How to Travel With a Hamster

Whitney is a hamster parent. She hates to see her furry friends suffer and enjoys educating others of best husbandry practices.

If you're going on vacation but you're not quite sure what to do with your pet hamster, you basically have two options:

  • take them with you
  • find a sitter

Finding a sitter to watch your hamster while you are gone is really the better choice as it will reduce the amount of stress on your hamster, but sometimes you may not have any options and may have to take your hamster with you.

The Best Way to Move a Hamster

If you're moving, you may want to find a sitter until you have moved everything. After you are settled you can then bring your hamster to the new home. You don't want to leave your hamster alone for more than a few days at a time, so you may want the last thing that moves to the new house to be your hamster.

Otherwise, below are a few options and tips to traveling with your pet hamster, whether it be a short or long car trip or a plane ride. Just make sure that you always consider finding a sitter if you can, as it is much safer for your hamster to stay home rather than ride around, especially if it's just going to be a fairly short vacation.

Tips for Transporting Hamsters on Short Car Trips

Short car trips are the best type of trip for your hamster. Short trips to the vet or to a friend's house to babysit your hamster isn't that big of an adventure.

You will want to put your hamster in a small travel carrier with some of the bedding from the cage as it will help the hamster feel a little more at home and safe. You can also consider taking a tunnel off of the hamster's cage and plugging it with a tunnel endcap for traveling as well.

For a short trip, your hamster won't need food or water, but you can put a small carrot, cucumber, or melon in the travel carrier in case your hamster gets a little hungry or thirsty; a water-based fruit or vegetable will help with hydration. You will also want to include a chew stick just to keep your hamster busy.

If you don't have someone to hold the carrier during the ride, stick it between the back and front seats so that if you have to make a sudden stop, the carrier won't go flying.

Tips for Transporting Hamsters on Long Car Trips

If you're moving or you have to take your hamster on a long car ride, you want to do everything that you can to reduce stress on your hamster. Depending on how long the ride is, you may want to use the hamster's regular cage for travel instead of a travel carrier. Wire cages are better because they allow for ventilation, but you'll want to put a sheet of cardboard between the seat and the cage so that the hamster can't nibble on your car seats. A plastic cage will prevent your seats from being eaten, but they can also get as hot as an oven when in direct sunlight.

You want to stock the cage with food, toys, chew sticks, and bedding. Don't leave the water bottle in the cage as it can leak while your hamster is drinking; you may hit a bump harming your hamster and you don't want that. Offer water at rest stops or while the car is fully stopped.

Never get your hamster out of its cage while traveling. They will be stressed and will definitely try to find a way to get away. Be considerate of loud music, screaming or fighting children, and any other disturbances. Your hamster will probably sleep while you're trying to drive during the day.

If you have to stay at a hotel overnight while in transit, bring the hamster inside. Most hotels won't even notice if you bring in a cage, so don't worry about finding a pet-friendly hotel. You may have to put the cage in a bathroom so that you can get a good night's sleep, but you never want to leave the hamster in the car overnight.

Tips for Flying With a Hamster

If you're really taking a trip and you have to fly on a plane, you want to do your best at minimizing the stress. You're probably not equipped for shipping your hamster and his supplies, so take him on the plane with you. Pet cargo isn't the most ideal for your hamster because it'll be noisy and way too nerve-racking with the other pets and normal plane sounds. Plus, you just can't guarantee the temperature on the runway, baggage train, or in the cargo area; the temperatures may be too hot or too cold.

You will want to travel with your hamster with you as a carry-on. When getting on a plane with your hamster, you'll need a pet-approved travel carrier and maybe a medical certificate saying that the hamster is healthy and doesn't carry any diseases. You'll need to call the airline beforehand so that you can get any specifics before you show up with your hamster.

Consider Getting a Pet Sitter

Sometimes, it's just much easier if you get a friend or family member to babysit your pet hamster. It'll be one less thing to stress you or your pet. By getting someone to watch your hamster, his schedule and routine won't be disturbed.

