Guide to setting up a Hospital Enclosure
by Stacy Southward Dixon


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A hospital enclosure is a bare bones enclosure with minimal things to clean. Doing this may be appropriate for a few reasons. The most common is parasites. Parasite ova (eggs) are microscopic and are sticky, allowing them to get in all the nooks & crannies of your pet’s home. Another reason may be because you have brought a new animal home. It is SO important to keep that new animal in quarantine until you know it has a clean bill of health. Don’t risk your other pets or family because you want to snuggle your new pet. It’s just not worth it. Other reasons may be a fungus, upper respiratory infection, or injury. For a short term hospital enclosure, you can use a 20 - 40 gal for an adult bearded dragon.

Use only materials that can be easily washed. (Stone, glass, plastic). For substrate use a layer or 2 of paper towel. All that really needs to be in the enclosure is something to bask on, and a hide. You still need to keep a normal temperature gradient. Err on the side of warm when they’re sick, but don’t roast the poor darlings!

Good things to use for hides are plastic bowls, takeout dishes, and anything else that you can potentially toss in the trash or wash in the dishwasher.

HEAT IS YOUR FRIEND! If you have a steam cleaner that gets over 165 degrees, give the tank and its contents a once over daily. If your enclosure is melamine or plywood, take care not to spend too much time in one spot so you don’t delaminate the layers or coating. Don’t steam clean a glass tank that’s been sitting in a cold garage in the winter. It can expand too quickly and crack. Let it get to room temperature first.

Use an ammonia based cleaner. Either 1:10 ammonia diluted with water, or a quaternary cleaner like HDQ work well. Rinse and air our before returning an animal to the enclosure.

In the case of parasite infections, change out your paper towels daily even if your pet didn’t defecate on them. Their vent is still in contact with the paper towel. When they do defecate in the enclosure, change the paper towel and clean the dirty area with an ammonia based cleaner.

Deep clean the enclosure every 3 days. What deep cleaning is:
Take everything out of the enclosure and either run it through the dishwasher, or wash it in HOT ammonia water. Wipe the enclosure down with above mentioned cleaner, rinse, let dry, and put down more paper towel.