There's been so many crazy natural disasters lately, my heart really goes out to those who have been affected. Back in 2012 our areas was one of those that was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy. We had to go a cold October/November week without gas and electricity, which was quite the experience. At the time I had three Leopard Geckos that I had to worry about keeping warm without heat or electricity. Many pet owners understand the importance of preparing for our more traditional pets, cats and dogs, in the event of an emergency, but during the recent bout of hurricanes I came across many reptile owners in particular who were unsure of how/what to prepare for their scaly friends.
Reptiles can present a unique challenge because, unlike more traditional pets, they are cold blooded. Most lizards won't be up for a snuggle to keep warm if the heat goes out for an extended period of time, so finding other ways to keep them warm is important. In this post I'm going to share my reptile emergency plans. I currently own two Leopard Geckos. Keep in mind that you may need to adapt your prep plans based on what types of reptiles you own.
Even when our power was out for a week, we've been lucky in that we've never had to evacuate our home. Just in case we ever do, I keep plastic Critter Keepers ready for each of my gecko girls. Critter Keepers work well for small reptiles. They come in a verity of sizes, and are light weight and secure. This isn't something I'd want to keep my geckos in forever, but they work in an emergency.
I don't use regular hides inside my transport carriers. The main reason for this is because during a real emergency there's a chance the carriers might get jostled around. I don't want my lizards getting hurt (or worse) by hides falling onto them in the event that I'm trying to move them quickly and it's a less than smooth ride. Instead of traditional hides, I keep pieces of fleece inside my gecko carriers. The fleece is soft and warm, and can serve as a makeshift place for the geckos to hide.
I have some of my gecko's basic information on a piece of paper taped to the side of their carriers. Most importantly you should include what species your pet is and your contact information.
For keeping reptiles warm in cold weather I always keep shipping warmers in stock. These heat packs are normally used when shipping reptiles, insects, fish, and plants but they can also work to keep your reptile warm in a pinch. Pay attention to what type of heat pack you purchase, as some stay warm longer than others. I always try to keep enough of these on hand that I could use them to provide a continuous source of heat to each of my reptiles for at least a week.
The convenient thing about the Critter Keeper carriers is that you can also stock them with stuff you'd need for your reptiles in an emergency. If we ever had to evacuate I'd be able to just grab my geckos and their carriers full of supplies and basically be set to keep them alive until we can get somewhere safe. What type of supplies you need will differ based on what type of reptiles you have. Personally I keep a bottle of water for each gecko, a small bowl to offer them water in, and a battery powered thermometer. My geckos are trained to eat prekilled insects so I also keep food for them on hand, usually canned or freeze dried insects.
Some things, such as some types of foods, can be hard to transport during an emergency. You can't exactly keep fresh foods or live insects stashed away in an emergency kit. Luckily, depending on what type of reptile you own, most species aren't going to starve to death overnight. Try the best you can to access food for your reptile when you can, after everyone is safe.
The name of the game really is survival. If you can keep your reptile alive until the emergency passes than you can worry more about providing them with the ideal set up after everyone is out of danger. If you're like me, you'll also have people and other pets to worry about during an emergency. Keep your reptile's emergency set up as simple and small as possible. You want it to be easy to carry/transport and to not take up too much space. Some things like extra water and medical supplies can be kept separately from your reptile set ups. Although I designate a bottle of water per gecko we also always make sure to have extra water and a well stocked first aid kit that we could use for ourselves or the pets in an emergency.
Make sure to keep your emergency carriers/supplies somewhere easy to get to. You don't want to be rushing through your house trying to find everything during an emergency when time is of the essence. If you plan for your pets ahead of time, and know exactly where their emergency supplies are, it will increase the chances that you'll be able to get everyone ready to leave in time.
Comment below! Do you have emergency kits prepared for your pets? What are some things you include in your set ups?