By Jodi Marze, Lifestyles Editor
The Picayune Item
PICAYUNE — RedRover.org has put together a list of needs for reptiles and amphibian owners to use in the event of an evacuation. But they advise, “There are greatly varied needs which come with different species of reptiles and amphibians, owners should be familiar with their particular species to know which of the items listed apply to them.” Recommended items are: A two-week supply of feeders/prey items if fed; a two-week supply of water, stored in a cool, dark location. Rotate every two months to ensure freshness; a two-week supply of pelleted food if fed, stored in an airtight, waterproof container and rotated every three months for freshness; food and water source for feeders; baby food or fruits and vegetables stored in their own juice or in water, with a can opener if needed; an ice chest and cool packs to store frozen prey items; calcium and/or vitamin supplementation if needed; dechlorinator for water; tongs for feeding; and water/food dishes. They add, “Baby food and canned fruits and vegetables are a great substitute when fresh produce is not available. However, avoid those with added salt or sugar. Many reptiles and amphibians eat live or frozen/thawed prey. Consider the care and nutrition of the prey animals when making family disaster plans. “Most reptiles and amphibians can be transported in a small, hard-sided carrier, but snakes are normally more secure and safe in a knotted-off pillowcase. Bring your own extension cords to make use of power outlets, but prepare to provide heat without power.” With transportation in mind, RedRover recommends including the following in a ready bag: Carrier or evacuation cage if the existing enclosure is too large to transport; small enclosure with a secure lid for when destination is reached; a heat source; a thermometer/hygrometer; supplemental lighting; extension cords; substrate and hides. “Identification needs are more challenging for some owners than others but there is still the option to microchip in larger reptiles and amphibians. Photos of pets and owners together as well as one highlighting distinguishing marks or features are encouraged,” says Khalessi. In addition to photos, it is also recommended to keep a two-week supply of any medication, first aid kit including antibiotic ointment, Betadine solution for cleansing and disinfecting, gauze for cuts and wounds, cornstarch to stop minor bleeding, tweezers and scissors and Q-tips. “Ask your vet for other recommendations,” says Khalessi. “Also, an appetite stimulant such as Reptaid can come in handy if your reptile or amphibian stops eating due to the stress of the emergency. Spray bottles are handy for misting the enclosure to ensure appropriate humidity. Instant hot and cold packs are great for regulating the temperature of the enclosure during a power outage. “Hygiene items to consider are liquid soap for washing food and water bowls, paper towels, and disinfectant for cleaning crates and carriers. Be sure to rinse all dishes/enclosures well, as reptiles and amphibians are sensitive to chemicals ingested or absorbed through the skin.” For horse owners, the Khalessi says, “Disaster packs should be made for each horse. A one-week supply of the food or special feed your horse is used to eating should be stored in an airtight, waterproof container and rotate every three months to ensure freshness. A one-week supply of water, stored in a cool, dark location in 50-gallon barrels is recommended. Understand that if tap water is not suitable for humans to drink during a disaster, it is also not suitable for animals to drink either. Keep extra feeding and water buckets on hand.” Maintaining a clean environment for horses during a disaster minimizes the threat of disease. She recommends a one-week supply of dry shavings to be spread out in the horse's stall along with a pitch fork, wheelbarrow and/or muck bucket. Khalessi says, “Identification is important for horses, just as any other pet. Options for identification can include: Permanent identification like microchipping, tattoos or freeze branding. There are also temporary, easily-visible identification, such options as: Using a livestock crayon and write your name, phone number and address on the horse; using clippers to shave the owner’s name, address and phone number in the horse's coat; braiding into the horse's mane an ID tag with owner name, address and phone number; using temporary identification tags that allow owners to write their temporary location on in case their horse is separated from them; current pictures of owners with their horse to prove ownership if they are separated; also a copy of the Bill of Sale or other documentation that can prove ownership.” For the horses health and safety, Khalessi recommends, “Keep your horse up-to-date on vaccinations, especially tetanus, as disasters increase the risk of getting cut; keep their medical and vaccination records in a waterproof container along with a copy of their current Coggins certificate. Keep a two-week supply of any long-term medication your horse is taking. “Keep a first aid kit containing cotton and cotton rolls, disposable surgical gloves, vet wraps, duct tape, telfa pads, Betadine, instant cold packs, easy boot, diapers, Furazone, scissors, Blue Lotion and tweezers. Ask their veterinarian what else to include.” Because horses are so large, significant advanced planning is required to evacuate and shelter them temporarily in case of disaster. Khalessi says, “If the owner doesn't have a trailer or enough trailer space for the number of horses they have, they should make other arrangements for transporting your horse(s) in advance. Identifying friends or relatives who could help, or transportation services available for hire. “Also, the time it takes to move a horse is much longer than it takes to put smaller pets in carriers and put them in their car. Owners must allow extra time for this, to get the animals to safety.” Training horses to tether, to become familiar with boarding and being in a trailer if only for disaster evacuation situations should be part of a regular routine, advises RedRover. “There needs to be available a horse trailer and a truck that can safely pull it, in case of evacuation. Conduct periodic safety checks of the the floor of the trailer, the trailer hitch, tires and lights. There should be enough rope to tie out each horse in case the owner doesn't have access to a stable. The halter and lead rope should be made of material preferably not made of nylon, which can melt in the event of a fire.” Pre-identify locations where horses can board, such as equine centers, boarding stables, racetracks, and fairgrounds. In addition to this RedRover suggests, “Set up a ‘buddy system’ with a fellow horse owner to enable you to evacuate each other's animals, if one of you is out of town, when disaster strikes.” Both organizations agree that no matter what type of pet you have, it is better to plan ahead and be prepared for times of potential evacuation. The stress relief alone makes it worthwhile to all involved.