Holiday care

Heading off on holiday shortly? Reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates are probably the easiest group of pets to take care of when you go away, but even so, it pays to make careful preparations.

It may well be possible to arrange for a friend or neighbour to look after your collection while you are away, especially if you have just a single vivarium that can be transported easily. This partly depends on what you are keeping though, quite apart from the size of the enclosure. It is likely to be much easier to persuade a friend to adopt your stick insects temporarily rather than a large python!

One of the unsung advantages of joining your local reptile club is that you will meet fellow enthusiasts who will often be willing to look after more demanding creatures without cost if you are willing to return the favour in the future. Even so, don't take this for granted - a gift is always appreciated!

If you haven't sorted out holiday care for your pets as yet however, and don't know anyone locally who could help, don't panic! Ask at your local reptile shop, as some will board pets for their owners.

You can then be sure that they are likely to be receiving the best of care, rather than leaving them with a family member who has no experience of keeping such creatures. This can also work out as being surprisingly cost-effective, and is generally a pretty stress-free option as well, provided the shop has space available.

The home care option

If you do decide to leave your pets for someone to look after at home though, you do need to make sure as far as possible that everything that is required will be on-hand. Obtain sufficient livefood to last if possible while you are away, and be certain to have a spare spotlight available for example.

You can be sure otherwise that the bulb will blow while you are on holiday, and especially if there is no reptile shop nearly, getting a replacement may be difficult in your absence. In cases where there is no alternative - buying fresh fruit and vegetables for example - then you will simply have to leave some money for your friend to obtain food as required.

You also need to prepare things before you go so that minimal cleaning will be required. In the case of turtles for example, strip down the filter and also carry out a partial water change. While looking after your pets is probably second-nature to you, this will not necessarily apply when someone else takes over this responsibility. Write down exactly what you do therefore, so as not to create worry at a time when you might be unreachable.

Although snakes may not need feeding if you are going on a short break, describe the defrosting process carefully for example, and better still, reinforce this by talking your friend or relative through the process, particularly if they have not kept snakes themselves.

By preparing everything carefully before you go, and leaving detailed instructions as necessary, so there is far less risk of anything going wrong in your absence. Nevertheless, do leave a contact number for your vet, in case of an emergency, and details as to how you too can be contacted if something goes wrong.