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Lizard Hygiene

Next to adequate nutrition, no other aspect of husbandry for captive reptiles is more important than sanitation and hygiene. Many bacterial and fungal diseases of captive reptiles result from their daily exposure to fecal contamination and a damp, filthy environment. In the wild, reptiles have acres of land and water over which their feces and uneaten food can be scattered. They rarely, if ever, come in contact with this material. This is not the case with captive reptiles. Owners of captive reptiles engage in a continual struggle to prevent bacterial buildup caused by inevitable deposition of waste product and uneaten food.

A lizard's cage floor or aquarium bottom can be covered with clean newspaper (unprinted preferably) or butcher paper. The next best material is indoor-outdoor carpeting. Paper towel squares can also be placed end to end to cover the entire bottom of the enclosure. When one of the squares becomes soiled, it can be easily removed and replaced without disturbing the entire floor of the enclosure. Under no circumstances should pea gravel, corncob material, wood shavings, sand, kitty litter or sawdust be used. None of these items promotes adequate cleanliness, and they may be eaten while the lizard is feeding, resulting in intestinal impaction. Reptiles are highly susceptible to poisoning from pine oil cleaners, such as PineSol and Lysol. These household cleaners must be avoided.