Ever have trouble finding a pet sitter for your rats? And, even if you do find one, how can you be sure they’re knowledgeable enough? Well, why not take your rats on the road with you and completely avoid the need for a pet sitter? Afterall, our ratties enjoy exploring, too!
Whether your destination is a resort or business conference, here are tips for traveling with your rats:
This “Stealth Bag” is ideal for covert rat transport
Plan Ahead – Before You Leave
Find veterinarians in the area where you’ll be traveling. Here are some directories to help you find your destination’s local vets who are experienced with rats.
Have your rats’ medical records emailed to you. That way, if they do need to see a vet while you’re out of town, you’ll have them handy.
Get your rats used to being inside both a small and a large cat carrier. Also get them acclimated with their “stealth bag”. (For details see packing list below.)
Practice driving your rats in your car by taking short trips while they’re inside the small cat carrier. (See safe drivingtips below.)
Make sure you have all of the supplies needed to pack for your trip.
Two hard-plastic cat carriers (one small and one large). The large cat carrier will be used inside your hotel room. The small carrier is for use in your car. Attach necessary hardware so your rats’ water bottles clip to the outside of the cat carrier doors. Have both carriers all set up with bedding, a box, nesting material and a litter box area before you leave on your trip.
Large Duffel or Laundry Bag – To cover up the bigger cat carrier while bringing it into your hotel room
A “Stealth Bag” so no one can guess you have rats inside it.
Food – Lab blocks, Green Mush and grain mix. Use a cooler in your car for taking along some organic fruits and vegetables or just buy them when you arrive. (You can also share your meals with your rats while traveling….so plan on eating healthfully!)
Small cat carrier set up for travel
Water bowl – To use in the hotel room when they’re outside the carrier.
Water bottles – Bring at least two in case one of them breaks or malfunctions.
Water – Pack bottled water for easy refills while in the car and while staying in the hotel. I use distilled water for my rats.
Any medications your rats are currently taking or might need if they get sick (such as an unmixed bottle of amoxicillin). If any of your rats are currently on meds and they need to be refrigerated, bring a cooler for the car. Beware of the mini-fridges in the hotel room. Sometimes they are set too cold which can freeze and ruin medications. Test your hotel mini-fridge out on your first night by placing a cup of water inside and see if it turns to ice. The results of this test will show you whether or not you need to adjust the temperature. While performing this test, place your rats’ medications in a hotel ice bucket with just enough ice to keep them cool overnight. (You don’t want the water from the melted ice to seep into your medication bottles!)
Bedding for the cat carriers. Fleece blankets and t-shirts are perfect to use as bedding.
Paper towels to use as your rats’ bathroom areas as well as for cleaning.
Plain newsprint to shred and use for nesting.
Small cardboard boxes (for nesting inside the carriers).
Safe Driving with Your Rats
Picnic on a hotel bathroom floor
Place your rats inside the small cat carrier on the passenger seat or on a back seat. Use the seat belt to secure the carrier. If using the passenger seat, face the front door of the carrier toward you so you and your rats can see one other during the drive.
While driving, remove the water bottle from the cat carrier. If left attached, the bottle will leak while being jostled about on the road.
Take frequent breaks from driving. During each pit stop:
Reattach water bottle to carrier so your rats can drink if thirsty
Remove any feces, replace soiled paper towels, cloth or anything else that’s gotten dirty inside the carrier.
If it’s a hot, sunny day, bring your rats inside with you using your stealth carrier when you stop to use the restroom. Never, ever leave your rats in your car in the sun.
Even in cooler weather, always park in the shade and leave the windows cracked (unless it’s extremely cold outside).
Foolproof Method for Sneaking Your Rats into a Hotel
Bathroom sink pipes are fun for climbing
When bringing your rats inside the hotel, use a side or back entrance if there is one. Avoid areas where hotel staff are stationed. If you need to carry things up to your room in stages, bring in your large cat carrier inside the laundry or duffel bag first. Your second trip can be with your rats inside their “stealth bag”. Even better, if the hotel has one of those carts on wheels for transporting lots of luggage at once, stack it up with all your supplies and bags and haul it all in at once. Just make sure everything is covered and well-disguised when you’re wheeling it in on the rack.
Avoiding the Maids
One of the biggest problems of having your rats stay with you in a hotel is you can’t leave them in your room when the maids come in to clean. Luckily, you can use your “stealth bag” to take your rats out of your room with you each morning. Before leaving, hide all traces of anything related to your rats. Stash the cat carrier at the bottom of the closet. Cover the carrier with any cloth bedding you’ve brought (or with your clothes) so it just looks like a covered box. Place your suitcase on top of the carrier and pile on any other bags you have. No hotel maid would have the time (or inclination) to dig to the bottom of this stack!
Hotel Room Play Time
There are so many places your rats can enjoy in a hotel room. My rats have all given their highest ratings to the bed and the bathroom. However, hotel desks are fun, too!
Create a playground on the bed using:
Fleece blankets to cover the bed (Fleece blankets come in handy multiple ways: as covers to disguise cat carriers, as protection for large surfaces such as a bed or bathroom floor, as well as for bedding inside the cat carriers.)
Stealth bag – placed on its side, ready to be explored
Small dish of water
Shredded plain newsprint
If your rats are fairly young and in good health, the luggage rack makes a spectacular jungle gym. Just be prepared to catch your rat or place blankets piled up below the luggage rack to prevent injury in case of a fall:
Once you start traveling with your rats, you won’t want to stop. After getting the hang of what to pack, it’s easy and convenient to take bring them along any time you’re traveling by car.
Besides love, what exactly do pet rats need?
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