In most cases, if you're just going on a weekend trip, then your hamster can stay by himself, but if you're staying for more than a weekend for a week or longer, you'll want to consider just getting a friend to watch your hamster. By calling around and finding someone to watch your hamster, you are doing the best thing for your hamster rather than taking them on your trip. Stress can easily stir up illnesses such as wettail, which can be fatal.

If you're able to find a pet sitter, you have two options:

  • have the person come to your house to care for your hamster
  • take your hamster and his entire setup to the person's house

Try to avoid taking the hamster to a pet boarding facility because the barking, bright lights, phones, slamming doors, and other noises will definitely stress out your hamster. Make sure that you give your sitter a written routine so that the stress on your hamster is reduced as much as possible. Consider feeding schedules, exercise, and cage cleaning routines.

Sne on August 12, 2020:

Hello. I am travelling on a flight with my hamster and I can't seem to find these airline approved carriers anywhere, can someone please point me in the direction of what they even look like and is it still possible to travel in the cabin with the hamster. My airline doesn't seem know either

Angel cookies on July 03, 2020:

Hi again if you are going on a plane do you need a air line a pproved carrier for your hamster thanks again

Angel cookies on July 03, 2020:

Hi so where would you get the certifacate if its the vets will it need to be signed by the vetinarian for planes thanks

KEISHLA HERNANDEZ on October 23, 2018:


hammie the human on January 04, 2013:

@ santa i do not think you can do that. but if you can, it will probably cost a lot of money, here in america you can get them for 6 to 20 dollars. you don't have petstores there? try to find a hamster where you live, its not healthy to ship a hamster overseas

Lulu on July 19, 2012:

For Long Car Journeys

Another tip is to put the hamsters in the trunk of your car, with a towel underneath and a towel over the cage. The towel allows the hamsters to be in the dark and cool(er) temperatures, which they like, and which also helps them sleep. A must is to clean the cage RIGHT before you bring them, because it WILL smell in the car and your parents will not be happy :-)

I have experience taking hamsters on lots of long car trips (up to 12 hour trips, pretty much nonstop), and they are a little twitchy, but they will get used to it, especially if you bring their usual food and bedding with you.

jb on May 10, 2012:

Im going to stay at my nans fo a week what to do with my hampster im taking him with me but i need to pack his stuff


hammyhamster on April 12, 2012:

aw! it's so cute, but i dunno because i'm going on holiday for a week to Holland and was wondering if i could take my hamster on the train and all?

gabby on January 08, 2012:

what if u have 6 hamsters and u have no sitter what do i do?

RandomPerson:) on August 23, 2011:

You may want to have more tips to keep the hamster more comfey, but otherwise it was good information. That was to the websiye, by the way!!! Hamsters are the cutest animals ever and kittens!!!

hashimocco on June 04, 2011:

awwww!!! want to buy those cars for my jerry( my hamster) .... shoooooooo shweeeet!!!

Whitney (author) from Georgia on July 20, 2010:

You may have to have it approved for overseas travel. I'm not really sure.

santa on July 20, 2010:


but what if i want to buy a hamster overseas (say, america) and bring it back to my home (indonesia). what would i have to do?

Ethel Smith from Kingston-Upon-Hull on February 23, 2010:

Useful info but so cute. Those hamsters in cars. Lol so sweet

Stick to the air conditioning to keep the cabin cool while you’re travelling. Don’t roll down the windows or sunroof on the road. The blasts of wind can scare and potentially harm an animal that size.

If you take a stop for lunch or a hotel stay overnight, bring the cage with you (make sure you’re staying at a place whose policy allows this). Don’t leave the little guy in the hot or frigid car, because temperatures can get extreme in that enclosed, glass greenhouse.

Hamsters, gerbils, and other rodents are easily transportable and make great companions on road trips. Just make sure your pet enjoys the adventure as much as you do.

