Emergency Preparedness For Exotic Pet Keepers
by Richard Adams
While exotic pets are gaining in popularity all the time they do have one major Achilles heel and that is that most exotic pets require a very specialist habitat to live in and that these habitats are normally powered by electricity.
This means that a power cut - no matter how brief - can put your pet leopard gecko, bearded dragon or corn snake in danger, specially in the colder months.
As someone who has kept exotic pets for over a decade I want to offer some tips and advice today on how to handle these "curve balls" and try to keep your exotic pets in the best possible condition when a power cut occurs.
Remove Any Food
Exotic pets like reptiles and amphibians need warmth to help them digest food. Without a suitable temperature this food can remain in their guts undigested for too long and can begin to rot at which point serious health problems can occur. Consequently the first step in a power cut should be to remove any uneaten food from your vivarium to minimize this risk.
The next major concern is really keeping your exotic pet as warm as possible. As most cages will have some kind of heating installed, begin by trying to minimize the heat that escapes from your vivarium by insulating it properly. Keeping some bubble wrap and/or an old duvet handy can be useful for gently wrapping around the cage and thus keeping as much of the heat inside as possible.
Chemical Hand Warmers And Hot Water Bottles
Once you have contained as much heat as possible it makes sense to try and warm up your pet - even if not the vivarium - using whatever methods possible. There are two realistic solutions and so I try to keep both in hand just in case they're needed.
Firstly it is possible to buy chemical-based hand warmers from many outdoor suppliers. They are placed into hot water to "charge them" and then can be left for weeks without being activated. Should you get a power cut you can then click the button, at which point a chemical reaction will occur inside and they will start to warm up to a pleasant temperature at which point you can place one or more in with your exotic pets.
A second option is to use a gas stove to heat up water and then place this into hot water bottles. Ensuring that your pet cannot burn itself on the bottle these can then also be placed into the cage to keep it warm and comfortable for your pet.
Battery Power And Solar Power
While these two methods will handle the temperature issue - at least for a few hours - some exotic pets also require artificial light to remain healthy and this is where life can get a little more difficult (and expensive). While there are no commercially-available solutions for powering UV lights apart from using mains electricity, with a little information it is possible to modify the wiring so that these lights can be powered either by batteries or using solar energy.