Pet Travel: Traveling by Air with Rabbits, Guinea Pigs, Rats, Turtles and other Exotic Animals

rabbitPets are on the move. More than 2 million pets are transported each year in the United States according to US Department of Transportation. Although the majority of animals that are transported are dogs and cats, exotic animals can be transported as well. It’s important to realize that every airline sets their own regulations on what pets, breeds and types they are willing to transport. Below is a list of airlines you might want to consider next time you travel with an exotic animal.

Delta: Delta is a very pet-friendly airline with a variety of options for different animals. Delta welcomes passengers to carry small dogs, cats, and household birds in cabin. Also, between September 16th and May 14th they will transport dogs, cats, household birds, guinea pigs, rabbits, hamsters and most reptiles, amphibians and fish via cargo as long as the temperatures along your route do not exceed 85 degrees.. Pets must be in an airline approved crate or carrier. As a bonus Delta will transport two pets of the same type in one kennel as long as they meet the requirements for acceptance. Delta no longer provides checked baggage service, however they do transport pets unaccompanied. Delta only accepts pets on flights shorter than 12 hours and they limit crate height to 24″.

Frontier: Frontier is known for their laid back regulations and relatively inexpensive transport fees. They allow dogs, cats, guinea pigs, rabbits and hamsters to travel in cabin (with the appropriate carrier) for $75 one way for flights within the United States. Only dogs and cats will be transported internationally.

United: United Air limits in-cabin travel to dogs and cats. They will only transport dogs in crates 30″ or under in their PetSafe Program.

WestJet: Westjet Airline is one of the most “exotic pet friendly” airlines in Canada. They will transport cats, dogs, rabbits, birds (not just household) in the cabin. Chinchillas, guinea pigs, and hedgehogs can be transported as checked baggage. The only downside to WestJet is their flight selection is somewhat limited, especially in the central US. They will fly snub-nosed breeds as long as temperatures are not excessive.

It’s important to remember that each airline makes its own rules for the import of birds and exotic pets. On top of the airlines, every country (beside the EU) makes their own rules regarding the various types of pets allowed to enter the country. For more information on traveling with your exotic pet, check out www.pettravel.com.


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Pet Travel: Traveling by Air with Rabbits, Guinea Pigs, Rats, Turtles and other Exotic Animals — 467 Comments

  1. Does anyone have information/ experience on traveling with a fennec fox? I want to know if I will be able to travel between my homes in the US Virgin Islands and New York… I also may be able to have this deemed an emotional service animal for my anxiety if this aids the flying process. Please help if you have any information, I am struggling to find resources online.

  2. Gwen – the US does not have import requirements for guinea pigs. Ask the cargo department of your airline what their requirements are. Very likely a health certificate issued within 10 days of flying will be required. The guinea pigs will need to fly in an IATA-compliant pet crate like these: https://www.pettravelstore.com/pet-crates/
    Susan

  3. Want to take 5 guinea pigs from canada to Tennessee US. How do i go about this? Asking for family member who lost their job.

  4. Bruce – United changes their regulations last year and now limit transports to only cats and dogs. You may have other options; however, and the possibility of transporting your guinea pig in the cabin or as checked baggage is slim. Most airlines require that hamsters fly as air cargo.
    Susan

  5. Called United Airlines PetSafe Cargo Dept today (1-800-575-3335). They said they now only take dogs and cats. They do not take guinea pigs or other animals.

  6. Kat – your turtle will need to fly as air cargo. You will need to contact the cargo department of your airline. We do not know of any US-based airline that will fly a turtle as checked baggage.
    Susan

  7. Hello. I need to get my Red Ear Slider turtle from Boston to Denver. He is about the size of an Oreo. I can’t find any airline that will work with me. Please help!

  8. Minnie – you need to contact Delta Cargo Department regarding the transport of your rats as they will need to fly as air cargo. You will check them in and pick them up at Delta’s cargo facility. They will need to fly in an IATA-compliant pet crate like these: https://www.pettravelstore.com/pet-crates/. They will likely need a certificate of good health issued by a licensed veterinarian within 10 days of travel.
    Susan

  9. how can my two sweet pets rats fly with me from Atlanta to New Mexico? I will be flying on Delta airlines

  10. Erica – China does not consider any animal other than a cat or dog as a pet. We do not know if it is possible to export your frogs from China or not. You may want to contact an agent in China to inquire. You can contact one at IPATA.org. You will also need to confirm that CITES permits do not apply. (https://www.speciesplus.net/). We do not believe that the USDA or Fish and Wildlife Service will have permits required for your frogs; however, you may want to contact the cargo department of an airline that flies your entire route to discuss their requirements. (you will need an agent to book that transport if it is permitted)
    Susan

  11. Hi! I have two African Clawed Frogs (fully aquatic) that I want to bring back from China to the US (TN specifically). They aren’t quite amphibians but also not fish… how can I bring them back with me? Thank you!!

