Moving Animals/Enclosures

Hey all!

Looks like I will probably be moving out of state here soon, and I plan to get my first adult collection going over the next few years with at least a crestie and a fish tank. However, if I need to move apartments or will eventually move back to my home state, how do you all manage moving your animals and their homes safely?

Things I am most concerned about:

  • at what part in the moving process do you transport animals? The first thing, the last?
  • removal from enclosure for moving seems obvious, but how do you ensure they are at the propure temperature during the move?
  • how do you adjust their care before and after the move?
  • best ways to minimize animal stress AND enclosure damage?

Just looking to get some advice long before it becomes an issue! Thanks everyone!

4 Likes

I’ve moved my animals a lot more than I’d have liked to, but I always take the animals out of the enclosure (naturally) The fish go in fish bags and my geckos have always gone in critter carriers. They seem to do fine in the carriers for a day or two (Even the fish) I don’t have animals that need super different temperatures, but for the most part, I do try to put like a blanket over/around the carriers and bags if it is cold.
I haven’t adjusted their care much, I figure that if they’re used to a routine, it’s best to get them back to it, but afterwards I would leave lights off, and minimize handling for stress.
As for enclosure damage, with the fish tank I just kinda did what I needed to with draining and transport, and fixed it once I had filled it up again. I think I only had minor plant die off when I did that, and if it’s not a planted tank, then you shouldn’t have any trouble. With my crestie enclosures, I put them on the floor in the vehicle I was driving, in the backset area, and they didn’t move around much.
I usually prepped tanks the day or two before I left, so they would have the most “normal” time in their tanks. My moving situation was a little different, since we were only leaving for the summer, so we only took one trip, but I would probably do it later on, so that you have a place to put the cages.

6 Likes

This is very helpful, thank you!

4 Likes

I’ve moved twice in the last year and a half, so hopefully I can provide some useful info!

For this one, I think it’s going to be very dependent on where/how the animals will be set up at the new place. Do you have a room for them, that’s their sole room, or do their enclosures get set up on top of other furniture that you’ll need to move first? (Like a bedroom dresser, entertainment center, etc.)

For me, I have a reptile room, so I got the room set up temp wise and moved the animals last, since I knew exactly where they were going and how I wanted it laid out.

This one’s going to depend on a few things. How far away? What time of year? How big of a collection? Moving things like fish, I’d do what @indiflare indicated and bag them (ask your local fish store, they’ll usually give you bags for free) and then prop them up in a cooler or something like a 5g bucket to keep them from sloshing around too much.

Other animals depend on I suppose how many you have and what supplies you have or want to buy. Have cloth bags for shipping snakes? Put them in their bags and put them all in one sterilite container/box of some sort with air holes. Keep them inside your vehicle where you’ll be having some form of climate control running (heat or ac, just make sure they aren’t directly over/in front of the vents) and they’ll be fine. If it’s a multiple day trip, or you’ll be stopping overnight, you’ll want to make sure you take them out of the car and into whatever place you’re staying. Even keeping most snakes/reptiles a little cool is fine for a couple days until you get things settled where you’re going.

If a snake, don’t feed them for at least a week prior to move (for me, ball pythons. Other species may vary, you just don’t want to risk them having a recent meal and a regurgitation due to stress). Otherwise, care stays the same before and after. Expect the possibility some may not eat right away when first offered after the move, the same way you might if you got a new animal shipped to you. Expect them to need to settle again and deal with the stress of the travel.

This one can get tricky, especially with things like fish tanks if you have a lot of heavy substrate in them. In an ideal world for a fish tank you don’t want to transport it (if a larger tank) with the substrate in it. This can sometimes be extreme weight that could cause the bottom to crack. Smaller tanks youll likely be fine.

I’d recommend putting some form of cushion or padding between enclosures and other things you’re transporting, as items can easily shift and move in transit, you don’t want something smacking into glass.

As far as animal stress, just keep them in a location they won’t be sliding around or being tossed around much. Some stress is expected, but minimizing it is key. I’d recommend keeping them in the dark, and trying to make sure that they have adequate air to breathe and they’ll do just fine.

6 Likes

This is a WONDERFULLY detailed response, thank you ever so much!

5 Likes

Nathan pretty much nailed every point I would have brought up already. Hahah.

I think the only other thing is during the move, I still like to leave a little digi-thermometer probe in the container so I can easily check the temps where they are without disturbing them much. That way if it does get a little too cool or warm it’s easy to fix.

Also, depending on the fish, you may need to double or triple bag them. Any plecos, catfish or medium to large cichlids. What I would do too is carefully tape the corners up to make the bottom of the bag more ‘round’ that way they don’t have an easy way to wedge into them and pop them on their fins. Sometimes cichlids will get bored and if they the bag corner is pushed in ways they can grab it they’ll bite it.

5 Likes

Oh I’ve seen Luke’s Goldies bag fish this way so I know what you mean, thank you! I love knowing some fish will pop their own bag out of boredom and malice :joy:

5 Likes

Cichlids can just be little buttheads sometimes. Lol
Makes them interesting.
Oscars are always dramatic though. They’re the only other fish aside from some of the smaller tetras who I’ve seen just play dead when they’re netted and bagged.

Laying on their side in the bottom of the bag, looking pitiful.

4 Likes

Honestly that’s how I feel when someone makes me leave my cozy house to go somewhere, so I can’t blame em :joy:

4 Likes

This is a really really good point I forgot to mention. It can honestly be useful for any fish to keep them from wedging themselves and getting trapped. I haven’t kept fish for a few years so I honestly forgot about it.

2 Likes

Oh I didn’t think about that, I’ll probably be keeping guppies so even if they don’t bite the bag I wouldn’t want them getting squashed!

4 Likes

Yeah, I went through a very brief phase where I was keeping and attempting to breed dwarf cichlids (apistogrammas and German blue rams) and shipping them usually involved taping the corners and double bagging. It seems like just a good practice in general.

3 Likes

I love guppies, they’re so much fun. I had mine with bettas for a long time, so I didn’t see any fry, but they’re so pretty.

3 Likes

Honestly if my mom didn’t hate fish with a passion I’d put together a guppy tank right now, I’m so excited to have them! I figure a fish tank (especially heavily planted) will be a nice low (ish) maintainance thing for my apartment, I need some enrichment in my environment too!

5 Likes

I don’t have any tips, but I wanted to thank you for making this post and thank those who have commented with such helpful information! I’ll also be moving out of state in the next few months and I was planning on making a similar post asking for advice. This is great and I’m following to see if there’s any other tips. I hope your move goes smoothly! I’ve moved states once before (prior to getting a snake, but I did have a dog at the time) and it was overwhelming to say the least. May your move be as stress-free as possible!

5 Likes

Yours as well!!

4 Likes


I had really hoped to find a better picture of my tank to the left, but this is all I could find currently on my phone. The left tank was my guppy tank. I had guppies, Pygmy corys, some white cloud minnows and a large bristlenose pleco. Along with way too many snails to do anything with lol

4 Likes

Oh what a wonderful setup!! I’ll start small in my apartment so there isn’t a ton to take down when I need to move, but I have an old 50gal I hope to use for a BIG guppy tank once I’m somewhere more permanently!

4 Likes

Make sure to leave plenty of air in the fish bags. And if you don’t have snake bags you can use pillow cases…… :blush:

Also it would not be a bad idea to put the fish bags inside another bag (or double bag)

3 Likes

Oscars are so cool! I had a couple of them years ago and they go huge! It was so much fun to feed them! :grin:

4 Likes