In this chapter, we take a look at some of the other aspects types of husbandry care and maintenance that you will need to do to make sure that your Corn Snake is kept clean, safe, and in good health.
Cleaning and Disinfecting the Snake Cage and Habitat
Aside from providing appropriate heating, lighting, humidity, and cage structures and décor, you will also want to clean your Corn Snake’s habitat enclosure regularly. This is particularly important as the prevailing humidity within the enclosure can be a perfect ground for the growth of bacteria. Most reptiles can be prone to skin and bacterial infection if left alone in unclean surroundings for long.
Regular cage maintenance and cleaning should be part of your routine. Not only will this keep the interior of the enclosure clean, odor-free, and healthy, but it will also keep you and your family safe and healthy. Regular cleaning prevents the possible transmission of diseases like Salmonella, which can be found in the fecal matter of reptiles, and which may be transmissible to humans.
Spot cleaning the interior of the cage should be done as often as possible – at least once a day, or once every other day. Spot cleaning your reptile’s cage can include:
- The removal of fecal matter as soon as you notice them
- The removal of shed skin
- The removal of uneaten food
- Cleaning and refilling the water bowls at least twice a week
A more thorough cage cleaning should be done at least once a month, ideally more. During this process, you will need to relocate the snake so that you can clean and sterilize the entire cage components, including perches, decorations, substrate, etc. To be able to do this thoroughly, you will need to temporarily relocate your Corn Snake to a different holding cage or cell. As usual, make sure that this cage is secure and clean, and is sufficiently ventilated.
- Remove all of the cage items, disposing directly of the substrate which you will be replacing completely.
Set aside these cage items in a bowl or container. You will now proceed to clean the inside of the terrarium or cage, and then later on to disinfect and sterilize the cage items. Gather the following materials to help you in your cleaning tasks:
- A spray bottle
- Brushes, Q-tips, putty knives, or razor blades
- Terrarium cleaner that is safe for reptiles
- Paper towels
- Robber gloves
- Learn to unplug everything!
Make sure that all the electrical components of the cage – such as heating and lighting, are turned off or unplugged. Then armed with a spray bottle, a sponge, gloves, and just regular soap and water, begin to clean the interior of the snake cage as thoroughly as possible. Make use of instruments such as brushes, Q-tips, putty knives, or razor blades to really get at the hardened feces or waste that a regular paper towel won’t be able to dislodge. Really get into it, using herp-safe terrarium cleaners for the really troublesome spots and corners. Rinse the inside of the cage thoroughly.
- Clean and disinfect the cage items by boiling them in water for some 30 minutes.
The only way to be sure is to kill any thriving bacteria through high heat and boiling temperatures as you thoroughly sterilize each cage item. Try to avoid using regular household chemical cleaners which may prove toxic or harmful to your pet. Besides, even using these types of cleansers cannot really guarantee the thorough elimination of bacteria.
Use a disinfectant to give another through cleaning to all the cage items, including the interior of the snake cage. Then use hot water to rinse of all chemical residues. Allow it all to air-dry, making sure that the cage interior and all the various cage items and implements are thoroughly dried.
- Reinstall cage items inside
After doing the steps above, reinstall all the cage items and decorations, this time putting on a new layer of fresh substrate. You might also want to give your Corn Snake a bath before allowing it to return to its newly cleaned and dry terrarium.
Wash and disinfect all your cleaning tools and equipment with the same thoroughness that you practiced when you were cleaning the cage interior and the cage items. And finally, wash your hands thoroughly – using hot, soapy water. Don’t forget to finish off with a disinfectant, too.