Transporting your Bird

By Rick Axelson, DVM

Care & Wellness

December 11, 2008

General Information

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"In general, birds are great travelers."

At some time, you may be faced with the task of transporting your bird. You may be taking the bird to the veterinarian, moving to a new residence or traveling long distances. In general, birds are great travelers. Most tolerate cars and airplanes very well and some actually love the excitement of travel. Planning ahead will ensure a safe, enjoyable trip for you and your bird.

What sort of container should I use?

"You may wish to buy a small cage just for travel."

If traveling by car, then all birds can be transported in a cage as long as it fits in the car. It is not safe for you or your pet to allow the bird to roam freely in the car while you are driving. You may wish to buy a small cage just for travel. Special pet carriers may be purchased from the pet store or your veterinarian. These carriers are usually rugged, conveniently sized for carrying, secure and comfortable for your pet. Small birds such as budgies, canaries or cockatiels may be put in a small box with small holes in the lid to provide air for short trip to the veterinarian's office. The cover should be secured to prevent accidental escape. Remember, many birds are capable of chewing their way out of a box. Toys and swings should be removed from the cage to prevent injury to the bird during rough trips. All containers should be secured in a car seat belt to prevent movement or shifting.

What about bad weather?

"Under no circumstances should the bird be exposed to drafts."

You may still travel in bad weather. In cold weather, the car must be pre-warmed and the cage or carrier covered well using towels, blankets, duvets or jackets. In hot weather, the bird must have some ventilation or fresh air and should never be left unattended in the car. Even birds naturally from a hot climate can suffer heat stroke very quickly.

Under no circumstances should the bird be exposed to drafts.

What if I travel by airplane?

It is up to you to contact the specific airline and determine what their policies are regarding pet travel. Often a pet carrier will fit under the seat. Food and water should be available for your bird at all times. One suggestion is to freeze the water prior to departure so the water will not spill early in the trip and will be accessible to the bird as it thaws out. Succulent fruits such as oranges should be provided for nutrition and fluids. It is not advised to use tranquilizers or sedatives on birds during travel. You should be aware that certain hotels or motels will not allow pets; you should consult your hotel ahead of time to determine its policy.

Can I travel out of the country with my bird?

"It is best to obtain this information in writing well in advance of your trip."

Before making any travel plans, it is essential that you contact the consulate or border authorities of the country you are planning to enter. All countries have their own rules and regulations with respect to traveling, importing, endangered species and disease control. Record the name of the person supplying the information as a reference, should you encounter problems. It is best to obtain this information in writing well in advance of your trip. You may require specific documentation such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (C.I.T.E.S.) certificate or a health certificate. Remember as well to inquire about the regulations regarding your return trip to your home country.

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