How Do You Get Rid Of A Reptile Smell

Does your pet reptile smell?

Are you curious about how to get rid of the odor?

While reptiles make excellent pets, many of them, like the bearded dragon, quickly become smelly.

You may be asking yourself, “how do I get rid of my reptile’s smell?”

To get rid of a reptile’s smell, you first need to identify the odor’s source. You will need to either bathe your pet, monitor the reptile’s living conditions, clean the container, or all three! 

how do you get rid of a reptile smell

Why does my reptile smell?

There are several reasons you might smell an odor coming from your pet.

Identifying the cause helps you quickly get rid of the smell and prevent it in the future.

It is important to remember reptiles, like bearded dragons, rarely emit any odor themselves.

Since they are cold-blooded, they do not produce sweat as mammals do.

If it is your reptile’s body smelling, it could mean they have a fungal infection.

Reptiles will absorb smells, which may lead you to believe it is coming from your animal.

Most often, however, the cause of the scent is the unclean environment of the container.

Several different things will cause an unclean environment:

  1. Left-out food: Like in your home, any food left out will begin to decompose and smell. Crickets, worms, or any other food left too long in the container will start to rot.
  1. Humidity: If there is too much humidity in the tank, there is a risk for bacteria growth since humidity traps in moisture. Besides, most reptiles do better in low-humid environments.
  1. Unclean substrate: The substrate is the flooring of your reptile’s container. If there is a buildup of urine and feces overtime in the substrate, it will start to release an odor.
  1. Unclean tank: If the container is not cleaned regularly, bacteria starts to grow on the walls, under furniture, or in the flooring. This creates an unpleasant smell, but it also puts your reptile at risk of getting sick.

Washing your reptile

To rule out fungal infection, we suggest bathing your reptile in 1″ inch lukewarm water.

Soak them in there for 20-30 minutes.

Some reptiles like bearded dragons may let you use a soft-bristle toothbrush to brush under their belly, arms, and legs gently.

After the bath, if you are still able to smell the odor coming directly from them, you need to contact a reptile vet ASAP as a fungal infection potentially causes other health issues.

Cleaning your reptile’s container

Most likely, it is something within the container, causing the unpleasant smell. 

First, check the tank for forgotten food and remove any dead or decaying worms or crickets.

Be sure to check in the substrate and under any furniture as well.

Next, check the tank for any buildup of feces and urine.

You will want to remove this immediately to help alleviate the odor!

Then, check the humidity level of the room your reptile’s tank is in.

Most reptiles are native to dry environments, so humidity is not suitable for them.

Using a dehumidifier in the same room as the tank helps to bring down the humidity level and remove excess moisture where bacteria could grow.

The substrate often is the source of reptile odor.

Common substrates include newspaper, reptile carpet, or specific substrates to mimic natural habitats like sand.

Substrates are a breeding ground for bacteria if not properly maintained.

If you choose to use cheaper substrates, such as newspapers, you will want to regularly replace them at least once a month instead of cleaning.

We recommend using more quality substrates such as Zilla Reptile Terrarium Bedding Substrate Liner available on Amazon.

While more expensive, you can easily clean and reuse it.  

Finally, the most thorough way to remove the smell from your reptile’s tanks is to deep clean it.

You need to take the following steps:

  • Remove your reptile and place them in a separate, safe container.
  • Remove any flooring or furniture such as rocks, logs, hammocks, etc.
  • Disinfect the tank walls using a towel and homemade disinfectant (bleach diluted with water), or we recommend using a product such as Zoo Med Wipe Out Cleaner from Amazon. 
  • Rinse out with warm water 5-10 minutes after disinfecting. It is essential to remove any chemicals leftover from the disinfectant.
  • Repeat steps 3 and 4 with the flooring and any furniture. Replace any floor or furniture if needed.
  • Everything needs to be dry before placing the reptile back in the container.

How do I prevent my reptile from smelling?

To prevent your reptile from smelling, it is recommended to take a few necessary steps to make sure your animal is healthy, and their environment is clean.

While they may not sweat and produce odors, reptiles still live in a tank with their feces and urine.

Bathing them regularly (anywhere from once a week to once a month) is suggested to keep unpleasant odors to a minimum.

Cleaning the tank regularly is the most efficient way to prevent bad smells.

We suggest you conduct a spot check of the tank 1-2 times a day.

During this spot check, you need to remove any feces, dead/forgotten food, or any skin your reptile may have shed.

We suggest doing a wipe down every 1-2 weeks where you wipe down the tank with a wet towel.

Finally, we recommend you deep clean the tank (outlined in the above section) once a month.

There are several options for deodorizers to use during cleaning.

We suggest the all-natural spray No Scent Reptile available on Amazon.  


Regular cleaning of your pet reptile and its tank will make a huge difference in getting rid of and preventing odors.

We want you to enjoy your reptile without dealing with the stink!

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