Travelling with a lizard in a car may seem like a daunting task. You probably have lots of questions – how should you transport your lizard? What will you need to pack? How do you ensure he stays warm enough?
As long as you prepare, it can be pretty straight forward.
Whether you are planning a quick trip to the vet, or are moving house, here is some guidance and tips on how to ensure your lizard arrives safe and sound.
To ensure your lizard feels comfortable and secure while travelling in a car, you will need to prepare:
- Transport your lizard in a sturdy, secure and well ventilated container.
- Line the bottom of the carrier with a grippy material.
- Warm the carrier if necessary.
- Get your reptile used to it’s travel container.
- Pack all the essentials.
- Secure your lizard’s container in your car.
- Try to keep stops to a minimum.
- Do not take your lizard out of its travel carrier.
- Look out for signs of sickness during and after the car journey.
In this article we will go into detail on how to ensure that taking your lizard in a car is stress-free for both you and your reptile.
Transport your lizard in a sturdy, secure and well ventilated container.
You have 2 options.
a) Taking your lizard travelling in it’s usual home.
You may want to travel with your lizard in it’s usual tank or container if you will be staying at your destination for a long period of time, for example, if you are moving house.
That works! However, there are a few things to be cautious of.
Firstly, remove any objects from inside container that could potentially move around or fall. Additionally, if your lizard lives in a open top container, ensure that there are no objects around that could fall into the container. If you experience some bumps in the road you don’t want anything to injure your little friend.
Finally, make sure that the tank or cage is in a secure place that will minimise movement. You want to avoid the container sliding around the car.
The possibility of injury in a moving car may make it advisable to put your pet in a smaller, more secure carrier.
b) Travelling with your lizard in a small travel carrier.
If you don’t have space for your lizards usual home, or you just don’t want to carry a glass tank, you can choose to use a soft-sided or hard-sided carrier.
The size of the travel carrier you opt for depends on the species of your lizard. Generally, the travel carrier needs to be big enough that your lizard can move around inside, but not so big that it could get thrown around during transportation.
You can easily adapt any kind of sealable plastic container as long as it has air holes. You could even punch some air holes in yourself. For large reptiles, like iguanas, a plastic dog or cat carrier can also work.
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How to prepare a lizard’s travel carrier.
a) Line the bottom of the carrier with a grippy material.
This can be newspaper, paper towel or pads. You can also use blankets on the bottom, which is recommended particularly during cold weather.
Line the bottom of the carrier with wet towels if your lizard needs a moist environment, or dry towels if it doesn’t.
This will also provide some extra cushioning for transportation.
b) Warm the carrier if necessary.
Depending on the weather, and the species of your lizard, you will want to consider controlling the temperature of the carrier. It also depends on how long your journey will be.
Tips for warming your lizard while travelling:
- Use heat packs or like hand warmers, these will emit heat for many hours.
- Pop an extra blanket inside the carrier for insulation.
- Wrap the container in blankets or old jumpers.
- Use a hot water bottle to keep them warm on shorter journeys.
Get your reptile used to it’s travel home before taking your lizard in the car.
If you will be using a travel carrier, try to purchase it at least 1 week in advance.
This is because you want your lizard to feel relaxed and at home in the carrier, in order to minimise stress.
Introduce your lizard to its carrier at least 1 week before your journey, starting off with just a few minutes at a time, and working your way up to at least 30 minutes.
Keep the rest of your reptile’s routine the same so that they don’t get stressed out before it’s time to go.
Pack all the essentials for the car journey.
The amount that you will need to bring will depend on how long your car trip will be.
If you are just going on a short drive to the vets, then you will need the basics. However, if you are going on a longer car drive, then you should pack more, in case of emergencies.
- Food and water
- Bedding, blanket and towels
- Cleaning supplies
- Heaters – hot water bottle, hand warmers or heat packs
- Vet’s number
- Spray bottle
If you are planning on staying somewhere overnight, then you may also need the following:
- UVB and/or basking light
What to do on the day of travel.
a) Prepare your lizard’s carrier.
This should be done just before the journey as you want your lizard to be away from it’s normal environment for a minimum amount of time.
Refer to Section #2 How To Prepare Your Lizard’s Carrier.
b) Secure your lizard’s container in your car.
Ensure that your lizard’s carrier is in a secure position and won’t risk falling over.
You can secure the carrier in the passenger seat or a backseat with the seat belt, or place in on the floor. Keeping your lizard in the passenger seat will allow you to keep a close eye on him/her.
c) Try to keep stops to a minimum.
The sooner you get your pet lizard to your destination and back to its normal environment and routine, the better.
Of course, you will need to make some stops to give them some water, depending on the species of your lizard. Just be sure to keep these breaks short.
You want to minimise stress as it can have a big negative impact on your lizard’s physical and mental health.
d) Check up on your lizard while in the car
The longer your journey, the more attention you’ll need to pay to your lizard.
On a long journey, make sure that your lizard is eating and drinking enough, and look out for any abnormal behaviour.
What to do after taking your lizard in a car.
a) Return your lizard to it’s normal environment or recreate is as accurate as possible.
Depending on your lizard’s species and personality, he/she may experience stress during or after the trip.
This can be down to a handful of reasons, such as undergoing a change in their environment, as well as experiencing new sights, sounds and smells.
The stress of a long car journey may last several days and up to a week in some cases. This is highly likely be the case if your lizard doesn’t return to it’s usual home after the trip as it can take some time for lizard’s to acclimate to their new environment. In some severe cases, this may even last up to a month.
b) Look out for signs of sickness after taking your lizard in the car.
Symptoms of a stressed lizard include not eating, lethargy and changes to its poop (e.g. not pooping, runny or darker coloured stools).
Stressed lizards are more prone to getting sick, so be sure to look out for the common signs of illness in lizards:
- Increased or decreased eating and drinking habits – not eating or drinking / vomiting / regurgitation / excessive water soaking
- Changes in stool or urine – straining / increased or decreased waste production / changes in appearance
- Lumps or bumps – blisters / scabs / bruises / inflammation / redness
- Changes in general appearance – weight loss or gain / changes in colour / swelling of the limbs, jaw, tail or digits
- Activity level changes – lethargy / increased activity / decreased activity / staying in only one corner of the cage / generally weak
- Limping or lameness – paralysis / signs of trauma
- Changes in posture – acting disoriented / unable to assume normal posture
- Breathing problems – open mouth breathing / wheezing or squeaking sounds / excessive saliva / bubbles from nostrils
If you suspect that your lizard is sick, take him to the vet as soon as possible to get checked out.
Instead of immediately trying to handle your lizard, place your hand in their tank with your palm up for several minutes at a time. In time, your lizard will realise that you’re not going to harm him and will start to feel more comfortable around you.
Travelling with your lizard in the car will take some planning and preparations, but it can be done stress-free.
Just be sure to prepare your lizard’s travel container so that he doesn’t risk getting injured. If you’re using a separate travel carrier, make sure that you allow time for your lizard to get used to it before the trip.
Secure the carrier tightly in your car and keep a close eye on your lizard’s behaviour throughout, and after the trip.
Lizard’s who have experienced stress are more prone to getting sick, so, if you suspect that your lizard is unwell, take him to the vet as soon as possible to get checked out.
Hope you have found this helpful.