Many of our reptile companions can appreciate some time outdoors during the summer months, but over-heating, parasites and predation, are all things to be aware of when giving your reptile some fresh air and sunshine. As a rule, it’s important that when enjoying the company of your reptile outside, you don’t leave them unattended. Also, be advised that prolonged periods outside their familiar terrarium can increase your pet’s stress. To help enhance your pet’s time outdoors, here are some tips and precautions you can follow to ensure the health and happiness of your scaly friend, outside the terrarium.
Never have your scaly critter in an enclosure that is not properly ventilated outside. Avoid taking glass terrariums outside, as they can get too hot quickly and can break during transport. Instead, a bottomless box, or wood structure with chicken wire on the top, will give your critter a chance to slither or crawl through the grass, while providing sufficient ventilation to prevent overheating.
Be sure to have an area that they can go to escape the sun, to cool off and try to avoid the mid-day heat. They may love to bask in their terrarium, but the outdoor sun is much different, and they may have a much different reaction to it!
General signs of overheating to look out for: open mouth/cotton mouth, hot to the touch, unnecessary burrowing, or trying to find the cool side to relax on. Of course, every reptile will behave differently, so please do your research and remove from the sun if its behaviour indicates discomfort.
Eating Outdoor Bugs
Your scaly friend may love chowing down on crickets from the pet store, but the bugs we have outside can harm your reptile in many ways. First, they can carry parasites which can make your reptile sick, resulting in a trip to the veterinarian. Second, you have no idea where outside bugs have been. They could have been exposed to pesticides, herbicides, chemicals or poisons, or be a bug that is naturally harmful to your reptile. It’s always a safer bet to remove any bugs from your critter’s outdoor enclosure and make sure it doesn’t get a chance to eat anything foreign.
Another important part about bringing your reptile outside is to make sure you keep a close eye on them, since native predators may be doing the same. Birds, coyotes and other animals in the wild are always looking for their next meal, and your scaly friend would look like lunch to a lot of these predators. Putting chicken wire over the top of an open enclosure ensures the safety of your pet reptile, as always, it’s important not to leave the reptile outside unattended.
Most importantly, make sure the weather is warm enough to bring them outdoors. No reptile is suitable for cold temperatures, and a lot can go wrong; they will become less active, digestion slows, the immune system doesn’t function properly, and they become more susceptible to secondary infections. Reptiles can get hypothermia, so it is best only to bring them outside when it is nice and warm, during the summer months.
There may be a lot of things to look out for when you bring your scaly friends outdoors, but don’t be afraid, there are plenty of advantages to bringing them outside too. A change in environment is always a good way to entertain your reptiles, and they get the benefits of some fresh air and natural sunshine. So long as you keep a close eye on them and look out for their well-being, your scaly friend will have a lot of fun adventures outdoors.
Written by Alaina Langford, Animal Care Attendent