  12. Anna – not many airlines will accept animals other than cats or dogs in the cabin. You can check with Austrian Airlines and see if they will permit this. You can reach them at +43 5 1766 1000.
    Susan

  13. Hi! I want to take my quinea pig with me to the US(NY) from Poland. I’m looking for airlines that allow guinea pig to travel with me on board in the cabin? What permits do I need for her to enter the US?Any injections is required or just current Health certificate is fine to enter the US?

  14. Joana – we do not know of any commercial airlines that will allow chinchillas to fly in the cabin. All of the airlines must adhere to IATA regulations for the transport of live animals. Most will require that your chinchillas fly as air cargo (as opposed to checked baggage). You will want to stay on the same airline for the entire trip.
    Susan

  15. I’m moving next year from Brazil to Canada and would like to know if there are any companies that let me take my chinchilla on board with me? If not, which company is better on transporting exotic animals?

  16. Claudie – we do not know of any commercial airline that will accept your tortoise in the cabin. As for checked baggage, you can try Thai Airways (although they say they do not accept soft-shelled tortoises). On many airlines, reptiles are only accepted as air cargo, so you will need to contact the cargo department of your airline to make reservations. Try hard to stay on the same airline for the entire trip. Changing airline companies along the way will cause you to clear customs in the layover country.
    Susan

  17. Hey, moving from the Philippines to Germany. Do you know which Airlines accept Cherryhead Tortoise as Pet in Cabin. The Tortoise is less than 1kg and only 1,5 years old – still very small. As it would be a very long flight multiple Stopp will be ok also. Already organizing and preparing all the documents needed but still looking for an Airline.
    Thanks in advance. Claudie

  18. Kathy – are you speaking with the cargo department of your airline? No airlines will fly chinchillas as checked baggage; however, many will fly them as air cargo.
    Susan

  19. Can anyone please tell me why airlines will take rabbits but not chinchillas!?? Moving to Sweden from CA and running into huge problems trying to get my fur ball transported. Almost to the point of claiming him to be a rare rabbit! Help!!

  20. Kingerly – both United and American fly the route non-stop. Neither of them will fly your guinea pigs in the cabin. United does not offer checked baggage services to live animals. American does not publish that they will accept guinea pigs as checked baggage, but worth contacting them to confirm. Otherwise, they will need to fly as air cargo. Both United and American offer this class of service, but you will need to contact their cargo department and your guinea pigs will be dropped off and claimed at their cargo facility.

    Your Miniature Schnauzer can fly in the cabin if it is small enough. If not, it can fly as checked baggage on American Airlines. You can find their pet policies here: https://www.pettravel.com/airline_pet_rules/american.cfm

    The issue are the temperatures in DEN. If they drop below 45 degrees F, then the airline will not fly them. This is for their safety. Not sure when you want to travel, but this is a consideration when you make your booking.
    Susan

  21. I want to bring my two female guinea pigs and a miniature schnauzer from Miami, Fl to Denver, Co.
    whats the best recommended airline?

  22. Corina – your mouse must fly as air cargo, so you will want to contact the cargo department of an airline that flies your entire route. Whether your rabbit flies in-cabin or as checked baggage will depend on your airline’s pet policies. Both of your pets should have health certificates. Your mouse will need one issued within 10 days of travel as it is flying as air cargo. The US does not have further requirements to import your pets.
    Susan

  23. Hope – we do not know of any airline that will carry rodents under any other classification as air cargo. In this case, you would contact the cargo department of your airline to see if they will transport them.
    Susan

  24. Yarz – we do not know of any airline that will accept reptiles in the cabin or as accompanied checked baggage. Likely, your turtles will need to fly as air cargo. You will need to find an airline that flies the entire route and contact their cargo department for details.
    Susan

