Transporting Herps

We are moving from Detroit to New Hampshire next month. I know, July is probably not ideal, but life throws you curveballs. We have a two year old Mexican Black Kingsnake weighing just north of 200g and 31+ inches long. And, we have a seven year old Bearded Dragon who is about 280g and 15 inches. How best to transport them?

I plan to drive straight through (about 12 hours), but we will not be able to put them both in waiting cages on arrival. The snake will have a new, larger home. I can have that waiting for her. But, the beardie will have his same tank, so I will have to move it, too. Set up, then, likely won’t be until Day Two.

Can I put them in storage bins w newspaper liners? Fed or not fed? I could throw some foot warmers in for the trip. Refreshing as appropriate. Would they be too hot? They both have access to water all the time, so I am hoping that I don’t need to offer water DURING the trip, but I will get a water dish in for the beardie on arrival. Can I just throw a clean towel in each bin under which they could hide if the mood strikes?

Can anyone here offer better/best thoughts on the upcoming travels?


The sooner you can get the beardie into the new cage the better. Don’t feed them during the trip and, like buying, don’t feed them for a little while after getting them settled in. Don’t use foot warmers, they get way to hot. If you need to use designated reptile shipping 48 hour heat packs. Do you even need supplemental heating? I would think you have to be cautious that they don’t overheat, if anything you might want to look into cool packs (also reptile/amphibian shipping). You can offer water a few hours before you leave and when you get there but not during the trip. It would be easiest to keep the snake in a snake bag in a box and the dragon in a small shipping enclosure (maybe a large deli cup). You don’t want them bouncing around too much as they could get hurt in a large enclosure.

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I got some good info from these threads:

I agree with all the points that @erie-herps made. Bags in boxes for snakes, small containers for lizards, keep the dimensions rather snug, and make sure you have air holes. You know the size of the containers that reptiles are displayed in at reptile shows? You don’t want to try and transport them in anything with too much space- think more along the lines of those deli cups at shows. I wouldn’t feed them for at least a few days before the move, perhaps longer for the snake.

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DO NOT do this!

Your biggest concern with them in the car will be overheating. Even if you are running the A/C it does not circulate as well in the back of the car or in a very packed car. And since they will be in bins, heat will build up in the bin. Especially if the bin is catching sun through a window or sunroof.

A better method would be to bag them and put their bags inside a hard walled but open topped container. That way they are restrained but not at risk of being baked from stray sunlight. I would also try and leave room to shift the container around as necessary (still want to avoid them being in the sun as much as possible.

An even better method would be go get someone you trust in Detroit to keep your animals for a few days and then ship them to you after you have arrived, unpacked and at least got temporary housing set up


Got it! I was planning to put their bins inside styrofoam shipping containers - basically thick walled styrofoam coolers. I have a digital thermometer to monitor them. Again, it will only be about twelve hours door to door. I can bag the snake. I’ll make sure both are relatively snug…

I can give the lizard plenty of juicy greens on arrival, yes? That way he can combat any dehydration. The snake, however, I don’t plan to feed for four or five days after getting settled in her new cage. So, she will just have some water to drink on arrival.

I would wait at least 5 days before feeding the beardie (fresh water can be offered immediately) and 2 weeks before feeding the snake, it’s just like when buying them.

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Remember that reptiles are not like us, they cannot regulate their temps and “self-adjust” in the car if they are somewhat uncomfortable. If improperly positioned, twenty minutes in an enclosed container receiving direct sunlight can be enough to kill an animal.


And always keep in mind, with reptiles being too hot is much, much deadlier than being too cold.

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Done and done! Both Sasha and Flokei survived the trip well. A few plans changed so I was able to transport their aquaria w us. Of course, they were still transported in small containers. The beardie’s UVB isn’t working, but I will pick up a new one tomorrow.

Thanks for all your thoughts!


I’m glad to hear that!