Weather, Fire, and Other Emergencies: Ensuring Your Reptiles’ Health
Take steps now to protect your reptiles during future emergency situations.
If there is a boil water advisory in your area, your reptiles should not drink tap water. Either use boiled water is appropriately cooled or use bottled water. The same rules apply to the water you use to mist your reptiles. It may be challenging to clean your reptile's enclosure if water is scarce. Use paper towels or newspaper for their substrate, making it quick and easy to clean up.
Never give your pets floodwater as it has harmful contaminants.
The most dangerous risk to your reptiles during a power outage in chilly weather is them becoming too cold.
Power outages any time of the year can be a risk to your pet’s health.
In colder months, your pets may be brumating, but temperatures in their tanks need to be as close to what they require. It is easier to warm up a smaller space than a larger one. If you choose to live in one room of your house, bring your reptile into that space as well. Move them into a smaller temporary enclosure, such as a storage bin with air holes.
Additionally, there are supplemental sources of heat you can use.
Hand warmers can help, but they also can become very hot. Never place your pet directly on one; use a hand towel or sock as a barrier.
Rechargeable or battery-operated heating pads are excellent sources of heat. A sleeping bag heater works well. They have a USB power supply that can charge from a cellphone charger, cellphone power bank, car jump starter, or car phone charger. You can place the heating pad under half of the enclosure or wrap it around the bin.
Power outages in warmer weather can also cause complications for your pet.
Reptiles, including chameleons and geckos, are sensitive to increased temperatures. Use a battery-operated misting fan to keep them cool and hydrated.
UVB lighting is crucial to maintain in power outages.
During power outages, it is essential to provide your pet with UVB lighting no matter the time of year. For example, bearded dragons will be okay without UVB lighting/vitamin D3 for two days before any health effects begin. You should have calcium with vitamin D3 powder on hand.
The best way to be prepared for a fire is to take steps to prevent one.
Smoke detectors should be operational, have fresh batteries, and test them at least once a month. Replace batteries once or twice a year.
Check your smoke detector every six months to ensure it is operational.
Use surge protectors, so electrical sockets are not overloaded. Never have a power strip plugged into another. Keep a small fire extinguisher near the enclosure if you have an electrical fire.
Keep flammable items away from heating elements and light bulbs. Combustible materials include paper, cardboard, wood, fabric, and house plants. Store animal carriers, snake bags, or pillowcases near enclosures you need to evacuate your reptiles.
If you do have a fire, evacuate anyone in the home first and then call 911. Inform the dispatcher that there are pets and their location. Evacuate anyone in the home first. Only if it is then safe, evacuate your pets.
When you are no longer there for your pet
It is difficult to think about but important to prepare for your pet's well-being if something happens to you, and you are hospitalized or pass away.
Speak with a friend or family member about caring for your pets if you become suddenly incapacitated. You should have a serious conversation with someone you trust about taking your pet when you die. Include that person in your will and create a pet trust that details care instructions and sets aside funds for your pet’s care.
Supplies to have on hand
To be prepared for these emergencies, there are supplies you should have to ensure your pet’s safety.
- Bottled water
- Two weeks’ worth of food
- Supply of medications
- Cooler and ice packs for food and medications
- Manual mister
- Battery-operated heating pad or hand warmers
- Calcium with vitamin D3 powder
- Infrared thermometer
- Storage bin for temporary housing
- Disposable substrate such as paper towels and newspaper
- Extra batteries
- Charged power banks
- Generator and extra fuel or a portable power station
- Evacuation plan
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