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Tips For Spending The Holidays With Exotic Pets
December 15, 2023

Season’s Greetings from Flamingo Pet Clinic! As the holidays approach, we love seeing our furry patients posing in front of beautifully adorned trees. However, let’s not forget about our reptile and exotic friends. In this informative article, a local Las Vegas, NV veterinarian provides expert insights on seasonal care for these unique pets.

Decorating For The Holidays With Exotic Pets 

Be careful when letting your little buddy out to play. Many popular holiday decorations are dangerous to pets. 

Here are some things to be careful of:

  • Small or sharp items, such as manger pieces, small figurines, the plastic berries on fake plants, ribbons, light strings, ornaments, tinsel, ornament hooks … the list goes on and on. 
  • Seasonal plants are another concern. The list of safe and unsafe plants varies widely from pet to pet. Do some research, and find out what is and isn’t safe for your little (or not very little) friend. Remember that even non-toxic plants can become toxic if they are treated with chemicals, such as pesticides or fungicides, or are decorated with small items. That tiny reindeer figurine may look like a delicious snack for your pet lizard! 
  • Christmas trees can be another hazard. Pine needles are very sharp, and can cause injuries. This is particularly concerning if you have a pet that may want to perch in your tree, such as a bird or sugar glider. That’s also unsafe! Sweet, sticky sap can also be an irritant and may be toxic if ingested. If you have a real tree, you’ll also need to be careful with the water bowl. The water may contain leached traces of chemicals, such as fire retardants. That’s not even including unsafe decorations, such as string lights, ornament hooks, and fragile ornaments.

That doesn’t mean you can’t decorate your pet’s home: you’ll just have to do it carefully. Why not add a festive seasonal backing to your pet’s tank? You can hang pretty seasonal wrapping paper or lights on the outside of your pet’s habitat. Or, look for a cute holiday-themed hide, like a little igloo or sleigh. If you have a pocket pet, you can make snowmen or snowflake chains out of plain paper. These make great kids’ projects! 

Help Reduce Holiday Stress For Exotics 

Stress is another concern. Just like people, pets can get overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle. Most of our animal companions are creatures of habit. Any changes to their schedules, care routines, and environments can distress them. Loud noises and commotion are also quite scary to many of our animal companions. If your aunt is bringing her Great Dane over, your Chinchilla may be terrified of your canine guest. 

Watch for signs of stress or anxiety. Red flags vary from pet to pet, but there are a few universal things to look for. That includes things like loss of appetite, unusual posture or behavior, uncharacteristic vocalizations, trembling, and hiding. Your Las Vegas, NV vet can offer more insight.

Are you hosting a holiday party? If so, you may want to consider putting your pet in a quiet back room. If their normal enclosure is too big for you to move, set up a small travel enclosure. The biggest thing is to ensure that your pet is comfortable and safe.

Monitor Conditions Carefully

Keeping your pet at a comfortable temperature is critical for reptiles: these guys can get sick very fast if their environment gets too chilly. That’s a particular concern around the holidays, as weather conditions can fluctuate so quickly. Nights can get pretty cold at this time of year here in Nevada! Make sure all heating and lighting equipment is functioning properly.

You may want to consider adding some extra bedding. This is particularly helpful for older pets. We’d also advise getting a backup heat source, such as a small generator, in case the power goes out.

Ask your Las Vegas, NV veterinarian for more information. 

Traveling With Exotic Pets

Headed home for the holidays? You’re in good company. This is the busiest time of year for travel! That can get a bit tricky for people with reptiles or exotics. If you’re going on a short car trip, you might be able to bring your pet with you … if they’re welcome. 

Here are a few tips for traveling with pets:

  • Always confirm your pet’s accommodations. You don’t want to find out at the last minute that the Airbnb you booked won’t allow pets.
  • A good case or carrier is a must. A dog or cat carrier will work just fine for some animals. You can also use a plastic storage container with air holes popped into it. Or, get a small tank or aquarium. When preparing for travel, make sure nothing can fall over onto your pet. 
  • Pack carefully. You’ll need to bring food, bedding, heating and lighting equipment, a first aid kit, and any supplements or medicine your pet needs. Bring a bit extra of everything, just in case of delays. 
  • With reptiles, you’ll also need to make sure that they stay comfortably warm on the ride over. Heat packs, microwaved rice socks, hot water bottles, or even regular water bottles with hot water in them can all be helpful here. Place these around the outside walls of the tank, so they don’t fall over on your pet and injure them. Have the car warmed up before bringing your pet out. Ask your Las Vegas, NV animal clinic for more information.

Boarding Or Pet Sitting Exotic Pets Over The Holidays

For those with exotics or reptiles, boarding is usually the best option. You’ll know that your beloved pet is being cared for by an experienced professional. If you can board with your vet, that is often going to be the safest bet. Keep in mind that not everyone is experienced with exotic pets. Even if you can convince your cousin to watch your bearded dragon, they may not be able to spot signs of illness or injury.  

You may also want to look into a pet sitter. Ask your Las Vegas, NV vet for specific advice on this. 

Choosing Holiday Gifts For Exotics 

Don’t forget to pick up something for your pet. Reptiles and exotics might appreciate some new decorative items, such as new climbing branches or perhaps a new hide. Smaller animals, such as Guinea pigs, ferrets, and hedgehogs, may like little beds, tents, or hammocks. Pocket pets with open-rooted teeth will always appreciate chew toys. Mazes are also a good bet for many smaller animals. Birds may enjoy perches, swings, or toys. 

Taking Photos Of Exotics

Make sure you take some pictures! Try putting a tiny Santa hat on your Bearded dragon, or taking a picture of your hedgehog on a little sleigh. If you’re snapping your pet’s picture inside their tank, angle the camera to reduce glare. You can also have fun with editing software and apps.

All of us here at Flamingo Pet Clinic, your Las Vegas, NV animal hospital, wish you a wonderful holiday season. Contact us with any questions or concerns about caring for your exotic pet, and/or to schedule boarding. We are always happy to help!