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Emergencies are not just weather related disasters. Emergencies can be house fires, a water line break in the house, or even a medical or family emergency of the caretaker. It is not uncommon for people to have some sort of emergency plan for themselves and their family members, but sometimes our pets can get lost in the shuffle. Because of their cold-blooded nature and the level of care they need, iguanas present special challenges during emergencies.

Think about your home. Try to determine what will be the most likely problem to occur. If you lose electricity, would you have some other way to keep your iguana warm, such as heating a room with a fireplace, or turning on a gas oven? Is your home or property likely to be flooded, and if so, how can you prevent your iguana’s enclosure and supplies from being damaged? In case of fire, how could you get your iguana out safely?

In addition to these issues, it is advisable to create an “emergency kit” of sorts – a set of supplies that you will have on hand at a moment’s notice. Thinking ahead and creating such a kit will save you time and may be essential if you are stranded in your home due to bad weather and cannot go out to get supplies that you need. You can keep many of these items in a sturdy box that you can grab and take with you, if necessary. The items listed below may not all be necessary or relevant to your situation and home, so choose the items from this list that make the most sense for you.

Suggested things to have on hand:
  • Blankets
  • Towels
  • Heating pad
  • Candles
  • Oil lamp with extra oil
  • Matches
  • Flashlights with extra batteries
  • Gas grill - always keep an extra propane tank full
  • Generator and gasoline. Gas is often in short supply after hurricanes and other disasters, so it is a good idea to have a full 5-gallon gas tank before the event, if you have warning.
  • Fire wood if you have a fireplace or wood-burning stove
  • Water in jugs
  • Water in tub if you expect power outages and are on a water pump, or anticipate water outage
  • Potty pan for tub poopers to conserve water; also for soaking your iguana in cool water during the summer if the air conditioner isn’t working and your home is getting too hot.
  • Hot water bottle
  • “Break-activated” hand warmers
  • Paper plates for feeding & plastic utensils for chopping/cutting
  • Canned food, like green beans, pumpkin, etc.
  • Commercial/dry iguana food
  • Baby food & syringes for force feeding/hydrating if your iguana refuses to eat for several days
  • Non-electric can opener
  • Pillow cases if needed for quick transport
  • Sturdy pet carrier for extended stays away
  • Car plug adapter
  • Phone numbers of vet, relatives, etc.
  • Phone numbers of neighbors in case you’re not home
  • Cash, in case banks are closed and credit card machines aren’t working
  • Paper towels for cleaning feces and other messes
  • Chlorahexidine gluconate or Nolvasan for disinfecting, so you don’t have to use bleach
  • First Aid Kit plus Silvadine cream for burns.
  • Keep a copy of Iguanas for Dummies by Melissa Kaplan or another reliable iguana-care book where you can grab it quickly in case of evacuation. Kaplan's book has quick-tips and trouble-shooting suggestions that may come in handy in a pinch.
In addition to thinking about supplies, it is also important that you consider who will care for your iguana if you are unable to or if you are away when an emergency occurs. Making sure that person has everything they need will insure that your iguana is properly cared for in such situations. With that in mind, here are some additional things to think about:
  • What if your iguana gets lost during a fire or home-damaging storm? It’s good to have recent photos of your pets stored online someplace in case you need to show what they look like. Your computer & everything at home may be unavailable or destroyed.
  • Have a contingency plan in case you’re away from home when the emergency happens. Arrange for a neighbor or nearby friend to have a key or access to your home so animals can be removed to safety. Make sure they have phone numbers where they can reach you and vice versa.
  • Leave a detailed set of care instructions with this neighbor or friend so that they can care for your iguana in your absence without having to guess what they need to do or try to get the information from you via phone when things may be hectic or you may be difficult to contact.
  • Be sure to include the name, phone number and location of your iguana's veterinarian with your emergency care-taker. If they are unable to reach you in emergency, they will be able to get your iguana to its vet.
  • Put up stickers/signs on the front window of your house designating where all animals are, and special instructions for removing them.
  • As much as we hate to think about it, the possibility of our own death or disability should be considered. Make arrangements with a trusted friend or family member for that person to be responsible for your iguana if you can no longer care for it. Even if you have no one who is willing or able to adopt your iguana, you can make arrangements with that person to foster your iguana until a new home can be found for it. You can leave that guardian the names and contact information of adoption services in your area, along with your preferences for the type of home/adopter you would want your iguana to go to.

Preparing for An Emergency Situation by D. Giorgianni
Emergency Planning for Reptile and Amphibian Collections by Melissa Kaplan
Disaster Preparedness for Bird and Reptile Owners by the CA Dept. of Food and Agriculture
Providing for Your Pet’s Future Without You by the Humane Society of the U.S.

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