A branch from the garden or a piece of driftwood found on the beach certainly makes an attractive, free addition to a lizard’s tank and gives him something to climb on. However, it could also add all sorts of undesirable pathogens and parasites. Disinfecting the stick before putting it in your tank is a sensible precaution, so long as you do this without poisoning your lizard in the process.
Sticks in General
Strip any remaining leaves and unwanted bark from the stick using a strong knife such as an old vegetable knife or a penknife. Use gardening secateurs for trimming off unwanted twigs.
Rinse the stick thoroughly under running water to remove dust, grime and some of the organisms that may be clinging to it. Use a scrubbing brush if the stick is dirty.
Place the stick in a baking tray, if it is small, and place in an oven heated to 200 degrees F.
Bake the stick for at least two hours, keeping an eye on it. It is unlikely to catch fire at this temperature but don’t leave the oven unattended just in case.
Let the stick cool completely before placing it in your lizard’s tank.
Strip and rinse the stick as before, but if the stick is too large to fit into your oven and you don’t want to cut it up, sterilize it with bleach.
Make a solution of about 1 part household bleach to 30 parts water in a tub large enough for the solution to cover the stick. This is about ½ a cup of bleach per gallon of water.
Soak the stick in the bleach solution for 24 hours.
Empty the tub and refill with plain water to remove the bleach, which is toxic to lizards. Soak the stick in the water for several hours, drain the tub and fill up with more water. Repeat this procedure several times over the next couple of days.
Let the stick dry in a warm room, turning it occasionally. Alternatively, place it on a clean table outside in the sun. The drying process might also take several days. Place the stick in your lizard’s tank once it is completely dry.
- Sterilize sticks from pet stores as well as sticks you found yourself. Pet stores can be full of parasites, especially ones that sell reptiles.
Judith Willson has been writing since 2009, specializing in environmental and scientific topics. She has written content for school websites and worked for a Glasgow newspaper. Willson has a Master of Arts in English from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland.