Transporting Reptiles in the Winter

Man petting leopard gecko

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If taking your reptile out of the house in the winter scares you then you're not alone. Traveling with your reptile to the vet can be stressful if you don't prepare ahead of time and make sure you keep your pet warm.

Importance of Temperature

A cold shock is all it takes to seriously harm or even kill a small and sickly reptile. Many pets come into the animal hospital worse off than when they left home just from being out in the cold. Warming them up can then be difficult, and if your reptile wasn't sick, to begin with, he could catch a cold from getting chilled.

First Steps

Before taking your reptile outside and after the vehicle is warmed for a few minutes, place the reptile in a container with a lid and vents. A lid keeps the reptile and the heat in the container and the vents prevent him from suffocating. Large plastic containers with holes punched in them are ideal for larger reptiles and shoe boxes, small travel containers and carriers for cats, and cardboard boxes are routinely used for smaller reptiles.​​

Adding Warmth

Add some paper towels, newspaper, or some of your reptile's own bedding to the container to absorb any wastes made on the trip and allow your smaller reptiles to burrow or keep warm in the bedding. Cloth towels are also a good option to provide warmth for larger travel containers.

You can also add a hot water bottle or latex glove filled with hot water to the travel container to help heat the reptile and container. Make sure the water bottle or glove is not so hot that you cannot comfortably hold it in your hand. You can burn your reptile if it is too hot. If you are not sure whether or not it is too hot, wrap it in a towel. Handwarmer packets can be used outside the carrier but never placed inside the carrier since they can get too hot and hurt your reptile.

If you do a little planning you can make the trip to the vet more comfortable and less stressful for you and your scaly friend.