  25. I want to take my 2 baby turtles with me to Philippines, do you think they are allowed to ride in airplane?

  26. Sheila – Rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs and other small mammals must be microchipped and accompanied by a health certificates to enter the United Arab Emirates. They will need to fly as air cargo, so you will need to contact the cargo department of an airline that flies the entire route. If you need an agent in the UAE, you can find one at IPATA.org.
    Susan

  27. Hi , I want to bring a 4 cm baby red bellied short neck turtle from The Netherlands to Ireland is that possible ?
    It is bred in Europe ( Netherlands )

  28. Angie – where are your sugar gliders traveling from? (city in US). It is likely they will need to fly as air cargo if they fly United, Delta or American.
    Susan

  29. Nipunee – we do not know of any airlines that serve your route that will allow guinea pigs in the cabin. Many of the airlines that serve the route between Geneva and Colombo are based in the Middle East and do not allow any pets in the cabin.
    Susan

  30. Travelling to Las Vegas from US in October have 2 sugar gliders that I absolutely just do not want to leave behind what is the safest way to take them by air and which airline would be best

  31. Hey i want to take my 3 guinea pigs with me to Switzerland from srilanka. I want to take the on board in cabin with me. Looking for a airline who allow to takr guinea pigs in cabin .from srilanka Please help me with this matter.
    Nipunee

  32. Amy – unfortunately, we are not aware of any airlines that will permit turtles to fly in the cabin.
    Jason

  33. I want to bring my pet red eared slider from Malaysia to Denver, CO
    Has anybody had any success with international flights and their turtles? Any turtles that made it into the cabin?

  34. Anique – you will need to contact the cargo department of an airline that flies your entire route for transport information and cost. You will also need to contact the agency in your destination country that is responsible for the import and export of animals to find regulations for importing rodents. Generally, it is the Department of Agriculture.
    Susan

  35. Mirtha – it depends on your airline. United will want to see rabies certificates. You may want to consider Alaska Airlines. Your dog and cat can fly non-stop between PHL and SEA in the cabin (if small enough) or as checked baggage. Ask this airline whether they will transport your turtle as checked baggage. All your pets will need health certificates issued within 10 days of travel to fly Alaska Airlines. https://www.pettravel.com/airline_pet_rules/alaskaairlines.cfm

    American also flies the route but will require that your turtle fly as air cargo. (a bit more expensive and less convenient) https://www.pettravel.com/airline_pet_rules/american.cfm
    Susan

  36. I need to fly from PA to WA. Since I am moving I need to take a dog a cat and a small turtle. Do animals need medications to travel?

  37. I want to bring my baby red ear slider turtle to Minnesota we will be taking
    Sun Country, I don’t know weather to leave my turtle with my mom or to bring it. I don’t want to risk loosing my only pet! Do you know if they accept them?

  38. Please update this policy published on your page. It is so outdated that is it literally useless. It’s dated 2011. It’s now 2018. Many airlines are now not accepting many of the PETS listed on this page.

  39. Justyna – you should know that the United States will not permit the following species of tortoises: Leopard tortoise (Geochelone pardalis), African spurred tortoise (Geochelone sulcata), Bell’s hingeback tortoise (Kinixys belliana). You will need to contact the US Fish and Wildlife Services to confirm that permits will not be required. More information here: https://www.fws.gov/le/commercial-wildlife-shipment.html. You need also to check to see if your tortoise is an endangered species: https://www.fws.gov/endangered/. Your tortoise should travel in a container like one of these or a wooden crate that conforms to IATA regulations: https://www.pettravelstore.com/pet-crates/. You can contact the LOT Polish to discuss whether your tortoise can fly as checked baggage or will need to fly as air cargo.
    Susan

  40. Hi ! I want to transport my tortoise from Poland to USA . I will be traveling there in September . I live in YSA now and I want to finally bring my childhood pet to USA. I will be traveling with polish airlines LOT . Any idea what do I have to do? Any permits ? How the cage supposed to look, and if I can take it on board with me ?

  41. Kimberley – guinea pigs are not carriers of rabies; no injections should be needed. Current health certificate is fine to enter the US.
    Jason

  42. Hey euhm i got a question about injections for guinea pigs.
    Im sure a health certificate is needed for them but i dont think injections are, well 2 vets told me injections arent needed for guinea pigs .
    Also as far i heard no quarantine is needed.
    So any one idea about this because i going to be traveling him on a plane to Boston.
    I just wanna make sure this is all i need to know and not being suprised by more rules.

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