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Reptile Emergency Checklist

Preparing for a Reptile Emergency

If you’re anything like me, you have a certain loyalty (some would say unhealthy) which might border on the fanatical about the care of your reptiles. Something which I took for granted before becoming an expatriate of California and San Diego (USA) to be specific was electricity. Funny as that sounds to some of our readers; I really can remember only a handful of times over numerous years that the power went out without warning. I had heard stories about natural disasters knocking out power for days and had even been contacted on occasion about how to keep reptiles warm during a power outage.

I’d honestly never given it much thought outside of those instances to inspire me to write about it. Foolish I know, as this is something which any respectable reptile site would have at least one article on such a large subject right? Well, in my defense (an excuse really) since it never happened often to me I never thought it happened as often as I have seen since I moved to Canada. I mean how would people access the information during a power outage? Electricity is an essential part to turning on any non steampunk computer right? Today, however we have so many people owning mobile devices and accessing their favorite sites via these devices it’s time I finally tackled the emergency crisis situations which might occur with keeping reptiles.

Reptile Emergency Checklist

Emergency Checklist

Styrofoam Cooler (Shipping box) Reptile Bags (Pillow Case)
Rice Sock Smoke Detectors/ Alarms
Blankets Fire Suppression System
Heat Packs/Hand Warmers Ceramic Bowls
Power Inverter Vet contact information
Portable Propane Heater
Back-Up Generator
Frozen Water Bottles


The checklist above has everything we could think of to assist you in overcoming most any emergency that should occur when owning reptiles. Now let’s talk about planning out what to do when an emergency actually happens. You will always here pundits of any topic in which there’s an emergency saying

“Remain calm at all times”

While this is true, it’s definitely tough to do so. So I will say to you

“Attempt to remain as calm as possible”

The very best way to prepare for an emergency is to prepare and run tests/drills. Every military and law enforcement organization runs countless ‘tests/drills’ in order to prepare it’s staff for the eventuality that an emergency will occur and they will be as ready as possible to handle it. What does this mean to the reptile keeper? Do what they do. Every month or two actually break out your emergency disaster reptile keepers kit and run a test/ drill.

 Equipment List

Styrofoam Coolers/ Styrofoam boxes: These are used to place several reptiles in at one time and retain heat and or cold very well depending on the parameters of the emergency at hand.

Reptile Bags/ Pillow Cases: You need a place to put the reptiles prior to placing them into the styrofoam cooler.

Heat Packs/Hand Warmers: These are relatively inexpensive heating items which are either air activated or you can crack them to activate them. Some offer a few hours of heat and others offer many hours. I have heard there are ones available that offer 40 hours of heat but I haven’t seen these myself.

Rice Sock: This at first may seem an odd device but it really works well. Basically, fill a clean wool sock with rice tie off the end and VOILA instant reptile warmer! Just throw it in the double boiler (provided you have a gas/propane stove of course) and heat up the sock then drop this wrapped in a hand towel into the styrofoam cooler with your reptile bags.

Blankets: Just as it sounds anything to insulate heat or trap heat is a good idea. I personally find that the micro fleece plush blankets work best for heat retention.

Power inverter: This little device plugs into your vehicles cigarette lighter allowing you to plug in a household plug such as a reptile heater(s)

Portable Propane Heater: (with low oxygen sensor): Portable propane heaters can heat a small room well. Make sure that whichever one you get that it includes a low oxygen sensor for safety.

Back-Up Generator: Just what the name implies. This handy but expensive item can supply power anywhere you may need it. These are to be operated outdoors only as the exhaust fumes can be dangerous.

Smoke Detectors/Alarm: There cannot be enough said about smoke detectors and keeping the batteries changed out. While most people have smoke detectors in their home we sometimes forget that having them installed in a reptile room is also important.

Fire Suppression System: For larger reptile operations or even if you have a shed or small out building where your reptiles are kept then an automatic fire suppression kit may be worth looking into.

Ceramic Reptile Bowls: These can be used for both food and water.

The above check list provides most of the supplies you need in order to get through a 24 emergency. Also something that needs to be said is that it is always good to know the power companies freephone number which you can call and they can tell you when power will be restored. Should a natural disaster occur it would also be wise to have a back-up plan as in somewhere to house your reptiles on a temporary basis. Some pet stores offer boarding services but these can be expensive. Your best bet would be to contact a friend or relative that you trust with your reptiles in advance and make a plan for them be prepared in case you need a place to go with your reptiles. This is yet one more reason why a local herpetological society is important as these would give you opportunity to network.

If you have any tips and or advice on what to do please let us know about them in the comments below so that we can share the information.

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