Baby it’s cold outside…Winter is quickly approaching and with it comes the lower temperatures which cause many exotic pet owners to worry about how to transport their beloved pets to us safely. Pet owners should not assume that it is too dangerous to bring their exotic pets to the vet in cold weather, particularly if they suspect that their pet is sick. Ignoring or putting off a vet visit in these delicate species is never a good idea. For many of our patients, these lower temperatures are not a concern; such as rabbits, guinea pigs and chinchillas. These species can be transported as you would any time of the year. But for reptiles and most tropical birds, these concerns are valid especially when these pets are unwell. This article explores some recommendations on how to safely transport them during cold weather.
Reptiles and Amphibians
Reptiles are ectothermic, which means that they have to regulate their body temperature by moving to warmer or colder areas based on their needs. Their body temperature is the temperature of the environment they are in. If you live in New York City on a day that is 50 degrees F and you are walking to the subway with your reptile in a box with no means of additional heat support, his/her body temperature is going to be 50 degrees F. This is clearly not ideal! However, there are many ways of creating a travel set up that is safe.
You can transport your pet reptile in an insulated environment such as a Styrofoam or other insulated coolers to maintain heat. If your reptile is small enough and hand tamed (such as many bearded dragons) you can wrap them up in a towel and tuck them inside your warm jacket. You can also try increasing the temperature of an enclosure by placing something warm in with the reptile and then enclosing the box/carrier. Examples include:
- Hot water bottle
- Hot water filled latex gloves
- Hand warmers (available at most sporting goods stores, drugs stores, and online)
- Hot water filled packs