Traveling with a Hamster
If you're going on vacation, but you're not quite sure what to do with your pet hamster, you have a basically two options- 1) take him with you or 2) find a sitter. Finding a sitter to watch your hamster while you are gone, is really the better choice, as it will reduce the amount of stress on your hamster, but sometimes you just may not have any options, and may have to take the hamster with you.
If you're moving, you may want to find a sitter until you have moved everything, and the last thing you need is to bring your hamster home. You don't want to leave your hamster alone for more than a few days at a time, so you may want the last thing that moves to the new house to be you and your hamster.
Otherwise, below are a few options and tips to traveling with your pet hamster, whether it be a short or log car trip or a plane ride. Just make sure that you always consider finding a sitter if you can, as it is much safer for your hamster to stay home rather than ride around, especially if it's just going to be a fairly short vacation.
Short Car Trips
Short car trips aren't quite as bad, and they're the best type of trip for your hamster. Short trips to the vet or to a friend's house to babysit your hamster isn't that big of an adventure.
You want to put your hamster in a small travel carrier with some of the bedding from the cage, which will help the hamster feel a little more at home and safe. You can also consider taking a tunnel off the hamster's cage and plugging it with a tunnel endcap for traveling as well.
For a short trip, your hamster won't need food or water, but you can put a small carrot, cucumber, or melon in the travel carrier in case your hamster gets a little hungry or thirsty- a water based fruit or vegetable will help keep your hamster hydrated.
You want to also include a chew stick just to keep your hamster busy.
If you don't have someone to hold the carrier during the ride, stick it between the back and front seats so that if you have to make a sudden stop, your hamster won't go flying.
Long Car Trips
If you're moving or you have to take your hamster on a long car ride, you want to do everything that you can to reduce stress on your hamster. Depending on how long the ride is, you may want to use the hamsters regular cage for travel instead of a travel carrier. Wire cages are better because they allow ventillation; but you'll want to put a sheet of cardboard in-between the seat and the cage so that the hamster can nibble on your car seats. A plastic cage will prevent your seats from being eaten, but they can act as an oven when in direct sunlight.
You want to stock the cage with food, toys, chew sticks, and bedding. Don't leave the water bottle in the cage, as it can leak or while you hamster is drinking you may hit a bump harming your hamster, and you don't want that. Offer water at rest stops or while the car is fully stopped.
Never get your hamster out of his cage while traveling. He will be stressed and will definitely try to find a way to get away. Be considerate of loud music, screaming or fighting children, and any disturbances. Your hamster will probably be sleeping while you're trying to drive during the day.
If you have to stay at a hotel overnight while in transit, bring the hamster inside. Most hotels won't even notice if you bring in a hamster cage, so don't worry about finding a pet friendly hotel. You may have to put the cage in a bathroom so that you can get good sleep before getting up and driving the next day, but you never want to leave the hamster in the car overnight.
Flying with a Hamster
If you're really taking a trip, and you have to fly on a plane, you want to do your best at minimizing the stress. You're probably not equipped for shipping your hamster and his supplies, so take him on the plane with you. Pet cargo isn't the most ideal for your hamster because it'll be noisy and way too nerve-racking with the other pets and normal plane sounds. Plus, you just can't guarantee the temperature on the runway, baggage train, or in the cargo area; the temperatures may be too hot or too cold.
You will want to travel with your hamster with you as a carry-on.
When getting on a plane with your hamster, you'll need a pet approved travel carrier and maybe a medical certificate saying that the hamster is healthy and doesn't carry any diseases. You'll need to call the airline beforehand so that you can get any specifics before you show up with your hamster.
Get a Pet Sitter
Sometimes, it's just much easier if you get a friend or family member to babysit your pet hamster. It'll be one less thing to stress you or your pet. By getting someone to watch your hamster, his schedule and routine won't be disturbed.
In most cases, if you're just going on a weekend trip, then your hamster can stay by himself, but if you're staying for more than a weekend, for a week or longer, you'll want to consider just getting a friend to watch your hamster.
By calling around and finding someone to watch your hamster, you are doing him more good than you could ever do taking him with you on your trip. Stress can easily stir up illnesses such as wettail, which can be fatal.
If you're able to find a pet sitter, you have two options. 1) have the person come to your house to care for your hamster, or 2) take your hamster and his entire setup to the person's house. Try to avoid taking the hamster to a pet boarding facility because the barking, bright lights, phones, slamming doors, and other noises will definitely stress out your hamster.
Make sure that you give your sitter a written routine, so that the stress on your hamster is reduced as much as possible. Consider feeding schedules, exercise, and cage cleaning routines.
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