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QUARANTINE PROCEDURES


     Probably the most important aspect of keeping reptiles healthy is proper quarantine procedures of new stock. With the rise of IBD in boids and other viruses and mites it is imperative that proper precautions be taken.

     First off what exactly is quarantine? Well quarantine procedures have been strictly enforced in the avicultural world. In fact new birds coming into the country need to be quarantined for 6 months. This means that birds are not to be placed in the same place as established birds and usually only one or two humans wearing gloves and protective materials handle the birds. This is basically because some bird diseases can be transfered to humans. We as herpers can take a page from this book and place our newly aquired reptiles in a different place then our established stock. Under NO circumstances should a new reptile be placed in the same cage with established stock no matter how cramed for space. Quarantine means placing stock Away from established reptiles.

     Quarantined reptiles should be examined carefully when brought home from the airport. If you buy them at a store they need to be thouroughly examined there. Look for clear nostrils a clean vent, you do not want feces or dried blood on the ventral area.Check for blisters on the belly. Also check the mouth for any discoloration or yellow mucous material [most healthy snakes may have a little saliva in the mouth when opened but not excessively]. Listen for breating to make sure it does not have a respiratory infection. Check to make sure eyes are clear. Check for mites and ticks. Check to make sure the animal has good body weight and control over its body not bending over backwards and lying there. After an animal is examined you may have a better idea of what procedures need to be taken during quarantine.

     A quarantine enclosure is one in which the animal can be carefully looked after and be maintained meticulously clean. Newspaper is hands down the best substrate to use.Plastic sweater and blanket boxes are also some of the best enclosures to use. Other plastic cages will work well but remember a quarantine enclosure is one that can be completely disinfected and cleaned. Wooden enclosures should not be used for quarantine. Enclosures should be kept in a different room or different part of the house than the rest of your collection. At the very least it should be kept as far away from established stock [other side of room] as possible. And they should never be placed in the same enclosure. Enclosures should probably be disinfected once per week during quarantine for the first few weeks especially if the animal is on medication for worms bacteria or other ailmants in which case the enclosure should be completely disinfected after each dose or shot of medication.

     Disifecting does not mean just washing out the enclosure with soap it means killing all bacteria that may be living there. This is acomplished by first washing the enclosure with soap and then followed up by a cleaning with a disinfectant such as a bleach solution [30water to 1 bleach] or even better a commercially available veterinary strength disinfectant such as Nolvasan or other strong anti bacterial, antifungal and antiviral solution. This solution should be left to penetrate the enclosure for the alloted time ex. bleach solution should penetrate for at least 5 minutes. After which time the enclosure should be thouroughly rinsed which is extremely important!Enclosures should be very well rinsed.New newspaper should be used and any hide boxes and water dishes should be cleaned in the same way before being placed back in the enclosure.

     The animal should be left in quarantine for at least a month two months is better but the recommended time is roughly 6 months. After that time the animals can then be placed in the same room with established stock but it is wise to wait at least a year or two before placing the animal in the enclosure with one of your "long term "animals. Of course captive bred animals from a reputable source may be introduced sooner however always be cautious.

     One of the most important aspects of quarantine is washing your hands after handling each animal you have. EACH animal regaurdless if they came from the same source. In fact you should wash your hands if you even touch an enclosure before handling another quarantined animal, and all quarantined animals should be dealt with and cleaned after your established stock. This is very important wash your hands after each specimen!!

     These tips may seem extreme however it will greatly reduce your chances of spreding a virus, disease or those blasted mites through your collection and your established collection will be easier to manage because of it!!

STUART