Traveling with two guinea pigs for the holidays.

ashleemelda

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Every year my family and I make the approximately 9 hour and 15 minutes (not including stops at gas stations, rest areas, and drive-thrus) car ride from Virginia to Illinois for Christmas. We are usually there for about a week. This year we will be taking my two guinea pigs, Moira and Rose. Unfortunately, there are no places around that do guinea pig boarding and none that are on our route, and the people I would trust to watch them around town also go on vacation.

I have read the Traveling with Guinea Pigs thread on here but still have several questions, like wanting to get a broader look at your alls general tips for traveling such long distances to ensure your guinea pigs are as comfortable and stress-free as possible. My Rose gets pretty stressed when we travel to the vet, and I plan for several more short-distance trips before we leave to get them extra used to the car. I have also already told my father and sister about the need to keep the radio low and will have a blanket on hand to put over their carrier at night to lessen their chances of getting spooked by sudden movements (will also be used to keep out drafts when doors and windows are opened during our stops). Speaking of blankets, is placing a thicker blanket overtop the carrier the best/only thing that can really be done to safely transport them from the car inside the house? It is a lot colder in Illinois than Virginia so I want to make sure I'm doing what's necessary and appropriate. I can always buy some velcro to ensure the carrier is completely covered.

I am planning on bringing a sizable (yet smaller than they are in at home) cage to set up at my grandparents' house for them to be in for the week, and will have many of the hideaways, fleece, etc. from their current cage so there is a familiar scent. For the car ride, I plan to have hay available for replenishing and veggies (primarily cucumbers) in the cooler. That brings me to my next question: We stop semi-frequently for gas, to go the bathroom, and to grab a bite to eat at drive-thrus where I can provide them with access to their water bottle, but over the course of a ~9 hour trip, how many cucumber slices do you recommend I give them and how frequently for moisture?

I am also curious about the best set-up of the carrier. When I travel to the vet (I have a larger one for this trip than I usually use), I like to line it with several 8"x8" fleece pads and then put a towel overtop that. Is that enough? I also have a fleece hideaway that I can latch to the carrier so it will not move or be flung around in the chance of hard stops. Is that recommended or should I simply fold the towel in a way that lets them know they can hide/burrow under it?

Perhaps my biggest question, though, is: Is it wise to take them out of the carrier while the car is in motion for some cuddle/lap time to talk to and reassure them, or does this run the risk of making them more stressed? My sister and I plan for one of us to always be in the backseat so they have someone close by at all times.

Finally, I know the Traveling with Guinea Pigs thread says it can take guinea pigs up to a day to come down from the stressors of traveling and find their bearings again. Setting up the cage they will be staying in and placing hideaways, providing fresh hay, pellets, and veggies is the very first thing I plan to do when I get there, but is there anything I can do to make the transition easier for them (both when we get to my grandparents' house and then when we arrive back home)? My second order of business will be to run out to the store to buy an ample supply of fresh veggies and a larger bag of their favorite hay, Oxbow Timothy Hay/Orchard Grass Blend.

Thank you in advance for any and all advice and questions you can answer!
 

Siikibam

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I would say feed them their usual veg portion. Too much watery veg could lead to mild upset tummy.

i think a towel they can burrow underneath should do the trick. Maybe out in two. What’s the temperature like?

Being in the confined space of a carrier...is there any way you could set up the cage in the boot? I’m not sure if it would be a good idea to take them out while the car is moving. You have o consider the driver being distracted if one tries to escape and you then start shouting.

I'm not sure what to advise. Did you ask local vets if they do boarding? Or your own piggy vet?
 

ashleemelda

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I would say feed them their usual veg portion. Too much watery veg could lead to mild upset tummy.

i think a towel they can burrow underneath should do the trick. Maybe out in two. What’s the temperature like?

Being in the confined space of a carrier...is there any way you could set up the cage in the boot? I’m not sure if it would be a good idea to take them out while the car is moving. You have o consider the driver being distracted if one tries to escape and you then start shouting.

I'm not sure what to advise. Did you ask local vets if they do boarding? Or your own piggy vet?
Thank you for the advice! I just went to my girls’ vet (the only exotic animal vet within 100 miles) on Monday for a general check-up and they sadly do not offer boarding, and since we live in such a small town in Virginia, even she and the vet techs are unaware of any local places that board guinea pigs.

Typically our trunk is filled to the brim during this trip, but we do have one less family member going, so putting the cage they will be staying in at my grandparents’ house together for them to be in is a possibility, although I’m not sure how definite of one unfortunately.

The temperature in the car during the winter always falls between the 65 to 75 degrees F sweet spot for guinea pigs, but Illinois winters are usually VERY cold and can have a negative wind chill most if not all days. The only time their carrier would be out in the cold is to transport them from my grandparents’ driveway into their house. I have a pretty thick blanket I plan to use to cover it.

Also, thank you for bringing up the part about the distracted driver. I hadn’t even thought of that!
 

Lady Kelly

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When I have travelled with my piggies (I'm only talking maybe an hour and half-2 hour journey here) I have used my temp indoor cage for transport. It just gives them more space than the carrier and allows me to easily attach the water bottle etc. I wouldn't take them out while moving as mentioned above possible distractions for the driver but also if you have to do an emergency brake at all potentially fatal for the piggy who is out.
 

Bill & Ted

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I travel with my two boys regularly to the vets. It’s about 5 hours drive, 390 miles each way. We do stay over night so we are there for their appointment in the morning. I give them their normal amount of veggies/herbs, and little cucumber but not too much. Lots of hay, pellets and forage they generally sleep or eat and are quite contented. They are in a 120cm cage, pet carriers are fine for short journeys but a cage is nicer for long journey and give them more room to walk around particularly when you have a break stop. I use a normal water fountain which they use usually when we stop. I always cover the cage with a sheet, even in the daytime, it makes them feel secure. Make sure you put a good base layer on the bottom of the cage so they keep dry. I personally would not get them out on the journey, it will add to the stress, you can hand feed through the bars and talk to them though.
 

artcasper

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I would just add for you to fill their carrier with some hay - you might be planning to do this but i didn't see it mentioned... when ever i have taken them to the vets i always pop some hay in - even when it was 5 mins in the car..
 
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