Moving with Reptiles: Canadian Style


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Reptile BooksMoving is an adventure, whether that adventure is a pleasant one or otherwise comes down to one overall contingency many people overlook. Add to the mix, the fact of owning a reptile(s) and this can quickly become a much larger issue than anticipated. The fun doesn’t end in just finding a rental unit which will accept pets. Join me, as I share with you my journey of oddities I encountered during my latest move. Here’s some moving tips!
There’s a lot of work in moving from one home to another. Adding reptiles to the mix seems a death sentence when it comes to renting most places these days. The attitude towards renters with reptiles seems to be shifting _ not in a positive light. Specifically in Canada, where I now reside. If you’re a regular reader you’ll be familiar with the

“Canadian Apartment Incident”

Two young boys allegedly lost their lives to a large constrictor snake. You can read more about our take on the incident Reptile Ocean New Brunswick.

Finding the Right Place

I found this move interesting for numerous reasons. Not least of which, I’m in a foreign country. So the rental system is different in many aspects than what I’m used to. In the United States, there are numerous ‘pet friendly’ properties. From my experience the site rent.com is a reliable resource for finding pet friendly apartments.

Pet or Exotic Animal

Avicularia versicolorThere’s a catch though. Reptiles and Invertebrates while considered ‘pets’ to those who keep them and are involved in herpetoculture; the general public often considers reptiles _ invertebrates exotic ‘animals.’ When apartments are referring to ‘pets’ it’s a safer bet to understand they’re referring to the commonly kept domestic dog or cat. Better than scaring the hell out of your landlord whom may be fearful of reptiles, be forthcoming with any and all species you own.

General rule of renting I’ve found: Landlords can generally enter a rental unit with only 24 hours notice.

If you’re like most people you’ve got a full time job. Taking the day off for moving reptiles to hide them from your landlord is not the best idea. By explaining and being forthcoming with your landlord you’re going to save a lot of hassle.

“Potentially legal hassles, should things take a turn for the worse.”

Some of the general public consider any reptile keeper who owns more than three reptile pets a potential hoarder. Within herpetoculture there’s a discussion amongst keepers regarding vivarium keeping versus rack systems. I vote for the vivarium over the rack system. The rack system of reptile keeping is a technological advancement to make it easier for humans to exploit reptiles.

By the way, for those landlords “OK with reptiles as long as they don’t have to see them.” Our colleagues at Beeger Boxes Reptile Enclosures have developed a ‘Landlord Screen’ for their enclosure systems.

Where do we put them all?

Ambient Room Temperatures

The biggest tip for moving into a new place with reptiles, I’d suggest first deciding which room will be used to house most, if not all of your current collection. Now would be a good time to think ahead as well. What are you likely to get in the future when it comes to new pets? This would be an excellent time to take that new pet into account.
Tempo-webOne of the biggest benefits I’ve had when moving with reptiles and after understanding what I’m sharing with you now is Blue Maestro. This is a bluetooth thermometer capable of monitoring any room temperature and reporting back 12 hours worth of data. Some might wonder what could possibly be so important about a ‘thermometer in an empty room.’

Efficiency is key when it comes to keeping reptiles. Heat loss through poor ventilation can be critical. With the Blue Maestro device I can track any ambient temperature for an entire 24 hour period. A little math and understanding of weather patterns in the area and we can gauge reasonably which room would be most conducive to keeping reptiles.
In other words, owning Blue Maestro not only means monitoring specific locations within any enclosure or incubator. It also means I can choose the room which maintains the highest ambient room temperature to house my reptiles. This allows me to use less energy which is not only good environmentally speaking but also pads the wallet a bit on energy costs.

Package Reptiles for Shipping

Regardless of length of trip, first objective when it comes to moving day, get all your animals packed. The only time you should ever consider not packing animals as described below, is if you’re moving them from one room to the next. If you’re moving down the street or cross-country it’s less stressful to pack your reptiles as if they were being shipped out of town than to injure one of them during transport. This could end up in costly veterinarian bills which no one needs, especially during a move.

