It's About Pets
Disaster Planning for Bird and Reptile Owners

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PLAN AHEAD. Many evacuation shelters do not welcome pets, so make pre-disaster plans for temporary placement of your pets. Determine the best place to leave your pet in case of a disaster. Identify an off-site location as well as a place in your home.

PHOTOGRAPHS AND IDENTIFICATION. Keep a current photo of each pet. Make sure any distinguishing markings are visible. Birds should be leg-banded.

MEDICAL AND VACCINATION RECORDS. Store these and other important documents in a zip-lock or waterproof plastic bag. Your animals need to have current vaccinations. Keep medical histories and record special dosing instructions and dietary requirements. Write down contact information for your veterinarian.

TRANSPORTATION. Each animal should have its own airline-approved pet carrier. Normal cages may not be sturdy enough to hold your pet during a disaster. Familiarize your pet with the carrier or cage before an emergency.

AQUARIUMS. Fish tanks and aquariums are very top heavy and unstable. They should be secured, bolted to wall studs, or placed on the floor to prevent them from toppling.

BUDDY SYSTEM. In case you are not home when disaster strikes, ask a trusted neighbor to check on your animals. Exchange veterinary information and file a permission slip with your veterinarian authorizing them to get emergency treatment for your pet if you can't be located.


Evacuate your animals early, if possible, to ensure their safety and ease your and their stress.

Listen to the Emergency Alert System ( EAS ) on the TV or radio.

Take all vaccination and medical records, identification, the disaster preparedness kit, and enough food and water for two weeks.

Call your destination to make sure space is still available.

Keep birds caged. They may sense danger and be difficult to capture. In cold weather, wrap a blanket around the carrier and warm up the car before placing animals inside.

Snakes can be transported in a pillowcase, but they must be transferred to more secure housing when they reach the evacuation site.

If you must leave your animals, leave them in a safe area. Cover their cages with a light cloth or sheet.

Disaster Preparedness Kit  

  • Your veterinarian's information
  • Transportable cage (airline carrier quality)
  • Cage cover/blanket
  • Non-spill food and water bowls/dispensers
  • Two weeks' supply of food and water
  • Any special dietary instructions
  • Hot water bottle
  • Newspaper
  • First-aid items
  • Paper towels and plastic bags for cleanups
  • Disinfectants
  • Toys and treats
  • Water bowl for soaking and heating pad for snakes
  • Battery powered heat lamp
  • Current photograph of each pet


Check animals for injury and exposure to chemicals. Contact your veterinarian if you have any concerns.

Monitor birds closely for several days after a disaster. Many commonly show signs of disease several days following a stressful episode. Consult a veterinarian immediately at any signs of lethargy, loss of appetite, loose stool, depression, injury, or sitting on a cage bottom.

If you have to move to new surroundings, do not remove your bird from its cage until it is calm, then do so only in a closed room. Frightened birds may become aggressive or fly away.

Let your bird have plenty of uninterrupted sleep to recover from the stress and trauma. Birds will usually remain calm in isolated, darkened areas with cages covered.

For additional disaster preparedness information, see other documents on this website or visit the California Department of Food and Agriculture's website at .