Keeping your snake warm during travel is vital and easily done.
Taking your snake out of his warm, comfortable home may be quite nerving. However, sometimes travel is unavoidable, particularly if your snake is sick and needs to see the vet.
Being a cold blooded creature, your snake needs heat to stay healthy and happy. Unfortunately, a cold shock is all it takes to seriously harm or even kill a snake that is already sick. Even if your snake is healthy before your trip, being cold will put him at risk getting sick or catching a cold.
Without your snake’s heat lamp or mat, you have to think outside of the box to keep your snake warm.
The following are 11 simple ways to keep your snake warm during travel:
- Warm your vehicle before introducing your snake (if travelling in a car)
- Pop your snake in a pillow case
- Use a hot water bottle
- Add plenty of bedding to the travel carrier
- Use hand warmers
- Use microwaveable heat packs
- Use a smaller travel container rather than a large one
- Put a secure lid on your snake’s container
- Make a home-made warmer from a socks and rice
- Put your snake in a sweater
- Cover your snake’s container in a blanket
How warm should your snake’s container be for travel?
As I’m sure you are aware, a pet snake’s normal environment should have a cool end and a warm end. The exact temperatures vary depending on which species of snake you have.
For example, the RSPCA states that a Corn snake’s cool area should be between 20ºC and 24ºC, and their warm area should be between 28ºC and 30ºC. On the other hand, a Royal Python’s cool area should be between 24ºC and 26ºC, and their warm area should be between 30ºC and 32ºC.
Their travel container should be somewhere in the middle of their cool zone and warm zone. Thus, IDEALLY, a Corn snake’s travel home should be around 27ºC and Royal Python’s travel carrier should be around 28ºC.
However on a short journey, your snake should be okay as long as the temperature doesn’t drop below the cool zone temperature they are used to.
On a long journey it’s more important to have your snake’s travel temperature somewhere in the middle. You could even try to recreate a cool zone and a warm zone by using the techniques below on only one end of their container.
Be sure to use a thermometer to check the container is at a comfortable temperature.
Warm your vehicle before introducing your snake (if travelling in a car).
This is an obvious one.
If you are travelling on a particularly cold day, warming the car before bringing your snake is very important. Even a quick chill is enough to harm a poorly snake.
Additionally, the other 10 tips will be more effective if the vehicle is already warm.
When you do introduce your snake, just make sure that the heater vents aren’t blowing directly onto the travel container. This may cause him to overheat, which is also damaging.
Pop your snake in a pillow case.
Put your snake in a pillow case or a cloth bag, before putting him in his container.
Firstly, the pillow case will provide your snake with extra insulation to keep him warmer.
Additionally, it will also prevent your snake from getting stressed out while travelling. Like many other animals, snakes get used to the environment in which they spend most of their time.
Stressed snakes are more prone to getting sick, so you want him to stay as calm as possible while travelling.
Use a hot water bottle.
Hot water bottles are a great way to provide heat.
Just make sure that it isn’t too hot for you to touch. If it is too hot for you to hold, it’s definitely too hot for your snake. You don’t want to risk burning your little friend.
Never use a naked hot water bottle. Always wrap something around the hot water bottle, if it doesn’t already come in a cover. You could use a blanket or a towel, but make sure your snake can’t slither inside of it.
Additionally, make sure that the lid is on securely, you don’t want any hot water to leak onto your snake and injure him.
Depending on the material of your hot water bottle, they can provide heat for a good few hours.
Add plenty of bedding to the travel carrier.
There are lots of materials that you can use, including newspaper, paper towels, clothes, towels or some of your snake’s usual bedding.
You can even use a mixture of materials. The important thing is that your snake has something to burrow into. This will provide him with insulation to keep him warm, and will soak up any waste made on the trip.
Furthermore, your snake will feel more comfortable and secure whilst he is away from home. This will minimise stress.
Use hand warmers.
Hand warmers are ideal if you are travelling long distance as they provide lots of heat for many hours. Hot Hands are thin, air-activated packs that provide heat for up to 10 hours!
It’s very important to note that they should only be used OUTSIDE the travel carrier. NEVER put them inside the carrier.
Firstly, they can get VERY hot and could burn your reptile. Secondly, they work because of a chemical reaction that requires air, therefore they can soak up the oxygen in the container and may suffocate your snake.
Instead, pop the heat packs in a sock and place them next to, or on top of your snake’s travel carrier.
Use a microwaveable heat packs.
These are another simple way to provide heat to your snake.
All you need to do is pop them in the microwave for 1 to 5 minutes (depending on your heat pack) and they’re good to go.
These are also ideal for long journeys as they can stay warm for many hours, depending on the quality. Some heat packs last between 8-10 hours, after just 5 minutes in the microwave!
Similarly to the hot water bottles, just be sure that they are not too hot to touch as you could harm your snake. If they are very hot, wrap them in a blanket, towel or some of your clothes.
Use a smaller travel container rather than a large one.
Due to the ratio of air to heat, a smaller travel container will be easier to warm up AND keep warm.
Your snake doesn’t need a lot of space as you want the container to replicate a small, safe burrow. However, just ensure that your snake has enough room to move around and not feel suffocated.
A juvenile Cornsnake would be happy in a carrier to the right, which is 21.6 x 21.6 x 16 cm.
Of course, if you are travelling long-distance you will need to use a larger container than those for short trips to the vet.
Put a secure lid on your snake’s container to trap heat.
Having a lid on your snake’s container will keep the warm air inside. An open top carrier will be harder to keep warm as the hot air will just escape.
Of course, ensure that there are plenty of holes in your snake’s carrier for ventilation. You don’t want your little friend to suffocate!
If you are going on a short trip, using a cardboard box with some holes poked in it will suffice as long as you provide him with lots of insulation. Just be sure to secure the top so your snake cannot escape and cause havoc.
Make a home-made warmer from a socks and rice.
- Fill your sock 3/4 with rice.
- Tie a knot so no rice escapes.
- Pop it in the microwave on high for about minute until hot.
VOILA! It’s that simple.
A heated sock will stay hot for a couple hours.
If the sock is too hot to touch, you can always pop it in another sock so that you don’t burn your snake.