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Power outages and exotic pets

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With Hurricane Sandy on its rampage, the subject of power outages comes to mind. What do you do if the power goes out?

Everyone hopes for the best, but a realist should have a plan in place just in case there is no electricity. Tropical animals, and some can be quite delicate, need to be kept at warm temperatures. For animals that are native to this region, it is not a big problem when the weather is cool. But, during the dead of winter, there can be issues.

A generator is always a great thing to have, but for people who either do not live in a house or cannot afford a generator, there needs to be an alternate plan. People who go camping have all sorts of contraptions that are made for surviving under difficult conditions.

There are little one-use hand warmers that feel like a little package of rocks or sand. Once activated, they will stay warm for a certain number of hours. The length of time they stay warm varies from brand to brand. There are similar products that are reusable as well.

An alternative to that is a hot water bottle that can be made from a plastic soda bottle. Do not boil the water. It will melt the plastic. Just use very warm tap water. Obviously, this method does not stay hot very long. But, it may be the only way to keep a pet snake, lizard, tortoise, hedgehog or other animal warm.

Wrapping a reptile in a blanket does not keep them warm because they do not generate body heat. Reptiles are the temperature of their environment. A blanket would keep wind away from the animal, but they would be ice cold. A blanket is not a good idea.

Exotic birds can also suffer from not having enough heat. A hot water bottle is not going to work for a bird. You might have to get the bird to someone’s house who does have power. Covering the cage while the room is still warm might help a little bit, but it will not keep them warm for very long. Using several blankets on the cage will keep the drafts out. A generator with a space heater and humidifier comes in very handy for birds.

Tropical fish tanks can be wrapped with blankets, but if the temperature goes below 60° F, they will quickly be in trouble.

Always do research before using anything to heat your pet. Be careful what chemicals are in any alternate heat source. Some fumes emitted from heaters can be toxic to birds, amphibians and tropical fish.

Think ahead for pets when there is an impending storm. Also make sure there is enough food and medication for at least a week on hand at all times.

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