As we brace for the upcoming winter storm, we are sending out lots of good vibes to those that will be impacted by the blizzard. There is a very valuable group that has some great advice for reptile keepers in regards to preparation during emergencies, be it a hurricane, blizzard, evacutation, or otherwise. I was given permission to share the info on their post with the forums here. Stay safe everyone!
Credit: New Ball Python Keepers // Facebook
As we are entering hurricane season, it brings to mind the need for being prepared in the event of evacuation or loss of power. I wanted to provide some practical and effective tips for before and during such emergencies.
Having a generator is great, to maintain power for your home, but this is also not easy for everyone to do, given varying financial and life circumstances people face. So absent an alternate source of power, here are my best tips for what you can do in advance, and how you can handle things in the moment.
Evacuation: If you need to evacuate your snakes in the event of incoming hurricane or flooding, there are things you can do to prepare in advance.
• 1 portable tub per snake, it needs to be large enough for the snake, a water bowl, and a hide. Not terribly large. Pre-melt or drill ventilation holes at both short ends of the tub. If you do NOT get locking sided tubs, bring a bungee cord or other way to tie the top to ensure the snake cannot escape out the side.
• A bag of substrate
• A water bowl
• A hide he knows
• An under tank heat mat (UTH)
• Thermometer/humidity gauge
• a bag of artificial vines
• temp gun
• bottled water for the snakes and/or dechlorinating drops
You can have these setups stocked in advance, or you can pull this stuff together on the fly, as long as the tubs are available and ventilated first.
If you have awareness that something is coming and you know that you might have to evacuate, hold off on feeding your snake, as all this movement could induce a regurgitation. If you do not have awareness and have to make a split decision, bag your snakes in pillowcases and head on out. It’s better than getting stuck. You can sort things out once you are out.
When it comes time to transport them, an ideal way to go about it is to put a small towel in the bottom of the tub, and place the snake inside a pillowcase with the top tied, leaving him room to move around a bit, and then place him inside the tub. The towel will prevent him from sliding around the bottom as the tub moves in the car. Keep your car temperature on about 80 -82 degrees, and your snake out of the direct sunshine.
Once you reach your destination, set up the tub with the heat mat under it, set it to 90, sandwich the probe between the enclosure and the heat mat. Add substrate, hide, fresh water, maybe vines, your Acurite, and your snake. Add the lid. This should be a suitable mobile environment for your animal until you can return. While a UTH alone is not optimal long term, it can work short term. If you need to feed your snake while you are gone, see if you can bump the room temp where you are staying up to 80, so that the UTH can keep it warm enough for digestion. You can shut off or reduce the flow of air from any air vents into the room. Try to keep the animal out of the flow of traffic to reduce as much stress as possible. This will be a new space and adjustment for the snake just like when he first moved in with you.
Power Outage: If you anticipate something is coming (storm, hurricane, etc) and you’re in the warmer months, your concerns may be about keeping the enclosure cool enough. Get some regular thin, plastic water bottles from the store, not insulated, and stick those in the freezer about 2/3 full of water. Even if the power goes off, the freezer will insulate and keep those frozen for several days. If the temps in the enclosure get above about 88, you can take a bottle out, wrap a dishtowel around it, and set it in the enclosure. As it thaws, it will cool the air around it. Keep monitoring the enclosure temp and add a new bottle as the temperatures indicate the need. Important to note also, that you should avoid feeding your snake at any time when the power is off, as your ability to ensure consistently warm enough temps for digestion is not good. They will be fine to wait until the situation is resolved or you can relocate to a place with power.
Battery-powered fans can also help with providing cooler air, especially if you can get a window open, like after a storm.
If you are in cooler months and are worried about keeping the enclosure warm enough, there are a few things you can do.
Warm water bottles:
First, if you have a gas stove, you can heat up warm to hot water in a kettle, put it into a water bottle (like the rubber kind you would lay on, or a drinking water bottle). You can wrap this in a towel and put it in the enclosure, or you can prop your enclosure up a little and stick it underneath the same way you would an under tank heater. If you don’t have gas power, invest in a small, single burner propane camping stove and an inexpensive kettle you could often pick up for cheap at a thrift store.
Reptile shipment warmers are also helpful. You must also wrap a towel around these, and put a rubber band around that, to ensure the snake doesn’t work its way down into the hotter portion. The trick is balancing warmth and not allowing them to touch anything too hot. Hand warmers only cover a small area, so using the smaller portable enclosure mentioned in the Evacuation section above will limit the amount of space these reptile warmers need to heat up.
You can also bring your snake to lie directly on your body. You are a 98.6 degree human and therefore also an ideal warm spot for your snake to lie on. If you have many snakes, obviously you’re limited on how effective this can be as a warming strategy. And you cannot sleep this way. So alternative strategies are helpful. But for a short duration, this will also work for a while.
Your car is another option. While it will be expensive to run the car for a long time, you can keep the entire vehicle warm inside if you are trying to ensure the animals are warm just for a few hours.
You can evacuate if it will be longer. Or you can move your reptiles into the room with a fireplace or pellet burning stove, ensuring that you are properly ventilated with flue, and smoke is not in the air in the room.
Another disaster preparedness tip is for the mitigation of potential fires in your home. To ensure that as soon as a fire might break out - be it electrical, a knocked over heat lamp, a malfunction of equipment, or any other reason, you can put a self activating fire extinguisher ball throughout your home. Especially near your enclosures. They are lightweight, affordable, environmentally and pet/human/child friendly, and will put out a wide range of fire types. These will set off automatically to put out a fire.