Snakes on a plane: Traveling with nontraditional pets
By Aimee Heckel
Snakes on a Plane is not just a terrible fiction movie. Well, it is terrible. But it’s not entirely fantasy. You can, in fact, bring your pet snake on a plane. On some planes, at least.
But traveling with nontraditional pets is trickier than simply stuffing Fluffy in a pet carrier.
In fact, an Egypt Air flight was grounded a few months ago, after a snake reportedly bit a passenger who had smuggled the reptile on board.
Don’t do that.
Here are some interesting facts and tips about traveling with nontraditional pets.
Each airline may have a different policy about traveling with different kinds of animals, so call your airline before booking tickets or making plans.
For example, American Airlines’ policy on traveling with pets requires a valid health certificate, and only allows dogs and cats. It will not check certain breeds, such as Boston terriers and pugs, due to their noses and breathing conditions. American Airlines Cargo will, however, ship pot-belly pigs, rodents, ferrets and “cold-blooded animals.”
For nontraditional pets, also check into the shipping branch of Delta Airlines, Delta Dash, which allows you to check your animals at the counter. They also allow household birds in the cabin with you.
If you are planning on flying with an animal, read the International Air Transport Association’s Live Animals Regulations. This is considered the global standard for transporting animals by air — whether you’re an airline or animal care professional.
For example, if you’re traveling with a snake, these regulations say it should be wrapped in a tied-off clock sack (like a pillowcase) placed inside an easy-to-open sturdy container with small ventilation holes. Label the box “live animal.” If it’s venomous, include the type of snake and a warning.
If you are driving, snake websites recommend using a plastic tub filled with newspapers or paper towels and heat packs to keep the temperature up, among other suggestions to keep the animal safe and comfortable.
Pet product companies such as Petco are great resources for advice and products. Petco offers a webpage on traveling with your hamster. Petco recommends avoiding all-wire or cardboard carriers.
For reptiles and amphibians, Petco offers the Petco Pet Keeper ($6.99 to $13.99, depending on size). This well-ventilated plastic container has a feeder window,a self-locking lid and access holes.
Other options: Petco has a great bird travel carrier, the Caitec Perch N Go, right now marked down to $98.99.
A versatile carrier that can work for a wide range of animals is the Motor Trend Universal Sport Bag Pet Carrier, currently marked down to $89.99 at Petco.com. This padded, hypo-allergenic bag is airline-approved.
Note: Some airlines, like Southwest, offer their own type of carrier — even for dogs and cats.
Make sure you label everything well, including your pet’s name, your name, your address and phone number, feeding instructions and the vet’s contact info.
In case of emergency, bring the phone number of the American Animal Hospital Association (800-252-2242), which can provide you with a veterinarian in your location.
You might also enjoy:
Photo of bird cage courtesy of Petco.com.