Aaron is unashamed to be a native Clevelander and the proud driver of a Hyundai Veloster Turbo (which recently replaced his 1995 Saturn SC-2). He gleefully utilizes his background in theater, literature, and communication to dramatically recite his own articles to nearby youth. Mr. Widmar happily resides in Dayton, Ohio with his magnificent wife, Vicki, but is often on the road with her exploring new destinations. Aaron has high aspirations for his writing career but often gets distracted pondering the profound nature of the human condition and forgets what he was writing… See more articles by Aaron.

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Magic of a Pet Passport

Travelling with your beloved little (or big) pet may seem daunting.

Where do you start? What will you need for the trip? How do you make sure your pet is comfortable and safe while away from home? How do you ensure that your pet doesn't get sick?

We're here to answer all those questions, to ensure that the trip is enjoyable and as stress-free as possible for you and your pet.

So, whether you are just taking your pet on a short trip to the vet, are moving house, or are planning on taking your pet on holiday with you, we're here to help!

Pets and International Travel

Shipping a Pet Overseas from the United States

The Overseas Briefing Center provides country-specific pet information for the foreign affairs community assigned to a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. We encourage pet owners to review carefully their travel plans for upcoming international moves.

Whether moving overseas or returning to the United States on official U.S. government orders, pet owners need to determine an airline carrier’s pet policies on live animals as excess baggage, cargo, and in-cabin before booking your pet. It is also important for pet owners to determine which carrier has the contract for their travel route and what the expenses will be.

GSA Waiver for Airline Pet Travel: If the airline (contract carrier) cannot guarantee the shipment of the pet to the point of destination as accompanied/excess baggage, then members of the Foreign Service community, traveling on official orders, are authorized to use another carrier with some caveats (i.e., if in Europe must use an EU airline) and they may have to cost construct the difference between the contract passenger fare and the other airline passenger fare.

International Pet Travel on American Carriers

The information below pertains to cats and dogs. Airline policies regarding other pets may vary. Contact the airlines directly for additional information. The travel policies of U.S. airlines with regard to shipping animals are subject to change at any time. These policies are much more restrictive than in past years. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) policy regarding the shipment of pets traveling as cargo on passenger planes should also be carefully reviewed. If your pet must be shipped as cargo using a commercial shipper, it is important to contact one early in the moving process. The information below provides only general guidelines. It is crucial that you review all considerations with the airline and, if necessary, the pet shipper you plan to use. OBC recommends that you request written confirmation of reservations you make for the shipment of your pet.

There are three ways you can ship your pet via the airlines:

  1. Your pet can travel on the plane with you (either in-cabin or in the cargo). In either case, your pet will be considered excess/accompanied baggage and charged accordingly. Some airlines no longer offer this option.
  2. You can book your pet on a separate flight. In this case, you will be charged the cargo rate, which is considerably more than excess baggage. Some airlines no longer offer this option.
  3. You can have your pet shipped through a licensed commercial shipper. You will be charged the cargo rate plus the shipper’s fee. Several airlines require this method unless your pet is small enough to fit in the cabin.

As a rule, animals 100 lbs. or larger (including the weight of the cage) will be charged as cargo even if they travel on the same plane as you. It is important to check with the airline if your pet is close to that weight and to determine if its policy may vary from this general 100 lb. rule.

Traveling with a Service Animal

For information regarding the regulations of service animals/service dogs in air transportation, check the following updated website as of Dec. 2, 2020: U.S. Department of Transportation Announces Final Rule on Traveling by Air with Service Animals. The rule indicates only trained service animals that assist owners with either physical or psychiatric disabilities will be allowed to travel in the cabin free of charge. Emotional support animals will no longer be a category that receives the same entitlement. Forms mentioned in this announcement should be available within the coming weeks. Updated details on this ruling should be available shortly on both on the DOT site as well as the major airline sites.

