Pet Travel: Traveling by Air with Rabbits, Guinea Pigs, Rats, Turtles and other Exotic Animals

rabbit travelPets are on the move. More than 2 million pets are transported each year in the United States according to US Department of Transportation. Although the majority of animals that are transported are dogs and cats, exotic animals can be transported as well. It’s important to realize that every airline sets their own regulations on what pets, breeds and types they are willing to transport. Below is a list of airlines you might want to consider next time you travel with an exotic animal.

Continental: Continental is known for their famous “PetSafe” program and sets the industry standard in pet airline travel. Unfortunately they’re not as catering to exotic animals. Continental limits their welcome to only dogs, cats, rabbits and household birds. Guinea pigs, rats and any type of reptiles are not permitted. Continental will transport pets unaccompanied.

Delta: Delta is a very pet-friendly airline with a variety of options for different animals. Delta welcomes passengers to carry dogs, cats, and household birds in cabin permitting their size. Also, between September 16th and May 14th they will transport dogs, cats, household birds, guinea pigs, rabbits, hamsters and most reptiles, amphibians and fish via cargo. Pets must be in an airline approved crate or carrier. As a bonus Delta will transport two pets of the same type in one kennel as long as they meet the requirements for acceptance. Delta also transports pets unaccompanied.

Frontier: Frontier is known for their laid back regulations and relatively inexpensive transport fees. They allow dogs, cats, guinea pigs, rabbits and hamsters to travel in cabin (with the appropriate carrier) for $75 one way. They will also transport all these animals’ via cargo for $150 a way. Only dogs and cats will be transported internationally. They are also one of the few airlines left that will transport bulldog breeds.

United: United Air limits in-cabin travel to dogs, cats and household birds however; they will transport these pets and guinea pigs, hamsters, and rabbits in the cargo compartment. The prices are $125 (in cabin) and $250-$500 (cargo) respectively. United also transports pets unaccompanied.

WestJet: Westjet Airline is one of the most “exotic pet friendly” airlines inside the US. For only $50 (for both in cabin and cargo) they will transport cats, dogs, rabbits, birds (not just household), chinchillas, guinea pigs, and hedgehogs. The only downside to WestJet is their flight selection is somewhat limited especially in the central US.

It’s important to remember that each airline makes its own rules for the import of birds and exotic pets. On top of the airlines, every country (beside the EU) makes their own rules regarding the various types of pets allowed to enter the country. For more information on traveling with your exotic pet, check out pettravel.com

186 comments to Pet Travel: Traveling by Air with Rabbits, Guinea Pigs, Rats, Turtles and other Exotic Animals

  • Liz – what country are you traveling to Japan from?
    Jason

  • Liz

    Hello, we are moving to Okinawa, Japan in February. What airline takes our bunny in cabin, and at what cost?? Anyone with the experience? Most seem to travel only with cats and dogs. If anyone has had their bunny on any flight, any tips on how? A pee pad? The ones for cats/dogs are they safe for a bunny to possible chew on? Hay in the pet carrier? Water? Any tips would be greatly appreciated! TIA/Liz

  • Ramsey – at the present time, we do not have regulations for importing a pet to Nicaragua, but we are attempting to get information.
    Susan

  • AngelaNess

    SATA Airlines(Portuguese) accepts rabbits as carry-on as long as the cage and animal together weighs less than 8kgs.

  • Bunny – the United Arab Emirates require that all live animals arrive as manifest cargo. It is this reason why UAE based airlines do not carry pets in the cabin. Sorry…
    Susan

  • Bunny

    Hi i am about to move to the uae and i really want to bring my little Bunny with me. He’s 4 months old and i would like to bring him in the Cabin with me.unfortunately it looks like Emirates and etihad don’t accept pet in Cabin , so i should send him in the cargo but i’m not sure he will survive. Is there any european airline which allows a rabbit ad a petc to the uae? Please help me!!!!

  • Ramsey

    does anyone have info on paperwork or direction to get a 5pound lionhead rabbit from Canada to Nicaragua? I would love some help please & thank you for any advice!

