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Pet Snakes provides easy to understand, practical information and facts to help the new snake owner take care of their animals. At Pet Snakes we want to provide information that will help you enjoy your reptile more than ever.

How to clean a snake’s tank


Keeping your snakes tank clean helps to ensure it stays healthy. It goes beyond just changing the substrate. From time to time you should thoroughly clean your pet’s tank.

The types of cleaning
There are three types of tank cleaning that you should do.

  1. Spot cleaning
  2. Wipe down cleaning
  3. Through cleaning

Each method has an appropriate time to be used. Below we will briefly discuss each one.

Spot cleaning
With this method you just clean up the mess. Good for when you discover the snake has gone to the bathroom as you’re headed out the door for work or school. You just clean up the mess, and then as soon as possible you clean the tank properly

Wipe down cleaning
Using this method of tank cleaning you will be wiping the sides down, removing any feces you missed during the spot cleans, replacing soiled substrate with fresh. This method just uses a soft cloth with warm water and a little bit of vinegar on it. No soap or other cleaning products are used because you won’t be rinsing. You should practice doing this at least once a week.

Through cleaning
In this case everything comes out of the snakes tank and gets washed.

  • Hides, water bowls, and any habitat enhancements are all scrubbed
  • All substrate regardless of conditions is completely changed
  • The enclosure is inspected for damage
  • Accessories (heating elements, thermometers, etc) are all checked over for problems
  • Inside and outside of the snake’s cage is cleaned

A through cleaning takes time and requires the snake to be out of the enclosure. Prepare a temporary housing solution for this. A simple plastic tub with a layer of newspaper will work just fine. Make sure it isn’t air tight (poke a few holes in the lid if need be), and keep it out of drafts or cool/cold areas. It is also a good idea to have an under the tank heater attached to this enclosure just to be on the safe side. Just remember you’ll need to start heating it up about an hour before you put the snake into it.

Cleaning agents
Snakes are very sensitive chemicals so you need to be picky when you choose what you’re going to use to clean their tanks. Just as important as being picky, if not more so, you need to be certain to rinse everything very well! Plastics for instance will actually retain a large amount of chemical agents due to their porous nature. Snakes don’t mix well with chemicals, especially if they’re forced to live with them.

Diluted bleach and soap solution
This is perhaps the simplest, cheapest, and most popular cleaning agent. It is also potentially deadly so use it at your own risk. You take a 1 ounce of bleach, and combine it with teaspoon of dish soap in a quart of water.

Before you go any further do not combine dish soap that contains ammonia with bleach! It can and likely will cause a potentially deadly ammonia gas to form. Deadly to you as well as any other living thing in the house. Read the label of your dish soap very carefully before mixing it with bleach.

If you can’t find a dish soap without ammonia then you can still wash using this method.

  • Wash with the dish soap first and then throughly rinse until there is absolutely NO residue left
  • Then soak in a bleach:water solution (1:32 ratio) for about 10 to 15 minutes
  • Rinse again, very well. You should not be able to smell ANY trace of bleach

Chlorhexidine
This agent is best known as a major ingredient in dental mouthwash. It is designed to kill and combat dental plaque and bacteria. Strangely enough it also makes a great cleaning agent for a snake’s tank (or any other animals enclosure, dishes, etc). This doesn’t mean that you should get out your bottle of mouthwash and use it to clean your tanks. That would be a bad idea. Spend a few dollars and buy a ready made chlorhexidine solution such as Oronine or Avagard. You can read more information about Chlorhexidine here.

There are certainly other cleaning agents out there, but for the task at hand either one of these will work. While the bleach, soap and water concoction is useful it is potentially volatile and if you do not rinse it off well enough it could kill your snake. The best option is the chlorhexidine, followed by vinegar and water solution. Last is the dish soap and bleach

  • Nicole

    How concentrated should a vinegar/water solution be?

  • Lorenb1998

    so i can wash the cage wit vinegar?

  • Ciarra20002010

    this is a really good cleaning object. 

  • Bhealey28

    I generally clean my cali king snakes cage with a watered down disenfectent natural solution I just spray alittle all around the tank then clean it properly with just water I don’t know if this is a good idea but my snake seems fine

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