It is important to check with the individual airline for their policies. In addition, the following websites may have helpful information: Service Dog Registration of America (SDRA) |

Worldwide Import and Quarantine Restrictions

  • For U.S. Government employees and family members ONLY
    • Visit or e-mail the Overseas Briefing Center (OBC) to inquire about pet entry requirements for your post assignment.
    • Notify the post once you have your assignment that you will be bringing a pet(s) and what kind.
  • For the general public traveling outside the United States with pets
    • Review the International Animal Export Regulations , provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture – Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS).
    • Check the requirements to see how close to departure the required veterinarian examination, inoculations, and tests must be scheduled.
    • Call the appropriate embassy in Washington, DC to confirm the entry requirements for the country you are moving to. Some embassies will provide forms printed in English and in the host language for your veterinarian to complete. Some countries do not permit importation or have long quarantine requirements .
    • Arrange with your veterinarian for required shots and certificates within the specified time period.(Even though not always required, it is recommended that you include shots for distemper and hepatitis).

U.S. Airline Pet Policies

Typically, airlines require pet health certificates that are no older than 10 days, even if the receiving country accepts an older one. Some countries, however, require a health certificate to be even less than 10 days. This is an important point to check directly with the airline. U.S. Government employees or family members may contact the Overseas Briefing Center for information on airline restrictions.

  • American Airlines
    • Reservations: 1 (800) 433-7300
    • Air Cargo Section: 1 (800) 227-4622
  • Delta
    • Ask about Military and Department of State pet travel exemptions (when employee traveling on official orders)
    • Reservations: 1 (800) 241-4141
    • Live Animal Desk: 1 (888) 736-3738 or 1 (888) SEND PET or 1 (866) 782-2746
  • United Airlines
    • Ask about Military and Department of State pet travel exemptions (when employee traveling on official orders)
    • International Reservations: 1 (800) 538-2929
    • Live Cargo: 1 (800) 825-3788

The ISO Microchip

If assigned to an EU or non-EU country that requires an ISO microchip, it is important to determine if your veterinary clinic carries ISO-compliant microchips known as ISO microchip standards 11784 and 11785. EU transponders do NOT read non-ISO microchips. Microchips should always be implanted prior to administering the required rabies booster.

If your veterinary clinic does not carry ISO microchips, you may purchase one from the Pet Travel Store (877-241-0184) and bring it to your vet for insertion. You can also order the Eurochip by Avid, which is ISO standard 11785 compliant from Countryside Pet Supply (1-800-313-5737). The Crystal Tag chip also meets ISO standards 11784 and 11785.

Certification Requirements

Pet owners should first visit the U.S. Department of Agriculture – Animal and Plant Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) website to review country requirements for pet arrival. Pet certification requirements vary from country to country. A few countries simply require the veterinarian who examines your pet to be licensed in the state of origin, and no USDA endorsement of the veterinarian’s examination statement is required. Today, however, most countries require that your pet be checked by a federally-accredited veterinarian and that a United States Interstate and International Certificate for Health Examination for Small Animals (7001 USDA-APHIS Form) be issued by that veterinarian and endorsed by the USDA. Check the airline you will be using for your pet. There have been cases where a country does not require a certification, but a particular airline does. There is a USDA endorsement fee per certificate for cats and dogs.

NOTE: More than one dog or cat may be on a certificate. For other types of pets, check the USDA site below, or call the USDA- APHIS, VS Exports Office (518) 218-7540, or (844) 820-2234 M-F 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM EST, or email [email protected]

The timetable for examination statements and certifications can be very tight. Plan well in advance to be sure all paperwork is complete in time for your shipping date.

As of April 29, 2020: Endorsement of pet health forms is now a 100% electronic through the Veterinary Export Health Certification System (VEHCS) .

How does the process work? First, for your assigned country, check the U.S. Department of Agriculture – Animal and Plant Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) site and look for a colored banner at the top of each country page. Banners will either be green or orange.

