Can You Travel with Gerbils? (Transport by Car + Fly on Planes)

Traveling with gerbils by plane or car needn’t be difficult. While gerbils can be nervous animals, they’re surprisingly good at traveling domestically and internationally without getting anxious.

Gerbils are normally allowed as cargo, but not in-cabin. They can travel in a normal glass tank or a smaller plastic travel tank, provided it has a lid. Gerbils need bedding, food, and water while traveling. Cover your pet’s cage to protect it from direct sunlight and stop it from seeing stressful things.

Transporting gerbils by car is best, because it allows you to keep watch over your pets. You can monitor their temperature, and feed them extra food or water. Gerbils can also take domestic and international flights in the cargo hold, and sometimes in-cabin.

Do Gerbils Like to Travel?

Most pets don’t like traveling because they associate it with going to the vet. For other small animals, it’s because they don’t like moving so fast, and don’t understand what’s going on. You might expect gerbils to dislike traveling. But, surprisingly, that’s not the case.

Do Gerbils Get Nervous During Travel?

While no scientific research has been performed, gerbils don’t seem to get too nervous when traveling. So, all we can look at is anecdotal evidence provided by their owners.

Most owners who travel with gerbils claim that it’s not a problem. Their pets won’t feel afraid, and will be happy throughout the whole journey. So long as you don’t judder and jolt their cage around, your pets will normally be fine. But there are things you can do to make life easier.

You can prevent gerbils from becoming anxious by keeping them occupied. If your pet has lots of food to eat and things to play with, it may not even notice that it’s on the road or a flight.

You’ll also need to cover your pet’s cage. This serves the dual purposes of blocking out sunlight, and not allowing your pet to see what’s happening. If your pet saw people and other animals walking by on the sidewalk, for example, it might get frightened. Or, it may not like moving so fast.

Can Gerbils Travel in Car?

The best way of traveling with gerbils is in a car. A car has more than enough room to store your pet’s cage, whether in the front or back. You can secure your pet’s cage with a seatbelt to prevent it from rocking backwards and forwards as the journey progresses.

The best thing about traveling with your pets in the car is that you can keep an eye on them. You know exactly where your pets are, and how they’re doing. If you need to give your pets anything, you’re right there on hand to do so.

If you are traveling in a car, don’t put your pets in the trunk. If one of them were to have problems with traveling, you wouldn’t notice. There’s also the chance that the cage could get damaged from sliding around, or something sliding into it.

can gerbils travel in car?

Can Gerbils Fly on Planes?

Gerbils can fly on planes, although whether they’re allowed depends on the airline. They are even welcome in the cabins of some planes. The recent trend of emotional support animals has meant that cabin rules had to become less strict. Gerbils, being a safe pet that doesn’t spread disease, were one of those allowed. But again, some airlines allow them and some don’t.

You can also stow them away with the other pets in the cargo hold.  On the one hand, airlines claim that pets are shipped in pressurized and heated areas which prevent them from being harmed.

But many owners claim that their pets die in transit when shipped as cargo. While most stories relate to other pets, that’s only because they are more frequently shipped than gerbils.

AirlineIn-CabinAs Cargo
American AirlinesYes (if emotional support animals)Yes
Delta AirlinesNoYes
Southwest AirlinesNoNo
United AirlinesNo (would not meet the criteria to be an emotional support animal)No
Air CanadaNoYes
Alaska AirlinesNoYes
JetBlue AirwaysNoNo
Spirit AirlinesNoNo
WestJetNoYes

This information is taken from the official sites of each airline. Often, this information is unclear. Spirit Airlines, for example, clearly states that their airline “only allows small domestic dogs, domestic cats, small household birds and small domestic rabbits on the aircraft.”

However, some airlines like Alaska Air are less clear. Their site mentions breed restrictions, i.e. which dog and cat breeds aren’t allowed to travel. But it isn’t clear whether it may allow other kinds of pets.

