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Although most hamsters will handle travelling quite well, remember that it can be somewhat stressful, more so for some than with others. 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 hamster/s while you're away.


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 once a day, if this is not possible simply put in extra dry food mix and a few treats, as well as a small sturdy water bowl in a secure place in case the water spout on the bottle plugs up (if you're still using a bottle). 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



NEVER USEHARNESS OR VEST. These are dangerous and can 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.



Important to use an appropriate carrier for the extent of the journey.

No matter what, always at least have a TRAVEL CAGE on hand for a trip to the vet, or to collect an adopted hamster. Please do not spend a fortune on a cage - you may only need it once in your hamster's life. People are always trying to sell their 2nd hand cages, so do pick up a cheap one to keep for emergencies. Also often found in junk & charity shops for next-to-nothing. 

A SMALL PET CARRIER, or plastic picnic basket with small holes, is ideal, but do ensure that any grids/bars are small enough to prevent attempts that could result in injury or actual escape. Top opening carriers are best and safest. These are actually better than wire cages since they offer decent shelter from the scary outside during the journey.

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For LONGER JOURNEYS and holidays, it is best to have a bin cage prepared. Your hamster should not be subjected to a long period in a small travel cage, which will be fine for the journey, but not as accommodation.

A single bin will suffice for short holidays and weekends, but it is best to have a second bin that can be linked for longer holidays.

If your hamster is being transported by pet courier service, a bin cage is a must. May be best for air travel too, but first check specifics with the airline.



  • Each hamster will need it's own carrier. 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 they will also fight or one will kill the other!

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

  • Avoid tall cages with levels. These topple too easily, and the hamster could also fall off a ledge if the car jerks. 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.

  • Those pretty acrylic commercial cages are very brittle and not durable enough, particularly when you are not in control of the handling. 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 (probably never to be seen again).

  • 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!)



  • 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 habitat in order to retain scent to limit stress.

  • If the 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 - no matter how you do this, be sure to leave a space open for ventilation. 

    • Bin cages only require a thin blanket may be necessary to prevent bright sunlight. For air travel, fasten paper or a thin cloth over part of the top just before handing over to the airline. 

    • Small-Pet carriers and plastic picnic baskets don't need to be covered.

    • 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.

A WIRE CAGE should be lined on the inside with cardboard at the back and two sides, Carboard is also safer than using a blanket or towel to cover since the hamster will be inclined to pull fabric through, and this can result in a world of other problems. If it's winter, you can still use a blanket over the lined cage for extra warmth.

  1. Remove any levels, small wheels and plastic houses

  2. Line the cage with cardboard to provide insulation, protection from drafts & direct sun, and to prevent bar chewing or climbing, (use cable ties to secure the boards).

  3. Add a sturdy cardboard box that can also be used as a platform for food and water bowls (a shoe box works well)

  4. Place cardboard on the bottom of the cage (for insulation)

  5. If you can fit an appropriate wheel inside, add this (use masking tape to secure it down).

  6. Add a section of an additional substrate (if you have) or a thinner layer of bedding in that section.

  7. Create a deeper bedding section on one side for burrowing and tunneling and comfort.

  8. Cover any barred ladders, ramps etc. with card to prevent injuries.



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 & bowls spill during bumpy rides in a car or at the hands of a handler during air transport. Remove the these right before the journey, but keep on hand to offer during stops along the way, or when the airline hands him back to you at the end of the flight.

Use high liquid-content foods during motion to substitute the water, 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 if you cannot secure it; food can be scattered over bedding or heaped in a corner or the bedroom box. 

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

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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 do ensure good airflow without any draughts going into the cage. 

  • 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 use a convenient collapsible playpen, if you have one, to allow the hamster some exercise. Alternatively, let him run around on you and the bed (under careful supervision of course).

  • 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 stressful 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 traveling, and thereafter, to help settle any such matters.

  • Look up the details of the NEAREST EXOTICS VET 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’.

  • Wherever 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! Also mozzie repellent mats and liquids can be poisonous.

  • Don’t forget to pack in all 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 transport carrier.

  • 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."



If you require the hamster to be given a lift between cities, perhaps someone on the FB group TRANSPORT for Adopted PETS South Africa can offer a ride (but please make sure the transporter is aware of the travel tips above).

Alternatively, try one of these pet transport companies:


Have a safe and happy journey!


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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