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BellaOnline's Exotic Pets Editor

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Cold Weather Preparedness - Exotic Pets

Guest Author - Diana Geiger

The first day of autumn has arrived. For some of us in the Northern climates it means that frigid temperatures could be right around the corner. We can hope not, but we do need to be prepared. Cold weather preparedness is essential if you have pets, exotic pets, children, or elderly adults.

Pet owners, especially exotic pet owners need to plan ahead for such emergencies as power failure. If the power went out today, right this minute and lasted for a few days. The temperatures are extremely cold; would your pet or pets survive?


As the thermostat plunges way below zero I wonder how many people have thought about their pets if they should lose electrical power. Are you ready? Think clearly and concisely, if the electric went out right now for a few days will your pets survive?

Cold Weather Preparedness

Letís pretend there is a widespread outage all over town. People are scrambling to other peopleís houses that had the foresight to prepare for electrical outages. Your neighbor has an emergency generator you could go there, but they are allergic to animals, or just donít like animals. What are you going to do? PREPARE yourself right now. It can and does happen.


Through my lifetime I have been through many power failures lasting 24 hours or more. Some have been in the winter caused by heavy ice storms, power problems, blizzards, and evidently power gremlins Ė I believe that is who causes those mysterious failures. So far this year, 2010 we have seen the electricity go out twice. Not long enough for concern but it could have meant disaster if it had been a longer outage and if we had not been prepared.


We have also been through many power failures and blackouts because our power grid in the United States is out of date and not even close to size to handle the capacity of need.


Many days it can be below 32 F, here in the north part of the United States where I live, it gets much, (even more much :) colder! I have seen it thirty below 0 F. In Northern Minnesota where I once lived one day it was 60 F below zero, and that is not figuring the wind chill factor which was 100 below 0! The governor closed down every single school in the state.

What if my electricity would have gone out that day? I lived many miles back on a forest service road, a minimum maintenance forest service road. There was too much ice on the ground to consider moving my car. When I put one finger on the side of the car it would slide sideways. There would have been no way to have gotten to safety, a place to keep my children or my animals warm.

YouTube winter safety video This is excellent advice for general cold weather safety.

winter safety


Winterize Pets in Cold Weather video

Here we have a generator just in case we lose electricity in a power failure. We also have propane heaters. At least one propane heater is necessary in any household. In Minnesota I had electric heat but also a well ventilated wood stove. I had always kept at least four cords of wood on hand if not more.

There are many different pets that canít handle extreme temperature changes. It will kill them.


What exotic pets canít handle the extreme cold, just a little cold, or even too high of temperatures? Here are a few to consider, ectotherms, invertebrates, amphibians, and reptiles are coldblooded and cannot regulate body heat. We made the decision to have these animals as an exotic pet it is our responsibility to protect their lives in case there is a long-term power outage. Normally, we would have under tank heaters, basking lights, and full spectrum lights to make sure they get their daily vitamin D3 they so essentially need, and to keep them warm. Without this heat they wonít eat, and if they did eat they would not be able to digest their food.

How to handle a frozen iguana
frozen iguana


Many of our exotic pets are warm-blooded species this is known as endotherms. Many species of endotherms cannot stand exposure to too much heat or too cold an environment. Either way many of these animals can die. Look at parrots, ferrets, and a huge number of exotic pets that will need emergency power for heat or air conditioning.


The emergency Ė it is -30 below zero, there is an ice storm; the ice has covered electrical and telephone lines all over town. You have no communication, no electricity, no heat, no water (it is frozen and water systems run on electricity, or you have a well and that is frozen or runs on electric), and little food since most food needs cooking. The colder it is the more calories your body requires. You have pets, perhaps children, and elderly parent, and yourselves. How will you survive?


We have several things that are essential during a power failure. I have an emergency kit put together for spring storms. This kit is located near the back basement door which is also near one of the back doors. This kit can be run down to the basement during a tornado or it can be brought out the backdoor. Or, if we have a cold weather power failure it can stay right in the house.


Each member of the family has an emergency kit. Each kit is designed to last 72 hours.


Each household member is responsible for so many pets. The kit has food for that person and the pets for which they are responsible (go for light weight), water at least a gallon a day per person and pet (determine water needs per pet, type and size of pet), change of clothing, blankets, wet wipes, flashlights, batteries, candles, lighters, pocket knife, rope, duct tape, toiletries, a whistle, donít forget the essentials for the animals (including medical needs and information). In our family we need extra water for formula for an infant.


We also have an elderly parent living with us, as well as our daughter and her husband, a three-year old, a nine month old baby, my husband, and myself and I am 100% disabled. Even if the electric went out for an hour in extreme cold I could lose pets, exotic pets, our granddaughters, and elderly parent.


We have two forms of backup heat Ė one could be portable if the need should arise. One is a propane heater. We started with one Ė we have used it so many times we now have a few We had propane camping Ėlike canisters for the heater but now we have the large but yet still somewhat portable 20 lb cylinder you see in front of convenience stores.

Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX Buddy 4,000-9,000-BTU Indoor-Safe Portable Radiant Heater






These propane heaters with the amount of propane we have on hand would last several days. Have we needed emergency heat beyond 24hours? Yes, we have been without heat up to seven days. Three months if you count the time I bought a summer country house sight unseen in Northern Minnesota and moved there in the winter. One of my oops moments. We have also lost electricity during the middle of the summer, 100 degrees and above but that can be a different story.

A second important item is a generator. Depending on the wattage it puts out it will keep you warm by powering your heat, it will keep any other appliance going that you may need. It will also keep electric medical equipment running! My article on emergency generators - everything you need to know about emergency generators.

Stay clear of Coleman generators they went bankrupt Ė My article on emergency power generators Generators

Keep in mind using safety precautions while using propane heaters and emergency generators! Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is how my 15-year old son died. Keep emergency generators outside. Make sure you have a carbon monoxide detector. Make sure there is plenty of ventilation around your propane heaters and you have a carbon monoxide detector (battery powered or electric with backup battery system Ė remember no electricity).



Kidde KN-COPP-B-LPM Battery-Operated Carbon Monoxide Alarm with Digital Display



IF 2012 does happen bring a bible or sacred book of your belief. I donít think much else will help.



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Content copyright © 2014 by Diana Geiger. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Diana Geiger. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact BellaOnline Administration for details.

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