Bracing for the Storm: Preparation Tips

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.

Supplies needed:

• 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)
• Thermostat
• 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.

Body heat:
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.


Thank you for this, it’s full of great tips and was amazing for making sure I’ve planned well enough.

I most definitely held off on feeding, in case of evacuation and/or power outage. I’ve got the worst case scenario bag of hot hands for if the power goes. Obviously these go nowhere the snake can directly touch and will be kept outside the bin itself and monitored by temp gun at regular intervals. My main worry is going to be the impassable roads, making evacuating almost impossible. As long as power stays on, we’re set until things clear. If not…There will be some improvisation.


For us Texans, its freaking cold outside! Luckily we just got a full tank of propane and a few more cords of wood! Hopefully no power outages this time.

All of that above is great advice!! Many thanks for that!


Oh what I wouldn’t give for Texas cold temps here! Woke up this morning and for kicks and giggles checked the weather here and then in Antarctica. Our air temperature was the same as the South Pole. I decided I wasn’t leaving the house. :rofl:


Currently its 13 degrees and the wind is blowing at 20 mph from the North.


I cannot imagine the way that feels when things aren’t built for that weather regularly, and you’re not used to harsh winter temps in general.

Here at the moment, we’re at -13ºF with WNW winds at 15mph, gusts 20-30. Wind chill is -35.


27 in Houston with 22mph wind. As long as we don’t lose power I’m a happy camper


And THAT is why I live South of the Red River. If Texas keeps getting these temps in the Winter I’m moving to Mexico!


I hope you and the rest of Texas manage to stay safe during this storm, and that a move to Mexico doesn’t end up necessary.


Some of the people in our town lost power, we haven’t lost power ourselves and I’m hoping we don’t. :crossed_fingers:


So far in Central Ohio we are ranging -20F to -35F with windchill and we’ve been testing the generator just to make sure we should be okay just in case!

Another thing if you have a small collection and you’re worried about keeping things warm, consider moving the enclosures to a small room with closable doors if this can be done easily without stressing the animals. A small room with closed doors is easier to keep warm with a small portable heater, or even just with the body heat emitted by several people in a small area!

Hope everyone gets through okay, and has a chilly but safe christmas!


I went to bed Thursday night with temps around 40. Got up at 6 am Friday and it was -8°f with wind chills of -35°f
We rent an old farm house and it was cold inside. I installed a propane wall heater in the snake room and tied it into our furnace line just for situations like this. Not so worried about power outages and the snake’s getting too cold now.
Taking the dogs outside however was horrible for them, especially little Scrappy. The little guy could only take the cold and snow for only a couple of minutes. I had to scoop him up and carry him back in.
I too am in central Ohio @cmills . We should talk sometime.

I pray everyone in the path of this are staying safe.


We had a waterline freeze sometime yesterday, had to climb into 17 inches of blown insulation in my attic to try to find the waterline. Was a bit scary.


I’m sure everybody already knows this, but for anyone who is using propane/ kerosene type heaters, please make sure you have a CO detector floating around. They’re around $20 at home depot/lowes, but could save your life. Every year I hear stories of people dying from carbon monoxide and it’s absolutely terrifying


I was dealing with frozen water lines myself yesterday @nswilkerson1 .
Thankfully everything has been changed over to PEX. PEX is more forgiving than copper.


To @nswilkerson1 & @buckeyeballs, I hope you managed to get everything thawed and going again with minimal damage!

Somehow we lucked out, aside the brutal wind chills & blowing snow making the roads slicker than grease, we didn’t get the blizzard conditions here. Finally feeling good enough about things that I’m feeding everyone their delayed meals.


I don’t know if anyone mentioned it, but having a propane heater can be huge for power outage and is much cheaper than a generator. I have an 18kBTU unit now with a 12pack of 1lb propane bottles and it could keep a 300sq ft room at like 75-80 for 24hrs. The bigger thing to me is with ambient taken care of, powering just my animals heat mats and stuff is WAY less wattage than also having a space heater or something, so I need a much smaller generator or even a battery or something. But for now, the propane heater is more than enough to keep the animals alive til power is back on.

I went sort of overkill, but a 9kBTU is barely 100 bucks, and can provide tons of heat to keep a bedroom or something warm, especially while putting your animals in smaller, temporary tubs.

Propane heaters do have minor risks, but modern indoor heaters have low O2 shutoff and don’t run large open flames, knock over shutoff, and even CO detection (tho not always, and that isn’t a bad or expensive extra purchase) It’s 50 bucks or so for 12-20lbs of propane depending on tank etc and can be stored for years.


I was able to catch it early enough that the lines didn’t have any swelling. PEX lines tend to break at the fittings such as a T or elbow before the line itself splits.


Luckily we caught it within a few hours of it freezing we think and threw a space heater in the area under the house it was at and managed to get some water flowing after a few hours. Was worried because it’s copper pipe and I know it tends to swell and burst with frozen water.


Handy that it splits at the manageable bits before the line itself. Awesome that you caught it in time.

Seems the luck is contagious, quick thinking on the heater!

Hoping everyone else riding out this cold front is having just as much good fortune. We’re forecast to get more snow, not looking forward to how that turns out.