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.

Delta: Delta is a very pet-friendly airline with a variety of options for different animals. Delta welcomes passengers to carry small dogs, cats, and household birds in cabin. 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 as long as the temperatures along your route do not exceed 85 degrees.. 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 no longer provides checked baggage service, however they do transport pets unaccompanied. Delta only accepts pets on flights shorter than 12 hours.

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 for flights within the United States. They will also transport all these animals via cargo for $150 each 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, rabbits and household birds however; they will transport these pets and guinea pigs, and hamsters in the cargo compartment under their PetSafe program. The prices are $125 (in cabin) and $250-$500 (cargo) respectively.

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) in the cabin. Chinchillas, guinea pigs, and hedgehogs can be transported as checked baggage. 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


Pet Travel: Traveling by Air with Rabbits, Guinea Pigs, Rats, Turtles and other Exotic Animals — 333 Comments

  1. Amanda – you should contact the Fish and Wildlife Service and inquire whether you will need an import permit to import your hedgehog to the US. It may not be required when entering theUS from Puerto Rico. You are line may require a health certificate. You can reach them at 703-358-2104.

  2. Hi I would like to know what can I do to Transport or Travel My hedge hog From Puerto Rico to United states
    Thank You

  3. Andrea – it should do be permitted as you are entering Poland with your mouse from Australia, but likely your mouse will need to fly as air cargo. Find an airline that flies the entire route and contact their cargo department. If they require that an agent book the flight (like British Airways) then try another one. Your mouse will need a health certificate issued within 10 days of travel.

  4. Hi, I’m in Australia and I have a pet mouse, I’m coming back to Poland.
    I’m wondering if and how to bring my little friend to the other side of the globe.
    We asked many “travel pet companies” but their prices are impossible for normal people.
    DO you have any solutions?
    Thank you.

  5. Toni – according to their regulations, Virgin does not allow rodents or reptiles to be transported in the cabin as ESAs.

  6. Hi, I have two pet rats I have as therapeutic companions. I have PTSD, GAD and borderline personality disorder. I am flying from BWI to London Heathrow on June 14th and I was wondering is Virgin would let me take them.


  7. Thank you Phil about the details about hamster travel, appreciate it! I also found out about Emotional Support Animals as check-in. But unfortunately, can’t do that with a hamster for United. Haven’t checked other airlines yet about that. Just thought to mention in case anyone else has a need.

    Thanks again,

  8. A customer traveling with an in-cabin pet cannot be seated in the bulkhead or an emergency exit row.

  9. I’m taking United to travel and I would like to take my baby red slider turtle with me but I don’t know if I can.

  10. Shea – most all US-based airlines will allow the transport of turtles in the cargo hold as air cargo. The only domestic US airline that offers checked baggage is American Airlines and that service is offered solely for cats and dogs. Try contacting the cargo department of a US-based airline that offers the transport of live animals as cargo that serves your route most efficiently (Delta, American, United, etc., not JetBlue, Southwest or Frontier).

  11. Although turtles are listed in your post, I don’t see any details about turtles in the specific airline blurbs. Do you have any more detail on domestic US airlines that will allow turtles?

  12. Kelly – your ratties, if traveling with United, will need a health certificate issued within 10 days of transport. If you are referring to Rat Terriers, they must have proof of current rabies vaccination. If they are not currently vaccinated, they will need to wait for 30 days before traveling.

  13. i’m traveling with my 2 ratties from Tennessee to Montana (United)and keep getting conflicting information if they need any type of paperwork. Does any one know? Thank you.

  14. Summer – Delta will carry your hamster as air cargo as long as they don’t fly a B-767 on the route, but an agent must book the transport. KLM will also fly your hamster as air cargo, so you will need to contact their cargo department for cost and details. British Airways flies the route, but you will need an agent for them as well. Air France also flies the route but we advise not choosing them as they will require that you claim your pet at CDG and recheck it to AMS.

  15. Hello,
    Do you know if KLM, Delta or another airlines will let me bring my hamster from the US to Netherlands? I checked with the NL embassy for details on how to bring the hamster over with the necessary documents, so that parts done. I called KLM and they said they will not allow me to bring the hamster on the plane. They also said it’s a NO for Delta. I saw on your blog that Delta allows hamster transport via cargo? I would appreciate any insight. She’s a family pet and we want to bring her with us. Thank you, Summer

  16. Lisa – it is possible as long as you are traveling with them. Up to 3 per person. Have your vet issue a health certificate within 10 days of travel.

  17. Tyler – Australia allows few other types of pets other than cats and dogs to enter the country and rodents are not one of them. Sorry..

  18. Lisa – Up to 3 guinea pigs or hamsters can be imported into Germany with their owner. A health certificate is highly recommended.

  19. Is it possible to take our guinea pig from the US to Germany? We are moving there in a few months.

  20. Oneilia – Australia allows the import of cats (approved countries), dogs (approved countries), birds (selected species from NZ), horses (approved countries) and rabbits (NZ only). We do not believe it will be permitted. You can confirm at 1800 900 090.

  21. Sabrina – yes, you can bring your guinea pig to the US. It will need a health certificate issued within 10 days of travel. Not sure if you can find an airline that will fly it as accompanied checked baggage if you are traveling with it. Otherwise, it will need to travel as air cargo, so you would contact the cargo department of an airline that flies to the US as directly as possible.

  22. Jessica – according to DEFRA regulations, pet rabbit or rodent does not need to serve quarantine if it travels from an EU country and it’s been living there for at least 4 months. Your rabbit can enter Ireland from the UK as long as you accompany it and a Advance Notice of Import must be sent to the Animal Health and Welfare Division, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, at least 24 hours in advance of arrival of your rabbit.

  23. Hello there,

    I will be travelling from Turkey to Finland with Finnair airlines then connect in Finland to Amsterdam with my pet rabbit. I will then be boarding a ferry from Amsterdam to the UK (where I’m from). Will my rabbit need to go into 4 months quarantine because he has originally come from a non-EU country or will he be exempt from this because he has travelled through 2 EU countries (Finland and The Netherlands) first? I also need a health certificate to show in Amsterdam, so I am thinking if he is accepted in to The Netherlands with this then surely I can travel to the UK from The Netherlands as it’s an EU country who have accepted him.

    From the UK I will be moving to Dublin, Ireland so I am also wondering if I am able to have him taken into ‘transit’ quarantine for 21 days (my boyfriend recalls seeing this is possible somewhere but we now can’t find the information!) before he can be moved to Ireland since Ireland is an EU country and essentially I should be able to move him from The Netherlands to Ireland without any problems but there are no direct ferries, hence going through the UK.

    I would greatly appreciate your help and very much look forward to hearing from you!

    Thank you in advance

  24. Off hand, we are not aware of an airline that will allow guinea pigs in the cabin, but contact WestJet if they fly your route. They are a pet friendly airline.

  25. Do any Canadian airlines allow guinea pigs on board? I would like to travel with my guinea pig in the cabin in his carrier.

  26. Hello Kimberley – we know of no commercial airline that will allow rats to travel in the cabin on any route. You can ask Austrian Airlines whether they will transport your rats as checked baggage or if they will need to travel as air cargo. Lufthansa, KLM and Swiss Air also fly the route efficiently.

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