Emergency Preparedness For Reptiles & Amphibians

(Tutorial for turtles by Ashley at Make It & Love It.)

The anniversaries of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina remind me how important it is that we plan to care for our whole family for an extended period of time in the event of a natural or man-made disaster.  This is a good time to get started.  This post has been a long time coming and was researched consulting the AVMA, FEMA, ASPCA, HSUS, CDC, Petfinder, & more.  I hope you find it useful!  (I ask that if you re-post it, that you give credit to & link to PetProject.)

It’s not that I’m all gloom and doom. It’s just that in the event of a disaster, I don’t want to be forced to rely on other agencies, if I can help it, and I know my pets will be safest under our care, so I’m working to be as prepared as possible. I live in earthquake country and we have a kit to take care of everyone in our family—human, feline, and canine. Getting prepared has been an ongoing process so I can spread out the cost and spread out the time & energy spent on the project.

Make sure your whole family is taken care of and do not leave your pets to fend for themselves. Keep them with you. If you evacuate and think you’ll only be away from your home a short time, take your animals with you! You don’t know when or if you’ll be able to return to your home.

I’ve divided the list into categories and put a ♥ by the items to start with first. Don’t get overwhelmed. Begin with the ♥ items and once you have those, set a goal—maybe 1-2 items every other week? And begin by gathering at least 3 days worth of supplies and work up to 1-2 weeks. Defray the costs by checking thrift stores and looking for sales.


  1. ♥Microchip your animal if possible
  2. ♥Talk to your vet about obtaining medication for your emergency kit
  3. ♥Put together Herp First Aid Kit
    1. Drs. Foster & Smith’s list
    2. Melissa Kaplan’s list
  4. Place “Pets Inside” stickers at each entrance to your home listing what types of animals you have & how many—here’s where you can get a free decal
  5. Develop a plan that doesn’t rely solely on public emergency shelters (most won’t allow animals)–we plan to keep our pets with us, so we have a tent, etc.
  6. Petfinder has a number of useful links for finding pet friendly motels/hotels—identify nearby options & options outside your local area
  7. Coordinate with a nearby friend or trustworthy neighbor to take care of your pets in case something happens while you’re away from your home (make sure your friend or neighbor is familiar with your pets & that your pets are comfortable with them, give them a key & care information for your pets, be clear about your arrangement—will they just feed & water your pets at your house, will they take custody of your pets, etc.)
  8. Find out if your vet will board animals in the event of an emergency
  9. Contact your local animal control & humane society about their disaster plan (what services they plan to provide, where they intend to be located)
  10. Plan to keep your pets separate from each other—animals under extreme stress or in pain can be unpredictable and your dog could attack your lizard, etc.
  11. If you live in a disaster prone area:
    1. consider an automatic feeder if appropriate
    2. consider using a large waterer
    3. if you are likely to evacuate, find an herp vet in that area ahead of time
    4. learn about coping with evacuation gridlock
    5. make sure you’ve planned for space in your vehicle for your pets
  12. Familiarize yourself with what to do in an emergency
    1. the AVMA has a superb manual
    2. the Humane Society has good tips, including dealing with everyday emergencies
    3. Special tips for preparing for tornados


  1. ♥up-to-date medical records
  2. ♥proof of ownership—pet license records, adoption forms, registration papers, etc.
  3. ♥recent photos of all your pets, include distinguishing marks (for lost posters, online notices)
  4. ♥photos of you with your pets (documenting they are your pets)
  5. detailed descriptions of your pets


  1. ♥contact information for:
    1. your veterinarian
    2. emergency veterinarian
    3. area shelters
    4. ASPCA Animal Poison Control 1 (888) 426-4435
  2. ♥sturdy, escape-proof traveling cage or carrier or plastic tub with air holes (smooth off any burs made by drilling holes to avoid injury to amphibians)—make sure whatever you use fits in your car
  3. ♥suitable substrate
  4. ♥blanket to cover cage
  5. ♥sturdy bowl large enough for animal to soak in
  6. ♥battery operated heating source or hot water bottle
  7. ♥appropriate battery operated lights
  8. ♥extra batteries/heavy duty electrical cord (consider getting a generator if you have several animals)
  9. ♥thermometer for cage
  10. ♥manual can opener
  11. ♥food bowls
  12. ♥water bowl
  13. ♥spray bottle for misting water
  14. ♥1-2 weeks of food
  15. ♥canned fruit & vegetables in natural juice, no salt added –OR– baby food jars of fruit & vegetables
  16. ♥1-2 weeks water (not distilled)
  17. ♥dietary supplements
  18. ♥live food (remember to plan for care for your live “food”)
  19. ♥dechlorination drops
  20. ♥current Herp First Aid Manual
  21. styrofoam cooler to insulate pet in its cage
  22. newspapers
  23. handling gloves
  24. disposable gloves
  25. plastic bags
  26. paper towels
  27. disinfectant
  28. dish soap
  29. dish brush
  30. towel

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