Reptile Emergency Evacuation and Care Plan
As California continues to battle three major wildfires that erupted earlier this week, we’re reminded of the horrific Carr fire that swept through our community just a few short months ago. Our hearts go out to all of the people, animals and businesses that have been affected by these disasters.
As wildfires, floods and hurricanes are becoming seemingly more frequent and dangers in recent years, it’s more important than ever to be prepared for a natural disaster -- especially for reptile owners, as your animals are often kept within a cage or enclosure.
We’ve compiled our top tips for emergency preparation and evacuation for your beloved reptiles, amphibians and similar exotic pets. By taking action ahead of time, you’ll increase your chances of a safe evacuation for both you, your family, your animals and first responders.
TEMPORARY HOUSING - Have a transport container ready that can also serve as temporary housing for at least a few days. You’ll want to keep your reptile in a quiet and dark place to minimize stress on your animal. A dark plastic and lockable tote works best for most reptiles, just ensure that the size is appropriate for your animal. Snakes and large lizards can be placed in a knotted pillow case for transport and moved to the enclosure once in a safe and secure location. For amphibians, most will be safely transported in a small, secure container with moist paper towel or moss. Note: if you have large lizards or snakes, take extra care to ensure you have something to weight down the lids to avoid escape.
HEAT SOURCE - Reptiles and amphibians are cold blooded creatures, which means they cannot regulate their body temperature on their own. They rely on heat sources for vital bodily functions. Ideally you should have a back-up heat bulb ready to bring with you. In the case that you don’t have a heat bulb a heating pad, blanket or warm water bottle can help.
HYDRATION - Once you reach a safe location, hydration is essential to your reptile’s health. Each species will have varying needs when it comes to the amount of water required, so aim to offer your animal the same amount of water that you would at home. Have bottle water prepared to minimize risk of unsafe water sources.
DESTINATION - Perhaps one of the biggest challenges during a disaster is where to bring your reptiles and amphibians. Sadly, many hotels and lodging options have rules against reptiles even in case of emergency. And while there are often evacuation centers for dogs, horses, cats, etc. you cannot guarantee that one will also be accepting reptiles. Plan ahead and make sure you have a safe place to go, ideally the home of a friend or family member. Also, don’t forget to make sure your critters will fit in your vehicle!
DOCUMENTATION - Shall anything happen to your animal during an emergency, it's important to have all of your documentation in order. Recent photos, veterinary paperwork, and identification documents (if available) should be ready to go in case of evacuation.
FOOD - Reptiles are resilient and can go several days, even weeks for some, without being fed so you do not need to worry about feeding your reptile right away. The most important thing to remember is to not feed your reptile until you are settled and able to provide a proper heating source, as this is critical for the digestive process.
We recommend putting together an evacuation emergency kit that is ready to go in an instant. Kit essentials include: lockable plastic tub, a heat bulb, bottled water, a water bowl, paper towel, and documentation. If you want, bring some food along if you have proper means to transport it for your individual animal. When in doubt, call your local reptile pet store for assistance.
Download or pin our free guide below!