|11-07-2015 07:02 PM|
I'm a huge fan of a label with some basic care information.
People don't plan on having an accident when they get in their car. People don't plan on becoming unable to share information in the event of an accident.
Depending on where you are it can take a while for someone to claim an animal left at an accident scene, either family or animal control.
One note about the carrier being removed, if it isn't in the way of getting people out, it will leave after people are removed. If there is a major hazard like a fire or explosion risk and you have to be taken out by emergency personnel, there is a large possibility your animal will not be removed. Yes, this may seem obvious but it's shocking the things people will complain about towards emergency responders at an accident scene.
|11-07-2015 06:39 PM|
Traveling With Your Hedgehog
Traveling With Your Hedgehog
Traveling can be very stressful for animals. They don't know what's going on, why they're having their normal routine disrupted, or when they're going to see their normal home again. Many people opt to get pet sitters when they need to travel so their pet can stay in their usual surroundings. Unfortunately, this isn't always possible for various reasons. This sticky covers what you should consider when preparing to travel with a hedgehog, whether it's for a quick weekend trip or for a longer vacation.
What should my hedgehog ride in?
You should never attempt to transport your hedgehog in a box, a plastic tub, in your lap, or in a soft purse or carrier. The only safe way to transport a hedgehog in a vehicle is in a hard-sided animal carrier. This includes small trips like vet visits or day trips. Car accidents can happen at any time and a hedgehog can easily be thrown around the car if they're not protected by a hard carrier. In the event that you are unconscious, emergency personnel are also trained to look for hard-sided pet carriers and get them out of the car if possible. If your hedgehog is in a soft purse-like carrier, the emergency responders may not notice that there's an animal in it. It's also best if the carrier can be strapped in with a seat belt, to prevent the carrier from being thrown around the car or falling to the floor if there's a sudden stop or other emergency.
Some people include a label on the carrier for emergency personnel, just in case. The label usually has basic information such as the hedgehog's name & care information, including the fact that they need to be kept between 73-80F (or a more specific temperature that your hedgehog might be used to), and someone to contact for emergency care.
Supplies for the Car Ride
Some of this list may overlap with the list of supplies that you'll be bringing on your trip anyway for your stay away from home. But these are things that would be helpful to have up front and accessible during the drive in case you need it. Typically these things are only necessary for longer car rides, over a couple hours long. For shorter car rides, most hedgehogs are going to sleep for the duration and won't need much attention as long as you make sure they're warm enough.
- Water from home: Don't leave water in the carrier while you're driving as this can spill & get your hedgie wet (and lead to chills). But having some water up front that you can offer hedgie during stops can be helpful. Don't worry about food – most hedgehogs don't eat during the day anyway and having food in their belly can increase the chances of car sickness.
- Extra carrier bedding: Hedgehogs can get car sick, and sometimes they'll poop or pee in their carrier (especially if they're stressed by the trip). It's a good idea to have some extra blankets on hand so you can switch out the dirty bedding and avoid hedgie getting poop all over themselves (and so you don't have to smell it for the whole trip!).
- A plastic bag & paper towels or wipes: To go along with the bedding, you'll want something that you can seal the dirty bedding away in so you're not smelling it for hours. Paper towels or wipes will help clean up if poop gets smeared on the carrier at all.
- Digital thermometer: This may not be necessary for everyone, but is something to consider. Some hedgehogs can be very temperature sensitive and you may need to monitor the temperature in their carrier for long trips that last most or all of the day. Our ability to gauge temperature by feel is pretty poor, so even if you're comfortable in the car, it could be too cool for your hedgehog.
- Heating supplies: While you may not need them in the summer, it's a good idea to have some disposable handwarmers or reusable ones that are ready to go on hand for the trip if you're traveling any other time of the year. Weather can be unpredictable, or your car could break down and you end up stuck without heating. It's always best to be prepared when you have an animal with special requirements! When driving during the winter, it's usually a good idea to have some handwarmers in the carrier with the hedgehog anyway, but make sure you have some extras on hand.
Other Car Considerations
- Be careful how loud you have the radio on, if you like to listen to it while driving. Some hedgehogs get used to a noisy house & can be more or less bombproof. Others are used to quiet when they're sleeping during the day & having a radio playing loudly can make a stressful trip even more stressful. Either way, make sure you don't have it too loud – if it's just you & hedgie on the trip, it might be worth adjusting your car's sound system so it comes through the front only and not the back where your hedgehog is.
- Don't have your hedgehog's carrier directly in front of an air vent. Drafts, whether warm or cool, aren't good and can cause chills.
- Especially in the summer, consider where the sun is going to be (most of the time) in relation to your car. Ideally, you can place your hedgehog so the carrier won't be in the sun for most of the ride. It can be helpful to put a light colored blanket over the carrier to help block sunlight a bit.
- Also in the summer, never leave your hedgehog unattended in a closed up car. While it's not usually recommended to take hedgehogs into places where animals aren't allowed, if you desperately need to use the bathroom at a rest stop and it's very warm out, it'd be in your hedgehog's best interests to come along with you in a soft carrier or purse. Closed cars heat up extremely fast and can become unsafe very quickly.
- When planning out your driving route, take note of states and other localities where hedgehogs are illegal. Most places aren't an issue driving through with hedgehogs, as long as you're not staying the night. But Pennsylvania should always be avoided during trips, even if you don't plan to stop at all. Authorities are very strict about hedgehogs and you don't want to risk your hedgehog being discovered and confiscated to be euthanized.
