Although the chances of you contracting salmonella from your pet bearded dragon is very slim, you, as the owner, should follow a few guidelines to make sure you and your pet stay safe and healthy.
Salmonella is a bacteria that can be found in the bearded dragon’s feces. If that contaminated feces is handled improperly the salmonella bacteria can be transferred to humans, however, you are more likely to contract salmonella through tainted food than you are from your pet lizard.
Most cases of salmonella cases in humans that come from reptiles is due to poor husbandry practices. Here are a few tips for protecting yourself from salmonella with bearded dragons.
Always Keep the Habitat Clean
It is very important to keep your bearded dragon’s habitat as clean as possible. Get into a weekly routine of cleaning the glass and decor items of the terrarium. Use special cleaners that are designed for cleaning reptile housing and disinfecting decor items.
Reptile Healthy Habitat spray is a very good choice for cleaning the terrarium and any items the bearded dragon may come into contact with.
Replace the substrate with fresh materials at least once a month. Make sure you remove all fecal and leftover food matter as soon as you find it. Allowing these to sit in the terrarium for long periods can lead to the build up of bacteria and fungus.
To avoid touching the fecal matter you can use a special scooper made for removing it from the substrate.
Give your bearded dragon frequent baths. Just let it splash around in a bath tub filled with a couple inches of warm water once a week. This is the ideal time to do this while you clean the habitat. You don’t want your bearded dragon to be in there while you clean anyway.
Remove any uneaten food items from the terrarium. Allowing vegetables and fruit to sit around for days and weeks can increase the amount of bacteria, fungus, and mold in the terrarium causing your beardie or you to become sick.
Thoroughly Wash Your Hands After Handling
Any time after you have handled your bearded dragon, or any of the items in its habitat, immediately wash your hands with a good anti-bacterial soap.
This will kill any salmonella bacteria that you may have inadvertently picked up.
Wash your hands, arms, face, and any other parts of your body that may have come in contact with the reptile or its items.
Always avoid touching your face or mouth after handling your bearded dragon and its habitat!
Using good sanitary practices when handling your beardie will go a long ways towards salmonella protection.
Take Your Bearded Dragon for Frequent Checkups
Make sure to take your bearded dragon to a qualified reptile veterinarian for routine check-ups. They can check for salmonella presence by performing a stool sample.
Salmonella can be present in even healthy bearded dragons, but one that is sick could have a higher concentration of the bacteria in its digestive system.
A veterinarian will be able to diagnose what is going on and prescribe medications that will help prevent any possible salmonella issues.
It is very crucial to the health of your bearded dragon, and your own health to have this checked routinely.
Other Considerations for Protecting Yourself from Salmonella
Salmonella is not commonly contracted via reptiles, but it is important to play it safe to make sure you do not get the illness. Never allow people with weakened immune systems, young children, or the elderly to handle bearded dragons.
Even though bearded dragons are very cute, never kiss one. This is an easy way to contract salmonella. Keep the bearded dragon away from your face, especially around the mouth and nose.
Following good husbandry and housekeeping is an important process for your health and that of your pet bearded dragon!