Traveling with Rats: By Car

Responsible, reputable rat breeders don’t exist in every area. Plus, families sometimes must move long distances with pets, or take lengthy vacations while bringing rats along. Traveling with rats is often necessary, but in some ways trickier than traveling with dogs or cats. I’ll explore different methods of transporting rats on Petlvr, starting with traveling by car.

Getting Ready for a Car Ride

In general, rats should be transported in a travel cage or container, rather than in their usual cages. If your vehicle goes over a bump or stops suddenly and your rats are in a multi-level cage, they could be thrown from a shelf or hammock and injured in the fall. I like to use hard-sided dog crates for transporting rats by car for a period of one day or less.

However, if your journey will last longer than a day and you have a way to adequately secure a larger cage to prevent tipping or sliding, it may be a good idea to just pack the entire cage, if it fits. Martin’s brand cages tend to fit well in larger vehicles like SUVs. A cage like a Midwest Ferret Nation, on the other hand, simply won’t fit inside most automobiles!

No matter what type of cage or crate you use to contain your rats in the car, it should be secured to prevent it from flying forward in the event of an accident. Unsecured cages or crates can become lethal projectiles dangerous both to you and your pets, should a crash occur. In some cases your car’s seatbelt can secure a cage. If not, try using bungee cords.

Caring for Rats on the Road

Rats need water available at all times. If your rats are on a diet, feed them according to their normal feeding schedule. If not, make lab blocks (I prefer Harlan Teklad) or a similar food item available free-choice while traveling. Transport stress may cause your rats to lose their appetites, so monitor them carefully to ensure that they’ve eaten, and take along some chocolate Ensure and a 1 cc syringe in case you need to get some emergency calories into a rat that refuses food. Monitor water consumption equally carefully. Dehydration can be fatal very quickly for such small animals!

Both you and your rats need adequate rest while traveling. Many motel chains accept pets. Motel 6 and Red Roof Inn are two I’ve stayed at with rats. Try to stop for at least 8 hours of sleep each night and to allow your rats to briefly play outside of their cages. Keep them on the bed, though– many older buildings have cracks into which a frightened rat could disappear!

Temperature Control

Heat or cold are the greatest dangers (aside from a collision) to your rats when traveling by car. Try to avoid traveling with pets when the outdoor temperature is over 80 degrees Fahrenheit. If your air conditioner fails while on the road, your rats could suffer heat stroke before you reach a mechanic or a motel to cool off. If you must travel in hot weather, bring several frozen water bottles for emergency cooling. Avoid ice packs, since they can be deadly if chewed.

In cold weather, carry Snuggle Safe Heating Pads. These are hard plastic disks that can be heated in any microwave, and provide 12 hours of heat after each session in the microwave oven. Reheat them each time you stop somewhere with a microwave, and keep them available in case your car has heater trouble.

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8 Responses

  1. Camille
    | Reply

    This post is quite interesting. I usually read posts like how to travel a cat or a dog by car but this one is different and it really interests me. I don’t like rats but I don’t hate them either (well except those that really cannot be considered as pets). Great post! My aunt is planning to give me a rat as her present for my birthday since she’s a pet lover and among her pets are rats. I’ll sure take note of this. By the way, probably you could also post how to travel with rats by plane? Thanks again!

  2. Roger Watkin
    | Reply

    Upon reading the blog title, I thought that the author is referring to people with the “rat”-like attitude. It was during the course of my reading that I realized that it’s really some tips on travelling with rats–the animal.

  3. Aiden
    | Reply

    I do not have pet rats at home but I do have a pair of hamsters. I agree with you when you said that travelling with our little rodents tagging along can be very tricky. The first time I traveled with my hamsters, I brought their entire cage and placed them on my lap so that I could easily monitor them while travelling. My boyfriend, who drove the car regularly warned me if there are humps ahead so I could properly cushion the cage on my lap while he slowly went over those humps. Hamsters can sometimes be very hyperactive, running on their wheels, or climbing the cages, so I was afraid of any sudden movements in the car – especially since I suspected that my female hamster P-wee was pregnant that time (it was false alarm, btw). Luckily, it was just a 40-minute drive. The next time we’ll be going on longer travels, I’d put them on a seatbelt just like you suggested.

  4. Benj
    | Reply

    In our place, it’s really difficult to find a good inn which allows pets inside the room. It;s good thing that you can find a lot of motels where you can stay in while travelling together with your rats.

  5. Vancouver FIAT
    | Reply

    I’m a pet lover but rats are the least of my choice. They are still pests to me. Nevertheless, I find your tips very practical.

  6. bc ford dealers
    | Reply

    Does these tips applies to other pets as well like dogs, cats, and guinea pig? I have a guinea pig that I’d want to bring along but i’m afraid travelling will make it sick. I find it amusing though that you like to keep rats as pets, they are domesticated for sure but keeping them as pets is another thing.

  7. Helalnan109
    | Reply

    Sounds like an amazing trip, can’t wait to read about it. Can I take a fragment of your post to my site?

  8. momto2ratties
    | Reply

    I learned the hard way today that some rats do not like the cages (supposed to be designed for rats) that have screen that they sell at the pet stores. My one ate through the screen. He is very sweet and loving and definitely did not like how small it was and wanted out. I will definitely find a different solution for my next trip. I was only taking them 2 miles to the groomers to get their nails clipped.

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