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Oh Baby It’s Cold Outside!


And with the cold comes weather-related risks for our exotic pets (birds, rodents, reptiles, and amphibians et al.) more used to warmer climes…because even those pets that don’t go outside can still suffer ill effects from the seasonal change.

Significant drops in temperature make now a great time to step back and assess your exotic pet’s environment for any changes. For example – that window view that was lovely in the summer season may now offer a cold draft to the side of a cage, or that heat vent may dry out water dishes more frequently as it is now angled towards the cage as we change from cooling to heating our homes. If either of these issues may affect your exotic animal or its home, please take the time now to readjust. Most exotic pets are very sensitive to temperature changes and a drafty corner could quickly mean a sick loved one. Similarly, as we turn on the heat more regularly, you should consider checking your furnace filter to make sure it’s clean and that it isn’t releasing high levels of dust and other toxins into the air for our feathered friends. This is especially important if you have a wood burning fire place as smoke backing up from the chimney can be deadly to birds.

Aside from the new challenges that our heating systems cause, please also remember that YOU will be limited by the weather as well. Ice storms, power outages and heavy snow falls can happen at any time during the winter, and may make it hard to get around. It is a great idea to stock up on an extra bag of hay and/or pellets/seeds so that in the event of a winter storm you do not run out of food for your little one – especially if he/she is particular about their meals!

Speaking of power outages, having a plan in the event of a prolonged outage is also wise. Again, exotic animals are very temperature sensitive and significant fluctuations – especially longer term ones — can be devastating to their health. Make sure that you have heavy blankets available to bundle up the cages (safely), and consider having a small generator that can power an additional heat source. You also want to avoid scented candles when it comes to your bird friends. If you do have to travel with your pet in the cold weather, please bundle them with blankets. Consider a smaller carrier that you can keep warm more easily, pre-warming the car if possible (at least briefly) and/or using a heating pad to keep warmth near the cage during the trip.

We wish you and your exotic friends a warm and safe winter!

Dr. Sarah Hansford

Dr. Hansford completed her Bachelor of Science at the University of Guelph before graduating from the Ontario Veterinary College with her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in 2004. She has a special interest in avian and exotic animals and, prior to graduation, enjoyed spending time at Jungle Cat World, the Bowmanville Zoo and the Metro Toronto Zoo. Since then, she has continued to expand her knowledge base through work at various exotic hospitals. Learn more about Dr. Hansford…

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