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Prepping For Your Animals - Environment

Many of us have pets. Many of us see our pets as part of our families, another son, daughter, brother or sister. With all of the attention being paid to prepping for the humans in the family, have you given enough thought to your little varmint(s)?

Our animal companions run a broad spectrum from ant farms and tarantulas to horses and sometimes pigs. Each has some unique needs that must be planned for.

We won't be able to address specifics for each possible critter, but we can set up a couple of scenarios to get folks to examine what needs to be done for that special member of your family.

One item that seems to be overlooked in many preparedness guidelines for your animal friend is environment. For example, let's say you live somewhere outside of Alturas, in Modoc County. It is the dead of winter and the worst case scenario happens. Your little friend happens to be a Bearded Dragon. What will you do if power is out and deliveries cease?

Will you be able to provide ample heat, UV lighting, and the varied diet that is required for your pet to maintain good health? Do you have ample supplies to maintain the animal's vivarium?

I can understand the reaction that, "Well, that's an exotic pet". Many of us have more common pets that are also dependent to some extent on our modern infrastructure. For example, how many of you have Northern Breed Dogs such as Huskies, Samoyeds, Spitz, and even the Shih-tzu?

If you live outside Needles and it's July, and the temperature is soaring, how well will your Northern Breed fare if the power is out and not coming back for some time (if ever)?

Now the larger Northern Breeds are able to adapt to heat better than the Shih-tzu, but even then my wife's Husky prefers a cold tile or concrete floor on a warm day. Air conditioning is her best friend. Shih-tzus are brachycephalic (snub-nosed) and are very sensitive to high temperatures as a result of that short snout. Will you be able to deal with the heat stress that may be threatening your best friend?

There are some stop gap measures that can be employed in these two examples. In the case of the Bearded Dragon, a hot water bottle can be used as a stop gap measure to maintain the required heat in the vivarium, as can stones that have been warmed by a fireplace. Just make sure the stones are not hot where they may cause burns. I know most reptiles prefer live food, but sometimes they'll just have to adapt to canned food. Do you have a supply of canned insects (yes, there are really such things) to get you through the winter? Once the winter is over, you can start growing or catching your own if you need to, but you need to have something to get them through the remaining winter. Most lighting in reptile enclosures generate UV B (290nM-320nM) and is flourescent in nature. If the power is out, running a generator may not be easy or possible to maintain the lighting in the enclosure. UV Leds that produce the required wavelength are available, and you might want to think about constructing an illuminator to use in conjunction with natural light. If you use a solar cell and battery, it will be possible to provide your friend with the needed light for the required 12-14 hours.

For the Shih-tzu, two liter bottles of water than have been frozen can be wrapped in towels and then placed near your friend for a short term solution. A wet towel for the animal to lay on can also be used if ice is not available. The evaporation of the water will help to cool your friend. If you are stuck for a period of time, you may be forced to seek a more permanent solution such as digging under your home to create a space that is at least 8 feet below grade level. At that point the earth is usually a constant temperature somewhere between 55 and 68 degrees F. Basically, you're creating the beginnings of a heat pump system.

So, look at your animal family members. Have you adequately planned for their environment if things really get bad? Remember, this is as much for you as it is for them. An emergency situation will be stressful on you and your human family members. The stress level will be magnified to unimaginable proportions if little Fluffy is near death because of her inability to cope with an extreme environment.

Andy said...
March 20, 2009 at 3:11 PM  

Wow I didn't know they had UV leads! Thanks for the scenarios!

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