Suggestions for Safely Transporting Your Reptile

If you and your reptile are hitting the road, you need to make some special preparations for his safety. Maintaining the proper temperature is the most important part of safe reptile transport.

The container or carrier should be large enough to allow the reptile to move but not too large. Ventilation is crucial. Dog and cat carriers work well but the mesh door may have openings that are large enough for a small reptile to escape or a large one to get an arm, leg or tail caught. You may need to cover the cage door with smaller mesh, plastic or cloth.

Sweater boxes or other plastic containers with lids also work well, but ventilation holes will need to be punched into the plastic. For brief trips, pillowcases may be sufficient, especially for snakes. Once the container is chosen, use paper towels or newspaper as substrate. This is the easiest to clean.

Before taking your trip, consider the temperature of the environment you are leaving and the environment you are going to. For cold environments, heat packs will be needed. Fill liter bottles with hot water and wrap with a towel. This will generally provide heat for 1 to 2 hours. Another suggestion is to fill a tube sock with uncooked rice. Tie the end of the sock to keep the rice inside the sock. Warm the sock/rice mix in the microwave. This will generally stay warm for 1 to 2 hours. If all else fails, keep the reptile in your car with the car heater.

For amphibians, hot weather can be devastating. These species are intolerant of hot environments and may need a cold pack. Bring food if you have an extended trip (or be prepared and know where you can get food if you cannot bring it, such as crickets).

When moving any of your pets, it's a good idea to have them checked out by a veterinarian prior to the trip, and get copies of health records. You should also determine whether you need a permit to take your pet to the destination state. Not all reptiles are legal in all cities. You can find this out by calling the City Clerk's office of the city you're traveling to.

Make sure the cage has proper identification. You may want to microchip your pet, in case he escapes.