If there is one thing that most pet snakes depend on it is your electricity. It is the electricity which keeps them warm via lighting, heat pads, and heat tape. It is electricity which allows us to keep species native to the tropics in our temperate climate without them dropping dead before our eyes even on the coldest of winter nights.
- Are you ready for the power to go out?
- You might able to survive the rigors, however temporary, of off grid living, but your snakes can’t. Are you prepared to take care of them as well as yourself? If you lose power you need to work quickly to ensure the snake is not left in the cold. There are some things which will help you to help your pet snakes.
- Temp Gun
Hover one of these at the thing(s) you want to get the temperature of and give it a moment to get a reading. Accurate enough to keep your snake heated. You can get one from Amazon for 24.99
- Snake bags
If you have to move the snake to another location a snake bag comes in handy. They are a good idea even if you don’t have any concerns about a power outage.
- Chemical heating packs
Hunters use them to keep their hands warm in the winter. You can find them in the sporting good section of almost any store. Buy a case of them. When the power goes out activate a few of these, attach them to the bottom of the tank (make sure to leave PLENTY of room for air circulation) and they will provide a heated area for the snake to lay on. I’ve tested these out and some of them get extremely hot. So if you house your snakes in tubs like I do then try this out before you have a snake in the tub. The only thing worse than a frozen snake is a cooked snake. If necessary put a buffer between the snake’s belly and the bottom of the tub using on old t shirt or something similar. Be sure to check the temperature every 10 to 15 minutes to make sure you aren’t overheating or under heating your snake
- Hot water bottles
If you use gas or wood for cooking it is easy enough to heat up some water and fill a few hot water bottles. Place them in the snake’s tank, wrapped in towels so they aren’t too hot, and they will provide the necessary heat for a snake. Remember to check their temperature every 15 to 20 minutes and change the water out as needed.
- Household heat
Just because the electricity goes out doesn’t mean the heat will. You might operate on a system entirely separate from the electrical. Wood stoves for example. Even if you normally keep your pet snakes in glass tanks it is a good idea to have a plastic tub setup for them to be moved into and then move it near a heat source if necessary.
- Neighbors house
If the power hasn’t gone out in the neighbors house they might be willing to allow you to house your snake in their home. Check before it becomes necessary and have them over to see how they are around snakes. A good intentioned neighbor might say yes but when you come packing Fluffy into their house they might well have a change of heart. Better safe than sorry make sure they are comfortable around your pet snakes.
- Motels and Hotels
If worse comes to worse you can always rent a motel/hotel room for a few nights and take your animals there. I’ve called several in my local area to ask about keeping a snake there. All of them said no. I doubt any would agree to letting you keep your snakes there either. So you’ll have to be a little sneaky. Once again this is the perfect reason to have some homemade snake cages capable of holding your pet. Get into the room, crank up the heat, setup the snake in the tub with an under tank heater then kick back and watch tv. Both you and the snake will stay nice and warm.
If you have to go the motel route be sure to leave the “Do not disturb sign on the door” or the well meaning maid could ruin your snakes day. Not to mention yours.
- Temp Gun
- Keep everything handy in an emergency kit
- Have you ever noticed that the power never goes out in the middle of the day when you can use the sunlight to find things? A small plastic Tupperware tub works great for an emergency kit. In mine I keep:
- Flash light
- Clean snake bags
- Chemical heat packs
- Hot water bottles
- Distilled water (mainly for use in a motel if that were to become necessary)
- Temp gun and 3 spare thermometers/hygrometers
- A few old t shirts
- Duct tape (every kit, for snakes or not, should have duct tape)
- Phone numbers for my vets
That way if anything happens I can just grab the kit, open it and be ready to start getting my snakes ready to endure a potentially long, cold night.
- If worse comes to worse
- If for whatever reason none of the above will work for you don’t be afraid to call around to a few local vets, reptile breeders, or other snake owners and see if they will board your snake for a fee. It’s always best to ask ahead of time and ask what their quarantine procedures are. I’ve spoken with several places in my area that will board if necessary. It’s not terribly cheap, but it beats having your snakes die.
- Why keep your snake warm
I’m going to assume you know why keeping a tropical snake warm is important, but just in case here are two reasons.
- Snakes depend on outside heat sources to keep their body temperatures up in the ranges they need to live
- They can become sick with a respiratory infection which is basically pneumonia. Since most snakes only have one functioning lung pneumonia can be a death sentence for them