If you are intending to have a leopard gecko as your pet, it is reasonable for you to have this question bothering you for various reasons. As pet owners, we usually have the tendency to hold and touch our pets since we adore them. However, due to the risk of our pets carrying several illnesses and diseases, we are always worried about getting sicknesses from these animals.
Leopard geckos carry salmonella, but, although they do carry the bacteria, this should not stop you from getting one as your pet. Catching salmonella can be a nuisance at first as you may be a little sick for a few days, but afterward, the sickness fades away in a short life span. The bacteria is rarely something that requires an emergency and if you will take the appropriate actions to stay clean and healthy, chances are high you will never catch it.
How do you get salmonella from leopard geckos?
Your gecko could have salmonella germs even when it appears to be clean and healthy. Salmonella spreads to us either by direct or indirect contact with the amphibian or from the droppings of the reptile. If you get into contact with your pet, then after touching and handling your pet you touch your mouth with your hands when they are not washed thoroughly, it is possible to infect yourself with salmonella.
The salmonella germs from the geckos can also get attached to the cages and the containers housing your pet. Anything that comes into contact with the pet should be considered to be contaminated with salmonella. If we fail to clean the pet and its habitat, it becomes easy for the germs to pass into our bodies.
Can Leopard Geckos Make You Sick?
Yes, leopard geckos can make us sick. However, we can not get illnesses like common colds from the geckos. These animals can infect us with a bacteria (salmonella), which can be transmitted to the owner if proper steps of sanitization are not being carried out.
Once salmonella is passed into our bodies, the bacteria causes salmonellosis, which generally affects the intestines and occasionally the bloodstream. If we are infected with salmonella we exhibit several symptoms including abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and occasionally vomiting.
These symptoms generally manifest one to three days after contact with the salmonella bacteria. Elderly persons, young people, and individuals with weakened immune systems develop severe symptoms. The symptoms could in the worst cases become fatal to these categories of individuals.
How to Protect Yourself from Getting Salmonella from a leopard gecko
Salmonella infections from our pets can be reduced through various means. These include:
- Clean your hands properly after touching your pet, including anything in the area they roam or live in. When soap and water are unavailable, a hand sanitizer could be used for cleaning. Also, be careful of accidental bites
- You should always supervise the hand washing of your kids after they contact the gecko, to ensure they thoroughly clean their hands.
- You should not touch your mouth after handling your gecko. Further, you should never eat or drink near the pet.
- Do not let your gecko to freely roam around your house and in the areas where drink and food are prepared such as pantries, kitchens, and outdoor patios.
- The habitats of the geckos and their contents should be carefully cleaned outside our homes. You should use disposable gloves when cleaning, and the water used for cleaning should not be disposed of in the sinks used for food preparations or for obtaining drinking water.
- After thoroughly cleaning the surfaces and bathtubs used to clean surfaces previously contacted by the gecko, it is crucial to sanitize and rinse them using registered disinfectant or sanitizer products. Sanitizers and disinfectants are normally regulated by various government agencies and it is important that you verify that the products you use are labeled for household use to kill bacteria on hard, nonporous surfaces that you intend to disinfect.
- In the absence of registered disinfectants, a chlorine bleach solution could be used as an alternative. One tablespoon of chlorine should be used in four cups. The bleach solution should be disposed of when it becomes dirty.
- Thoroughly wash any clothing that your pet has come into contact with.
Salmonella is a scare circulating in the vast reptile community, making people shy from keeping these reptiles, including leopard geckos, as their pets. On the other hand, there are millions of individuals who have kept these reptiles as their pets throughout the years, without getting infected with salmonella.
Once you have acquired a leopard gecko as your pet, always ensure you maintain the above-stipulated safety precaution steps to avoid contracting salmonella in your body, or infecting your loved ones. Always remember to wear gloves when cleaning your leopard gecko’s tank, clean your hands thoroughly using soap and water, and always keep a sanitizer bottle with you to help kill off bacteria that could remain after cleaning. Also, don’t touch their poop.