The Food and Drug Administration through its Center for Veterinary Medicine has come up with some tips for minimizing the chances of any people in your family contracting Salmonella from handling your pet reptiles or amphibians or the rodents used to feed them.
Salmonella is a bacteria that can cause fever, diarrhea and illness in people. While it is generally self limiting, it can be severe in small children, the elderly and people with any immune compromise. Rodents and reptiles often have Salmonella in their intestinal tracts with no signs of illness. They can shed the bacteria without being ill themselves.
Freezing will not kill Salmonella bacteria so choosing to feed your snake frozen rodents won’t remove all the risk. It is important to disinfect and thoroughly clean any surfaces that the reptiles, amphibians or feeder rodents come into contact with. It is also important to practice good hygiene yourself – thoroughly washing your hands after handling your pets or their feed.
Important tips include:
- Washing your hands after handling your pets
- Disinfecting any surfaces the feeder rodents touch with bleach
- Using separate kitchen tools and areas for preparing your reptile’s food – don’t use the same ones you use for preparing your own food
- Don’t clean your reptile or amphibian’s cage in a sink or bathtub used by people – have a separate, designated place for cleaning
- Droppings and waste water can be flushed down the toilet or disposed of in a trash can
- Don’t touch your mouth after handling your pet until you have washed up thoroughly
- Don’t kiss your reptile or amphibian
- Have a separate tub or plastic container for bathing your pet – don’t use your regular sink or bathtub
Taking a few simple precautions can keep everyone healthy and happy.