Lets talk about quarantine!

This is something I’ve been meaning to write up a post about, but haven’t had the time until now, when I myself am quarantined awaiting the results of a covid test :grimacing:

Quarantine is the process of isolating new animals or those with possible health conditions in such a way that they cannot pass along parasites or illness to other animals in the vicinity.

It’s important because not all health conditions are immediately evident, some may have a long incubation period and others may be a latent state that will only become evident after stress, like shipping.

Some good quarantine practices include:

  • Ensure that your quarantine area is far enough away from areas where your current reptiles are housed

  • Quarantine new animals for a minimum of three weeks

  • Handle and take care of your current healthy reptiles before working with or feeding reptiles in quarantine

  • Keep designated equipment (such as hides, feeding tongs, and water bowls) separate and clean/sanitize regularly

  • Practice good hygiene by washing your hands and even changing clothes after handling or working around new reptiles.

Everyone’s quarantine practices are slightly different depending on the size of the collection, differences in facility setup and species.

Personally I keep my current collection in a rack system, but all new quarantining animals are kept in individual glass tanks for ease of isolation and cleaning.

Is there anything I forgot? What does everyone’s quarantine setup and practices look like?

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Treat everything like you’re fighting a biological warfare. That includes your established animals. Tossing males between female tubs without an attempt at a wipe down of him can turn a hotspot into an inferno. Having dedicated footwear for whatever your setup is is also overlooked as well as school aged kids who might have reptiles at school and don’t clean up before handling pets. Also, while rare, there are some diseases, viruses, etc that can be passed on or vise versa.

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imo Quarantine should be anywwhere from 3-6 months. And start over if a new animal is introduce into quarantine rack at anytime of the quarantine period. 3 weeks is not long enough to make sure the animal does not have mites or some other type of serious infection.

This is very important. You may even go as far as feeding and cleaning on seprate days and make sure you do not go around your collection if you have been you quarantine room unless you have showered and changed. A little over board maybe but once you build a large expensive collection you become a little obsessive

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I personally quarantine for 6-8 weeks, usually 8. 3-4 weeks is usually what is just considered the absolute bare minimum.

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Being that the life cycle of mites can take 13-19 days from egg to adults 3-4 weeks is not nearly enough time in quarantine to prevent cross contamination.

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I don’t see how a month isn’t a enough time given that it is at least 10 days over the life cycle you just stated. By a month if you haven’t noticed mites then you aren’t very good at checking your animals. Though most of the time mites are noticeable from the moment of receiving animals due to adults being on the animal. If they have an RI by then you should also see symptoms of it if you keep an eye on them. I quarantine for 2 months myself, but a month is usually what most will say is bare minimum as @chesterhf stated. Now for things like nido or similar viruses there is a chance even a half a year wouldn’t be enough, given animals can carry them asymptomatically for a while.

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This is definitely bookmark worthy :grin::+1:

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I quarantine for 60 days, hatchlings from a trusted breeder just get typical quarantine. Any adults that may have passed through more than one collection also get Nido and crypto tested while in quarantine. Boas in quarantine get IBD tested.
Every quarantine tub is pretreated for mites so that I can notice any dead mites that have crawled off the animal and know to treat the animals.

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I like this topic @chesterhf :+1:
I really think this a majorly overlooked part of the hobby.

I am on the side of longer quarantine. That may just be my cautiousness though.

That is one generations life span, and without treatment using something like PAM you are likely going to see more than one generation.
If you pick up a snake with adult mites on it, there is a huge chance they have mite eggs also.

A newcomer (who this type of topic is generally aimed at) might not know how to treat them properly, think they have got rid of all the mites and a few weeks later their whole rack is crawling out the door by itself.

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I also think length of quarantine may be dependent on species as well. I know most of us have been talking about ball pythons here, but I tried to leave guidelines open ended because something things are certainly going to be species specific. I don’t know how long one would need to quarantine a frog vs a gecko vs a boa, and I’m sure there will be differences whether an animal came from your friend down the street that you have a breeding arrangement with vs a wild caught animal. Not to deviate away from reptiles too much, but I know we tried to limit quarantine with goats/sheep to a month because they’re social animals and being isolated is very stressful. I’d imagine there are certain social species (obviously not ball pythons) that may not handle a long isolation well.

But I do agree with everyone that longer quarantine is better if you can

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Quarantine was, historically, forty days because that was twice the infection cycle for smallpox. So since mites can cycle up to 19 days then by the same logic the minimum quarantine for them should be ~40 days as well which works out to six weeks.

But there are a great many things other than mites you need to worry about and they have significantly different life-cycles. Do you know the life-cycle of a tapeworm? A lungworm? A liver fluke? Mycobacterium? A slow replicating virus? Cryptosporidium? SFD?

