Reptile Water and Vacation
Authored by Yvonne Lesusky-Hancock, of Wyldwynd Creations
If you are like me, any time you are away from your animals you spend the majority of that time worrying and thinking about them. This worry can put a damper on even the most exciting and fun out-of-house adventures. One of the biggest stressors for me is water. Reptiles can go days and weeks without food but water, regardless of species, is imperative. We all need it and plenty of it, at all times. The thought of one of my reptile kids staring sadly at a dry water bowl, is enough to make me want to stop any excursion, turn around and go straight back home.
Simple Reptile Water Hack
Gravity waterers for fowl and poultry are an excellent way to provide water for days and even weeks when away from home. Gravity waterers for small numbers of freshly hatched and young poultry are the best size for use in rack bins from fifteen quart bins and up for small to medium sized reptiles.The standard ‘regular mouth‘ base of a poultry gravity waterer will fit both a quart and a pint canning jar. The pint jar size fits perfectly in standard six-inch height bins and the taller quart jars are great for Exo-Terra type cages and tanks that have a footprint of twelve by twelve or larger.
For acquiring canning jars, I would recommend asking around in your family to see if anyone has some canning jars sitting in a shed, attic or garage they aren’t using. There are even some store jellies, spaghetti sauces and other products in glass jars that can be repurposed to use with a gravity waterer base. Just make sure it has a mouth of two and a half inches diameter with a proper length neck and lip. Dollar General, Amazon, Wal Mart and other similar stores also carry canning jars, but they can be a bit hard to find in stores during winter. There is also the option of finding two and a half inch mouth plastic jugs that have screw tops at places like Dollar Tree. The sport/carry along plastic water bottles can be found in the correct diameter in some locations.
Really large gravity waterers and small sized screw on bases can be found on most poultry and livestock sites, such as Jeffers.com, chicken hatcheries like Murray McMurray, local feed stores such as Tractor Supply or even Amazon, but I don’t recommend the really large waterers for large heavy bodied strong animals, such as Savannahs or other big monitors and large snakes. These big animals could potentially dig at, push around and knock over a large gravity waterer and wind up with a soaked enclosure during a long human absence. A spill from a large waterer would leave them in a soppy mess of poop soup and substrate. So use some good common sense when deciding if a gravity waterer is safe for your enclosures.
Gravity Waterer | Geckos
Smaller animals, such as leopard geckos, Cresteds, Tokays, Golden geckos, Phelsuma species and similar sized animals, do great with the small gravity waterer bases. If you have natural substrate in an enclosure or a bio-active setup, make sure to sit your jar and base on a rock, block, brick or some such item, that raises it above the substrate so that the water ring doesn’t wind up filled with debris. This trick also works well if you have animals that like to dig in the water or goof around playing in it.
Duration of available water in a gravity fed waterer is totally dependent on your habitats, bins and cages. Several factors need to be considered when deciding if they will work for your needs. Evaporation rate due to size of cage, heat and air flow, number of animals using a single waterer and goofballs. I have several goofballs that love to play in water, so their waters need to be set up on a base that they can still reach just fine but inconvenient for digging around in.
It is imperative that you do several test runs with a gravity waterer, before leaving your animals with them, so that you know how long which size waterer lasts and with which animals. Do not buy a few, put them on, throw them in an enclosure and dash out the door on vacation.
These require a bit of practice to figure out the perfect locations to avoid getting pooped in and making sure they won’t be knocked over.
When filling a waterer, I use ‘maximum overfill‘. I fill my jars, then take a water ring base, put them on the jar but as soon as I flip the jar, I use my watering can to fill the base very quickly! This allows me to have a completely filled jar and not have half of the jar feed out to fill the water ring. This may take some practice, so do not try it the first few times in a paper towel substrate cage, because it does splash a bit!
Use with Caution
At all times, as with any watering or feeding system, use caution and common sense and observe its efficiency over a period of time. You want to avoid a drowned animal and drowned insects. I use gravity waterers only for adult animals. I put bio-balls in the water rings, to give a climb out point for insects that fall in. Avoid using these for thick heavy bodied animals, such as Leachies, that would climb on the water storage and cause it to tip over or use some type of method to secure the water storage to the side of the cage or use cage furniture to lodge it securely in place to avoid tip overs. Give your method a few trial runs to be absolutely sure the water jar won’t tip. Practice makes perfect and as with anything, safety first! Learn to critique your setup and evaluate possible hiccups or accidents!
I hope this will help other reptile keepers alleviate some of the anxiety of leaving home and will be as useful for all of you as it has been for me all these decades!