Googling “How to keep dogs calm during thunderstorms” brings up over six million results full of tips and tricks to help dog owners reduce their pet’s anxiety during storm season. What about exotic pets, though? Can they feel fear during storms? Of course, they can, and you’ve come to the right place if you’re searching for tips to calm your exotic pet during the next thunderstorm.
Keep reading to find six tips to prevent unnecessary storm-related stress, fear, and anxiety in exotic pets.
The Top 6 Ways To Keep Exotic Pets Calm During Thunderstorms
1. Give Them a Safe Place
Your exotic pet may feel safer if they have a comfortable and quiet place to retreat when a storm rears its ugly head. A small room with no windows, such as an interior bathroom or laundry room, would be the best bet as it’s quieter.
Depending on the type of exotic you have, you might consider giving them a blanket with scents on it that are familiar to them.
You should also offer them food and water. Chances are they will not eat if they’re afraid, but at least there will be something there for them if they are hungry or thirsty.
If your caged pet has a lot of toys in their cage, you should take out some of them to ensure they won’t get caught up in the toys and injure themselves if they begin to panic during the storm.
2. Cover Their Cage
If moving your pet to a new place will give them as much stress as a thunderstorm, you might consider covering their cage or habitat.
We recommend playing around with how much of their cage or tank is covered. 100% coverage might elicit the same fear response as no coverage at all. For example, your parrot might like only half of its cage covered so it can take cover in the dark part of its cage if it’s afraid or peer out if it’s feeling braver. Ensure that there is enough ventilation if you are covering a cage.
3. Act Calm
Pets can pick up on any subtle emotional cues that we put forth.
According to AvianEnrichment, parrots, especially, are keen observers of our facial expressions and body language. Research also shows that mice are sentient and empathic animals, so it’s not a reach to assume that your pet mice can pick up on your emotions.
It’s normal for you to feel anxious or stressed out during a storm, but if you can try to put on a brave face for your pet, it might help ease their fears.
It would help if you also spoke in calm and soothing tones. Your pet can recognize the sound of your voice and pick up on tone changes if you’re frightened or stressed.
4. Soothe Them
Some pets will only calm down if they’re being held by their safe person. You know your pet best. If they typically seek comfort in your arms, you could try bringing them out of their cage for snuggles until the storm passes. Make sure that the area is enclosed and escape is not possible.
Some exotics, like bearded dragons, will calm down after a nice soak in a warm bath. Others, like birds, may respond positively to calming music.
5. Inquire About Supplements
There are plenty of calming supplements on the market, but not all are designed for use by exotic pets. If you get a lot of thunderstorms where you live, you might consider inquiring with your vet about supplements you can use to calm them down in the event of a storm.
You can find many of these supplements online on retailer sites such as Chewy. Equa Holistics’ Avian Calm Bird Supplement is a powdered option that can help settle nervous or aggressive birds. HomeoPet’s Anxiety Relief is marketed toward cats, dogs, birds, and small animals for people who prefer homeopathic options. It’s an FDA-registered product that is said to promote calmness in times of stress.
We still recommend asking your vet about these products’ safety before buying them.
6. Offer Distractions
Keeping your pet busy during storms can keep its mind off the sounds spooking them. You may want to bring them out of their cage or tank and give them one-on-one play time or a nice grooming session.
These activities will not only provide a distraction but also help your pet associate stormy weather with positive interactions and bonding time. This may prevent future storm-related anxiety and fear.
Can Exotic Animals Sense Storms?
Some exotic pets can sense changes in the weather patterns.
Bearded dragons, for example, can sense when cooler temperatures settle in and will begin to brumate. Brumation is a hibernation-like state that some cold-blooded animals adopt during winter. Since beardies can sense subtle temperature changes even when in a temperature-controlled environment such as their tank, they can likely sense changes in the air when a storm is coming.
Birds use air pressure changes to determine when weather changes are afoot. If you’ve ever walked in the woods before a storm, you’ve likely noticed how quiet the birds become. And as better weather approaches, they’ll come out of hiding and start singing again.
Rats can also sense atmospheric changes. Those in the wild will begin preparing themselves in the event of an incoming storm to ensure they’re able to survive.
It’s important that you read the signals your pet sends you, as not every animal will find comfort in all of the tips above. Your bird might prefer to have its cage covered to calm itself, while your mouse may need snuggles. Don’t force any techniques on your pet, as this can cause further unnecessary stress.
Featured Image Credit: Kaiskynet Studio, Shutterstock