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How to Safely Relocate with a Vivarium

posted: 15/10/2020

Vivariums are used as a home to various pets, but most often to reptiles and amphibians. Before we give you a detailed step by step guide on how to safely relocate your animal and their enclosure, we feel it is important to stress upon some points.

moving with pets tips

  • Reptiles and amphibians are delicate creatures and can easily get anxious. You must speak to your vet or another person with extensive knowledge of your particular type of animal.
  • Heat is crucial for reptiles, snakes and lizards in particular. You need to make sure they are comfortably hot during transportation. Use heat pads or a bottle filled with water. Place them outside of your animal’s travel container to avoid burning them.
  • Moisture is important, especially if you are moving with an iguana. Take a spray bottle with you and mist your pets periodically. For longer moves (more than 24h) you need to take out your turtles and let them swim for a little bit.
  • Frogs and toads are not big fans of high temperatures, so be careful not to overheat them. Consider cooling pats, if needed.
  • Depending on how long will the relocation take, you may have to feed your animals while on the road.
  • Most amphibians breathe not only with their lungs but also with their skin, so you need to avoid cleaning the enclosure with chemicals. Be careful what type of water you use to wash the accessories from the vivarium.

Disclaimer: Do not mistake a terrarium with a vivarium. The first enclosure is designed for plants and is like a small greenhouse in your home. Terrariums must be transported as they are, meaning you don’t have to disassemble them. However, if you have an animal living inside, it needs to be moved in a container before relocating.

Move Your Vivarium in 6 Easy Steps

If you are experienced in having reptiles and amphibians as pets, you already know these things. But if you are a newbie, we advise you to seek further information about your specific type of pet. Now let’s get to the moving instructions:

Step 1: Preparations

Similar to the relocation of the fish tank, here as well it is essential to have a system and make the necessary preparations in advance.

  • Make sure your animals are healthy before moving them. It is a good idea to have them checked if you don’t feel certain or have any suspicions.
  • Prepare your packing materials in advance. You will need:
    • Blankets – to cover the tank and the animal crate while transporting them.
    • Old newspapers or packing paper – to provide padding when packing and to lay on the bottom of the transport container. Also, some species like tortoises and leopard geckos would need a place to hide.
    • Heat packs or water bottles – to keep your pets warm during the move.
    • Transport container – to put your animals in while on the road. It needs to be lidded, secure and with enough holes to provide a good oxygen flow.
    • Bubble wrap – to protect everything from breaking.
    • Cardboard boxes – to place the removable parts of the vivarium.
  • Talk with your house moving company and explain to them that your vivarium must be the last thing they put in the truck and the first they unload at your new home.
  • Prepare some foliage, branches or other things your animal can use to hide in while in the transport container.

Disclaimer: Bear in mind not all removal companies transport animals, especially exotic ones like snakes and lizards. Furthermore, if you are relocating internationally, there might be some regulations and bans on certain breeds. Inform your moving agent about your pets and ask them for help and information.

Step 2: Move Your Animal to the Travel Container

moving a bearded dragon

You can either remove your pet from the vivarium in advance or just before you leave your old home. The first option will allow your animal to get familiar with the travel container. The latter will minimise the stress of being in a new environment for a long period. Choose the one that suits best your situation and your pet’s character.

  • Put some foliage or moss on the bottom of your travel container. A good alternative is a folded towel. The idea is to create a hiding place for your pet once you move it into the travel container.
  • Some species will need more props like perches, for example.
  • Gently take your animal and put it in the temporary enclosure. You need to wash your hands and spray them with dechlorinated water if you are handling amphibians.
  • Once the animal is inside, shut the lid and secure it.
  • Cover the container, so your pets will be left in the dark. This will calm them and reduce the stress of transportation.

Step 3: Move All Loose Parts

You want to avoid damaging the vivarium by removing all loose decoration and accessories.

  • Pick up the food and water dishes. Wash them and wrap them in paper or bubble wrap.
  • Examine the vivarium and remove any loose rocks, branches and basically anything that can bang against the glass during the transportation.
  • Pack up the heat rocks and lights. Cover them in bubble wrap as well.
  • Put everything in a box and fill it with crinkle packing paper for extra padding.
  • Label the box “Fragile.”

Step 4: Pack the Vivarium

Now it’s time to deal with the vivarium. Ideally, you will have a box big enough to fit the entire enclosure. However, it’s highly doubtful you will find a carton for the larger vivariums. Here is what you need to do:

  • Do not remove the live plants, leave them as they are.
  • If you have a pond, drain it with an aquarium tube, to avoid any incident during transportation.
  • Cover the vivarium in bubble wrap to prevent it from breaking. It will also insulate the cold and will protect your plants from freezing.
  • If your plants are sensitive to low temperatures, you can put a heating pack in the vivarium before wrapping it up.

Disclaimer: If you have a larger vivarium, let your movers help you with the loading. Remember to always lift the tank from the bottom and never the sides.

Step 5: Transportation

Unlike fish, reptiles and amphibians need your attention during the actual relocation. Check on your pet periodically (4-5 hours). If needed, mist them with water or give them snacks. If the removal takes more than 24 hours, you can also unwrap the vivarium and let some fresh air inside for your plants.

Step 6: Unpack

Once in your new home, you need to unpack and settle your vivarium a.s.a.p.

  • moving a pythonEnsure that the room you are putting everything in is with the correct temperature.
  • Move your animals in the room and start to unpack the tank.
  • Unwrap the vivarium and place it on a flat, sturdy surface.
  • Check the vivarium for dents and chips. Inspect the insides and make sure there are no loose plants, rocks or anything that could be dangerous for your pets.
  • Place the accessories and arrange everything as it was in the old house.
  • Put water in the pond.
  • Ensure the temperature and the humidity levels are correct.
  • Release your pets the same way you caught them.
  • Monitor your animals for a couple of weeks for any signs of stress or illness.

Disclaimer: Depending on the type of pet, you have there are different techniques you can use to minimise the distress and make the transition smoother. Do not hesitate to ask a specialist for professional advice.

Rules and Regulations in the UK

If you are preparing to relocate internationally to the United Kingdom from within the EU with a pet reptile or amphibian, we have some good news for you. Your animals won’t be quarantined, and won’t face any restrictions upon entering the country. That said you will still need to fill up some customs documentation. Consult with your London movers and ask them to help you with that. When we are talking about international relocations most reputable removal agencies handle all of the documentation and the consultants are adequately prepared to answer your questions.

If you want to know more about how to relocate with other kinds of pets check our detailed house moving guide where our experts give even more pro tips. How did you transport your vivarium? What difficulties did you encounter and how did your pet take it? Share with us your experience and any additional advice you might have in the comment section below.


Stephanie Cooper

Stephanie is a content marketing specialist for Top Removals for the past several years. She has extensive experience working with moving companies and knows her audience. Stephanie creates engaging and useful content helping the customers of Top Removals with their struggles and providing them with the most accurate insight.

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