Setting Up a Quarantine Area and Habitat
Updated: Dec 5, 2022
I know what you're thinking, is this all really necessary? In short, yes! Don't get me wrong I know that it can be tedious, but it can honestly save your new pets life! Reptiles are very good at hiding illnesses and a lot of times you will not see any physical signs until it's too late. Quarantining your new pet will help you catch the early signs of health issues in your reptile and give you a chance to treat them as early as possible. In this post, we will be talking all about how to properly set up and maintain a quarantine area and habitats.
Let's start with why you need a quarantine area. It's important to keep new, sick, or potentially unhealthy reptiles away from your healthy ones because a lot of illnesses can be spread and transfered between species. Having a quarantine area allows your habitats enough space to prevent diseases from spreading. Before you panic, you do not need to spend a ton of money in order to do this. Setting up the area will take you some time and you will need to have some supplies on hand but it's realatively cheap and easy.
Where should you set up your quarantine area? Well, ultimately that's up to you. Here are some tips on where to set it up to ensure your quarantine area is effective and keeps your other reptiles healthy.
It should be in a completly different room than your other reptiles. If this isn't possible, they'll have to be as far away from the others as you can make them. Distance and seperation is key.
You should have it in a low traffic area. Illnesses and diseases can be brought on or worsen by stess. A lot of people or loud noises near a sick reptile will not help the recovery process.
Make sure the area holds heat well, sick reptiles require higher heat to aid in the recovery process.
Everyone's quarantine area is set up differently, and that's okay. However, there are some essentials every reptile keeper should have for their quarantine area! Some general ideas of what you should always have are:
Products that treat wounds
Products to rinse out the eyes
Cleaning products for both the habitats and the area itself
Easily sanitized décor
Soaking bin or tub
Transport bins for vet trips
Storage space for supplies
Newspaper or paper towels
This list is a good start, but it doesn't cover all illnesses or injuries. If your reptile has a illness or injury that you cannot, or do not know how to treat on your own, you must take it to an Exotic Veterinarian.
I know what you're thinking, this all sounds so expensive! You're not wrong, keeping reptiles (or having pets in general) is expensive. This is why it is so important to do your research and ensure you can provide for the reptile you want for it's entire life.
I understand that for a lot of people, money is always a concern. My family didn't have a lot of money when I was growing up but my mom always made sure our pets had what they needed. I learned a lot from her. So here are some of our best tips on saving money while setting up your quarantine habitat and area!
Use newspaper instead of paper towels. Lots of people get the newspaper delievered to them and just throw it away, and a lot of newspaper carriers have excess that goes right in the trash. Ask around to family, friends, neighbors, or a community group on social media. You can get it for free!
Instead of buying expensive décor from pet stores for your quarantine habitat DIY some! Décor in your quarantine habitat will have to be sanitized or changed every day. Do you really want to spend $40 on that cave hide that will only be used when your pet is sick? Nope! It's super easy to go to the dollar store, buy some containers and make your own hides. They won't be much to look at but they will do what you need them to do and can be cleaned easily and quickly. Follow us on social media for DIY ideas.
Save your paper towel and toilet paper rolls! Especially if you have snakes. They can be used as tunnels to determine your reptile from going under the paper lining.
Save washable food containers, remember that Chinese food you got last week? That container bottom makes for a great quarantine habitat water dish.
Check out yard sales and resale pages for used TV stands, fish tank stands or shelves to hold tanks and supplies.
Now that you have a good idea of what your quarantine area will consist of let's talk about the habitat! Quarantine habitats can be made from regular fish or reptile tanks, plastic bins, or whatever you keep your reptile in currently. I strongly recommend using a size appropriate plastic temporary habitat as a quarantine habitat. Okay, but why?
Well to start if you use your reptile's permanent habitat, you'll have to take everything out, then set it up as a quarantine habitat. Clean a large enclosure daily and then when your reptile is healthy again, have it sitting in a bin while you make the habitat marvelous again. If you use a temporary size appropriate plastic one, you can clean out and reset up their habitat ahead of time. This will give you more time to do complete the set up as well.
Let's say your habitat is made of wood, if your reptile has mites, they lay their eggs in the grooves of wood making it very difficult to get rid of them. This will then prolonge treatment. Glass fish tanks and reptile tanks can be heavy and it can be a pain to move them when cleaning daily. They can also be very expensive, so you'll most likely pay a few hundred dollars for a 'what if.' This is why I use and recommend plastic quarantine habitats.
Finding the correct size quarantine habitat is where you need to start. You'll have to make sure the habitat is large enough for your reptile to temporarily stay in but it does not have to be as large as their permanent one. A good rule of thumb is no less than half of the size of their permanent habitat. Once you've gotten the habitat itself, you'll have to set it up. Start by placing newspaper or paper towels at the bottom. Then you'll want to add a hide and a water dish, it's a good idea for these to be plastic too. Make sure to add some pvc pipe for branches and a plastic plant or two to allow for hiding. You want to keep the quarantine habitat as simple as possible since you'll most likely have to clean it daily. It's best to keep a couple hides, water dishes, and accessories so you can quickly disinfect and reset up the habitat. Now that you know how to set up a quarantine habitat and area, you're on your way to keeping your reptiles healthier and happier.