Reptiles and amphibians require special attention and consideration when moving to a new home. In order to successfully transition these pets, it is critical to adjust for their unique needs at every stage of the move. This doesn’t have to be overwhelming, and to help we have developed this step-by-step guide for you to follow and adapt to meet the requirements of your pets and execute a successful move with reptiles and amphibians.
Step 1: Research
This step mostly applies to long distance moves. If you new home is in a different city, especially if you are crossing state lines, it is important to do some research about the area. First, it is common for different states, counties, and cities to place varying restrictions on the types of pets which are legal in their jurisdiction. do research to guarantee you pet is legal at your new location. Second, identify a veterinarian near your new home just in case the need arises. Third, consider significant climatic differences between your old and new location. For instance, if moving from Florida to Arizona, plan to provide increased moisture for pets requiring a humid environment.
Step 2: Familiarize with the carrier
Choose a carrier that is appropriate for both your pet and the method of transportation. In the week prior to the move, begin familiarizing your pet with the carrier. This only applies to those pets which are regularly handled. You would NOT do this with pets such as giant day geckos or axolotls that would only be stressed by handling.
Step 3: Get a health check
For long distance moves, we recommend having your pet checked by a veterinarian before the move. Not only will this give you peace of mind that your pet is healthy. It will also give you the opportunity to seek advice on the specific needs of your pet during the move.
Step 4: Keep a routine
In the days leading up to the move, resist the temptation to put your pet on the back burner while you are busy packing. Instead, wor k hard to stick your pet’s regular schedule of feeding and handling. This will limit the time your pets are under stress due to prolonged changes.
Step 5: Don’t feed
12 hours prior to your pet being packed for transport, withhold all food. This will limit the amount of waste they produce during transit. A cleaner environment will decrease the chances of any sickness developing.
Step 6: Breakdown
Now the time has come to completely breakdown your animal’s enclosure. Pack all of the equipment and food together to make unpacking easier. Be sure to protect lights and other electronics with padding. Equipment and cages should be secured to prevent shifting and breakage during transport.
Step 7: Packing your pet
Move your pet to the carrier. If it is appropriate, cushion the bottom of the carrier with a towel. If pets are being shipped or sent by airplane, you will need to carefully follow all of their packing instructions. These methods will both get your pet to the new location quickly, but traveling by car will give you more freedom and control. Regardless of the transportation method, always provide pets with some type of water source, and never pack multiple animals together.
Step 8: Control the environment
Take into account the needs of your pet, the weather they will travel through, and how much time they will spend in transit. Most pets will need to be kept in a specific temperature range and avoid both extreme cold and heat. In the winter this can be done relatively easily by using heat packs, but in the summer it is far harder to keep animals cool. For longer trips, some pets may need extra moisture, lights or air pumps or stones for aquatic amphibians.
Step 9: Be hands off
While pets are in transit, avoid any handling or feeding except in emergencies. Handling stressed animals can lead to injuries for both you and your pet. Feedings will also increase waste and the potential for disease. So, be hands off until pets reach their new home.
Step 10: Unpack
When you arrive at your new home, prioritize setting up your pet’s enclosure and getting them out of their traveling carrier. This is the time to reintroduce food. Try to get animals back to a regular routine as quickly as possible. However, depending on the pet, you may need to wait a few days before handling animals in order to give them time to de-stress.
Step 11: Observe
Your pet has just gone through a very stressful experience, so keep a close eye on them for any signs of sickness or injury. If you notice any issues, treat them quickly and if necessary take them to be examined by a veterinarian (which you researched back in step 1).