right level?
- Has there been shedding? Does it appear to be normal?
- Is there any evidence of parasites?
- Mites appear as small black, brown, or red spots on the chameleons. Closely inspect the chameleon carefully as they can hide between the skin.
- Ticks are a little bigger that appear in black, brown, and grey color. Same like the ticks, they can appear anywhere on the chameleon’s body.
- Internal Parasites are usually spotted when the chameleon poop.
- Is the cage in good condition?
- Remove feces and uneaten food from the cage.
- Wipe up water spills and urates from the decorations and substrates if use any.
- If you use a cup or any other equipment to feed the chameleon with, wash them in hot, soapy water, and thoroughly dry them before putting it back. Always rinse well so no soap residue is left behind. If so, it could make your chameleon sick.
Weekly Cleaning Routine
- Remove all the decorations in the cage. This includes any live plants and trees in the cage.
- Clean, rinse, and disinfect the chameleon’s water and food bowl.
- Clean the entire surface of the cage with soap and warm water. Rinse well after cleaning.
- Tough spots should be cleaned with a herp-safe cleaner. Loosen the tough spots will a toothbrush or putty knife.
- Wash all decorations with warm soapy water. Scrub the decorations with a brush to remove wastes and other stubborn materials.
- For live plants and trees, simply water them down with clean water. Gently wipes the foliage of the plants dry and leave them in the sun to dry.
- After washing and rinsing the cage, accessories, and decorations, use a disinfectant.
- Only after everything has been completely dry, then you can spray disinfectant on it.
- Allow the cage, accessories, and decorations to dry completely first before assembling them and putting it back in the cage. If not dried completely, mold could potentially form.
- After everything has been put back, be sure to disinfect all equipment, sponges, buckets, gloves, and sinks.
- Lastly, wash your hand with anti-bacterial soap and warm water.
Choosing The Right Chameleon Cage
By choosing the right cage for your chameleon, it will reduce the time and how often you need to clean the cage.
Some cage comes with a bottom tray with opening doors and some don’t come with either. Those cages that come with a bottom door will make the task of cleaning the cage faster. If it has a tray at the bottom as well, it will make life even better. When you’re cleaning the cage, simply pull out the tray, remove all debris, disinfect the tray, and slide it back into the cage.
The size of the cage is also an important factor when considering how often to clean the cage. The larger the cage is, the more time you’ll have in between cleaning. Larger cages will have more room to hold waste and other debris.
To find out what cage you should get for your chameleon, go to Best Cage For Chameleon
Disinfecting The Cage
To clean the cage effectively, you’ll need to select the proper disinfectant carefully. The disinfectant must be strong enough to kill bacteria, fungi, and parasites, yet not cause any harm to the chameleon.
When using a disinfectant, move the chameleons to far away from their cage or into another room. Reptiles, especially chameleons are sensitive to toxic fumes that are caused by the disinfectants.
While there are many disinfectants on the market, the most readily available disinfectant for cleaning a cage is household bleach. Use bleach at a dilution of approximately 1 part bleach to 32 parts water (1/2 cup bleach to 1 gallon of water).
One disinfectant I recommend is the Zoo Med Disinfectant, which you can find on Amazon. It’s formulated for use in chameleons and other reptiles cage and terrarium. It’s a disinfectant, cleaner, and deodorizer all in one bottle. Super strong on removing stubborn debris and contaminants, yet safe for your pet chameleons.
Before applying the disinfectants, it’s important to remove food, feces, soaps, and debris first. If not, the disinfectants will not work properly. Therefore, clean any soiled area of the cage and accessories with hot water and soap first, before applying the disinfectant.
Apply the disinfectant throughout the cage accessories. When applying the disinfectant, for your safety and comfort, use the disinfectant in a well-ventilated area. In addition, wear thick rubber gloves and goggles to prevent the solution from getting on to your body.
After the disinfectant has been applied to the materials, let it sit for about 10 minutes. If the item is porous, give it more time for the solution to disinfect. Then rinse the cage and accessories with clean water to remove all the disinfectants.
- Back-up cage – This is where you’ll keep your pet chameleon while you clean their main cage.
- Brushes – Get a few small and medium sizes brushes to clean the cage. For corners and crevices, a toothbrush will work great.
- Razor blades – Used to remove stubborn materials from the surface of the cage, equipment, and accessories.
- Bucket – Have a couple of buckets on hand to keep water in and soak the decorations in.
- Reptile-safe Cleaners – Buy cleaners that can dissolve the stain and hardened matters, while safe for chameleons. If you’re planning to soap or dishwashing detergent, do not use any products that contain phenol or pine scent.
- Sponges – 1 set for cleaning, 1 for rinsing, and 1 for disinfecting. It’s always a good idea to keep a couple of sponges on hand.
- Paper towels – Paper towels are used to wipe and clean the cage, equipment, accessories, and decorations.
- Rubber gloves and goggles – Wear them to prevent chemicals from the cleaner and disinfectant from getting onto your skin.
After reading this article, you should have a good idea of how often to clean your chameleon’s cage and why it’s necessary. A clean environment will keep the chameleons happy and a happy chameleon will live a long life.
Dan got started with his first reptile, which was a green iguana, at the age of 10. From there, he has raised many different species of reptiles. Besides caring for reptiles, he enjoys woodworking, playing basketball, and spending free time with my 4 wonderful kids.