Okay, so now you're prepared for the car drive! But what about the trip itself? Whether you're staying with a family member, friends, or at a hotel, what your hedgehog needs will be more or less the same.
- Food & water: Make sure you bring your hedgehog's normal food and water from home, especially if you're traveling a distance away. Some hedgehogs can get upset stomachs from sudden water changes just like with food. Bring more than you think you'll need – I usually pack an extra day or two's worth of food in case of something unexpected coming up to delay our return home. Don't forget to bring along some treats too!
- Travel cage: This can be your hedgehog's regular cage, if it's easily transported, or it can be a store-bought cage (which typically break down for easy transport), or a tote. Some people have also had good luck with pop up dog playpens. Many people find that a large tote works very well as a travel cage. While they're not typically big enough, they can work for short trips, such as a week or less. Totes work well because you can put all of your hedgie's supplies in the tote for the ride, then get it all set up when you arrive at your destination. Whatever you use, make sure that the cage is big enough (try to keep it at the 4 square feet minimum recommendation if at all possible, or as close to it as you can get), and that it's escape proof.
- Cage furniture: You don't have to bring all of your hedgehog's normal toys along on the trip. But you do need to bring their wheel, food & water bowls, and whatever they usually sleep in. Having a favorite toy or two can help make things feel like home too.
- Bedding: I try to make sure that the bedding brought for the trip has been used for at least a couple days before the trip. That makes it smell more like the hedgie & can help them settle in better in their travel cage. Make sure you bring extra bedding as well, just in case of particularly messy nights or other issues.
- Heating set up: Keep in mind that you're not likely to have control over the thermostat for where you're staying, and not everyone is understanding about your hedgehog's needs. If possible, find out how cold your hosts keep their house in case that will affect your travel cage choice (plastic totes are also easier to heat than wire cages). If you typically use a space heater to heat your hedgehog, make sure this won't cause a problem for your host or yourself – you may be sharing a room with your hedgehog. If you're using a plastic tote for your travel cage, make sure you have the top modified so it can be safely heated by a CHE lamp (or use wire shelving, etc. as a lid for the cage).
- Cleaning supplies: You'll definitely have to clean the wheel at some point during the trip, and you may need to clean the cage as well. Make sure you bring what you need for that. Check with your host about wheel cleaning – not everyone wants a poop-covered hedgehog wheel in their bathtub or kitchen sink! If your host is unhappy with that idea, it's usually easy enough to clean the wheel by spraying it down with 50/50 vinegar & water, letting it sit for 5-10 minutes, then wiping it down with paper towels.
- Vet information: If you're not going to be close enough to access your usual vet, make sure you check the area you'll be in before the trip and find a vet that sees exotics (and preferably has hedgehog experience). Animals like to choose the worst possible times to get hurt or sick, and it's best to have the information already on hand than to be panicking last second about finding a vet. If your drive is going to last longer than one day, it's not a bad idea to scout out a vet in the areas you'll be staying overnight in as well, just in case.
Staying With Friends/Family
- Make sure your hedgehog will still be getting their usual light schedule (or close to it). If you need to, bring along a timer so you can put one of your host's lamp on it, or bring along your own lamp if you have one just for your hedgie. This can be harder on vacations, especially if you're sharing your hedgie's room, but do your best. Keep in mind that excess light is typically less harmful than excess dark (which will lead to hibernation attempts), but make sure your hedgehog gets enough dark to feel comfortable going about their usual activity.
- Double check about any pets your host might have. Strange dogs & cats could be a threat to your hedgehog. Make sure you'll be able to keep them out of the room your hedgie's staying in, especially when you're not around. This is absolutely essential to your hedgehog's safety, so make sure you and your host are in agreement on this.
- Likewise, small children that live in the house or are also visiting need to be considered. Make sure they won't be able to get to your hedgehog's cage. This is extra important because hedgehog heating equipment can pose a danger to small children as well. If you're visiting over holidays when there will be many different people in the house & lots of food, make sure no one has the opportunity to try giving your hedgehog a treat – they may not know what's safe or unsafe for hedgehogs. If you need to, find a way to make sure your hedgehog's cage locks securely so that only you can open it. This may be extreme, but not everyone has understanding people in their life and your first priority is your hedgehog's safety.
Staying at a Hotel
- Make sure you research beforehand and find a hotel that is pet-friendly. It's not a great idea to sneak a hedgehog into one that doesn't allow pets – you run the risk of getting asked to leave the hotel at any time, or worse, having your hedgehog discovered while you're not there. Pet-friendly hotels will usually ask for an extra deposit for each additional pet, so make sure you're expecting that with the cost of your room.
- It's a good idea to include a sign on your hedgehog's cage asking housekeeping staff to not turn off or unplug any lights or heating lamps. Just explain that your hedgehog's health is dependent on this equipment staying as is. Alternatively, you can usually request no housekeeping service so that no one will be disturbing your room while you're gone.
- Try to avoid leaving excess mess caused by your hedgehog (poop anywhere, food crumbs, etc.). While it's true that housekeeping is supposed to clean up messes, you don't want to cause any issues or ill-will towards small pets or hedgehogs by giving them more mess to clean up.
Traveling with a hedgehog can be a little trickier than with other animals. But with a little preparation and thought, you can have happy travels with your hedgehog!