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Apex Vets explains reptile hypothermia dangers

January 21, 2024

Winter especially can be a tough time for pet reptiles – and with good reason. Any drop in temperature in their surroundings can be dangerous to their health, even resulting in hypothermia.

While the colder months are with us, it’s crucial to ensure your pet reptile stays adequately warm. Contact us and if you have any concerns, book a check-up for your pet reptile with them. Just remember to maintain a warm environment, especially during the journey.

Book a reptile check-up

Reptiles and cold weather

Why don’t reptiles do well in the cold? Reptiles fall into the category of cold-blooded animals. This means, unlike birds and mammals, reptiles do not maintain a steady body temperature around 36 – 37 degrees Celsius.

Our nurse Jack explains that reptiles rely on external sources to keep their body temperature up and without these external sources (including sunlight), reptiles like snakes and lizards can be at risk of hypothermia as their body temperature drops.

Different reptiles survive best at different temperatures. This largely depends on where they have originated from and the type of natural habitat their species would be used to, for example, deserts or rainforest. Any prospective reptile owners will need to do their research to ensure they can provide the right environment for their new pet and can commit to keeping them at the right temperature.

Signs of hypothermia in reptiles

To help reptile keepers in and around Denny, we are sharing the following pointers:

How to tell if your reptile is suffering from the cold:

  • Less movement and activity – they may even become motionless
  • Reluctance to eat and drink
  • Eyes may appear sunken due to dehydration and weight loss
  • Skin may become more wrinkled
  • Their skin won’t shed properly and may become patchy due to the dehydration

If you are concerned about your pet this winter, book a reptile check-up with Calum.

Preventing hypothermia in reptiles

We advise that the best way to prevent your reptile from getting hypothermia is to conduct thorough research on the specific heating needs of your reptile species before owning them.

It’s imperative that you then choose the most suitable equipment and create a comfortable and safe environment, maintaining their ideal temperatures in their tanks or cages all year round, no matter the season. In colder months this is particularly important as the temperature inside your house will drop, so be sure their housing temperature is still consistent.

Our nurse, Jack recommends investing in essential heating equipment and a regular monitoring routine to provide optimal conditions for your pet reptile – this may look like:

  1. A primary requirement is a reliable heat source, such as an appropriately sized heat mat or ceramic heat emitter, placed in the enclosure to establish a warm zone.
  2. Additionally, a thermostat is crucial to regulate and maintain the desired temperature, ensuring your reptile’s wellbeing.
  3. For specific species, basking lamps can be used to create a localised, elevated temperature for thermoregulation.
  4. Regular monitoring with a thermometer is also recommended to ensure the consistent provision of the required warmth.

Contact us for more advice about reptiles or to book a check-up with Calum or Sam at Apex Vets if you have any concerns.

Book a reptile check-up

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