What does a green banner mean? If the country has a green VEHCS banner on the PTW, that means your USDA Accredited Veterinarian can go into VEHCS and complete the health certificate electronically after they have examined your animal. They are able to type in all of the pertinent information and then sign the health certificate, either within VEHCS or using Adobe Acrobat for PDF files. Then your USDA Accredited Veterinarian can electronically submit the certificate directly to APHIS through VEHCS. They do not need to print anything at this step. Then APHIS Veterinarians go into VEHCS, review your pet’s certificate, and are able to digitally endorse the document within VEHCS. Once the endorsement is completed, your USDA Accredited Veterinarian goes back into VEHCS and can print off the APHIS-endorsed health certificate. Your veterinarian gets the certificate to you, and you’re set to travel.

NOTE: A hard copy of the APHIS-endorsed veterinary export health certificate must travel with the animal during the export process.

What does an orange banner mean? Much like a green banner, your USDA Accredited Veterinarian goes into VEHCS and completes the health certificate electronically after they have examined your animal. They are able to electronically sign the health certificate using Adobe Acrobat or similar program. Then your USDA Accredited Veterinarian can electronically submit the certificate directly to APHIS through VEHCS. They do not need to print anything at this step. Then APHIS Veterinarians go into VEHCS, review your pet’s certificate, but for orange countries, APHIS then prints the certificate to create a hardcopy. They apply their original pen-and-ink signature, and then crimp the form with the raised embossed USDA seal. This original document must travel back to you before your pet can travel, so be sure your USDA Accredited Veterinarian includes a return overnight express shipping label when they submit your pet’s health certificate in VEHCS.

NOTE: A hard copy of the APHIS-endorsed veterinary export health certificate must travel with the animal during the export process.

Does my veterinarian know about this? On April 29, 2020, the APHIS National Veterinary Accreditation Program (NVAP) sent out an alert to all USDA Accredited Veterinarians informing them that electronic submission of veterinary health certificates is now acceptable for all live animals to all countries. Veterinarians are able to create an account within VEHCS for free.

Do other countries know about this? On April 16, 2020, USDA-APHIS published a World Trade Organization (WTO) Notification , telling their international trade partners of this development.

Improved Processing Times. Besides not having to make an appointment, then drive and wait in an APHIS office, you also are not spending time shipping documents to an APHIS office. The transmission of the health certificate from your USDA Accredited Veterinarian’s computer to APHIS through VEHCS is instantaneous. APHIS is able to review your pet’s certificate within 24-48 hours of receiving it, and then either endorse within VEHCS (green countries) or print, sign, seal and return to you via overnight express (orange countries). Now the entire process can take only hours (for green countries) or approximately 1-2 days (for orange countries).

By removing the requirement of an original signature of the USDA Accredited Veterinarian to be submitted via hard copy to our endorsement offices, and replacing it with a secured digital submission of electronic documents, APHIS removes the need to physically deliver or mail certificates to our endorsement offices, thereby reducing health certificate processing times and the costs associated with overnight express shipping.

Authentication of the USDA Certificate

Authentication of the USDA certificate forms may be required by the country to which you will be traveling with your pet. Check with the embassy before arrival.

If required, go to the Department of State’s Office of Authentications
600 19th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20006
Tel: 202-485-8000 or 1-800-333-4636 and then press 5
Fax: (202) 663-3636

The office is open on a walk-in basis from 8:00 am to 3:30 pm, Monday through Friday. Recommended times to visit are 10:00 am – 3:30 pm. There is a authentication fee per document and the average waiting time is one hour. The check should be made payable to U.S. Department of State.

Customers seeking urgent same day services must schedule an appointment with an Authentications Specialist and meet the following criteria: the documents submitted for authentication are the customer’s personal documents and do not belong to a third party or the customer is scheduled for international travel and can show proof of international travel within 24-48 hours.

You may view more information about form requirements on the USDA-APHIS website at and whether forms need to be authenticated. The most common form that will need authentication is 7001 USDA-APHIS Form (Certification of Health for Small Animals).


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