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You understand the concept behind bathing cats and dogs. After all, you have hair that needs to be washed and brushed out. But what about lizards and snakes? Do they need a bath? Reptiles may not sweat, but there are good reasons why you should give your herp a dip in the water every now and then (once you learn to do so safely).

Why you should wash your snake or lizard

In general, reptiles are less smelly pets than mammals. That being said, they still produce waste and may pick up those odors on their bodies. Regardless of how stinky your herp is, they can benefit from a bath.

Baths encourage exercise

Being partially submerged in water is a different experience from being couped up in a terrarium. Many snakes and lizards become active when given a bit of lukewarm water to play in. In fact, some come to love a good soak. And that extra activity, as well as relaxed muscles from warm water, can lead to better digestion. You may even notice that your exotic pet has bowel movements during many baths. That’s just a results of the digestive system getting a boost from exercise.

Water helps with shedding

Reptiles don’t need frequent baths. But the best time to give a bath is when your pet is going through shedding. The moisture can facilitate the removal of dry, sticking pieces of skin. Of course, if your pet seems to enjoy baths or actually does get dirty, you don’t have to wait for shedding to get them a little wet.

Precautions to take during reptile bath time

Now that you know you can give your snakes and lizards a bath, you should know that there are certain precautions you need to take to keep both you and your pet safe.

Have a dedicated bath area

Exotic pet owners bathe their snakes and lizards in many different basins. But the number one rule is to make sure whatever water container you are using for your reptile’s bath is only used for that purpose. Washing your reptile in a sink or bathtub that you use increases your risk of contracting salmonella, which most reptiles carry. So no sharing.

Use an appropriate amount of water

Not all reptiles can swim. And that means you could drown your pet if you put them in water that is too deep. It just takes a little bit for them to get wet. You can use a small cup to pour water over areas that need it, avoiding the face. Or you can use a spray bottle to mist your pet clean. Avoid nozzles that spray with too much pressure. And always dry your pet with a towel and place them in their basking spot to regulate their body temperature after a bath.

You can make bath time much easier on yourself and your reptile by easing them into the experience if they’re not used to it. Place them in the water gently. Otherwise, you’ll have a fight on your hands every time. If you’re not sure whether your pet can swim, check out the care sheets at The Tye-Dyed Iguana.