If you walk into a reptile room or catch a whiff of a crested gecko habitat that smells bad, you may begin to wonder just what it is about these creatures that smells so foul.
Crested geckos do not smell. Instead, it is poorly maintained tanks that are the reasoning behind this stinky smell. Failure to clean out fecal matter, uneaten food and other matter found within the tank can lead to a bad stench. This article will show you what can smell and how to remedy it.
Now you know why these cute and interesting geckos get a bad rap. To understand how to keep your gecko and his habitat hygienic, keep on reading.
Table of Contents
What Can Go Wrong
A number of things can cause you to have a smelly habitat for your gecko. Perhaps you are not keeping up with cleaning. Perhaps you don’t know how to clean the place properly.
It is important that you remove any and all fecal matter and uneaten food such as pellets, crickets, roaches and more.
Fresh water should also be given each day. Dump out the old water and replace it with some new stuff every day. You should also have a few extra sets of food and water bowls so you can wash them daily and keep them rotating.
This will prevent bacteria and mold from forming and keep your gecko in good spirits about eating.
How to Clean the Habitat?
Habitat cleaning must take place each day. Then, there are tasks which should be performed each week as well as each day.
We can’t stress enough that poop should be taken out each and every day. The substrate should be changed out every week.
Paper towels should be removed and replaced at least once per week, sometimes twice. Be sure you wash the carpet at least once a week with an organic soap.
And once per month, be ready to perform a deep clean on the habitat. This will help ensure good health and a long life for your reptile.
Safe Cleaning Products
Now we will talk about some safe cleaners you can use to keep your tank nice and tidy. There are a few different types you should stock up on. They are not very expensive and can be bought at major retailers.
Firstly, have some disinfectants on hand. These are antimicrobial and great for cleaning the cage itself as well as the items inside. They get rid of the bacteria and viruses that can make your reptile sick.
Bleach is one example-but you have to mix it very carefully, so it is safe. There are also reptile disinfectants you can purchase which are safe for use around your gecko.
Second, have a method of sterilizing available. A home steam cleaner is a safe and effective way to sterilize the items in your gecko’s cage.
You can use it in all tasks that involve cleaning your gecko’s cage, whether it is a quick cleaning that has to take place or the monthly deep cleanings.
In some cases, you may need to boil or bake the accessories in your gecko’s cage. Some accessories that are constructed of porous substances are nearly impossible to clean. Ceramics, fiber and wood are all some examples of stuff you will have to boil and bake.
What to Buy?
Unsure of what you need exactly? Take this with you when it’s time to shop. Stock up on the following items to ensure your cleaning tasks will be easy to complete.
- Reptile spray that you can use to clean accessories and inside of cage
- A pack of sponges to be used ONLY for your gecko’s tank.
- Disposable rubber gloves for you to wear
- A scoop to get rid of fecal matter and loose substrate
- Dawn or organic dish soap with which to wash food and water bowls/the carpet.
- Bleach and water: make a solution of 16 parts water and 1-part bleach. We mix a gallon of water with one cup bleach. This should only be used if you do NOT have a steam cleaner or reptile spray. You can also do 90% water and 10% of vinegar/hydrogen peroxide.
- Temporary enclosure for your gecko to rest in while you clean
- A bucket devoted ONLY to cleaning your gecko’s stuff
- A handheld steam cleaner
- Extra carpets and water/food bowls
- Q tips
Daily and Weekly Cleaning
Begin by changing the water each and every day. If food particles were floating in your water, would you care to drink it? No way. Wash and dry the bowl or swap it out with another one. Fill it with clean water and set it inside.
As soon as you notice fecal matter, clean it up. Or, clean the feces once in the morning and check again at night if you work or attend school during the day. Also be sure you clean up waste from the loose substrate.
You should also poke around the cage to see if any poop or leftover food is hidden under the habitat accessories.
You should also visually check your paper towel substrate, if this is your substrate choice. Change it out if it is heavily soiled.
Use an organic dish soap like Seventh Generation to wash your gecko’s dishes and carpet. NEVER wash the gecko dishes or carpet in the same spot you wash your family’s dishes. You might do this outdoors, in a utility sink or in a bucket of water.
You can use a steam cleaner to do quick on the week cleaning for your glass doors if you have that style of habitat. A reptile spray will work well, also.
Begin by getting all of your cleaning supplies together. This is a big job-make sure you are ready to go!
Put your gecko into his temporary cage for the time being. Put some paper towels in there so he feels comfortable while this takes place. Put him in another room so he does not breathe in any harmful chemicals while you work.
Next, be sure you unplug any electrical devices or heaters. Take out the carpet, bowls, debris, etc. and put them in your bucket off to the side.
Now take your steam cleaner or bleach or vinegar/water solution and wash/steam the empty cage thoroughly. Rinse it off with water and wipe it down using paper towels.
Now scoop out the dead crickets, bugs or feces. Be sure you get deep into the habitat so you can get any dead critters that don’t belong there. Every three months, plan on putting in a new substrate.
You should also have some q-tips on hand to get into those hard to reach corners. Dip the q-tips into the solution and get the dirt that’s packed in out.
Remove any carpets or tiles and be sure to wash those out with your dish soap. Let everything air dry. Put a clean spare carpet back into the tank.
Make sure the cage is rinsed out thoroughly and dried. Be sure you wear a mask during cleanings and sniff the tank to make sure there is no harsh smell that could irritate your crested gecko.
Other Cleaning Tasks
While your tank is drying and airing out, soak your accessories/hides in dish soap using your bucket. Use your special sponge dedicated only to your gecko to clean them. You can also steam clean them. Be sure to let them air dry after.
Any porous materials must be baked. Set the oven to 250 degrees F, and bake them for 30 min. Check on them every 10 minutes so they do not char.
Boil your ropes, and rocks in a dedicated pot for your gecko for 20 minutes.
Once everything is done and accessories are dry and sanitary, put the habitat back together. Determine your gecko will not be overpowered by any smells from the bleach and place him inside. Be sure to put in some fresh water as well.
Bathing Your Gecko
Your gecko will not love taking a bath, but it can prevent those smells that arise. Sometimes, feces can get stuck in the feet and tail. Therefore, a bath is needed.
First, get a small container made of plastic with a lid. Put holes in the lid.
Put in some lukewarm water and a balled-up paper towel. Your goal is to saturate the towel.
Put your gecko in and mist him.
Close the lid and watch it closely.
Leave your gecko in for 15 minutes. Pull your gecko out. Remove any excess particles of feces, food and dirt by rolling a q tip across and under the feet.
Only do this when it is needed; geckos don’t really love this!
So, you can see that the crested gecko is not a smelly creature at all-instead, it is the failure to keep the habitat clean that results in these odors.
Stay current with cleaning tasks each and every day and you too will come to realize that there are no odors to speak of-and you will have a happier gecko to boot.