Before purchasing your first pet bearded dragon, it is important for you to understand the steps and techniques involved in the ritual of habitat cleaning. Beardies, which are native to the arid deserts and brushlands spanning the whole of Australia, are extremely popular in the worldwide exotic pet trade. First-time and uninformed owners of these lizards often neglect to provide a clean living situation for their pets, resulting in environmental hazards that they would not encounter in the wild such as being trapped in close quarters with un-removed excrement, or waterlogging and mold from water dish spillage. Knowing how to properly sanitize your terrariums, and doing so on a regular basis, can help to promote overall health and wellbeing in your bearded dragons. This article will discuss the steps involved in routine deep cleaning of a beardie terrarium, including removing used bedding, cleaning astroturf floor mats (if applicable), washing the terrarium itself, and sanitizing individual accessories such as water dishes or decorations.

Before performing a cage cleaning, it is important to remove your lizard and place it in a Kritter carrier or other ventilated container for the duration as to prevent causing them unneeded stress. Once your terrarium is animal-free, it is time to begin the sanitation process.

Step 1: Clean Substrate
Every time you clean your bearded dragon’s habitat, it’s important to remove the substrate or floor mat from the bottom of the cage and discard or sanitize depending on whether you are using the former or latter. Before you do so, start by removing all hides, decorations and the water dish .If you are using a bedding such as sand, woodchip, or coconut fiber, have on hand a small spade or scooper to shovel the soiled bedding into a readily available garbage receptacle. If you are using a square of astroturf or another faux grass alternative as a floor covering for your bearded dragon habitat, take it out and place it in a sink or other basin filled with hot water and dish soap. Submerge the mat into the water and vigorously scrub until all debris and excrement have been removed. Once finished, lay the freshly cleaned mat outdoors in sunlight to air-dry. Do not replace the substrate or floor mat until the following steps of the terrarium cleaning process have been completed.

Screenshot from 2020 07 21 13 30 39
Washing the Walls: Terrarium Cleaning
As soon as you have removed the substrate or floor covering from your beardie’s habitat, the next step is to cleanse the walls and floor of the terrarium itself to purge all possibly harmful bacteria, or other microscopic pests. To do so, you will need the following materials:
  1. Homemade Vinegar-Water Cleaning Solution or Reptile-Safe Cleaning Agent
  2. Paper Towels
  3. Waste Bag
  4. Spray Bottle
Begin by filling a plastic spray bottle with a 16-1 water to vinegar solution, or acquiring a non-toxic reptile-safe cleaner at your local pet store or online. Next, liberally coat the walls and floor of the terrarium with the spray, making sure the entire inside is coated with a layer of moisture. Using paper towel(s), wipe up all residual substrate and cleaning solution, ensuring the inside of the habitat is completely dry (This step is a good opportunity to remove all smudges and smears from the tank’s walls, helping to improve the habitat’s aesthetic.) Lastly, put all dirited paper towels into a plastic garbage bag and tie the ends before discarding.

Sanitizing the Accessories
Once you have removed all dirty bedding and have sanitized the walls and floor of your bearded dragon’s terrarium, the final step before reassembly and reintroducing your reptile, is to thoroughly clean all tank-accessories including faux plants, water dish, and the hide. Like other surfaces exposed to reptiles, these components can harbour potentially unsafe bacteria or viruses such as salmonella. To decontaminate these goods, you will need the following items:
1.Water Basin or Tub
2. Sponge
3. Dish Soap
4. Bleach
5. Towels
Begin by filling the basin with warm water from a sink or tub. Submerge all accessories in the tub, and using the sponge, scrub them with soapy water until all debris such as substrate and excrement is removed. Empty the basin and refill, adding one cup of bleach per gallon of water and let the items soak for ten to fifteen minutes, thoroughly flushing them with fresh water afterwards to remove residual chemicals. Finally, you can either towel off all accessories or leave them by a window to dry via-sunlight.

Reassembly and Reintroduction
Following the removal of dirty bedding, and deep cleaning of your reptile terrarium, you can begin the process of reassembling your beardies habitat and reintroducing him to his fresh home. Start by placing your faux grass mat or a two-inch deep layer of your choice bedding on the bottom of the terrarium. Next, position your decorations and reptile hides as they were prior to cleaning, adding the water dish last, full of clean water. You are finally ready to reintroduce your bearded dragon back to his terrarium. He/She will thank you for giving them a clean and cozy living space.

Properly cleaning your bearded dragon’s habitat should be a ritual that you practice on a regular basis. In addition to keeping yourself free from reptile-born bacteria and ailments, your pet will be much happier to be living in a terrarium free from waste and grime.