  • Hi Pauline – KLM does fly small dogs and cats in the cabin, but other animals need to travel in the cargo hold. You should contact their cargo department for details.
    Phil

  • Pauline klink

    hello,
    i would like to go on lufthansa from india to germany.
    i was wondering if i could take two guinea pigs with me in hand baggage.
    do you think this is possible?

    thank you,
    pauline

  • Anna

    Hi,
    A month ago, I successfully transported my 2 guinea pigs from the US to Germany with Lufthansa. I thought I will share my experience, so that anyone else looking for this info can benefit (it was really hard to find all this out). Firstly, no airline will allow guinea pigs in the cabin on a transatlantic flight. But, Lufthansa has a very good record of transporting animals in the baggage hold. It costs $200 per container and you can put up to 2 guinea pigs in one transporter (which is what I did). You DO NOT need a health certificate for guinea pigs to enter the plane or to enter Germany. Lufthansa will also interline your animals, so if the city you are going to is not Frankfurt, Munich or Dusseldorf, don’t worry – as long as your flights are with Lufthansa, you are fine (I flew to Berlin via Frankfurt from Chicago). You have to call Lufthansa before booking your ticket to make sure they have space for you animal on the flights you want to take. Then you book your ticket and then call them again to book your animals on the flight. You pay the fee at the airport once you arrive for your journey (you have to arrive at least 3h in advance). You should make sure the animals have access to food and water (it is OK to affix the water bottle outside the transporter, with only the spout pointing inside). At the airport you will have to take your animal out of the transporter while it’s checked for explosives/drugs. Lastly, I actually took the pigs to Poland, but flew to Germany. Polish regulations are more bureaucratic – you need to apply for a permit, pay a fee and provide a health certificate in Polish, plus language of the country of origin and the country where the pigs initially enter the EU (for me it would be English and German – no direct Lufthansa flights to Poland). But, there is no border control for land movement of animals and guinea pigs can travel freely between Germany and Poland. These different regulations are a result of not having unified EU law for transport of animals OTHER than cats, dogs and ferrets – each EU country applies its own laws.
    Fortunately my piggies survived it fine and recovered within a couple of days. But I know for many of us owners of as they are called “exotic” pets it’s very stressful as the information either isn’t there or is hard to find. Many people at Lufthansa had no idea about the regulations, e.g. one person told me the pigs need to be chipped and vaccinated, which is of course just thinking the “cats,dogs,ferrets” regulations apply to them too. So when you call the airline make sure you ask the person to DOUBLE-CHECK their information (best call twice so that you ask two different people). And yes, get an IATA approved carrier (ventilation on sides and back of the transporter and none on the top). Good luck with to everyone trying to transport their pets!

  • What cities is your pet traveling from and to?

  • bluesky

    Thanks Phil for the answer. They say its due to their safety regulations, as rodents can chew on cables on the plane if they escape from their cage, which can cause plane crash… sadly this is what they said. I still hope that I find a carrier which flies to Beirut and allows them abroad….

  • Blue Sky – can’t imagine why they would not take your bunny in the hold unless the country to which you are going does not allow them. You may want to contact their cargo departments and inquire.
    Phil

  • bluesky

    Hi, I would like to take with me a mini lop rabbit on an airplane from Europe to Middle East. Unfortunately the 3-4 big carriers I contacted (like Lufthansa, Turkish, Pegasus) doesn’t allow them neither in cabin nor in the hold. Do you have any idea which company allows to take my rabbit with me? Kind regards, Bluesky.

  • Valley – you can search the CITIES database to see if your Box Turtle is a protected species. Here is the link: http://www.speciesplus.net/. You can read more about CITIES permits here: http://www.fws.gov/international/pdf/factsheet-cites-permits-and-certificates-2013.pdf.
    Hope this helps. Let us know if it doesn’t.
    Susan

  • I am hoping that you can help me with a question about exporting my box turtle from Arizona to Abu Dhabi. I am wondering if you believe that I can get a CITES permit approved to export him. We do not know his origin, but my vet believes that he is likely a Florida box turtle, approximately 75 years old. We have had him in my family for 27 years, and I am not eager to part with him! I am familiar with Abu Dhabi’s import regulations, and I have been told that importing him will not be a problem on their end. Any suggestions as to where to look for more information about exporting a box turtle? The Fish and Wildlife’s website is full of broken links :( Thank you!

  • Dahiana – the issue with pot belly pigs is that most of the rest of the world does not view them as pets. They are subject to the regulations of livestock which can be very different than those of cats, dogs and other pets. We do not have the information you need, regrettably. You may want to see if there are references to it here: http://www.ica.gov.co/getattachment/e187d1fc-07b6-4144-a4f0-ba175aa7f650/Publicacion-16.aspx.
    Sorry we could not be of greater assistance. Phil

  • Ashlee

    Thank you SO much!

    It really DOES mean the world to me!

    -Ashlee

  • Dahiana

    Hello,

    I have a Mini Pig ( Right mow he is more like a Pot Belly)
    Im leaving the US soon and going to Colombia (South America) does anybody now if i can take him with me? And what do i have to do? Where can i find ae imformation on this matter.

    Any help will be greatly appreciate it..

    Thank youu

  • Ashlee – don’t get the hedge hog just yet. You need to contact the Animal Quarantine Service in Japan. They have lots of animals listed there, but no hedge hogs. https://www.contact.maff.go.jp/aqs/form/d5db.html
    Susan

  • Ashlee

    Hello!

