Exotic Pets

What to Do If You Want to Go on Vacation and Have a House Full of Exotic Pets

People may be traveling less these days, but circumstances may still come up where you have the opportunity to get away for a while. When that happens, what’s a herp keeper to do?

Can you leave your reptiles or amphibians home alone? Do you need someone to check up on them? Let’s talk about it.

How long are you going to be gone?

In general, shorter trips require less prep for your exotic pets. As with anything herp related, however, the answer heavily depends on what species you keep.

Many reptiles can go up to five days without needing food or a water change.

Some pets require more regular maintenance that requires either daily check-ins from a friend or a self-maintaining system.

Let’s look at the factors to consider…

Water and humidity requirements

Chameleons, geckos, and tree frogs need their enclosure misted daily.

Chameleon drinking water droplets

Daily misting is especially important for chameleons because they do not drink standing water and will only be able to drink from being misted. That being said, you do not need someone to come spray their enclosure every day. Instead, you can install a misting system. It will automatically turn on and mist the enclosure, and you can use it whether you’re on vacation or not. For species that just require mist for humidity, you can even use a fogger.

Some good misting systems include:

Monsoon II Solo High-pressure Misting System

Monsoon II Multi High-pressure Misting System

The difference between the two systems is that one is designed for a single terrarium and the other can mist multiple terrariums at once.

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Even if you do use a misting system, however, you may need to have someone come refill the water reservoir if you’re gone for longer than the system allows.


Carnivores, like snakes, can often be fed before you leave and will be fine until you get back. For other animals, though, the best thing to do is to prepare individual meals before you go so that a pet sitter can simply grab the appropriately labeled meal, and you don’t have to worry about whether they got the amounts right.

For insectivores, you may be able to release live feeders into the enclosure before you go; however, this can lead to injuries in some cases, so it’s not recommended to regularly leave large quantities of live insects in an enclosure. The exception would be bioactive enclosures that contain custodians, such as isopods or springtails. Your pets are safe with these and may eat them if they get hungry.

Heat and light

Like the watering systems, you can also hook up your reptile or amphibian’s light bulbs to a timer. This makes it easy for whoever is checking in because it’s one less thing they have to do. (Plus, you can keep using these when you’re not on vacation.)

Some light timers can even be set up to a phone up so you can monitor them or change the settings.

Safety considerations

Emergencies may not be the first thing you think of when going on vacation, but a simple tweak to your home fire alert system can be a literal lifesaver for your pets if there’s a fire while you’re away.

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All you need is a smoke detector that alerts you via an app on your phone, like Nest.

Additionally, setting up a webcam in the room where your reptile or amphibian is allows you to check in and make sure everything looks normal.

Go shopping before you leave

When you’re away, you want to make sure that your pets have everything they might need while you’re gone, and you likely don’t want to have to try to send a pet sitter out looking for the right item when they need it.

That means keeping spare UVB bulbs and heat bulbs in case one goes out.

Do you have a qualified pet sitter?

The most important thing about a pet sitter is that they’re someone you trust going into your home and taking care of your pets. The best choices are people you know well, like friends or family members.

You may also be able to find a business that comes into your home as a pet sitting service. The Tye-Dyed Iguana in Fairview Heights offers reptile boarding as another option for keeping your exotic pet safe while you’re on vacation.

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