Owning a pet snake is not as challenging as it once was in the past; they are increasing in popularity. As such there is a lot more information readily available, experience to leverage and products to purchase. Generally, snakes are relatively easy to maintain. If you apply some effort into their environment and care, your snake should live for many years to come. A vital part of caring for a snake is cleaning their tank.
Naturally, you must want to know how to clean a snake tank. To clean a snake tank, you must use three methods 1) spot cleaning, 2) wipe down cleaning, and 3) deep cleaning. Each cleaning method has a suitable time in which to apply and comes with a different type of application, level of effort, and process steps involved.
Let’s discuss the three methods in greater detail in the following section so that you know exactly what to do when it comes to keeping the tank clean.
Steps To Clean The Tank
To clean your snake’s enclosure correctly, you will need some essential accessories. Thankfully these are not overly expensive and some of which can be used many times over again. These items you will need include:
- A cardboard box
- Disposable gloves
- Chlorhexidine (like this)
- A toothbrush
- Clean towels
- Paper towels
- Baking soda
- Antibacterial soap
As you can see, a lot of general household products here. This is just one of the reasons why looking after a pet snake is not considered too bad.
Let’s discuss the three cleaning techniques and outline the steps needed for each one:
#1 – Spot Cleaning
This method involves dealing with any mess that is produced in the tank as you notice is, right there and then.
If your snake has just gone to the bathroom, you must remove its feces and appropriately clean the area. You apply this method before a thorough clean.
By cleaning the area you will be removing any opportunity for bacteria and germs to fester and develop. Clearing away mess quickly ensures that hygiene is kept high at all times in the tank.
Spot cleaning can take place daily or perhaps more frequently depending on the mess involved.
#2 – Wipe Down
Wipe down cleaning must be practiced at least once a week. It is in many ways the intermediate level of cleaning; it shouldn’t take long but requires a little more effort than the general spot clean.
You must wipe down the sides of the tank, removing any fecal matter missed during the spot cleaning.
Then be sure to replace all soiled substrate with clean substrate.
Here you are essentially removing surface level mess.
With this method, you must only use warm water, vinegar, and a soft cloth. No soap is required as there is no need to rinse. This also ensures the safety of your snake and prevents the use if any harsh chemicals which can harm them.
#3 – Deep Cleaning
This is a thorough clean and takes the most time and effort. It is however, essential.
This method of cleaning involves removing everything from inside the tank (this includes water bowls, hides, and accessories ), putting them into a cardboard box, and washing them each thoroughly.
All substrate must be changed entirely unsoiled or otherwise. Be careful with how you dispose of it.
Inspect the tank for any damage, if you notice any cracks or holes, you will need to consider repairing or replacing the tank. This is to ensure the habitat remains not only safe but provides the ideal environment for a snakes needs.
Both inside and outside of the tank requires washing.
Heating elements and thermometers must be checked for functionality. If they are broken again they will need to be replaced.
After washing toys and landscaping items, allow them to air dry on a clean towel before returning them to the tank. You do not want to add wet items back to the tank as this can cause bacteria to develop and proliferate.
Prepare a bucket with a mild and snake safe disinfectant and sponge down the walls of the tank. Scrub hard to remove dirt with a toothbrush, and rinse the cage thoroughly with white vinegar, then rinse again using cold water.
Deep cleaning is time-consuming, so you must remove the snake from the tank.
You must prepare an appropriate substitute habitat for your snake until the cleaning process is complete. Whether this be a second and separate tank, a designated space or a safe enclosure of some kind.
You must also heat the primary and cleaned tank for about an hour before returning the snake to its home. This will ensure they can re-acclimatise without any significant shock, issues or stress.
What Can I Use To Clean My Snake Tank?
When it comes to choosing cleaning agents for your tank, you must keep in mind that snakes are sensitive to chemicals.
