Stay Healthy Around Pet Reptiles and Amphibians
Reptiles (such as snakes, lizards, and turtles) and amphibians (such as frogs and toads) can sometimes carry germs that can make people sick. These germs can cause illnesses ranging from fever to serious diarrhea.
- Amphibians and reptiles can carry germs even if they look healthy and clean.
- Germs are shed in their droppings and can easily contaminate their bodies and anything in areas where they live and roam, such as their habitat or aquarium tank water.
- These germs can spread to people after they touch these animals or anything in their habitats.
But there’s good news! You can take steps to stay healthy while enjoying your pets.
Protect Yourself and Your Family from Germs
Pick the Right Pet for Your Family.
Reptiles and amphibians are not recommended for children under 5 years old, adults over 65, or people with weakened immune systems because they are at a greater risk for serious illness from germs that pets can carry.
- Small turtles (shell length under 4 inches) are illegal to sell and own in the US because they are likely to cause Salmonella infection, especially in children.
Wash Your Hands.
Always wash hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching, feeding, or caring for your pets or cleaning their habitats.
- Adults should supervise hand washing for young children.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use hand sanitizer until you are able to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
Keep it Clean.
Keep amphibians and reptiles out of kitchens and other areas where food is prepared, served, stored, or consumed.
- Clean habitats and supplies outside the house when possible.
- If you clean supplies indoors, use a laundry sink or bathtub, and thoroughly clean and disinfect the area right after.
- Don’t kiss, snuggle, or hold reptiles and amphibians close to your face.
- Don’t let them roam free in your home.
- Don’t touch your mouth after handling reptiles and amphibians.
Don’t eat or drink around animals.
- Page last reviewed: August 29, 2018
- Page last updated: August 29, 2018
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