TURTLE CARE Hygiene

Hygiene

 

Objective To maintain clean rehabilitation facilities so that diseases are prevented or contained.

  • Uneaten food must be removed after three hours and disposed of so that it cannot be consumed by other animals (e.g. in closed garbage or compost bins).
  • Faeces must be removed as soon as it is seen.
  • Food and drinking water containers must be cleaned on a daily basis. Cleaning involves the use of water, detergent and the physical removal of all residues.
  • Tank furniture and weighing equipment must be cleaned when soiled.
  • Food that requires thawing must be thawed in a refrigerator (less than 4°C) over 24 to 48 hours, and unused food must never be refrozen. Food that is thawed and has been in a fridge for 24 hours and not fed to the marine reptile must be discarded.
  • Wildlife rehabilitators must wash their hands and clean all food preparation surfaces and equipment prior to preparing animal food.
  • Water quality must be maintained by passing water through a mechanical filtration system and biological filters (e.g. ultraviolet, sand or carbon filters) or by replacing the water every day for intensive care and every few days for pre-release housing.
  • Each tank must be disinfected, rinsed and have a complete change of water for each new marine reptile arrival.
  • Equipment used for cleaning animal enclosures, containers and furniture should be separate from those used domestically.
  • Wildlife rehabilitation providers should minimise the disturbance to marine reptiles when cleaning.
  • Water quality should be tested weekly, and water pumped in from an external source should be tested prior to use. Water quality should be within the following parameters:
    − pH levels between 7.6 and 8.5
    − salinity between 20 and 37 parts per thousand (PPT)
    − free chlorine levels less than 0.5 parts per million (PPM)
    − ammonia and nitrite levels between 0 and 1 PPM
    − nitrate levels between 0 and 40 PPM.
  • Care should be taken to avoid the spread of parasites within rehabilitation. This should include regular inspections of all areas of the tank, pipes, tank furniture, filtration and skimmer boxes for the intermediate host of the spirorchiid fluke, vermetidae (snails). If found, the tank and filtration system should be disinfected with bleach and the water changed for each new arrival.

 

 

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