Whether you like it or not, at some point you will have to travel with your hamster. Well, you actually started your life together with travel. Either it’s a trip from the petshop, rescue, centre or the breeder’s location. This is the only way to bring your hamster home.
Eventually, you probably will have to travel with them again – perhaps for a vet visit, a holiday, or if you have to move home. Travelling with a hamster can be stressful both for you and your pet. However, there are many things you can do to make sure you are prepared during the trip and to avoid putting too much anxiety on your pet hamster.
TRAVEL WITH A HAMSTER TO THE VET
If you have to bring your hamster to the vet, make sure you have a vet carrier or transport cage for your hamster. If the vet is just under an hour away, a travel cage doesn’t need to have a water bottle. But longer than that, you have to invest in a good one with an attached water bottle.
A good hamster travel carrier should also have a deep base, in this way, you can make deep bedding which will lessen the bump from driving. You should not use fresh bedding for the travel cage, instead, scoop enough bedding from their sleeping area to make your hamster feel at home.
Later, I will include a quick list of the best travel cage for hamsters or you can also read our in-depth recommendation for the best hamster transport carrier.
THINGS TO PREPARE BEFORE LEAVING FOR THE TRIP – LONG-DISTANCE
Before the day of the travel, there are things you must prepare to help your hamster get comfortable in the new place. Here are things that you should prepare before the travel day.
- Take a photo – take a snapshop of the cage set up before shipping it, so you can mimick the set up in your destination which will help your hamster relax in a new place and ease anxiety
- Cage – if your can’t bring your hamster’s with you, you should send this before you arrive in your destination
- Old bedding – keep all the old bedding, you have to use the same bedding in your destination when setting the cage back up, hamsters just don’t like change. Keep them in a ziplock or storage box.
- Things to bring with you – if you ship the cage separately, make sure you travel with your hamster’s wheel and old bedding. In case the cage don’t arrive in time, you can let your hamster out of the travel cage and set up a mini playpen. Add the old beddng inside the travel cage, scatter food, and replenish the water.
- Treats and dry mixes – don’t forget to pack dry mixes and your hamster’s favourite treat with you, this will help your hamster feel comfortable and happy during the trip
DECIDING BETWEEN AIR TRAVEL VS ROAD TRAVEL WITH A HAMSTER
It’s important that before you make any major decision or travel arrangement, you have to figure out how to bring your hamster with you. You will be surprised how many stories I’ve heard and read about a hamster being left out in the hallways of an apartment or dumpster corner because their owner has to move.
Air travel is faster but of course, not all airlines and not in all places hamsters are accepted to be in a plane. If that is not possible for you, road travel is not bad either. It might be longer, but with great planning, it’s definitely possible.
If driving alone, make sure your hamster’s cage is secure and stable inside the car. If a seatbelt can’t secure the cage, you can use a child’s car seat or use some blanket to stabilise the cage with a seatbelt on. However, if you are not driving, you can hold the travel cage on your lap.
Air Travel With a Hamster
Depending on where you are living, air travel might not be available. For example, in the US and many parts of Europe, animals or pets that are certified support animals can take a flight. For this to happen, you will have to see a doctor certify that your pet has to travel with you or stay with you at all times for your safety or to ease the stress.
Although, you have to check this with the airline in advance to see if they allow pets in the cabin or even in the cargo.
If you get your pet certified as a support animal, they can sit in the cabin with you. It’s highly unlikely that hamsters will be allowed to travel in the cargo. Due to their size, the mess that an escaped hamster can cause can be dangerous. The fact that hamsters like to chew, can be risky if they get their hands on safety wires or places.
I wouldn’t say air travel is less stressful for a hamster than road travel. However, of course, with air travel, it’s faster, meaning the anxiety will end faster too.
To fly a hamster internationally is almost impossible (unless you are in the EU where some laws apply to each country are the same).
Land Travel With a Hamster
However, there’s always road travel. This might take longer but imagine the amount of easiness knowing that you can stop and check in with your hamster at any time. This is, of course, the best solution if flying is not an option.
