Moving a frog vivarium can be fairly intimidating, but when it comes right down to it, they are generally not too hard to move as long as you are ready. Even better, with all of the commotion of moving a tank, you may elect to change out the substrate and make necessary changes to the vivarium while moving. Regardless of whether you plan to move the vivarium across the living room or across the United States, here are some basic to do’s to get the job done.
Before your move date there are a few things to do:
If your move will be short and sweet then a simple large tupperware container per animal with some sphagnum moss will do. If your travels mean that your frogs will be out of their permanent enclosure overnight, you will want to have a temporary housing set up. Generally this can be done with a plastic tote and a tight fitting lid. Use an inch of sphagnum moss to keep humidity up and ensure there are plant clippings and hiding places for your frog to keep your frog’s stress level down. You will also want to find in insulated container (a cooler works great - styrofoam ones are generally available for free at your local vet's office!) that your containers will fit into.
This will reduce the weight of the tank and make it much easier to move. You can easily do this by using a long piece of aquarium airline tube. Simply put one end in the water of the drainage layer. Use a pressurized hand mister to fill the tube with water. Quickly lower the other end into a bucket and let the siphon action do it’s work. If you're a gambler, you can alternatively suck the air out of the hose with your mouth, and attempt to lower the end of the hose into a bucket before you fill your mouth with vile viv water.
You'll want one to house all of the loose objects in your vivarium. This could be coco huts, rocks and other items that may roll around in transit. Because frogs are sensitive to many different chemicals, it is imperative this bin be chemical free and have a locking top so nothing is spilled on the items.
With all of these preparations, the day of moving will be much easier. Generally, when moving animals, they should be either the last or the first things that you move. It is best to set aside a few hours to ensure that you are able to move the animals properly and without rushing. Also ensure you are able to provide the animals with stable temperatures throughout the transit. Extreme temperatures during winter or summer can leave animals with lasting effects to their health.
Have all your supplies laid out, and try to attend to all other aspects of the move before tackling your vivarium. The less time the frogs are out of the vivarium, the better.
Ensure that your containers are misted well. With dart frogs it is easiest to put the container in the vivarium and coax the animal into the container using your hand. Carefully put the top on and then remove from viarium and place in a box or styrofoam container. Repeat for all animals. Frogs giving you trouble? Try holding a clear container in one hand (a 32oz fruit fly cup works well!) and herding your frogs with the other. If you are using temporary housing you may need a transfer container to catch the frogs and move them to the temporary housing. Keep styrofoam or box closed as much as possible so that the temperature can stay stable.
Now that you have the animals out, remove all loose objects and place in your tote. Close tightly when everything is in.
If you plan to change out the substrate or redo the tank. Remove all materials you are looking to remove.
If your background is heavy with rocks and such embedded in it, you may want to use paper and cardboard to ensure that if it drops it does not hit any other walls. Most backgrounds when installed and cared for properly will not come loose in transit. However if the background is old or damaged there is always a possibility.
If you have live plants in the vivarium and it may be exposed to extreme temperatures you will want to wrap the vivarium with insulating packing materials such as bubble wrap. You may even want to incorporate a heat pack or two depending on the size and the temperature extreme.
Make sure when moving large vivariums you have the proper amount of people to help. Clear out a wide walkway to your destination. Always lift a tank by the bottom… Never lift by the top rim! Lift carefully and move. When setting tanks down ALWAYS set the tank on a completely level surface. If the surface is not level it puts strain on the vivarium seams and can cause future leaks.
Now that your vivarium is ready to travel gather everything you need in your vehical and when you are ready to go grab your animals. Make sure your vehicle is at a comfortable temperature during transit (70-75F). DO NOT set the animal box directly next to a heating/cooling vent and do not set the box in direct sunlight.
Once you arrive to your destination ensure that the room you are moving the animals into is at a proper temperature and quickly move them in.
Once the animals are in the room move your supplies and vivarium in.
Remove all packing materials and check the state of your tank. Make sure your background has not come loose and that all of your fixed objects and such made it intact.
Set up vivarium with the new substrate (if you elected to change out substrate), loose objects and make any changes you planned to make.
Use your temperature and humidity gauges to ensure the vivarium is not too warm, too cool or to dry.
Once the vivarium has been set up, the environment is ready, and you are then ready to put your animals back in. If you made changes to your vivarium, depending on those changes, you may need to wait to put in your animals. Release your animals the same way you caught them.
Success! You have properly moved your vivarium and frogs! Remember that regardless of how seamless your move was, it is stressful to your frogs. Monitor them closely over the first few weeks to ensure they are settling back in.