Providing your pet reptile with an adequate environment means supplying more than just food and water. Reptiles need stimulation and exercise in order to stay healthy, and a great way to fulfill these needs are with plenty of surfaces to climb and perch on. Store-bought branches for large reptiles can be very expensive, so creating your own large branch may be a great way to offer your reptile a custom place to bask.
Things You'll Need
- Tape measure
- Tree trimmers
- Sandpaper (optional)
- Scrub brush
- Small play pool or plastic storage bin
Measure the inside dimensions of your reptile cage and determine roughly where you would like to position the branch.
Locate an adequately sized branch from a hardwood species of tree. Look for branches that are sturdy and do not show signs of mold, decay or parasites.
Trim the branch to size, and remove any leaves, excess twigs or loose bark. You can also opt to lightly sand any sharp edges or especially rough points down, though most species of reptile will not be bothered by these.
Spray the branch off with a hose to remove as much dirt and debris as possible.
Mix a disinfectant solution of 1 gallon water to 1/2 cup of bleach in a bucket, and scrub the entire branch, paying special attention to cracks or points where smaller stems branch off of the larger one. Remember that the bleach needs to contact as much of the actual bark surface as possible, so any dirt or loose pieces of bark should be scrubbed away.
Place the cleaned branch into the play pool or storage container, and fill with enough water to cover about half of the branch. Mix in about 1/4 cup household bleach per gallon of water (a fifty-gallon play pool or storage container filled about half full with water would need around 1/2 gallon bleach to make a diluted disinfectant mixture).
Allow the branch to soak for thirty minutes to an hour, then rotate it to allow the other side to soak.
Rinse the branch thoroughly with a hose, and scrub it again with clean water.
Allow the branch to dry outside in the sun for at least 24 hours, or until no trace of bleach smell remains.
Place the branch into your reptile's cage, and secure with zip ties or wire as needed.
Tips & Warnings
- If you do not live near an area where branches can be obtained readily from the outdoors, many landscaping companies will happily allow you to take some of their trimmings if you contact them in advance and are willing to pick them up on location.
- Always make sure to use bleach in well-ventilated areas, and avoid exposing pets or children to the fumes or bleach solution while the branch soaks.
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