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Reptiles: Disease Safety

Updated on April 4, 2017


A few of the most common bacterial diseases that can be among your reptile and it's habitat are: Mycobacteriosis, Nocardiosis, and Salmonella. Often times these diseases show no signs or symptoms. Turtles and Iguanas are the most common carriers of Salmonella. However, all species of reptiles can carry this bacteria.


How to Avoid Toxins and Bacteria.

  • Wash, Wash, Wash your hands with soap and water, before and after coming into contact with any reptiles, or their habitats.
  • Keep your reptiles habitat, food and water bowls, and decorations as clean as possible.
  • Supervise young children. Children under 5 are at a higher risk then adults of getting Salmonella, due to lack in hand washing, and their tendency to put their fingers in their mouth.
  • Never, kiss a reptile. Not only is this stressful on the reptile, but it is also an easy access point to transmit a disease.
  • Do not allow your pet reptile, to roam the house freely. Especially keep them out of the kitchen area. Do not touch food, dishes, cooking utensils, pots or pans after you've been around your reptile and its habitat, until you've washed your hands.
  • Do not bathe your reptile, or clean its habitat and items in the bathtub, or kitchen sink. If unavoidable, wash and then disinfect the area thoroughly with a bleach solution.
  • If transporting your reptile, make sure the destination has proper hand washing facilities. In addition, bring hand sanitizer with you.
  • Clean habitat in a well-ventilated area. Outside is best. Wear rubber gloves. After habitat and accessories are washed, disinfect it with a bleach solution. 1/2 Cup of bleach to one gallon of water. Soak 10 minutes, rinse, and let it air dry before replacing contents.
  • Do not handle any reptiles or furnishings, with cuts on your hands. Wear gloves if you must.
  • Don't handle reptiles, unless absolutely needed. This is stressful to your reptile, and may cause it to secrete toxins

What To Do If Exposed To Bacteria Or Toxins

  • Immediately wash the exposed area with hot water and an antibacterial soap. Hot water helps neutralize toxins, so the hotter the better.
  • If you develop hives, or swelling, you may be having an allergic reaction and medical attention may be needed. Make sure you know the name of the amphibian you have been exposed to.


If you are pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or under 5 years old, You are at an increased risk of infection. Avoid all contact with reptiles, and if possible, reptiles should be given to a friend or family member. At the very least, keep the reptile in a separate room.

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