TRAVELLING WITH YOUR HAMSTER

Although most hamsters will handle travelling quite well, remember that it can be somewhat stressful. Therefore, only transport them if you really have to, e.g. trip to the vet, if you are relocating, or are going away on holiday and don’t have an experienced hamster sitter (be aware that many hamsters meet their fate while in the care of a well-meaning but inexperienced sitter, so do give intense instructions/training to such a person if you have to).

Please ask on the FB group and perhaps a kind member will be able

to accommodate your little hamster/s.

 

If you are only going away for 2 or 3 nights, don’t worry about taking your hamster with you. While it is ideal to have someone look in on the little one, if this is not possible simply put in extra of the dry food mix and a few treats – a cockatiel seed bell, dog biscuit, etc. – as well as a small sturdy water bowl in a secure place in case the water spout on the bottle plugs up in your absence. And give the sand bath/potty a clean just before you leave.

If you are emigrating and considering taking your hamster with you, this FB group may be able to provide better details for travelling overseas: South Africans Emigrating With Pets

*****WARNING*****

 

In case you come across these HARNESSES OR VESTS in a pet shop, the answer is a definite "NO"!!!!! This could seriously injure your hamster in a number of ways: 

  • Their skin is soft and this could cause lesions and/or bruising.

  • The pouches go all the way down to the hips and will get damaged, particularly if there is food (even a little) inside that will puncture/scratch and cause infection.

  • The back or neck can get broken in a split second if they are startled and try to make a sudden dash....or if you yank them back from running/dashing.

  • This is simply not natural behaviour and your ham won't be able to understand this kind of restraining, which will lead to extreme stress and anxiety that will, in turn, result in other health issues.

  • Your hamster could possibly choke or get strangled.

 

BOTTOM LINE: IT IS CRUEL!!!!!! DON'T!

 
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TRAVEL CAGE or CARRIER

 

For journeys that will take longer than a few hours, or overnights at the vet, it is important that the travel carrier is NOT TOO SMALL since the hamster will suffer stress and frustration in such a situation, and could make an attempt to chew its way out.

If your hamster lives in a particularly large or heavy setup, it is important to always have a CONVENIENT SIZED travel cage or bin on hand, whether it’s for a quick trip to the vet or a long journey. This can be anything from: – an old undersized-but-sturdy cage, like those cheap “starter cages” – to a smaller bin cage – to a strong solid pet carrier.

A SMALL PET CARRIER can be ideal, but do ensure that any grids/bars are small enough to prevent attempts that could result in injury or actual escape. The spacing on any bars or mesh should not be wider than 1cm. If necessary, cover such grids with chicken wire (neatly twisted, trimmed and edged with duct tape to prevent snagging/cuts/scratches).

A SYSTEM like this could be ideal for long journeys, and if you intend to travel fairly regularly with your hamster. The neat little bin/s are also convenient for shorter trips:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFXQ3QCTPsU&feature=youtu.be

IMPORTANT

  • If you have more than one hamster to be transported at the same time, DO NOT be tempted to place them both/all in the same carrier! This will add to an already stressful situation and fighting will happen! Each hamster will need their own carrier.

  • Do not use a cardboard box or padded fabric carrier. Your hamster will chew through it in no time and escape!

  • Tall cages topple too easily, so avoid these and rather get a single story.

  • Those pretty acrylic commercial cages are very brittle and not durable enough, particularly when you are not in control of the handling during air flights. They crack or come apart too easily if handled even slightly roughly.

  • There must be NO EXTERNAL TUBES OR ATTACHMENTS during any transport as they get knocked off very easily, resulting in your hamster’s escape (maybe never to be seen again).

  • If there are open-sided levels within the travel cage, please restrict access to these during motion by removing them completely or removing the ladder/ramp.

  • Ensure that all latches can be secured (use twisty wire or pipe cleaners) and that there are no wide gaps at the doors that the hamster could attempt to squeeze through (never underestimate their ability and determination to squeeze through gaps that you think will be too small!)