Consistency is a good thing regarding cleanliness, it’s vital to keep up with a regular tank cleaning routine, but exercise discernment when choosing the right cleaning agents as the wrong ones can cause harm to your snake.
You should therefore always refrain from using any generic household product, and be careful where you source items. Be sure to read labels and check that they are safe for snakes/reptiles in advance.
You’ll also want to make sure that you rinse everything thoroughly before your snake is returned; plastic in particular is notorious for retaining chemicals due to its pory nature.
You don’t want to force your pet to live with these chemicals; they can cause health implications in both the short and long term. Poor health and expensive veterinary bills will likely follow.
Without further ado, here are the some of the best and most appropriate solutions to use when cleaning your snake’s enclosure:
- Anitbacterial Soap – this is a straightforward and cost-effective solution to create. The solution is generally quite weak, so does not do as good a job as the recommendation below. You want to purchase a pet friendly option, such as this brand from Amazon.
- Chlorhexidine – This is the best cleaner for your reptiles habitat; used and recommended by exotic animal vets for cleaning your cages and other habitat items. While this is the primary ingredient in mouthwash; do not use mouthwash to clean your snakes enclosure. This is dangerous. Instead, you must use high-quality ready-made agents. The Carolina Custom Cages Brand (on Amazon) is a firm favorite by many snake owners and often cited as one of the best products out there for snake tank cleaning.
Whilst some owners work with bleach/disinfectant, you need to be very careful as it can cause damage and harm to you and your snake snake. If you decided to use a disinfectant based product, be sure to dilute it. Only use one ounce of bleach/disinfectant and mix it with at least four cups of water to dilute it down.
You’ll also need to ensure that this has been completely washed out with cold water and you dry the tank after. This should remove any residues that may have remained.
Diluted bleach/disinfectant is effective at removing limescale, mold, and mildew from the tank, but if you’re not careful, it can be dangerous.
If you wanted to get a disinfectant, purchased one suitable for pets, like this highly respected one from Amazon.
Ultimately, the est and safest solution is chlorhexidine, combined with vinegar and water. This is the solution that is recommended and we advise you invest in.
How Often Do You Clean A Snake Tank?
Spot cleaning requires daily practice. Remove any leftover food, and dispose of soiled substrate or any waste material as you come across it.
Empty the contents of food and water containers.Wash the containers thoroughly in warm water with antibacterial soap, then rinse off the soap in hot water before sanitizing and allowing to air dry.
Deep cleaning, on the other hand, requires a weekly application, this requires you to remove your snake from their tank and relocate them to a temporary albeit escape-proof box or enclosure.
You must remove your snake from their tank so that the chemical fumes do not harm them.
All toys and landscape paraphilia must be removed from the cage and set aside for additional cleaning.
Remove all food scraps and waste products to avoid contamination with bacteria to household surfaces.
After sponging the walls down with soap and hot water, scrub hard to remove dirt with a toothbrush and rinse the cage thoroughly with white vinegar, then rinse again using cold water.
Make sure that you always wear disposable gloves when cleaning your snake’s tank, and it’s accessories.
Throw the disposable gloves away when you are done; ensuring that you do not touch anything in the process.
Wash your hands with hot water and strong antibacterial soap.
Place your snake in a warm location when cleaning the tank, as the deep cleaning may take an hour, if not more.
The tank and all the accessories must be completely dry to prevent the growth of dangerous mold and mildew. Clean and sanitize all new items before placing them inside the tank.
Cleaning a snake tank is a top-priority; you can’t afford to skip any of the three methods. This is just one of those natural responsibilities that you will have as a pet snake owner.
All three methods need practicing, whether it’s a daily spot clean, or a weekly deep clean.
Make sure to use safe cleaning agents and rinse all soap afterward. Snakes and chemicals are not the best combination; they have sensitive skin, so bear this in mind during your routine.
Your snake will be happy to return to a clean, healthy, and non-toxic environment; so long as you take the above factors and information into consideration.
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.