Our snakes are cold blooded, dependent on Chuck’s traveling zookeeper skills for food, water, housing, and, of course, the proper temperature. Traveling with snakes in an RV requires different procedures from housing them in a stationary facility.
Too much heat can kill a reptile; and although they’re more tolerant to cold than heat, any temperature fluctuation is unhealthy. The proper temperature would keep them within a 20 degree range from 65-85 degrees.
Before we sold our home, part of Chuck’s workshop in the basement housed the four snakes we use for educational programs. Before we sold our home, controlling their temperature was easy. After we sold our home, Chuck was confronted with a new set of rules to maintain the proper temperature.
The Right Trailer
Our new 5th wheel for full-time RVing required certain qualities for our exotic critters. Many wildlife refuges where we volunteer allow suitable areas to house the snakes – sometimes at a visitor center, other times in a heated location out of public view. For driving between volunteer assignments, however, we have to be able to maintain proper temperature in our RV.
A spacious basement attracted us to our current fifth wheel. It not only accommodates four cages, it affords both electrical outlets for heat lamps and a heat system ducting to add warmth from the furnace. This dual heat source capability is helpful in assuring that no matter where we park, Chuck can maintain the required temperature.
Even with two sources of heat, there are times when he wants to know exactly what the basement temperature is. For around $10, he located a wireless digital thermometer that fits the bill perfectly. The sensor is attached to the basement wall, while the monitoring unit sits by our bedside upstairs. With a glance, Chuck can tell how our scaly educators are doing a couple feet below. All the heat generating systems are unnecessary when parked at a volunteer assignment, but being able to maintain healthy temperatures while on the road gives us more freedom traveling between positions.
Like their wild cousins, our snakes eat only once a week and sometimes less frequently. Chuck feeds our captive snakes mice that we store frozen in the RV freezer. This requires ample freezer space and, more importantly, an understanding spouse. A corner of our freezer, although not huge, provides space for 75 rodents. Chuck orders the mice from rodent breeders who ship them overnight to us no matter where we are.
Other volunteers and friends parked near us have occasionally brought us mice that they’ve trapped in their RVs. Although we appreciate their thoughtfulness, we explain that our snakes eat only captive-raised mice. Who knows what diseases or poisons wild mice harbor?
With adequate space, proper heating and electric, and mail-order rodents, we can travel the country with our reptile dependents residing in comfort.