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The importance of cleanliness. After providing food and water for an iguana, the next most important thing is probably cleaning up after it. The owner should always be aware of the fact that cleanliness is very important in providing a healthy environment, for not only the iguana, but the owner and his or her family as well. Salmonella is a bacteria that is sometimes spread by reptiles. Generally, good hygiene, regular cleaning, disinfecting and sterilizing will prevent any problems with Salmonella. It is always good to be aware of the dangers of Salmonella. Try not to fear it, just try to respect it.

Cleaning the iguana owner. One thing that all iguana owners should do on a very regular basis is wash their hands and/or forearms thoroughly after handling an iguana or anything it has been in contact with. It is recommended that antibacterial soap, when used according to the directions, is the best choice for washing hands. This is the best way to prevent any problems with Salmonella, and besides, good hygiene and regular hand washing is a good habit for everyone.

Clean up feces and waste regularly. The most important job in cleaning is the removal of feces from the iguana's living area. It's important to be very regular in doing so. Don't wait until it sits there for a while. It's very important to get in the habit of removing it as soon as it's seen. This includes removing any soiled substrates. See our Habitat page for more on substrates.

Clean food and water bowls. Along with removing any old food or dirty water, it’s a very good practice to clean the bowls or containers that the food and water are in, every day. These should be washed just as any other dish would be washed, with dish soap and warm water. Disinfecting and sterilizing the food and water bowls should be done weekly as well, but daily cleaning of the bowls is recommended.

Cleaning an iguana. See our Bathing, Soaking & Misting page for more on cleaning an iguana.

What you will need before you start cleaning. It is very important to frequently clean, disinfect and sterilize the entire habitat, including nearly everything from the floors, walls, branches, shelves, food dishes, and any other items in the habitat. It is recommended that the habitat and all items inside of it to be thoroughly disinfected about once a week. There are several different solutions that can be used to disinfect and sterilize. Some of the most commonly used solutions include household bleach, ammonia and a product called Nolvasan™. Nolvasan™ is also very useful for other aspects of iguana care and can be found in several animal supply catalogues. It's very important not to mix any of these solutions together, and it is not recommended unless directed to do so. It is also very important to properly dilute the solutions. Bleach can be diluted by mixing four ounces of bleach per gallon of water, ammonia at three to four ounces per gallon of water, and Nolvasanat three ounces per gallon of water. Several items that are useful for disinfecting are disposable gloves, clean sponges and rags, buckets or suitable containers for holding solution, spray bottles, and something to scrape off any solid materials.

Cleaning, disinfecting and sterilizing. First and most importantly, make sure the iguana is removed from the habitat during the cleaning of the habitat. This can be a very good time to bathe the iguana while the habitat is being cleaned (making sure the iguana is well supervised as well). All soiled substrates should be removed (or cleaned if using turf or other washable materials) and all solid waste should be scraped off and removed as well. The entire habitat should be scrubbed and sprayed with the solution. For complete sterilization, the solution should be left on for about 30 minutes. After the solution has been applied, it's very important to throroughly wash it off completely with soapy water. If the habitat is made of unsealed wood, it may be dangerous to disinfect with chemicals, and it is usually a good practice to properly seal all wood surfaces inside the habitat. Fumes and any remaining solution can be extremely dangerous and even deadly. After the water has completely dried and it's completely clear that there are no fumes or residue from the cleaning solution, it is then safe for the iguana to be placed back in the habitat. As with most aspects of iguana care, use extreme caution when cleaning, disinfecting and sterilizing.

A safety note about water mixed with hot fixtures. When cleaning the habitat, it's important to make sure any water or liquid does not come in contact with any hot fixtures, especially light bulbs. When cool liquid comes in contact with an extremely hot bulb, it may shatter, which can be a serious safety issue for both the iguana and the owner. If bulbs and other hot fixtures are in need of cleaning, make sure they have been turned off and given plenty of time to cool down before cleaning.

Cleaning, Disinfecting & Sterilizing by Melissa Kaplan is an excellent page that will tell you just about all you need to know about cleaning and cleanliness. This is a must read!

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