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Animal Care Hospital
Call us today! 319-378-9000
Call us today! 319-378-9000

1146 Blairs Ferry Rd NE
Cedar Rapids, IA 52402

Taking Your Reptile to the Vet

August 1 2020

Do you have a reptile, lizard, or turtle? Just like any other animal, reptiles need regular veterinary care to thrive. But how does one go about bringing a snake or iguana to the doctor? As your Marion, IA area veterinarian, I make some suggestions below.

Carrying Case

For larger reptiles, you can use a hard-shell dog or cat carrier or crate. Another option is to get a second, smaller tank, just for travel. You can also use a plastic storage tote with ventilation holes. In some cases, you may be able to use your pet’s regular tank. Just remove anything that could roll over onto your pet and injure them. Use towels, paper towels, or butcher paper for lining. You may also want to offer your pet a small box or sleeping bag to hide in if they get stressed.

Getting Ready

As you probably know, keeping reptiles at the right temperature is very important. On a hot summer day, you can probably get by with just skipping the AC on the way over. In winter, however, this gets trickier. One option is to fill a few water or soda bottles with hot water. Put these just outside your pet’s cage. Secure them well, so they don’t roll around. Blankets—either regular or thermal—will also help. You can also put a hot water bottle or warm, rice-filled sock in the tank. Wrap it in a towel, so it won’t burn your pet.


Put the carrier in a spot where it won’t roll around. The floor behind the passenger seat is a good place, if it will fit.

The Drive

Car rides can be very scary and stressful for pets. Avoid fast starts and stops, sharp turns, and speed bumps. Also, be sure not to turn the radio up too loud!


Keep in mind that every type of pet is different. Something that works great for a snake may not work at all for a lizard. Turtles, for example, are quite strong, and can actually pop the lids off storage containers. There are going to be variations from clinic to clinic. Some places will allow lizards on harnesses, while other prefer reptiles to be kept in carriers at all times. Ask your vet for specific advice.

Do you have questions about reptile care? Contact me, your local Marion, IA area veterinarian, today!