Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Traveling with a zoo

Traveling across the country with pets comes with unique challenges. At least when you have as diverse of a group as we do. With one dog, two cats and one snake ... Well, it's been interesting. 

Here's how we did it. 

She's a nervous wreck when it comes to car rides. She hates the car and generally circles to all the windows (including the windshield) trying to get out. She stays anxious until she starts to get carsick. At which point she tries to crawl into our lap and starts puking. There was no question that she absolutely needed to be in the Uhaul with us because she would undoubtedly try to dig her way out of the big scary car. Our answer to this? Drugs. We contacted our vet and she advised Benadryl before we put her in the car each day. It's working pretty well. We made her a nest out of her favorite blanket between our two seats and she had basically slept the whole trip so far. No puking and since she can't see out of the windows, no circling. Whew. 

I was the most worried about our two cats because I knew there wasn't room in the Uhaul cab for them. This meant they were going to be in the car towed behind us. In July. Hmmmm. I finally decided on one big dog crate for the two of them to share. Now this only works because they are a mom and daughter pair and get along 99.9% of the time. And they share a litter box. But just in case, we packed both their cat carriers within easy reach. 
I placed a big dog bed in the crate, covered it in puppy pads and placed a little litter pan filled with newspaper (not litter) in the back. I then attached a rabbit water bottle to the door. Think of a mouse water bottle but bigger. 

This gave them a place to sleep, pee and access to water but I was still not happy with them being trapped in a hot car in July. So we stocked up on those cheap sun reflectors and covered all windows. Front, back and sides. We then cracked the side windows. We packed the thermometer in the car and have been checking on them every couple hours. The temperature has been the same as outside or cooler this whole time so I consider it a success. What I don't consider a success is the little litter pan. I don't know if it's the size or the lack of litter but my cats don't seem to want to use it. Luckily the puppy pads keep the dog bed from getting wet but it's still frustrating. 

Now my snake was almost easy. He can go without food and regular water for the whole trip. (I've been watering him at night when we're stationary.) If it gets too hot, he likes it. If it gets too cold, he just huddles under his bedding until it warms up. Now this has limits but our traveling conditions aren't outside those limits. The only complicated part with him what to transport him in. His cage was too big and made of glass. If we hit the brakes hard or got in an accident, he'd go flying into the glass. So not acceptable. 

What we did was buy a Tupperware tub at Walmart that was big enough for him to be mostly comfortable but small enough for him to brace himself against the sides if something happened. We then grabbed the electric drill and drilled a TON of air holes. Top and sides. (In the past, I've also used an ice pick I heated on the stove to poke air holes) Then I filled the Tupperware with his bedding but none of his rocks, housing or water dish. Nothing that would turn into a projectile in an accident as snakes can't exactly put up their hands to protect themselves! Once he was in his new home, I put three to four layers of duck tape on the lid. This step is hugely important as he could pop the lid off in his sleep if he wanted to. Once he was on the floor in the car, I placed two ten pound dumbbells on the lid just to make sure he wouldn't get out. He seems mostly comfortable and wasn't harmed after we had to slam on the brakes after a deer jumped in front of us. Sucess!!

I'll explain our lodging strategy for hotels later.  

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