Can You Take Gerbils to Other Countries?

Gerbils aren’t kept as pets in every part of the world. They’re most common in the United States and Europe, but even in the U.S., they aren’t allowed in some places.

California, for example, has made it illegal to keep gerbils as pets there. The same applies to Hawaii, which has major problems with pets being released into its unique ecosystem. Gerbils aren’t allowed into the state at all. They’re also not allowed into New Zealand, for the same reason.

This means that if you tried to bring your gerbils to these places, you wouldn’t be allowed. Customs would stop you from bringing your pets in. You would then have to either throw your pets away, or leave to go back home.

Moreover, some airlines don’t allow pets to travel between certain airports. American Airlines frequently have restrictions taking pets to certain locations like Las Vegas, for example. The reason for these restrictions isn’t always clear.

What Do You Need to Travel with Gerbils?

The setup you use should be the same no matter how you travel. The basic things you’ll need are:

  • Bedding, food, and water
  • A travel tank or a regular cage
  • If traveling with a travel tank, a small hide
  • A cover for the tank/cage
  • Room for the tank/cage in your car, in a bag, or in luggage

So, for example, it would be a bad idea to travel with your pet in your pocket and not in a tank. It could easily get out, and if it did, you may never find it again. It could also easily be harmed.

Bedding, Food, and Water

Your pets don’t need any ‘special’ versions of these things when you’re traveling. What they need are the regular versions: the normal food they eat, and the normal bedding they have.

Before you travel, clean out the tank’s bedding so that it isn’t soiled for the journey. This will also give your gerbils something to do on the trip, i.e. dig a new burrow. This will keep them happily occupied while you’re traveling.

And, of course, gerbils need food and water when they’re traveling. Their needs don’t disappear because they’re on a trip. Their regular food will suffice for the journey.

Lid for Your Pet’s Tank

If your pet’s tank doesn’t have a proper lid, now is the time to get one. Without a lid, there are several things which could go wrong:

  • Something could fall into your pet’s cage
  • Other people or other pets could reach into your pet’s cage
  • Your pets could escape, either by climbing out or if the cage tips over

If you know the dimensions of your pet’s tank (e.g. 20” by 12” by 12”), then you can likely find a lid for it. Ensure that the lid has air holes, and that it fits securely.

If it doesn’t fit securely, you can use tape or string to tie it down. This will keep your pets safe throughout the journey.

Travel Tank vs. Regular Cage

Travel tanks are small, plastic containers with lids. They aren’t suitable as long-term housing for your pet, but are much easier to travel with.

Your pet’s gerbilarium, though, is better equipped for your pets. While it’s more difficult to carry around, it offers everything your pet gets at home. This should keep it happy, because it has somewhere to hide while traveling.

Travel Tank BenefitsGerbilarium Benefits
Very light, so its easier to carryOffers a full area to burrow in, which will calm your pets down
Very small, so its easier to stow away when travelingHas space enough for all your gerbils
 You don’t have to upset your gerbils by putting them in a new tank

Travel tanks are made of plastic, which gerbils enjoy chewing. You should avoid housing your gerbils in any kind of plastic cage, unless it’s necessary like when traveling.

But glass isn’t a good option either. Glass is breakable, and if your pet’s tank shattered, it could be badly hurt. It’s also heavier to carry, which you will have to do at some point.

Also, putting your pets in a small tank could lead to them fighting over space. Gerbils are territorial and need around ten gallons of space each. That isn’t an easy thing to provide if you have four gerbils you need to transport.

Transporting Gerbil Tips

There are certain things you need to do to keep your gerbils happy. They ensure that your pets will survive the journey, and won’t become too stressed.

Don’t Leave Your Gerbils in Direct Sunlight

When your pets are traveling with you, you should cover their cage with something. This will prevent sunlight from falling on them.

The issue with sunlight is that gerbils can’t cool down easily. They can warm up easily by hiding their burrows and huddling together to share warmth. But when a gerbil’s burrow gets too hot from direct sunlight, it has nowhere to cool down.