Reptiles Express (one of our sponsors) has the best suggestions we’ve found for shipping and they’re extremely fair on pricing. Not to mention Tribe members report excellent service all the way around with these folks. So there it is. I’ve never used them, numerous Tribe members report they rock. Here’s the link directly to their guidelines of packing _ shipping which from my personal experience I totally agree with.

Reptile Express Shipping Guidelines/Standards.

Check out their interview on Gecko Nation Radio with Davids Fine Geckos owner as the host.
I wouldn’t recommend even beginning to breakdown _ pack reptiles until you’ve decided on the room you’ll be using. This will save time in the long run. It may seem trivial to read but when you’re in moving mode you’d be surprised what you ‘forget.’

Reduce stress as much as possible for the reptiles. We don’t care if you fall over dead from a stress related stroke. As long as your reptiles are calm and OK then that’s what matters to us. I’m kidding. I love our readers!

“Pack the reptiles the day of their move. So they go into shipping packages once, come out the other side to a new room with their old house in it.”

Once the reptiles are all packed up, its time to breakdown everything else. Racks, rubs, _ tubs are all dismantled _ shoved into the moving vehicle. You arrive at the new place, unload, drag everything to the newly decided reptile room _ begin set-up. If you’re like most reptile owners you probably own a variety of species or a collection of one specific species if you’re a collector or breeder. If you’re a singular species person, you’ve got it fairly easy as a keeper you can choose a ‘true rack system’ of rubber tubs shoved between planks of wood. When you own multiple species of various needs it becomes somewhat difficult to maintain an entire room. Trying to do so without preplanning is causing numerous issues within the hobby.

Bakers Racks
Bakers RackIf you keep various species I’d recommend using a bakers rack system of adjustable metal shelving fitting almost any need possible. Its well ventilated to allow for airflow so there’s no worry for hotspots. By turning enclosures sideways you can generally get about two per shelf. With a larger enclosure on the top meaning taller screen type enclosures.

I’d also recommend using plastic wall anchors and plumbers tape to secure the rack to the wall in at least four places two at the top and two at the bottom. With bakers racks _ a little ingenuity you can use plastic cable ties to secure lights to the bottom of one shelf which will in return warm the bottom of the enclosure above it adding to the ambient or basking spot of the enclosure.

We then have to consider what species are being kept near one another. Will there be issues because species can see one another? If you think there may be issues its best to either adjust enclosures _ or swap out animals from another. You could also do the easiest thing _ stick a piece of construction paper between the enclosures. Aquarium backgrounds also work for this as well.

The way I’d set these up is to have my warmest species basking spots on the bottom shelf with basking spots at the back of the enclosure. Above these could go slightly cooler species, using the basking spot below as an ambient heat source, so I can use a lower wattage bulb on this shelf. This of course saves you money in energy costs. Once we reach the top of shelf this would be reserved for our coolest species. If we did everything right, everything should be heated completely ambient wise, without further heating sources added except for the basking spot.

One last tip on Bakers Racks shelves if you’re attaching UV lights to the bottoms of the shelves make sure they stay with recommended distance boundaries to avoid any eye issues which have been reported with certain brands.

Label with Name _ Species

Tank LabelsAfter transporting the empty enclosures to the new place, set up the bakers rack. As enclosures are unloaded label them with their inhabitants name _ species. You may have done this prior to moving as well. Becky thought of this I believe, after we moved when we were setting up. (Sidenote: Empty enclosures make excellent boxes for reptile supplies _ or clothes, etc.) This makes arrangement very quick, as now we can visualize who will have issues as well as basking _ ambient temperature needs of each tank. This allows us to arrange the enclosures as are needed then we can set them up _ unpack the animals in their new home.

Doing this last move Becky _ I did, we learned a lot about how to move efficiently with reptiles. I hope the above tips help you out with future moves. Hopefully it won’t be like ours where on move-in date we arrive to our entire street blocked off as they tear it apart to install new storm drains _ what I think were water lines. We literally drove across our entire complex lawn to get to our door _ unpack our vehicles. This street actually claimed my neighbors Volkswagen tire _ rim as he dodged an oncoming bull dozer which was backing up seemingly without direction from ground crew.

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