Any pet owner can tell you how much of a challenge taking a trip with a pet can be. Snakes take that difficulty to a whole new level for an entirely different set of reasons than a dog or a cat. Traveling with mammals is by far easier than traveling with any reptile let alone a snake. Before you bundle into your car and start heading down the road there are some things you can try to do to alleviate potential issues.
- Make a place just for the snake
- This doesn’t mean you need to clear out an entire seat, but it does mean the snake should have a place to be during the duration of the trip that isn’t buried in “stuff”. On the other hand it certainly shouldn’t be allowed to roam free in the car. It must be secured! An appropriately sized plastic tub will do just fine for the trip. It doesn’t need to be extravagant the basics will suffice; newspapers or paper towels for substrate, a hide for the snake, and heat packs to keep the temperature up in the snakes tub.
Be very careful with the heat packs as they can get hot enough to literally cook your snake alive. Under no circumstances should you ever put the snake directly on top of the heat packs without something in between them and its belly. Make sure you keep an eye on the temperatures of your tub (or whatever container you use) with a digital thermometer. It is a good idea to set it up before hand and do a test run so you can see how the temperatures act. The picture to the right shows what can happen to a snake if you do not use heating pads properly!
- A road trip can drive your snake crazy
- Ok, probably not literally crazy, but close enough. If you remember back a few weeks we published an article about how snakes hear and we learned through that article that snakes have a very higly developed sense of hearing which makes use of vibrations. Imagine that you are a snake and you’ve just been stuffed in a box and stuck on the floor of a car. Now imagine that car is going 60, 70, 80+ miles per hour down the highway. If you were a snake the vibrations would be maddening. While you can’t stop the vibrations altogether you can certainly minimize them for the sake of the snake.
- Place a three to five inch thick layer of foam rubber between the floor boards and the bottom of the snakes container
- Avoid potholes and other major road abnormalities
- Fill the empty spaces in the tub with balled up news paper. This will both dampen the sounds and give the snake more options for hiding
- Avoid slamming the car doors when you get in and out
There are probably other ways to help reduce the vibrations and noise your snake will have to endure. If you can think of anything else concerning the car please let us know!
- Limit your travel time with your snake
- Generally if you can’t make the trip within 24 hours consider having your snake shipped after you have arrived. Anything more than 24 hours and the potential for problems grows exponentially. It will cost more and there will be more to coordinate, but it is also much safer.
- You are NOT a traveling circus
- There’s no need to show off your snake to the rest of the drivers. Don’t have it curled around your neck. It can be stressful on the snake, on other drivers and on yourself trying to keep it in sight. Not to mention what could happen should your snake be a constrictor and suddenly get in its mind to start squeezing.
You belong in your own seat and the snake has its own place that it should occupy while traveling. See to it that the snake occupies that spot
- Things you should have for the trip
- Up to this point we’ve discussed traveling with a pet snake in a fairly abstract manner. Now it is time to approach it from a more practical manner. As you are preparing for your trip make sure you have the following:
- A container to put the snake in. Earlier I mentioned a plastic container and that will work, but you could use something else if you want
- A three to five inch thick piece of foam rubber to help minimize vibrations
- A pillowcase to put the snake in during the trip. Remember it isn’t a traveling zoo so there’s no reason for it be “running” around
- Make sure you have several towels (or something similar) to put between the snake and the heatpads.
- Try to travel during the day when you are more likely to find a vet along the way if necessary. In fact to be on the safe side you should try to find out what vets along the way will see a snake if necessary
- Bring along your snake’s first aid kit “just in case”
No doubt there are other considerations for the road trip when you have a snake along, but these are the minimum considerations you should be taking into account. Never forget that you can always ship the snake if need be via FedEx. Better that your snake should arrive safely than for your snake to end up dead.