SETTING UP THE CAGE

 

  • Secure all moveable items (bedroom, sand bath, food bowl, etc.) with masking tape or double-sided tape to the bottom of the carrier to prevent them from moving about during transit and/or handling.

  • Avoid using heavy accessories that would be harmful if dislodged and could be knocked about, e.g. ceramic and wood (these also make the carrier inconveniently heavy and cumbersome).

  • Use the bedding and nesting substrates directly from the permanent cage in order to retain scent for comfort.

  • If your Syrian’s wheel does not fit in the travel cage, leave it out. Do not use an undersized wheel!

  • Lightweight chew toys will be a good distraction and activity during the journey (toilet roll tubes, etc.).

COVER THE CARRIER

 

If you are traveling with a wire cage, a blanket or towel (lightweight in summer; thicker in winter or during a flight) that is large enough to cover most of the cage - definitely the entire back and sides - which will ensure that your hamster feels safer, and will be free of draughts or direct sunlight. sunlight.

 

If you have a bin travel cage or a similar solid carrier, only a thin blanket may be necessary to prevent bright sunlight. For air travel, if your bin carrier is only ventilated on the lid, fasten paper or a thin cloth over part of the top just before handing over to the airline.

 

When covering the travel cage, be sure to leave a space, or the front open, for ventilation. This may be easier to control if you are traveling with your hamster by car.

For air travel where you may not be in attendance with your hamster, use masking tape to secure the cage’s covering so that it doesn’t slip off during handling, and don’t forget to leave a gap for ventilation.

 

It may be a good idea to make a specially fitted cover for the travel cage that will fit securely without slipping off easily, before you embark on the journey.

HYDRATION & FOOD

 

It goes without saying that HYDRATION is extremely important and accessibility should always be available, be it a trip to the vet or during a longer journey.

Water bottles spill during bumpy rides in a car or at the hands of a handler during air transport. Remove the water bottle right before the journey, but keep it on hand to offer during stops along the way, or when the airline hands your ham back to you at the end of the flight.

Replace the bottle with high liquid-content foods during motion, e.g.:

  • a thick chunk of cucumber,

  • a wedge of apple (no pips, and not for dwarfs),

  • a small secured bowl with a little runny baby food.

Be sure to replenish the fresh foods regularly if the journey is long.​

 

Make sure that there is also enough DRY FOOD MIX in the transport carrier. This doesn’t have to be in a bowl that may take up floor space … it can be scattered over bedding or heaped in a corner. 

Treats may also be helpful to please and distract your baby from the situation.

OTHER PREPARATIONS & PRECAUTIONS

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  • ENSURE THAT YOUR CHOSEN TRAVEL CAGE/CARRIER IS SECURED DURING ANY CAR TRIP. Always strap it in with the seatbelt and/or bolster it with blankets, pillows, other boxes, etc. so that it doesn’t budge if you have to brake or swerve suddenly, or when making turns into streets and going around sharp bends.

  • If your car has airbags on the passenger side, rather secure the cage on the BACK SEAT as a precaution against risk in case of any road accident. For your own safety, you will also be less distracted if you can’t keep peering into the cage!

  • Use LEG-STRETCHING STOPS to check on your hamster and give him/her some reassuring love if necessary.

  • Ensure that the TEMPERATURE inside the car remains fairly constant and never too hot. An aircon will help but, if you don’t have such luxury, ensure good airflow without any draughts going into the cage. A bowl with damp (not wet) sand can be placed in the cage, which your hamster may choose to lie on if he gets too hot. A tightly sealed flat-lidded container with ice blocks inside will also work. Make sure that these are properly stuck down to prevent them from moving.

