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How to transport...a reptile?

Discussion in 'Pre-Veterinary' started by friesian02, 04.21.06.

  1. friesian02

    friesian02 Member

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    Hey everyone,

    So since everyone else is asking about how to transport their pets (fish, horses, etc.), I figured I'll ask about reptiles. I'll be moving from Maryland to California this summer and would like to bring my juvenile blotched kingsnake. This is a pretty small snake (lives in a 10-gallon aquarium).

    My idea so far: Bring aquarium in car (packed in with best friend, aka. moving buddy and large dog). Put snake in cooler with hot water bottle wrapped in towel. Put snake in aquarium with water/heat pad overnight. Repeat.

    Any suggestions?

    P.S. I ordered this snake form CA as a hatchling. He got overnighted in a box that said "perishable" with some of those hot packet things they sell at ski resorts to keep your toes warm. So I guess there is a way to mail the snake. But, um, I dont know about that (Special snake-mailing license required? Overnight Fed-Ex? I am kidding. Of course. I don't think the kind people at Kinkos would be too happy with a snake. Oh man. Now I'm thinking Snakes on a Plane!!!! :laugh: Glad I got that out of the way.)
  2. tygris

    tygris Michigan CVM c/o 2010

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    Haha, this is one of the big reasons I chose not to go to Western... moving to Cali from the east coast, no thanks! ;) Well, that and the PBL thing isn't for me, but ya know.
    Anyway, first of all, holy crap congrats on being an out-of-stater going to Davis. That is quite the accomplishment :)
    Secondly... I'm no expert with reptiles but it sounds like you have a pretty decent plan for transport. It might stress the poor guy out quite a bit though. Maybe starting now, you can take him for brief rides in the car in the cooler w/the hot water bags, just to start getting him de-sensitized to the whole process... then he may be under less stress during the actual move. That's what they do with zoo animals anyway, altho I can only say that about the mammals... not as sure about reptiles. If you like, I can ask one of the animal care managers in charge of reptiles at the zoo I work for what they do when they need to transport their snakes. Let me know and I'll send him an email.
    Also, with the shipping of reptiles from where you bought them... I received a couple of leopard geckos that way once a very long time ago. They were sedated pretty heavily in their transport bins, with cloths soaked in something or the other in their packing with them. I don't think that's the route I would choose :)
  3. Quaggi

    Quaggi Member

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    I have a small snake as well, a corn snake. I've only had to transport him for a 4 hour drive a few times, but he did fine without heat for those drives. I just put him in a small tupperware inside his aquarium so he couldn't escape during the drive. When I bought him he was shipped without heating pads (from MO to NY). Your plan sounds fine, just be careful with whatever heat source you decide to use because if the snake can't move away from it you could be causing more damage than just transporting him without heat. I know for corn snakes, they're pretty hardy and can do just fine without heat, i don't know about king snakes. but probably if you plug in his heater when you stop at night he will be just fine. I doubt he will get too stressed out, I just made sure to leave mine alone for a day or so when we got back and didn't feed him right before/after the trip.

    good luck and congrats on davis!
  4. kate_g

    kate_g Senior Member

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    I've got a really big corn snake, same family as kingsnakes. They're pretty hardy as adults. Don't try to ship him, there are *very* few outfits that will ship snakes knowingly, and you really don't want to mess with lying to get him on a plane. The trip is four days or so, he won't need to eat. (To minimize mess you might actually want to fast him a few days beforehand, e.g. feed him four to five days before the trip so he poops the day before you leave.) He shouldn't get too stressed, but to minimize stress keep him packed up and dark the whole time - coiled in a cardboard box (or cooler would be fine, but make sure it's not airtight) with a towel, or just tied in a dark pillowcase inside a box. You'll be travelling in late summer when the weather is warm, so you could not heat him at all and he won't get cold enough to actually die. (Remember, most of CA is a very dry climate, consequently it gets darn chilly at night in his natural habitat.) You could provide some heat at night if you're someplace chilly, but I'd advise warm water bottles or heat pad and stay away from those chemical hot packs, they can cause burns with direct contact. Don't panic if he's sluggish and doesn't want to eat for a couple days once you unpack him.

    Also, you were worried about having enough heat, but I think you should worry more about having too much. Assuming you're taking I-80 you'll be coming through some pretty hot country on your way - western Wyoming, Utah, Nevada are ferociously hot in the summer. Make sure his box is out of direct sunlight in the car, and keep the windows open when you stop for lunch or you'll come back to cooked snake. :(
  5. friesian02

    friesian02 Member

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    Thanks for your help guys! I guess I'll try out some containers and see what would work best for moving him. The tupperware thing isn't a bad idea! He's kind of used to traveling in his cooler cuz I take him to work every so often, and he's in his cooler when I clean his regular cage.

    And good point about the whole "um, duh Friesian02, it's hot in the summer." He'd probably be fine even without heat - kingsnakes and corn snakes tend to be pretty hardy I'm told. I think my biggest worry is him managing to escape somehow (hmm...tupperware container inside cooler? inside cardboard box? wrapped in an enigma?)

    Anyway. Lemme know if you have any more ideas! And thanks again. CA, here I come! :D
  6. wishes

    wishes Cornell DVM c/o 2010

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    Hey there. I'm that silly person trying to move a tank of fish across the country :). Alot of people have suggested those styrofoam coolers that you can purchase cheaply anywhere. Usually even the supermarket has them because people use them for ice or to ship frozen seafood and such. They might work well for a snake too.
    Once when I was on vacation my brother and I caught a grass snake and brought him in the car with us. It got loose and crawled up my dad's leg. It was pretty exciting for a little bit...lol.
    Anyway, I would definitely suggest trying to keep him from escaping.
    Good luck!
  7. kate_g

    kate_g Senior Member

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    Be careful with tupperware or anything else that seals airtight, you'll need ventilation holes.

    I'd tie him in a bag, that's the classic snake storage method. Either get a snake bag from your nearest reptile shop, or a king-size pillowcase, or any other cloth bag that's pretty long. You need enough length to put your snake in, twist the excess length like a rope, and tie a knot in it. If you just cinch it with a draw string or rubber band it or anything else you might think would be secure enough, the snake will be able to wiggle through.

    If you tie him in a bag you can just leave him in it the whole trip, inside the cooler/box/what-have-you (on some towels for shock absorption). If you need to move him he's in a handy little package and you don't risk a bite (sounds like he's used to being moved around, but even normally copacetic snakes will decide enough is enough at some point).

    Also if you want professional advice give a call to the East Bay Vivarium, http://www.eastbayvivarium.com. I'm pretty sure it's the biggest reptile shop anywhere near Davis. They're often a little surly depending on who you get on the phone and how crowded it is, and some people don't have the highest opinion of their medical care, but they've got loads of experience and are really good for practical handling advice.
  8. Mylez

    Mylez Member

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    Yep. Everyone has given you great advice. I'd also recommend using a tupperware container and putting your snake in a small pillowcase tied at the top. When I worked at the zoo, this is how we would transport snakes and they can stay there for extended periods of time. Plus, it is safer than if you had left him in the aquarium in case something can roll around in there and squish him.

    Also, I would say bring along a hot water bottle, depending on the time of year. If it's hot, don't worry about it! When I worked at the zoo, we covered the bottle with an insulated cover and then placed the snake half on/off so it could choose.

    Hope this helps!

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