TOOLS FOR TRAVELLING WITH A HAMSTER
Here are your tips for travelling with a hamster. We listed the best hamster carrier, how to set up the travel cage, and what toys to bring and not to bring with you.
Hamster Travel Cage/ Transport Carrier
When choosing a hamster travel cage, there are three things you should keep in mind. Deep base, secure lock, and water bottle. If you are repurposing a critter cage as a travel cage, make sure to remove toys as hamsters can’t use them and they might cause issues or injury instead.
A good hamster travel cage should have deep bedding, so you can create a nice and comfortable area. With having deep base tray, you can fill it with thick bedding which will help with the bumps along the road.
There should also be a tight and secure lock. Avoid the ones where you slide in the lock as it can slide out while driving or moving. A snap-lock is much better and firm to keep your hamster safe. I recommend you add some extra tape (sellotape or masking tape, so it won’t leave markings) to seal the cage much better.
And last but not the least, a water bottle should be possible to be attached or the travel cage should come with a water bottle already. Attaching one can be hard and won’t stay in place.
Here is a list of the best hamster travel cages for long-distance that we recommend:
- IRIS Small Animal Carrier – great size, comes with a water bottle, well-ventilated (6.69 x 10.31 x 7.28 in)
- Alfie Pet Travel Carrier – good size, with water bottle, and a nice hideout area, recommended to add more tape for better lock (10 x 8.6 x 4.4 in )
For short-distance travel with a hamster:
- Habitrail OVO Transport Unit – no water bottle but great size for a visit to the vet (7 x 7.8 x 5.4 in / 17.78 x 19.8 x 13.7 cm)
- Megawa Portable Carrier – comes with a water bottle, can see through inside (7.67 x 6.29 in / 19.5 x 16.5 cm)
- Living World Small Animal Carrier – great lock, lots of ventilation (12 x 3 x 6 in / 30.48 x 7.62 x 15.24 cm)
Fun Food and Treats
Scatter dry mix food around the travel cage and hide treats under the bedding. This will help keep your hamster busy and happy during the ride. Never add wet or moist food inside, it will cause moisture or get the bedding wet which hamsters hate.
Instead, when taking a break, you get hand tomatoes or fruits directly to your hamster. If your hamster travel cage doesn’t have a water bottle, offering fruits and vegetables rich in water will keep them hydrated. But don’t overdo it, it might cause diarrhoea.
Adding Lots of Bedding
Instead of adding fresh bedding, it’s better if you scoop bedding from the hamster’s sleeping area in their cage. This will help them ease out and feel a bit at home during the trip. Pack some in a ziplock as well for extra.
WHEN YOU GET TO YOUR DESTINATION
If you arrive at your destination before your hamster’s actual cage, it’s alright to let them sleep in their travel cage. However, you should let your hamster out to run around and burn some energy. Either set up a secured playpen or inside the bathtub.
Perhaps, you are lucky and the hamster’s cage arrived just in time. In this case, when setting up the cage, make sure everything is in the same place prior to the move. Do not change the bedding or the set-up for at least two weeks, if you do, change them gradually and not all at once.
Big changes especially a move can really stress your hamster, mirroring their cage set up, using old bedding (meaning their scent is still everywhere), will help your hamster warm up and feel secure in your new place.
A move can be stressful for anyone, imagine being a hamster, with that body size, things just feel confusing and cause distress. It’s important that you go the extra mile to keep your hamster comfortable and safe during this time.
I really hope that you found this article about travelling with a hamster helpful. Personally, I’ve only travelled or moved with my hamster three times, once, we were able to fly with her. The distance is far too long for a drive. The second time, we opted for driving since it’s only for a few hours.
Luckily, only one time we had to travel and see the vet. Regardless, only the first trip was super stressful as we couldn’t find an airline in the beginning but things worked out just fine. If you have other tips about travelling with your hamster that you don’t mind sharing, let us know in the comment area below.