Long trips and changing environments are very stressful for chinchillas. So, if at all possible, you should try to avoid travelling with your chinchilla. Instead, arrange for a reliable pet-sitter, (family member? friends? breeder?) Try to get someone who is also a chinchilla owner or genuine animal lover. For short periods of just a day or two, you can leave your animal at home and have your pet-sitter coming over to check water and food. For longer periods, it is better to relocate your chin to the pet-sitter’s home for company, better temperature control, and regular attention.
Since chinchillas have special needs compared to other typical housepets, it is helpful to prepare a checklist for your pet-sitter that outlines care instructions, vet emergency info, and your vacation contact information. It is best to just tell your pet-sitter not to let your chin out of it’s cage, because it will not be comfortable with the new environment and may escape or get injured.
If you absolutely must travel with your pet (i.e. to go to the vet, or if you are moving to a new home, either locally or across country), there are a few things you can do to make the journey less stressful.
- Always keep in mind that chinchillas can easily succumb to heat stroke. Make sure you have adequate climate control and cooling equipment handy in case temperatures and/or humidity rise to dangerous levels en route.
- Bring along familiar comforts and cage items – toys, chew blocks, etc.
- Provide fresh water either via a cage-attached water bottle and/or make sure you have access to refill water regularly.
- Bring your chin’s regular food along (both pellets and hay). During travel is NOT the time to change your chinchilla’s food brand!
- Use a carrier or transport cage which can be securely locked and that is completely chin safe. A nervous chinchilla may be even more inclined to chew, so even chins that typically ignore plastics might ingest some on a stressful trip.
- Of course, provide a box for your chinchilla to hide in and feel secure/safe, as well as to rest its feet (if the carrier cage bottom is all wire).
- Talk to your chinchilla so that he/she knows you are nearby. If you have established trust then this will help to calm it.
For Air Travel and Border Crossings:
- Find out ahead of time and be sure to have the documents you need in order to travel your chinchilla along, especially if you are going to another country – import licence, veterinarian health certificate, etc.
- Check with the airline to determine if you will be allowed bring your pet as a carry-on luggage (preferable) or if they can arrange for a pressure-controlled animal compartment.
- Line the cage with blank newsprint rather than wood shavings or hay since those are not allowed by some airlines.