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Hurricane Preparedness Tips


Reptiles & Snakes

(or other small non-mammals)

It's always better to stay at home during a hurricane, if possible, than to subject your pet(s) and yourself to an expensive and stressful evacuation.  Below are some tips for maintaining health and comfort at home--and travel tips in case an evacuation is necessary.

Many reptile owners like to keep their pets outside whenever possible, to take advantage of Mother Nature's wonderful, limitless UVB rays.  But a hurricane or other severe storm is no place for a fragile snake or reptile!  So when bad weather threatens, always bring all tanks inside. Never leave ANYTHING outside which could be destroyed, or cause damage to other people, pets, or buildings.

Food and Water - At Home

Think ahead. Supplies of feeder insects, rodents, and/or fresh veggies may be difficult to obtain in an emergency situation. Be sure to order at least a week's worth of extra supplies ahead of time (i.e. the moment you know a hurricane is brewing).  Also chop up any veggies ahead of time, because you may lose power and not be able to run your nifty little food processor. ;-)

Freeze as much water as you can. A chest freezer, if you can afford one, is an excellent way to store water indefinitely. Simply save your milk jugs for the next several weeks, rinse them out with hot water immediately and fill them 3/4 full of water, then store them (uncapped) in the freezer. The water will expand as it freezes, which is why you need to leave them uncapped. In an emergency, they will not only keep your frozen foods cold longer, they will also provide fresh water as needed.  Simply thaw one at a time, as you need it.

Power & Heat

Make sure you have a reliable backup power source for your heat lamps.  Generators are hideously expensive, especially this time of year.  A much cheaper solution is to buy a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) from your favorite computer store. These are primarily made for computers--but can also be used to power heat lamps, fans, or any other small appliance. The bigger the UPS, obviously, the longer it can run what you need. (Remember to fully charge your UPS before using it!!)

If you have fish, invest NOW in a battery-operated air pump and enough batteries to run it for at least a week.  Even goldfish and guppies, which are primarily air breathers, will thank you!

If you must evacuate, have a checklist written up AHEAD of time! Remember to bring all your pet's supplies along. This sounds obvious--but during the panic of an evac, it's all too easy to forget items that should be second-nature. (If you're like me, your pet's supplies will take up 3/4 of the available space, and your own stuff will be crammed in the remaining corners!  LOL) Also remember to bring along your pet's vet records.  In case of an emergency, they can make the difference between life and death for your pet.

Safe Transportation

Reptiles and snakes can often be carried in the same kind of soft-sided travel cases many people use for their cats and dogs. Line yours with soft towels, so your pet won't hurt itself if it gets nervous or agitated. Be sure to bring extra towels, as they will get soiled. A plastic bag is also a good precaution, to keep those stinky pooped-on towels separate from your own laundry. (It will also keep your hotel room from getting as stinky, which can be critical if your hotel doesn't allow animals.)

Food and Water

Think ahead. Crickets are difficult to transport.  They need space, they have a unique aroma (rather pungent to those who don't love reptiles), and they are nature's original escape artists.  Hotels will not thank you for unleashing them in their clean, tidy rooms.  If your reptiles will eat mealworms, superworms, waxworms, phoenix worms, or other insects which can be easily contained and transported, consider stocking up on those during hurricane season.  Most likely, your reptile will consider the new foods a tasty treat.  (Just because an evac is stressful on you doesn't mean your pet can't be pampered a little in the process!)

Store your frozen mice in a portable cooler with a few ice packs or frozen water bottles.  You can thaw these as needed, to provide variety and extra protein.

You may be able to get veggies if the nearest grocery store is open (often at a discount, as they're trying to sell everything possible before the power failures ruin everything).  But just in case, bring along any fresh veggies you have available, and don't forget your food processor!  Hurricanes are stressful enough without expending extra energy preparing food, and wishing you'd remembered to bring along that handy little gadget!

Remember to bring along any frozen water jugs you may have available.  They will help keep your stored food cold longer, and provide safe uncontaminated water for you and your pet(s) in an emergency situation.

Stay as calm and quiet as possible around your pet. They can sense fear, and will respond to your emotions. If your pet enjoys being held, a little extra TLC can go a long way toward reassuring both of you.