    I will be moving from Korea to Japan next summer for a new teaching opportunity (my current one is great, but my husband cannot work here without a degree). As a long desired birthday present to myself through some money given to me by my in-laws for such, I’m finally going to buy a hedgehog.

    Does anyone know if transport into Japan with a hedgehog is possible? I will be heartbroken if it isn’t because I’ve found one I’ve fallen in love with and plan to buy next week, but if so, what are the procedures I would need to go through (besides proof of registration, health, etc.)? The site I was checking (the Japanese Health and Welfare sites) seemed a bit vague, plus I can only read limited Japanese.

    Any help on this matter would be GREATLY appreciated. :)

    Thank you!

  • Oceane – we could not find information on importing squirrels to Australia and only references to laboratory rats. We suggest that you address your question to DAFF directly: animalimports@agriculture.gov.au. Sorry we don’t have more information.
    Jason

  • Océane

    Hello ! Is it possible to travel from France to Australia with rats and squirrels ? How much will it cost ? Thanks a lot !

  • Caroline – we reread your post and you did mention you were traveling to Dublin or Berlin. Although Ireland is not in the UK, they have adopted many of their regulations, but still have many of their own, including those for rabbits. We regret the oversight.
    Susan

  • Caroline

    Hi,
    You responded to me saying that any rabbits taken into the UK would be quarantined. I wanted to check with you on why the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine says that you may bring rabbits into Ireland (not England) without a quarantine: (http://www.agriculture.gov.ie/pets/)

    Requirements for importing pet rodents and rabbits from a country which is not a member state of the European Union.

    Persons may bring their pet rodents and rabbits to Ireland from certain non-EU countries provided they are accompanied by a Licence issued by the Animal Health and Welfare Division of the Department. The licence will set out the requirements for import which include a veterinary health certificate, and the animals must be transported in a container which must comply with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Live Animal Regulations and must be secured with a seal or lock.

    Persons wishing to import such pets from Non-EU countries are asked to apply on the attached form (Links to forms) to Animal Health and Welfare Division, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Kildare Street, Dublin 2 for an import permit. An advance notice of import is also required (Link to forms). Application should be made in sufficient time to enable the pre-export requirements to be completed.

    In respect of any non-domestic rodent or rabbit kept as a pet but which may be listed on the CITES list of endangered species, It is the responsibility of the pet owner to check with the Parks and Wildlife section of the Department of the Environment as to whether a CITES licence is required to import such an animal.

  • Kate – from the information we have received, guinea pigs are not permitted to enter Japan.
    Susan

  • Hi Coleman – The Center for Disease Control does not have regulations regarding rodents unless are civets or African rodents or are suspected of having a disease that can be transmitted to humans. However, some states have regulations about certain animals, so you would want to be sure your pet is not included. http://www.aphis.usda.gov/wps/portal/aphis/ourfocus/importexport?1dmy&urile=wcm%3apath%3a%2Faphis_content_library%2Fsa_our_focus%2Fsa_animal_health%2Fsa_import_into_us%2Fsa_entry_requirements%2Fct_us%2Bstate_and_territory_animal_import_regulations
    Phil

  • Coleman

    Do you know if it would be possible to take my pet tenrec (very similar to a hedgehog) with me from Germany to the USA? Thanks for any info!

  • We do know know do any commercial airlines that will carry a turtle in the cabin. Sorry…

  • Emilea – if you are traveling with your turtle, it can travel as accompanied checked baggage. You will need to contact the reservations number for an airline that flies the entire route. If you are not traveling with your turtle, contact the cargo department.
    Susan

  • Emilea Kidd

    Do you think you can bring a turtle to carry-on?

  • Emilea Kidd

    How much will it cost to bring a turtle to San Diego, California from southern Japan?

  • Kate

    Hi Admin, Does Japan allow pet guinea pigs to enter the country? I’m planning to relocate to Tokyo and all I could find so far is rather confusing. It sounds like Japan considers guinea pigs as disease carriers and dangerous and thus won’t allow them to be brought into the country. Is that true? I could probably arrange for them to be checked and declared disease free by at least two vets if that’s what it takes. Thanks!

  • shikha

    hi thanks for your answer
    i checked the site it does not state australia it just says UAE. are these the requirement for entering dubai or leaving dubai and entering australia.
    please clarify this il be very very thankful

  • Hello Shikha – you can find requirements for bringing your guinea pigs to Australia here: http://www.daff.gov.au/micor/Live-Animals/Pages/united_arab_emirates/guinea_pigs_live.aspx.
    Susan

  • Taylor – most all airlines will accept your mice as accompanied baggage in the cargo hold between these two cities. You will need an IATA compliant pet crate for your mice. If you call your airlines, they should be able to give you details.
    Phil

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