!Let's Talk! Button

Celebrating The Holidays With Exotic Pets

December 15, 2023

Greetings from Winchester Veterinary Clinic during this festive season! We adore seeing all the cute and lovable photos of our furry patients celebrating the holidays. Dogs and cats feature prominently on many of those adorable greeting cards, but reptiles and exotics also get extra charming at this time of year. Join us as a local Pickerington, OH veterinarian shares valuable tips on providing seasonal care for these one-of-a-kind pets.

Holiday Decorating: Safety Tips For Exotic Pets

Many seasonal decorations are unsafe. Some of the things to be aware of include ornaments, ornament hooks, tinsel strands, small figurines, mangers, plastic berries on decorative items, ribbons, and plastic wraps. Glitter, tinsel strands, and pine needles are also dangerous. Consult your Pickerington, OH veterinarian for specific advice.

If your animal buddy is a jumper or a flier, you will need to take extra precautions.

Another thing to consider when decorating is the fact that many seasonal plants are toxic to pets. Pines have sharp needles that can cause injuries, and sap can also cause irritation. Keep these things in mind when decorating. It is also possible that the water may contain leached chemicals, like fire retardants. That’s not something you want your pet to drink! 

Want to spread that holiday cheer? You can decorate your pet’s habitat. You might be able to find a holiday-themed hide, such as an igloo. If your pet likes to chew, you can add paper snowmen or snowflake chains. You can also place smaller decorative items outside your pet’s habitat. Just don’t put any items within reach of tiny fingers or paws.

Reducing Holiday Stress For Your Exotic Pet

Many of our animal companions are creatures of habit. Disruptions in their schedules, care routines, and environments can be quite distressing to them. Loud noises and commotion can also scare them, particularly small pets.

Hosting a party? It’s a good idea to keep your pet in a quiet back room during the event. If you can’t easily move your animal friend’s normal enclosure, use a travel enclosure. As long as you can provide appropriate conditions, this should be fine for a night.

It’s also important to watch for signs of stress. You’ll need to do some research and find out what to look for in your animal companion, as this varies from pet to pet. However, some things are red flags for any animal, such as refusing food, trembling, and hiding. Ask your vet for more information. 

Pay Close Attention To Conditions

Hopefully, this goes without saying, but all pets should be kept at a comfortable temperature. However, this is especially crucial for exotics, and for reptiles in particular. Because they’re cold-blooded, reptiles are very susceptible to getting sick very quickly if their environment gets too chilly. Take time to make sure any heating equipment is working properly. A backup heat source, such as a small generator, is also recommended in case of a power outage. Extra bedding may also help, especially for senior animals. 

Arranging Care For An Exotic Pet

Are you among the millions that will be traveling this month? A pet sitter may be a great choice, as your buddy will stay comfy and cozy at home, and will not have their normal schedule disrupted. However, not everyone is familiar with exotics and reptiles. Your best bet is to find someone who has had exotics or reptiles of their own. If you can’t find anyone you know to stop over, look into professional reptile sitter services. 

Bringing your animal companion to the pet sitter’s house is another option. You’ll have to take the time to get everything set up properly, but once that’s done, the pet sitter will only need to provide food and water and do some spot cleaning. 

Modern technology can help quite a bit here, regardless of what option you choose.

  • Set heat and lighting equipment up on a timer. You might even be able to manage and/or monitor these through an app on your smartphone.
  • Consider getting a smoke detector that you can connect to a smart app.
  • Webcams can be set up to provide a live feed of your pet. 
  • Have extra bulbs for heating/lighting gear.
  • Provide updated contact information, as well as info for your veterinarian and an emergency clinic. 
  • If your reptile requires misting, provide a water bottle for misting, along with the misting schedule. 
  • Give clear, written instructions. It’s probably unreasonable to expect a pet sitter to do a lot of heavy reading, but a small beginners’ care book isn’t a bad thing to have on hand, either. Make sure your pet sitter has information about safe and unsafe foods and basic household hazards. Someone who has never had a bird may not realize how dangerous a ceiling fan is for Polly!
  • Have pre-made meals ready to go. For an iguana, you can have pre-chopped veggies divided into sealed plastic bags, with dates written on them.
  • Does your animal friend eat live bugs? If so, you may want to prepare a separate enclosure for the creepy crawlies. Don’t just add extra live bugs to your pet’s enclosure: many insects will bite … especially once they realize they’re about to become lunch. 

Traveling With Exotics

Headed home to see friends and family over the holidays? Your pet may be able to accompany you if you’re only traveling a short distance from home. You’ll need to plan ahead for this, as you’ll need to confirm their reservations. Pack plenty of food, bedding, equipment, water, and medicine for your little buddy. 

We always recommend having a travel case or carrier: sooner or later, you’ll need it to take your pet to the vet anyway. For some animals, a dog or cat carrier will work. You can also use a plastic tote with air holes, or a small tank or aquarium. 

You’ll also need to keep your pet warm during the ride over. You can use heat packs, microwaved rice socks, hot water bottles, or even regular water bottles with hot water in them for this. Place them against the outside of the carrier, and make sure they won’t fall over on your pet. Ask your Pickerington, OH vet for more information.

Choosing Gifts For Exotic Pets

Remember to include your pet in the holiday spirit by giving them something special. While plush toys may not particularly excite reptiles and turtles, they may appreciate new hides or climbing branches. For smaller exotics and pocket pets, consider getting them beds, tents, or hammocks. After everyone opens their gifts, your little buddy may also enjoy playing in some empty boxes. 

Snap Those Shots

Don’t forget to capture some adorable holiday photos of your pet! Try putting a tiny Santa hat on your Bearded dragon, or taking a picture of your hedgehog on a little sleigh. You can also have fun with editing software! Here’s a tip: if you’re taking a photo of your pet inside their tank, angle the camera a bit. This can help reduce glare. Who says a snake or lizard can’t make a cute holiday greeting card? Happy Holidays from all of us here at Winchester Veterinary Clinic, your Pickerington, OH animal hospital. We wish you a wonderful holiday season. Please contact us for all of your pet’s veterinary care needs