This is made worse because the gerbil is so furry. Being in the hot summer sun is like walking around wearing a thick coat. And besides that, the glass or plastic cage will absorb heat but not give it off. So, your pet can quickly get far too hot.

When a gerbil gets too hot, it will experience heat stroke. This is where the core body temperature gets too high. It’s like having a terrible fever. The internal organs stop functioning properly, and your gerbil could quickly die.

Cover Your Pet’s Cage

One way of preventing sunlight from reaching your gerbil’s cage is to cover it. You could use a tablecloth or a blanket, for example, draped over the top.

But that isn’t all a cover is good for. It also stops your gerbils from seeing too much of the journey. The more your gerbil sees, the more it will be stressed. It will see people going by, it will see the car traveling faster than your pet could imagine; anything and everything it sees could be stressful.

Rather than allow this to happen, cover your pet’s cage. The best choice is a thin cloth of some kind, like a tablecloth. This blocks sunlight, but also doesn’t trap in too much heat. You don’t want something thick and heavy like a comforter, because it will make your gerbils too hot.

At the same time, this will also keep your pets warm if it’s too cold outside. Drape the cloth around the cage, but don’t wrap it around completely. Doing so would trap too much heat, and stop you from lifting the cloth to look inside.

A cloth will, to an extent, also block noise from disturbing your gerbils. As you know, loud noises can make your gerbils anxious, and they begin foot thumping.

can gerbils fly on planes?

Don’t Leave the Water Bottle Attached

This tip may or may not apply to you. If you’re traveling with your pet’s regular cage, it will have its water bottle attached. However, it may not be a good idea to leave it attached because:

  • It may make constant clinking noises from banging against the bars, because of the movement of the vehicle
  • This clinking could damage the bottle, and if it’s damaged, it could leak
  • The movement of the vehicle could make it leak more than usual even if not broken

You should give your pet/s water in another way. Provide your gerbil with a small amount of cucumber in its enclosure. Gerbils in the wild get their water from food anyway, so they will easily survive a journey without a bottle.

If you like, you could bring the water bottle with you, but not attached to the cage. Empty it and bring it with you in your regular luggage. This means it will be there if you need it, e.g. if there’s a delay in your journey.

Alternatively, you could bring it filled up. Then, any time you make a stop in your journey, you could give it back to your pets to drink from it for a while.

Bring Extra Bedding, Water, and Food

Journeys often don’t go to plan. You may have anticipated that you could drive somewhere in three hours, but traffic gets in the way. Or, you may have thought you could fly somewhere by that night, but the flight gets canceled.

This happens often when you’re traveling. You should bring along three key things: extra bedding, extra food, and extra water. Your gerbil should have bedding and food in its cage/tank while it travels. If possible, it should have normal amounts of everything.

But the bedding may become soiled, and it may run out of things to eat. If that happens, your gerbil will become unhappy and stressed. So, you should bring extra bedding and food just in case. Ideally, check on your pet regularly to see if it needs anything.

Don’t Travel in Extreme Temperatures

Gerbils are warm-blooded, but small. This means they’re susceptible to temperature extremes, i.e. excess heat or excess cold. While they can hide in their burrows to escape the worst temperatures, if the environment is hot/cold enough, it can hurt them.

According to the journal Physiology, gerbils are good at adapting to different temperatures. This stems back to their wild days, when your pet’s ancestors lived in deserts. But traveling can still cause temperature stress.

Take a car, for example. Cars can get stiflingly hot, especially when you’re stuck in traffic in the hot sun. Your gerbils are in their own cage which traps heat, too, so the effect on them is even worse. The same applies to the cold.

You should avoid traveling in temperature extremes. If you must, ensure that you have access to proper heating or cooling, i.e. AC. If you must use AC or heating, set it to a temperature that will be comfortable for your gerbils, too.