Travelling with guinea pigs

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Staff member
Mar 10, 2009
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Coventry UK
1 Preparations
- Recommended carriers
- Travel training and feeding before the journey

2 The journey
- Securing carriers in a car
- Reassurance and travel provision
3 Tips for special travelling conditions
- Travelling in hot weather
- Travelling in cold weather
- Travelling in the dark
4 After arrival
5 Tips for vet visits

Against widespread assumption, guinea pigs actually tend to travel pretty well, even over longer distances and for several hours, whether it is by car, bus or by train. The more often your piggies travel, the more they get used to it. Small pet boxes or cat carriers are ideal. You may have to enquire whether long distances coaches allow guinea pigs on board.

1 Preparations

Recommended carriers

Please use small carriers for any car journey, like small pet boxes or airline approved cat carriers. Do not use open cages if possible, not even on longer trips, as they are not safe in case you have to break hard, have an accident or somebody is ploughing into your car. Cosies and hideys tend to slide around even when just going round a tight bend in the road, so use only soft cosies, if at all. The less your piggies can be flung about, the greater the chance that they escape unharmed! Your piggies will be happier in a snug confined space anyway, as that usually makes them feel a lot safer (apart from being much safer) and calms them down.

We recommend savic pet caddy standard boxes that open from the top or airline approved cat carriers.
savic pet caddy standard.jpgcat carrier.jpg

There are the results of a study from 2015 on different pet carrier types on car seats. However, another Danish study has clearly shown that placing any carriers in the footwell of a car is by far safer because pets cannot be flung through the air as much as those in carriers on car seats, even those that are secured with a seat belt.
2015 Carrier Study Results - Center for Pet Safety

Travel training and feeding before the journey.
To prepare your guinea pigs for travel and vet trips, let them play and eat in the carriers several days before you travel as part of their regular run routine, so they have good associations with their transport kit.

Many guinea pigs (especially newbies) won’t eat or drink much while they are underway, so please feed them a good portion of fresh grass or greens shortly before you set out. That will prevent dehydration during the trip and also serves to make them drowsy and sleepy. Most piggies will eventually fall asleep from the gentle vibrations of the transport anyway.

2 The journey

Securing the carriers in a car

Please make sure that any carriers on seats are always safely fixed with a seat belt that is firmly looped around the carrier and carrier door during a car drive; or even better, are secure the carrier in the well between the seats. if necessary, secure the carrier door additionally to make sure it cannot be flung open by the force of the impact in an accident.

Reassurance and travel provision
Reassure your piggies by gently talking to them, especially during the rougher bits of a trip (railway and bus stations, change in roads/speed bumps or sudden breaking). You don’t have to pay extra for your guinea pigs on public transport, but you may have to enquire whether you can have them with you on coaches or ferries.

Put a little soft hay in with your piggies so they have something to nibble on and to help calm them down; hay is making over 85% of the daily food intake so your piggies won't go hungry. Please be aware that hay is an insulator and that guinea pigs can overheat if there is too much hay on a hot day or in an overheated car! Avoid any stalky hay during trips because of the injury risk in case of an accident or emergency stop.

A larger piece of cucumber in the carrier to nibble on is the best source of fluid for longer journeys over an hour.

Please plan regular stops in which to check on your piggies and to feed/water them when you travel over longer distances in your car. If you pick grass from the road side or the parking area, take care not to pick anything that could have been peed on by dogs or foxes, as that is poisonous.

3 Tips for special travelling conditions

Travelling in hot weather

NEVER leave your guinea pigs (or any other pets) in a car on a hot or even warm day, not even with a window just a crack open for even a couple of minutes!
Temperatures will climb to over 50 C in the car within minutes and can kill, even in temperatures that we consider pleasant and with light cloud cover.
Guinea pigs can suffer a heat stroke and die from it. Hot Weather Management And Heat Strokes

If at all possible, please travel during the cooler morning hours during hot weather and book vet appointments for non emergency trips in the mornings if that is an option.
This is even more important when you do not have air conditioning in your car.

In hot weather, you can place a frozen water bottle well wrapped in a towel in the carrier to keep your guinea pigs cool if you haven’t got fully working air conditioning.

When travelling longer distances, make sure that you have an extra bottle and some fresh water in a cool bag, in case your car is breaking down.

Large chunks of cucumber, which keep cooler for longer in the core, can provide a source of cooling fluid that cannot dribble everywhere.

Travelling in cold weather
When travelling in wintery conditions, please prepare for potential road problems by packing plenty of soft hay for extra insulation, a thick fleece and a heat conserving blanket, as well as some water and food in case you get stuck and can no longer heat the car.
If you can heat up some snugglesafes before you set out and bring them with you in a cool bag for insulation, so you have them available if the car heating breaks down.

Travelling in the dark
Sudden light flashes in the dark can seriously spook some piggies, so place a towel over the carrier when travelling in the evening.

4 After arrival

Give your piggies time to get their bearings in their new home. That can take up to a day. Make sure that they have a hidey with hay, pellets and fresh greens nearby. If necessary, place a blanket over the cage/pen to give them an added feeling of safety and to encourage them to come out and explore.
Have a rag with the smell of their home cage with you if you use new bedding and a different cage and wipe the new surroundings down before you place the guinea pigs in them. This is a massive reassurance for the guinea pigs that they are in territory that is meant for them.

5 Tips for vet visits

If you can, please take a companion guinea pig with you as "paw holder" and moral support. Having a friend to snuggle up with helps to reduce the stress level.
For operations, you may need to ask the vet whether they are OK with a companion or not, but unless a guinea pig is really apathetic or has a very large open wound, being with their family as soon as possible is usually perking an ill guinea pig up and is helping with the recovery. If in doubt, ask your vet. Most companions are very supportive and caring.

Unless expressly wished by a vet, guinea pigs do not need to fast before medical treatment as they can't vomit. So you can feed before you set out and give little veg treats during the trip, depending on the length and duration. I always put a handful of soft hay in the bottom of my carrier as well as a handful of fresh grass (if available) when I take any guinea pigs of mine to see a vet a bit further afield. Take some extra favourite veg for the waking up phase after an operation.

More advice in this guide here: Tips For Vet Visits
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