Birds vary greatly in their reactions to car trips. Knowing your pet’s personality, and planning accordingly, will go a long way in ensuring that both of you enjoy a safe, stress-free journey. If at all possible, take your bird on a few short “practice trips” before embarking on long journeys.
Beyond that, there are a few general preparations that might be of some use as well. Spurred by a recent question from That Bird Blog reader Bonnie, I thought I’d cover some in this article.
Although your bird’s usual cage might provide suitable quarters for short forays, airline-approved carriers are preferable on car trips of any length. A carrier tends to keep the bird a bit calmer, as the sides are largely opaque, but the ventilation panels allow for outside views as well. Their sturdy construction helps to minimize the effects of bumps and sharp turns…the Kennel Kab Fashion Carrier is even equipped with a seat belt slot for added security (all cages and carriers should be secured with seat belt, bungee cords or otherwise). Carriers must be fit with perches…securing them via screws (in the case of heavy duty carriers) is advisable.
The Take Me Home Travel Cage is a useful option for smaller birds. It has bars on all sides, allowing well-habituated birds to “enjoy the scenery”, and is designed to fit within the Come Along Bird Carrier for those times a dark environment is needed.
Although some extraordinarily well-habituated parrots sometimes do fine without a cage and will sit quietly on a perch within a car (please see photo), this is not a safe situation for either bird or bird-owner.
As delays may arise, be sure to carry ample supplies of cage paper…L/M Animal Absorbent Cage Liners are ideal for use on the road. It is also very important to take along an adequate supply of your bird’s usual diet…introducing an unfamiliar food purchased on route will only add to your pet’s distress.
A small oscillating fan and a first aid kit should be on hand for emergencies. Spray bottles are very useful in cooling birds, as they may not drink normally on route.
Monitor your pets carefully – some birds are very stressed by travelling, and such translates into a depressed immune system. In zoos, birds being moved to a new exhibit are always inoculated against Aspergillosus, as the stress of adjusting to a new environment leaves them open to attack by a fungi that, under normal circumstances, is not problematical.
Check ahead with motels concerning their pet policy. If you can safely do so, it is a good idea to allow your birds to walk around a bit once you are settled into your room. For birds confined to a single perch all day, the opportunity to flex the toes on other surfaces is very important.
Some of the information contained in the regulations governing the shipment of birds via airline is useful to pet owners travelling by car as well. Read more at http://www.birdmag.com/shipping.htm.