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person washing their hands

CDC recommends washing your hands after you have handled reptiles, amphibians, or their habitats.

Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling reptiles, amphibians, and their habitats. Be sure to help children wash their hands properly. If soap and water are not readily available, use hand sanitizer immediately and wash hands thoroughly as soon as possible. Thoroughly washing your hands will reduce your risk of getting sick from a disease spread to you by your pets. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and running water after: Touching or feeding reptiles and amphibians. Handling the area where reptiles and amphibians live and move. Touching water from the terrarium or aquarium of the reptile or amphibian. Because they can spread germs like Salmonella, reptiles and amphibians should be kept out of childcare centers, kitchens, and other food preparation areas. Do not let children younger than 5 years of age handle or touch reptiles and amphibians without supervision.Keep pet reptiles and amphibians from interacting with wild animals. Children younger than 5 years of age are more likely to get sick from exposure to germs like Salmonella. Don’t keep terrariums or aquariums for amphibians and reptiles in a child’s bedroom, especially in bedrooms of children younger than 5 years of age. Prevent reptile bites and scratches.

Before choosing a pet

Realize that reptiles and amphibians might not be suitable for your family because of their risk for spreading disease. This is particularly true if young children, pregnant women, or persons with weak immune systems are living in the household. Persons with weak immune systems may include the elderly, people with an illness such as diabetes or HIV/AIDS, or those undergoing chemotherapy. Families expecting a new child should transfer the care of their pet reptile to a trusted family member, friend, or neighbor before the infant’s arrival. Check state, local, and property laws before selecting or purchasing a reptile or amphibian. Some reptiles or amphibians may not be allowed in apartments or rental homes. Research and learn how to properly care for reptiles and amphibians before purchase or adoption.A snake is about to bite the handler Ask your veterinarian about the proper food, care, and environmental requirements of the pet you are interested in purchasing. Be aware the reptiles and amphibians can shed Salmonella and other germs in their stools even if they appear healthy. Plan to clean up after your pet frequently.

Housing your reptile or amphibian

It is important that you provide a safe, warm, and comfortable environment for your reptile or amphibian to live in. Reptiles and amphibians often have very specific requirements for their habitat. Learning about and proper management of your reptile and amphibian and taking good care can of the animal decrease your pet’s stress and chance of illness. To prevent contamination, keep amphibians and reptiles out of kitchens and other areas where food and drinks are prepared, served, or consumed. Do not allow reptiles or amphibians to roam freely throughout a home or living area. Be aware that reptile and amphibian terrariums and aquariums can be contaminated with Salmonella and other germs. Tanks, feeders, water containers, and other equipment or materials used when caring for amphibians and reptiles should be cleaned outside the home. If bathtubs are used for these purposes, they should be cleaned thoroughly and disinfected.

Monitor your pet's health

Visit a veterinarian experienced in herpetology for routine evaluation and care to keep your reptile or amphibian as healthy as possible. A veterinarian will not be able to prevent your reptile or amphibian from shedding Salmonella because Salmonella is a normal bacteria found in healthy reptiles. If your reptile or amphibian becomes sick or dies soon after purchase, take your pet to the veterinarian promptly and inform the pet store or breeder about the pet’s illness or death. Consider waiting before purchasing or adopting another pet. Do not use the terrarium or aquarium until it has been properly cleaned and disinfected.

What to do if you no longer want your pet reptile or amphibian

Do not release your pet outdoors. Most reptiles and amphibians released outdoors will die, and some grow to become a threat to natural wildlife populations. Find a new home for your pet: Contact a nearby pet store for advice or for possible returns. Consider giving your pet to another reptile or amphibian owner. Contact a local aquarium or zoo to see if they would accept your pet.
copperhead agkistrodon contortrix portrait A bright blue poison dart frog sits on a leaf
Source: www.cdc.gov

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