Carriers – child safety seat for guinea pigs
Is your cavy a road warrior or a homebody? Some don’t mind travel – mine would prefer never to leave the comforts of home. Either way, no matter how often they travel you’ll need an appropriate carrier to transport them in whether it’s a regular trip to the vet or a family vacation. Choosing the right one is as important as choosing the right food, or the right vet. As tempting as it may be to buy a cute little purse-like fabric carrier, keep in mind a carrier is essentially a child safety seat for your guinea pig.
The top two priorities in carrier selection are the safety and comfort of the pigs, the third consideration is your convenience. The primary function of a carrier should be physical protection from accidents or from other animals. Next is to give them as comfortable a trip as possible. Convenience for me is all about ease of cleaning. As you know, anywhere a pig has been for more than a few minutes are going to end up collecting lots of pee, and poos too! A good quality hard plastic carrier is my personal favorite.
The carrier should be rigid, sturdy and have good latches, ideally metal ones. A large size cat carrier is an excellent choice as a guinea pig carrier and from personal experience I recommend a top opening or double door style. Anyone who has ever tried to pry a struggling pig out the small front opening of a carrier will appreciate the ease of a top opening one! Getting a pig out the top is less stressful for both you and the pig. For additional protection the carrier can be seat belted in and protected from the air bag.
A soft carrier won’t give your pigs any protection in the event of an accident. It will become an airborne missile in a collision if left unrestrained and will provide no protection against being crushed even if it is.
For added safety keep out of the carrier potentially harmful objects like bowls, hard chews, toys or anything else that might trip up the pigs or fall on them.
For a comfortable ride, the carrier needs to be large enough to accommodate as many pigs as you’ll be transporting with room to spare. The pigs will need room to move around, and room enough to get some space from each other if they need it. One of the problems with a too-small carrier is the same problem as a too-small cage – stressed and fighting pigs.
The carrier should also have adequate ventilation. Guinea pigs have hot little bodies and they can’t cool themselves efficiently. Most soft carriers don’t provide as much air circulation as a rigid carrier. The proper size also factors into good ventilation – too small = not enough air circulation.
Even when using a large enough carrier with good ventilation remember to travel with air conditioning, protect the pigs from direct sunlight and provide plenty of wet veggies for hydration. Heat stroke can strike quickly so there is no such thing as taking too much care to prevent it. For this reason avoid using tunnels or cozies on summer car trips.
Good quality carriers can get expensive but there are options for getting a good carrier even if you can’t
afford to buy new. Check yard sales, Craigslist, want ads, etc – you might be surprised at how many people sell good carriers at a deep discount. Just inspect carefully before you buy and don’t take home one that’s rusty, broken or too dirty to clean well.
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