Keeping a rat calm while travelling may seem like a daunting task. By nature, rats are shy creatures who are calmest when they are in an environment they are familiar with, like home. However, sometimes taking rats away from home is unavoidable. Your rat may be due a visit the vet, maybe you’re moving house or are just visiting a friend or families house.
Don’t worry! With some planning, your rat can enjoy calm and stress-free travel.
The following are 8 easy ways to keep a rat calm while travelling:
- Use a private and secure travel carrier for your rat.
- Re-create the calm feeling of being inside a nest.
- Put your rat’s favourite blanket or toy in the travel carrier.
- Get your rat familiar to its travel home.
- Do some short practise runs.
- Put bonded rats in the same travel carrier.
- Talk softly to calm your rattie while travelling.
- Do not take your rat out of their travel carrier.
In this article we will discuss each of these points in detail to ensure your rattie is happy on the road.
Why is it important to keep rats calm for travel?
Exposing rats to high levels of stress is dangerous as stressed rats are more prone to getting sick. Sadly, rats that are exposed to extremely high levels of stress can even suffer fatal consequences, such as cardiac arrest. This is why it is very important to keep your rat calm while travelling.
Use a private and secure travel carrier for your rat.
As I am sure you are aware, rats are masters of escape, therefore you your cage must be strong and escape-proof. This is why cages made from solid plastic and metal wire are a great option for rats .
Additionally, they also provide your rat with much needed privacy.
What size should a rat’s travel carrier be?
Your rat’s travel carrier should be smaller than it’s normal cage.
Not only will a small cage be easy and light for you to transport, but your rat will feel calmer and safer in a smaller travel cage. Furthermore, a smaller travel cage will also prevent potential injuries as your rat could easily be thrown around in a large cage.
With that said, your rat’s travel carrier must be large enough to stand up, lie down, sit down and turn around in, without any restrictions.
Of course, if travelling with multiple rats, the cage must be larger.
Re-create the calm feeling of being inside a rat nest.
Rats are burrowing creatures and feel safe and calm when inside a dark little nest.
The following are a couple ways to recreate the feeling of being inside a safe burrow.
a) Stuff the carrier with soft materials.
You can use any soft material, such as blankets, old clothes, towels and rat bedding. These materials will provide your rat with something to burrow into, and will protect your rat from any turbulence.
b) Cover the carrier.
Some cages already re-create the feeling of being in a burrow with solid opaque walls. However, if yours doesn’t then you could cover the carrier with a breathable blanket or towel. The darkness will calm your rat during travel.
This is particularly important if you will be going on public transport, like a train or a bus.
Putting your rat’s favourite blanket or toy in the travel carrier will calm him.
As mentioned above, a blanket will provide your rat with something to nestle into. To calm your rat further, use your rat’s favourite blanket.
Your rat will associate the blanket and the scent of the blanket with the safety of home which will calm him.
The same applies for your rat’s favourite toy.
Get your rat familiar with its travel home.
Getting your rat used to its travel home will minimise stress and calm your rat. This way, he won’t feel completely out of his comfort zone.
So you have adequate time get your rat used to it’s travel home, obtain the travel carrier weeks before your travels, if possible.
Once you have the carrier, don’t force your rat in the cage – this is VERY important.
You want to avoid your rats associating the travel carrier with stress and fear. Rats are very intelligent and have excellent memories!
Instead, introduce the carrier during playtime, leaving door open so your rat can enter it in their own time.
Do some short practise runs.
Once your rat has started to feel more comfortable in their new travel home, get them used to staying in there for longer.
Place your rat in the carrier with their favourite treat or toy for a few minutes at a time. Close the door and gently pick the carrier up. Walk around slowly so your rat gets used to being off the ground in movement.
Once your rat is used to being in their carrier around the house, time to do some practise runs!
To start off with, take short trips and work your way up to longer ones.
Thus, if you are planning a road trip, start off with some short drives around the block. Meanwhile, if you are planning a ride on the bus or a train, take a short trip to a local cafe or park.
Talk softly to calm your rat while travelling.
Talking to your rat softly whilst away from home will sooth and reassure him. Your voice will calm him as he will know that he is not alone. Knowing that you are right there will provide your rat with a sense of safety.
Do not take your rat out of their travel carrier.
Your rat will feel a lot calmer in his travel home burrowed into his favourite blanket. Inside the carrier a rat is protected from the sights, sounds and smells of the outside world.
On the other hand, outside of the carrier your rat will be exposed to new sights and loud noises, which are both stressful for a rattie.
Additionally, frightened rats are unpredictable. If given a fright, you could risk your rat running away to hide.
Bonded rats will calm each other.
Rats are extremely social and affectionate animals who enjoy the company of others.
If you have a pair of bonded rats, place them in the same carrier for travel. They will provide each other with warmth and comfort and will therefore keep each other calm.
Additionally, this will also ensure that the same scent and smells are transferred to both ratties while away from home. This way, they are less likely to reject each other when they are reunited.
Rats are prone to getting stressed whilst travelling. However, if you plan and prepare ahead, it can be a calm, stress-free experience for you and your rat.
Firstly, try to obtain an appropriate travel cage for your rat many weeks before your planned. This way, you can spend time making sure your rat feels calm and safe in its new travel home.
Additionally, aim to re-create a feeling of a being in a safe little nest, and protect your rat from the sights, smells and sounds of the outside world by covering the cage with a blanket.
Hope you have found this helpful.
Happy and safe travels! 🙂