Hygiene And Safety When Keeping Reptiles
This section is different from all the others on this site as it concentrates not on your pet's welfare, but instead on yours.
There is nothing to be scared about, but below we tell you of sensible precautions that you need to take to ensure that you do not suffer from an injury or from a nasty stomach complaint!
Reptiles are an acknowledged source of the bacteria and you should take sensible precautions.
What is Salmonella?Salmonella is a particularly nasty bacteria that attacks the stomach and intestines. It is not prejudiced and attacks both sexes and all age groups. The elderly, children and those who are already suffering an illness are at risk of a serious infection.
What are the symptoms of a Salmonella attack?You will soon know if you are suffering from Salmonella poisoning. You may suffer from one or more of the following symptoms
- Diarrhoea or constipation
- Stomach cramps
- Nausea and vomiting
- Possibly, blood in the faeces
How do you contract Salmonella?The most common way that Salmonella is passed is orally. The classic example is by touching your mouth after previously touching something that carries the Salmonella bacteria.
Why are you telling me this on a site about reptiles?You can contract Salmonella from many different sources including your pets. It is an unfortunate fact that many reptiles carry the Salmonella bacteria. Therefore you should assume that your pet could potentially make you ill.
What precautions do I need to take?You should follow basic hygiene practices when coming into contact with your pet. In other words, you must wash your hands thoroughly with an antibacterial handwash. These are readily available, so there is no excuse not to do this.
This includes not just after handling your pet, but after touching anything that your pet has come in contact with.
What else should I be doing to avoid a Salmonella?
- Keep your reptile and all equipment out of the kitchen
- Clean and disinfect items and surfaces that your reptile has been in contact with
- Ideally you should change and wash your clothing after being in contact with your pet
If you keep reptiles, you must be prepared at sometime to get bitten, if you are not then they are not the pet for you.
If you do get bitten, then the fault is yours not your pet.
Below we give you some sensible advice that if you follow will dramatically reduce the chances of getting bitten.
The Deliberate BiteOne reason why reptiles bite is as a means of defence. To put it simply it is because they are afraid. Normally, snakes will let you know they are unhappy by adopting a striking position, and maybe hissing or moving their tail rapidly.
If you put your hand somewhere near without wearing gloves you will get what you deserve!
As the animal tames then this is less of a risk, but there are still individuals and species who are prone to continue doing this, but you must remember that this behaviour is due to fear.
The Accidental BiteThis is by far the most common way to get bitten, and it is an accident caused by you. These bites occur for one reason, the reptile thinks that you (normally your hand) is food!
Avoiding Being Accidentally Bitten
- Remember a snake strike is lighting fast, if your hand is in range and he strikes you will not be able to remove your hand in time. No matter how fast your reactions are.
- Read the signals. With most snakes and reptiles the feeding signals are quite obvious and will become even more so when you get to know your pet better
- If your pet is hungry or thinks it is feeding time then keep your hand well away
- Use tweezers or tongs to place food in the vivarium
- Wear gloves
- Make sure your hands do not smell of your pet's food
What to do if you are bittenIf the bite has happened due to a feeding response the animal will normally soon let go. If not then a splattering of cold water tends to make them loosen their grip. Remember to wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.
Below we list some sensible precautions that you should follow, to avoid any nasty incidents.