Before you handle any veiled chameleon, even one that you have owned a long time, you should clean your hands thoroughly. Then clean your hands again after handling. This includes when you feed the chameleon, handle it for treating it when it is ill, and especially when you are ill. You not only have to worry about spreading bacteria from one chameleon to another, but you can also give your chameleon something you have. (Trust me, I learned this lesson the hard way!)
If you are sick with a virus, salmonella or other illnesses, it is best you do not handle your chameleons at all. If you do, use disposable rubber gloves which can be purchased at discount medical supply stores or even found in Walgreens. Once you are through, dispose of the gloves and wash your hands. Do the same thing when working with a new veiled chameleon, especially one you know is wild caught and has not been tested for parasites, coccidia or other known bacteria and virus which can be spread by touch. If you have a sick chameleon and need to medicate it, hand feed it, or handle it for other reasons, again use the gloves. This will minimize the risk of spreading infectious diseases to you or other animals.
One handy cleaning agent I highly recommend is quatricide. You can ask your vet to prepare you a spray bottle of this disinfectant as this is what most veterinarians use to clean their rooms and hands with. If they do not have it, ask them what they would recommend. Perhaps surgical scrub would be something else you could purchase to clean your hands with. You can also purchase a product from Big Apple Herpetological called Quat Plus.
Quatricide kills most bacteria including coccidia, salmonella, and other common threatening viral germs. It is safe for both you and your chameleon. You simply spray your hands with it and rub it around. No rinsing is needed, just let it air dry. If you cannot get a quatricide solution, then I would recommend using a cleaner such as ZooMed’s Wipe Out hand cleaner.
Cleaning Cages & Habitats
You can also use the quatricide to clean the cages, and all accessories including water receptacles and humidifiers. You will want to scrub and clean all items using warm soapy water first to remove any debree. Rinse off the soap and then allow the accessories to soak in the quatricide for about 10 or more minutes. Remove the items from the bucket of quatricide solution and allow to air dry before placing back in the cages. To clean the cages, use a sponges and dip it in the quatricide solution and wipe down all surfaces which cannot be soaked and cleaned ina sink or bucket.
Another product you might want to use are or Chlorhexidine Diacetate (Generic Nolvasan). Follow the instructions for it’s use.
Some people use a bleach solution to clean with. I do not recommend this for various reasons. If you opt to use bleach to clean and sterilise your habitats and accessories, you need to follow the instructions below:
- Clean all items with warm soapy water
- Rinse well
- Mix 5 part bleach to 95 part water in a sink or other large container
- soak items in bleach water and use sponge to wash areas not in water.
- remove and rinse well
- Allow to dry thoroughly and repeat rinsing with clean water and allow to thoroughly dry
There are other cleaning products on the market. You may decide to buy and try some. Read the labels before you do to make sure they will be safe to use for a veiled chameleon habitat. You do not want to use anything which will leave behind toxic chemicals. Follow manufacturers instructions when using.
How often should I clean?
You should clean the feces and other debree from a chameleon cage daily. Also remove any dead insects. You will want to wash all water receptacles daily as well, especially if you use any type of fountains. Any standing water in a cage should be cleaned daily. This is a guaranteed bacteria breeding ground.
Cages and accessories should be cleaned well on a weekly basis.
If you have a chameleon which came in wild caught and is being treated for parasites, or other health problems such as coccidia, salmonella, crypto, and other infectious diseases, then you will want to clean the cages sides floors and doors daily, also wipe down all accessories in the cage without removing them with a sponge dipped in a disinfectant as discussed above. Parasites will often leave the chameleons body alive looking for a live host. Some parasites such as hooks and rounds can crawl far enough before dying to contaminate other animals in the area. Also, many parasites dying will lay their eggs. If left and conditions are right, they will hatch and your chameleon will be ridden with parasites again.