A quarantine time of three to six months allows for just about any potential pathogen to make its presence known. It also gives you time to run the full panel of different tests needed to look for some of the more obscure things and deliver the proper treatment regimen and re-test to confirm resolution

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Kind of following up on that, I have a question. Do you use a quarantine rack or individual enclosures? I don’t know how many new snakes you buy in a 3-6 month period, but if they’re all going in the same quarantine rack, do you restart the quarantine period every time you add a new snake to the rack?

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I have a quarantine rack That’s just 4 tubs, if I purchase multiple new snakes at the Same time (expo, etc) they all go on it together and then as much as I hate tanks I will do tanks for anything else that comes in during that time frame for ease of keeping it separate.

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As Mary noted :grin:

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I do not quarantine in racks though, mostly because of the infrequency that I pick up new things. No point in devoting a whole rack to what may end up being a single snake for a whole year. I have a handful of bins that I will use for Q. Various sizes allows for me to make sure I have the right size for the right animal. It is easier/quicker to clean a single bin and not have to worry about sides/corners/tops/crevices/cracks/routed tracts and all those areas that comes with using a rack. I can also place animals in areas that are more appropriate to their conditions - the rubber boa on a bookshelf downstairs where the ambient stays below 80, the kukri in the water heater/air handler room where the temps are stable 24hrs, etc. It also allows for easy transport to the vet if needed, just pick up the bin and go rather than fighting to wrangle an animal out of a tub in a rack and into a bag or something else for transport. Double benefit, it helps keep the animal calm for the visit because they are in their “home” and feel safer/more secure

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Hey all, just wanted to share a simple QT set-up, most all here have seen if not done this set-up before. No this girl pictured is not in QT as she is in my snake room. She just out grew her tub and is patently awaiting a new rack to arrive.

In QT I definitely use paper towel over coco as it is much easier to spot mites should there be any, i also use a white water bowl for the same reason. I like to use a seedling heat mat for a few reasons: they are cheaper than a reptile heat mat, much more durable than heat tape, they do not get near as hot as either should the thermostat fail in the on position, and I don’thave to deal with adhesives. I perfer the jump start brand as it is UL listed. Next a simple on/off thermostat (again jump start for the UL listing) with the probe attached directly to the heat mat. Then a locking lid tub with ventilation holes punched into the sides (i use a cheap sodering iron to effortlessly puch those holes). I also like a blacked out tub because I feel this reduces stress. And a hide for the same reason.

All in all the set up is relatively cheap set-up. All the part fit in the tub for easy storage when not in use. And does come in handy for things other than QT. I Llike to keep one or two of these set-ups on hand should the occasion call for it.

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Thanks, I didn’t catch that! I always wondered how people who had quarantine racks made it work if they continued buying new snakes and putting it in the same rack.

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There are some major diseases out there that can take out your entire collection. It’s definitely smart to practice good quarantine procedures. Even after quarantine I sanitize my hands/arms in between each tub.

PAC Pythons has a nidovirus outbreak in his collection and has been very open about it on youtube. Heartbreaking to see what can happen and there’s much we do not understand about the disease. Some ball pythons can even carry it asymptomatically for a lifetime while others will go downhill and die quickly. He is generously providing a good amount of data to study and help understand the shed cycle, when it is optimal to test to avoid false negatives, etc. Be careful and quarantine … it can happen to any of us!

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A quick thought-

I don’t have experience with any animals where this would qualify, but I wonder what quarantine procedures are appropriate for species with quite short lifespans. The only one that comes to mind is that newly re-discovered chameleon, though that isn’t in the pet trade.

So, if an animal you want to work with only lives for 6 months, how long do you quarantine for? (I don’t think this concern comes up frequently, but I’m curious!)

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I think in this instance you would be devoting yourself to that pacific species and that species only. And if not, you would remain quarantine procedures while possibly retaining information from the species itself. Hoping that you would be able to apply what you learned from your used to be one that you kept to the next one we would keep.

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I’m guessing in these cases it would be in quarantine for life. Your best bet, especially since it would be a wild caught specimen to begin with, would be to dedicate a whole room to that species and practice the best of the best hygiene procedures.

From there you would test for what parasites it carries and work out a way of treatment, hopefully gaining enough information to potentially increase the lifespan of the next generation. You get a necropsy done on every one that dies and try to improve the diet and any other variable factors that could help the next generation.

Only ever import new blood from that same region to stop your breeding programs being disrupted constantly by new illnesses that come with new territory.

After you can guarantee that the captive bred animals you produce are not carrying any contagious issues then you can start to introduce them to the rest of your house/facility.

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