  • As with any pets that you travel with, NEVER leave your hamster locked and unattended in the car during toilet/refreshment stops. Always park in a shady spot and leave windows open or partially open, no matter what the season. If you are travelling on your own, make the toilet break a quick one and make use of drive-through restaurants. If you have a passenger, take turns in going into the loo or shops.

  • Do not be tempted to use one of those dreadful harnesses that some pet shops are selling to take your hamster for a walk! Besides the harmful risks of such harnesses, he/she will be and feel safer staying inside the cage.

 

  • If you are staying somewhere overnight, a hamster ball may be good to provide 15-20 minutes of exercise and freedom if you don’t have a convenient collapsable playpen.

  • Don’t be alarmed if the little one doesn’t have its usual APPETITE during airline or car journeys. It is normal for them to eat less during such events, but try to keep main feeding routines to the normal times like when you are at home.

  • The disruption caused by any journey may upset the tummy slightly. It is a good idea to add a pinch of Protexin to the food during, and for a few days after, traveling to help settle any such matters.

 

  • Look up the details of the NEAREST EXOTICS VET (see Vet Directory page)  at your destination and keep these on hand in case of emergency.

  • Remember to stock up on enough medication that your hamster may be on, so that it doesn’t run out. 

  • If your hamster has a serious medical/health condition, or is really old, check with your exotic vet if a holiday trip will be OK. If not, make an alternative plan for him/her. If the long journey is due to unavoidable relocation, get advice on any alternative or calming medication for such hamsters.  

  • Please check with your HOLIDAY HOST if they are indeed OK with you bringing the hamster, and that there will be a safe, peaceful spot to put the cage away from other animals and windows. Never just show up and assume that the host will be happy about the unexpected ‘guest’.

  • Where ever you are going to stay on holiday, or overnight, check that the host does not have those electronic ultrasonic rodent/pest repellent devices plugged in anywhere. Your hamster is a rodent and this will affect him very badly!

 

  • If you are going on a long holiday, your hamster should not be subjected to a small travel cage for the duration of the stay. In this case, you will need to use a larger cage, either to travel in or to transfer him/her into at the destination. Don’t forget to pack in essential items AND

  • During re-location, keep essential items (extra bedding and nesting substrates, food, etc.) on hand so that you can set the hamster up quickly into its larger home at your destination. Don’t leave it all in the home-mover’s truck that may take a week to get your new abode, unless you know where to buy your preferred items on arrival.​​

 

  • Check with your AIRLINE if they do indeed have a pet service. Not all airlines accommodate animals.

  • Enquire about price, check-in details, where and how the cages are transported during the journey (from handover to return, and onboard), etc. and if there are any particular regulations in terms of the cage.

  • Place a sticker firmly onto your transport cage/carrier with your name and contact details, even if the airline attaches a tag. Also provide details of a second contact person in case of emergency or if your phone gets lost.

  • Keep the hamster in your care for as long as possible and only hand over when you absolutely have to.

CBD Oil can have a calming effect, so may be useful to give a drop or two every 12 hours during the journey. 

Check the topic on the Supplements page

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Some pet shops are stocking this herbal mixture for cats and dogs as a calming remedy.

It contains HIGH quantities of Valerian and is therefore not deemed safe for smaller animals.

~ Per the supplier's response to queries:

"Truthfully, we have not conducted any test for our product on small pets. It is safe for cats and dogs as long their vets approve.
We have not heard of any clients asking about Happy Cat for Hamsters, Guinea Pigs or Chinchillas. For safety purposes, I would not recommend it's use for small animals."

 

LIFTS/TRANSPORT FOR ANIMALS

If you require the hamster to be given a lift between cities, perhaps someone on this FB group can offer it a ride: 

TRANSPORT for Adopted PETS South Africa (but please make sure the transporter is aware of the travel tips above).

Alternatively, try one of these pet transport companies:

  

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Have a safe and happy journey!

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If you're relocating from Cape Town, this is a worthy option. They help you to clear out your unwanted household items, and you help them by donating fund-raising items.

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