7 steps for moving with small animals

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Small animals such as gerbils, hedgehogs, rabbits and the like make great pets. Many of them don’t require much space to roam, but they can provide companionship for children and adults alike. In general, these pets are easy to move as long as their needs are taken into consideration. So, here is Sparky’s step-by-step guide for moving with small animals.

Step 1: Choose a travel method


There are typically four options when moving with small pets: carry on baggage on an airplane, checked baggage on an airplane, overnight shipping, or travel by car. Some of these methods are not appropriate for all animals or in all seasons. Carry on baggage will allow you to keep your pet in places with a safe temperature range, and you will be able to check on them during travel. However, the easiest method is generally to take your pet with you by car. This allows you more control of the temperature and gives you the freedom to make stops whenever necessary. Pets should never travel in the back of moving vans or trailers due to the extreme temperatures and lack of ventilation. In the same way, never leave a pet in any vehicle that is not running.

Step 2: Visit the vet


As with most pets, it is wise to take small animals for a health check up at your local veterinarian before a long distance move. Most airlines will not accept sick animals, and the stress of any travel method can make a sick pet even sicker. A health check will give you peace of mind that your pet is ready for the move, and will also provide you with the opportunity to discuss your pet’s specific needs with the doctor.

Step 3: Choose a carrier

Small animal in cage

Based on your pet’s needs and the method of travel, choose an appropriate carrier. Things to consider when buying a carrier are size, weight, room for your pet’s necessities and air flow. Be sure to get something that is sturdy and has handles for easy carrying.

Step 4: Familiarize with the carrier

Two hamsters

Before the move, take a few days to begin getting your pet used to their carrier. Leave your pet in the carrier for longer periods of time each day until the move. To help your pet feel comfortable add familiar items such as blankets or their favorite toys. Avoid adding anything sharp or hard.

Step 5: Control the temperature


Be aware of the weather your pet will travel through and take steps to protect it from both cold and heat. Keep in mind that ventilation is good, but cold air hitting pets directly is generally bad. Pets should also be shielded from direct sunlight which can overheat them. If traveling by plane or shipping during cold weather, it may be necessary to use heat packs.

Step 6: Handle carefully

Small hamster being held

Observe your pet carefully to provide for their needs while in transit. Every animal is different. For instance, some animals may need attention during long trips while others would only be stressed further by handling. Similarly, some pets will want to eat while traveling, and others will reject food due to stress. However, in all circumstances water should be readily available.

Step 7: Set up

Two small animals in cage

As with all pets, it is important set up their cage and creature comforts as soon as possible once they arrive at your new home. Be sure to keep a close eye on them for the next few days to make sure their behavior and eating habits return to normal. Contact a local vet if any problems arise.

If you have any comments or suggestions, we would be love to hear from you on the Sparky’s Facebook page, by phone at (806) 353-9500, or via email.

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