Green Tree Python – Cleaning

Keeping things clean is a very important part of GTP husbandry. Any warm environment with a higher than average humidity is going to provide an ideal place for mold, mildew and other potentially harmful micro-organisms to thrive. Gtp’s are susceptible to bacterial infections of the skin, respiratory and digestive tracts, so cages and everything in the cages must be cleaned thoroughly and regularly in order to minimize this.

Every keeper should develop their own cleaning schedule based on their particular set up. This schedule will vary from one keeper to the next and will depend on a few different factors; type of substrate, feeding frequency, etc. Somethings may need to be done weekly, like water bowls or substrates, while others like whole cage cleaning, may need to be done monthly. 

For new animals or any other animal that is in quarantine it is recommended that you wear protective latex type gloves during maintenance and wash your hands thoroughly with a surgical scrub or other sanitizer after handling reptiles, reptile cages and equipment, in order to minimize any cross contamination.  It is also crucial that you sterilize any tools you use such as scrub brushes, rags, tongs, buckets, sinks, etc. after cleaning each enclosure. If these steps are skipped you run the risk of spreading any diseases to the other snakes in your collection.

Depending on the type of disinfectant you use you may want to keep your animal in another room to avoid exposure to fumes. For your safety as well as the animal’s safety, use these products in well-ventilated rooms or outside if possible. More and more non-toxic options are becoming available these days. Some of these options may or may not have the disinfecting properties that you want, so do the research and look at each product carefully.  

No matter what you choose to use, you should never have a strong odor of chemicals after you clean. If you do, rise it out and wipe it down until the smell goes away before placing your animal back in the cage.

Terminolgy – When it comes to cleaning and disinfectants, there is a lot of terminology that gets used rather loosely and many companies misrepresent what the product can actually do.  Familiarizing yourself with the terminology and the products will help to keep your animals healthier.

Antiseptic – An agent that kills or inhibits the growth of microorganisms. This term is generally restricted to agents that are sufficiently non-toxic for superficial application to the exterior surfaces of living tissues. Some common antiseptics are alcohol, iodine, hydrogen peroxide, and boric acid. There is great variation in the ability of antiseptics to destroy microorganisms and in their effect on living tissue. There is also a great difference in the time required for different antiseptics to work. Iodine, one of the fastest-working antiseptics, kills bacteria within 30 sec. Other antiseptics have slower, more residual action.

Disinfectant – These are agents that are too toxic to be applied to living tissues and are used to sterilize hard surfaces. From a technical and legal sense, a disinfectant must be capable of reducing the level of pathogenic bacteria by 99.999% during a time frame greater than 5 but less than 10 minutes. Disinfection does not necessarily kill all microorganisms. These agents may or may not be effective against some viruses, Mycobacteria, protozoa or heat-resistant bacterial spores. It is considered less effective than sterilization, which is an extreme physical and/or chemical process that kills all types of life.

Sanitizer – is a product which destroys 99.999% of specified test bacteria in 30 seconds under conditions of the Official Detergent Sanitizer Test (sometimes called Weber & Black Test).  are used to reduce germs from surfaces but not totally get rid of them. Sanitizers reduce the germs from surfaces to levels that considered safe. A sanitizing product capable of cleaning and disinfecting; usually a formulation containing a disinfectant and a detergent. Sanitizers are substances that simultaneously clean and disinfect. … -sanitizer

What is the difference between a Disinfectant and a Sanitizer?

There is a general misunderstanding by the consuming public as to the difference between a disinfectant and a sanitizer; the perception being that they are equally effective. However the use concentration of the product defines its classification. For example An iodophor, when used at 25 ppm (parts per million of available iodine), is considered to act as a sanitizer. However that same product when applied at 75 ppm falls into the disinfectant category.

Biocides – A generic term for any chemical, substance or microbe which is toxic to living systems. They are intended to destroy all forms of life, not just microorganisms.

Sterilization – is a term referring to any process that eliminates (removes) or kills all forms of life, including transmissible agents (such as fungi, bacteria, viruses, spore forms, etc.) present on a surface, contained in a fluid, in medication, or in a compound such as biological culture media. Sterilization can be achieved by applying heat, chemicals, irradiation, high pressure, and filtration or combinations thereof.

Germicide – an agent that when used as directed, will kill a specific group of organisms listed on the label.


Sanitization begins with an effective cleaning program. Organic deposits from food residues, such as oils, greases and proteins not only harbor bacteria but may actually prevent the sanitizer from coming into physical contact with the surface that needs to be sanitized. In addition, the presence of organic deposits may actually inactivate or reduce the effectiveness of some types of sanitizers such as hypochlorites, rendering the procedure ineffective.

In most instances, a given product is designed for a specific purpose and is to be used in a certain manner. Therefore, users should read labels carefully to ensure the correct product is selected for the intended use and applied efficiently.

Credit: Matt Morris and David Newman

Green Tree Python localities

green tree python cleaning