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Winter Care for Reptiles and Birds: Safe Transportation Tips

reptiles-and-birdsHow would you like to be an iguana exposed to the cold and ice of a Massachusetts winter? Or a tropical bird exposed to the freezing wind as it comes in off the bay? Whether you are forced to move during the winter months or need to bring your reptile or bird in for a check-up with your South Coast veterinarian this time of year, you will need to figure out a safe way to transport them from your home to the veterinary clinic in Dartmouth and then back home again. Proper reptile and bird care in winter is just as important as it is during the spring, summer and fall.

Most people who own birds and reptiles are acutely aware of the needs and requirements for these animals compared to more common domesticated pets, such as cats and dogs. Creating a habitat for them that includes details such as specific temperature ranges, humidity levels, substrate, preferred hides, climbing apparatus and nutritional requirements means a lot of time spent learning about the needs of these special pets. However, unless you have had an occasion to transport your pet in the colder months, you might not know all of the tips and tricks that can help you to do it safely.

Winter Care for Reptiles and Amphibians
You have probably already adjusted the temperature of the specific habitat that you have created for your reptiles and amphibians at home, but when they go out and about on trips to visit your South Coast veterinarian or for some other reason, you will want to make sure that they stay safe and warm. The body temperature of amphibians and reptiles is regulated by the environment that they are in, so if you take them into 40-degree temperatures, then their bodies will be at 40-degrees and that’s just not good.

Transporting your pets in a container that is insulated from the cold can help. Include a warm heat source that they can curl up next to during the trip, such as a hot water bottle that is wrapped in a thin towel or even those disposable hand warmers that you can find in the dollar bin at most stores. Even packs that are filled with hot water, such as zip bags – which should be double-bagged for safety – or latex gloves that are tied tight, and possibly double-bagged as well, can work in a pinch. This will help them to maintain their heat during the trip to the veterinary clinic in Dartmouth.

If you have an aquatic pet, such as a turtle or frog, make sure that you do not transport them in water for short distances less than two hours. You can transport them using the same type of insulated environment and heat source as discussed in the previous paragraphs. They really do not have to have water on a constant basis and regulating water temperature is much more difficult than regulating the environment or air temperature away from their enclosure. Speak with your South Coast veterinarian for additional tips for your specific type of pet to ensure proper winter care for reptiles and amphibians.

Bird Care in Winter
Birds are another type of popular pet that can be difficult to transport safely in the winter months. Sudden temperatures can be extremely dangerous, especially for tropical birds, who just aren’t built to handle a New England winter outdoors. Most birds have downy feathers that help them to cool down when it gets hot and warm up when it gets cold, but moving a bird from your warm home outdoors into the freezing cold without time to become acclimated to the temperature change can be very dangerous. In fact, your bird could go into shock. It is very important to create a consistent temperature in whatever method you decide to carry or move your bird en route to the veterinary clinic in Dartmouth.

Smaller birds, such as canaries, cockatiels, finches and budgies, can be safely transported using the insulated container tip in the winter care for reptiles section above. Shoe boxes and other small containers that have small air holes and contain a safe warming device that your bird cannot chew through will work just fine. Swaddling your bird inside of towels, fleece, blankets and other warm fabrics can also help them to feel more safe and secure during transportation. Larger birds can be transported in a cage that is insulated with towels or blankets, however some birds who are handled frequently, may do better being snuggled close to you inside of your warm coat.

If you have a flighted bird, make sure that you try these techniques out at home to make sure that your pet does not become frightened or tries to escape. You do not want a bird flying off into the cold outdoors because he gets scared or doesn’t understand what you are doing. Again, if you have any questions about transporting a specific breed or type of bird, speak with your South Coast veterinarian for more tips on safe transportation and bird care in winter before you attempt to make a trip of any kind with your bird.

Call Anchor Animal Hospital and Veterinary Clinic in Dartmouth
If you are interested in learning more about annual check-ups and emergency care for your pets, or have specific questions about winter care for reptiles, amphibians or birds, give us a call at 508-996-3731. We provide veterinary care for cats, dogs, reptiles, birds and assorted exotic or pocket pets. Our highly trained and experienced staff can help you find the best solutions for taking care of your pets in Southeastern Massachusetts or Rhode Island.