Emergency Winter Preparedness

So we are gonna get our first bout of truly bad winter weather with lots of ice and snow. They talking about possible power loss and major highway closures. So I’m looking for last minute emergency advice.

Anything is helpful but these are the key things.

  1. How long feesibly can colubrids, sand boas, and balls go without heat? This includes power loss in the middle of winter heat as well as being in a warm place but no access to heat mats ect.

  2. Pillowcases. What’s the info on keeping snakes in them? What kind? How long can they stay?

  3. If snakes go without any heat or proper heat then what’s the correct way to reintroduce it?

  4. Anything I need to be wary of in offering water to snakes without heat? What about after or during reintroducing heat?

Keep in mind this is beginning as we speak. While we havent lost power we cannot get proper warmers, tubs, ect. We have pillow cases and a tub to put everyone in once in their cases but that’s about it. We could maybe have a single heat mat and thermostat in said tub but that’s an unknown at this moment. My job is amazing in letting us bring the snakes there (thankfully they have a generator so no worries about loss of electricity there) but dunno if they’d be okay with them being plugged in on a heat mat since that would put the tub in the open so to speak.


As long as you do not feed them you can do without a hot spot for as long as needed however the overall ambient temp must still be within healthy acceptable range 75 for ball pythons, hognose you can go as low as 55 etc it will depends on each species requierment.

Before having a generator I used a simple buddy heater to keep the snake room at 75 and never worried about a hot spot when the electricity was out.

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Good luck!

For pillow cases, they can go a very long time. I would get some zip ties to tie the bags. It will give you and your neighbors some peace of mind from escapes and it’s a lot easier to snip them than to untie a dozen pillow cases. On more than one occasion I’ve had a coat full of snakes in pillow cases.

I don’t know if there’s a way you could find long term cooling studies for all of the species you keep. It’s kind of guess work based on minimum temperatures, brumation, etc.

As I understand it: Drastic temperature changes are worse than low temperatures. Sporadic heat is worse than none. Cooked is worse than frozen.

Depending on the minimum temperature and availability you can get the warm packs. The ones that are generic hand warmers get too hot, reptile specific ones are best, but remember that they can’t get away from it in the bags. Same with heat tape/heat mats.

It may be better to work with the ambient temperature drop than try to keep them warm. A cooled snake won’t musk, stress, or need water. One that sporadically hits 85F will.

Ball pythons can drop significantly below 75F but best to avoid it. Although not particularly scientific you can find reports of people receiving a “frozen” ball python in the mail and having it snap back to life within a few days. Depending on the colubrid they can hit near freezing and be fine. You can rewarm them a few degrees every hour but try to avoid drastic jumps from ie: 68 to 89 immediately.

You might consider lowering temps now to try to acclimate them. Water can be removed entirely for quite some time. I wouldn’t try to offer it to them in bags but have it ready when they get back to their enclosures.


Thanks for the help guys. I’m hoping we won’t lose power or anything but at least I know “storing” them in bags for a bit at work in a large secure tub won’t bother them to terribly much. I’m gonna wait a little after the initial outage (if one happens) and see if they can get it back up before the stress of moving everyone. The only ones to worry about are my ball and Sands and we can “snuggle” with them while they are in their pillowcases to help keep them warm.

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If you have a gas stove you could heat water bottles to an acceptable range to help with temps. I will pray for not so bad weather.

We are all electric unfortunately. Thankfully girlfriend called in to work for a"family emergency" since I still had to work. Someone will be at the house to take action depending on what happens. So far so good. Nothing bad… Yet.

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