Anyone who has ever had a pet bird know the responsibility that comes with them! While many enjoy the idea of being able to get one, they never think about the care it takes. When choosing a bird carrier, it's important to get the best you can afford because you never know when your bird might need to go on a long journey and you want them to be as safe and happy as possible! We've got a guide to making sure your pet bird is properly sheltered and taken care of for any journey you have them go on, so let's get started!
How do you travel with a pet bird? What to consider
If you’re wondering how to travel with a pet bird, there are a few things to consider before you fly or drive. First, consider your method of travel. If you’re traveling via car, obviously you’ll have more options than if you were flying—but there are different considerations when picking a bird carrier for each method as well.
If you’re traveling via plane, you’ll need to select a bird carrier that is both small enough to meet airline requirements as well as large enough for your pet to move around in comfortably. It should be at least 10 by 12 inches—though some companies offer larger carriers if you have a particularly large bird. If flying, also make sure you know your airline’s policy on pet birds before purchasing your flight tickets.
A lot of pet bird owners are familiar with IATA regulations for flying with pets, but some may not know exactly what they entail. First, you’ll need to make sure your bird carrier meets airline regulations. That means that it must be large enough for your pet to stand up straight in and turn around—as well as close securely, so that nothing can escape while in flight. A good bird carrier should also have a lip to prevent the ventilation holes from being covered.
You should also consider whether or not you want a soft-sided or hard-sided carrier. Soft-sided carriers are easier to transport because they collapse easily and fit into small spaces; however, if your pet is prone to chewing on things, a soft-sided carrier might not be a good idea. If you do opt for a soft-sided carrier, make sure there aren’t any holes where ventilation could be blocked by clothing or other items.
If you’re traveling via car, you’ll have even more options. Many pet bird owners also drive with their birds, since it can be much easier to give your pet access to food, water, or toys while driving—and with a carrier that can securely attach to your seatbelt loop in your car, traveling by car is an excellent option.
There are many different types of carriers available for purchase, but there are some things to consider when picking one out. When choosing a bird carrier, don't forget to consider how easy it will be for you to handle your carrier once full. Some carriers come with wheels for easy transport; others may collapse down easily into a smaller size; still others are designed specifically for travel by plane and may already meet airline requirements.
To be a great pet owner, you need to get your bird a bird carrier. This will protect your bird no matter where you go. For example, bird carriers are great sleep cages and hospital cages.
How big should a bird carrier be?
Many people make the mistake of buying a carrier that’s too small for their bird. While you want your pet to feel comfortable, it’s important to remember that the first priority is safety. Too small and the bird feels confined. Too big and the bird can injure itself by flapping around the cage or banging into hard surfaces.
If you're buying a bird carrier, remember to measure the height of the cage from the tip of its beak to the bottom of its tail feathers. The minimum space needed is another few inches beyond that. This will make sure that your bird has room to perch, turn around, and not bump into the sides of the carrier while in transit. Bigger isn't always better, so don't pick a carrier that's too big for your bird, or it might get hurt.
Consider your car's door opening before making a purchase. Extra large carriers are no more than 20 inches wide to fit in most sedans. If you're flying, plan on your bird flying in Cargo if it requires a large carrier.
How do you travel long distances with birds?
Comfort is key when traveling with your pet bird. If you’re going to be carrying your feathered friend around town or even across state lines, you want to choose a carrier that will keep him/her comfortable and stress-free at all times.
Temperature plays an important role in your bird’s comfort during travel. The majority of carriers on today’s market are equipped with ventilation holes for airflow, which allows heat to escape from inside while fresh air enters from outside. Make sure that the bird carrier that you choose has plenty of ventilation to keep your bird comfortable.
We all know how important it is to protect your pet while in the car. After all, you don't want your bird to get too hot. So, make a bird carrier cover out of a lightweight baby blanket and buy sun shades for the windows.
Sometimes your bird gets bored. Boredom can lead to mischievous behavior like chewing on the plastic ventilation holes in their bird carrier. Use wire mesh to keep your bird from chewing up their plastic bird carrier. If your bird is an avid chewer opt for a wire or acrylic bird carrier instead. (Tip: Chewing on toys will help prevent birds from chewing on plastic)
Nothing puts a damper on a long road trip like hunger or thirst. Luckily, today’s pet bird carriers are designed to keep your feathered friend happy, healthy, and hydrated throughout your journey. Some carriers have water cups that slide out for easy access to water while others provide special food holders that can be filled with fruit or veggies.
What are the best foods for your traveling bird? Fresh fruit, like grapes and watermelon, provide fresh, juicy nutrition that will keep your bird refreshed. Frosted ice cubes are a great way to cool your bird off while still providing some hydration. And you can also provide some hydration by serving them fresh, tangy fruits like apples and melons.
Can I take my pet bird on a plane?
Whether your trip is two states away or halfway around the world, it's important to check with airlines before booking your flight to see if you can bring your pet. The good news: Most airlines allow passengers to transport small pets in cabin as long as they meet certain requirements. You'll likely have to show proof that your bird is up-to-date on its vaccinations and that it has identification tags on its cage.
In addition to meeting requirements at home, there are some additional steps you need to take before flying with your pet bird. You'll also want to check in advance whether or not you can use a portable kennel for in-cabin travel. If so, these lightweight plastic carriers can be purchased online or at pet stores for about $50-$60. Keep in mind that these carriers are made for small dogs and cats so you'll have to modify them for your bird.
Bringing an animal onboard a plane has never been easier! The perfect bird carrier to carry while you're flying is the Celltei Cabin Airline Travel Bird Carrier. It folds up to fit under the seat, so you can keep an eye out for your bird as they travel through the cabin.
What should I put in my bird carrier?
When picking a bird carrier, you should first consider if you are traveling by car, by plane or need an evacuation carrier. These carriers often have different features to accommodate for these modes of travel. As for accessories, a comfortable perch and food cups are great for your bird’s comfort. And, don't forget a few soft toys for mental stimulation. Some carriers come with toy attachments to keep your feathered friend entertained during travel.
- Comfortable perch
- Food and water bowls
- Soft toys
- Tray liner
A final suggestion: If you're like me, traveling with birds can be a living nightmare. Feathers EVERYWHERE and they can't go 15 minutes without a poop. Make sure you pack some disinfectant wipes or baby wipes to make clean up fast and easy!
How do you train a bird to be in a carrier?
The first step to training your bird to enjoy being in a carrier is to make it fun. Make sure you reward him every time he goes in without issues. Lots of people say good bird or give him treats each time. The key here is to make it fun for him, not a chore or punishment. And definitely do not do anything negative when he goes into his carrier—you don’t want your bird associating going into his carrier with anything negative.
Don’t make the mistake of only using a bird carrier for trips to see your vet. This will give your pet a bad association with his carrier, as he knows that when you put him in it, you are going to visit his veterinarian. This can sometimes make it more difficult for birds to go into their carriers during an emergency evacuation situation or when they need to be moved from one home to another, as they associate them with having to travel in a car.
As with most things in life, it takes time to train your bird to be in a carrier. You want to make sure that you do it slowly so that he is not afraid or scared. So start by putting his favorite toys and treats inside his carrier, then let him go in on his own when he feels comfortable. Give him plenty of praise when he goes in all by himself.
Next, practice having him stay in the carrier with the door closed for a minute. Again, give him plenty of praise when he doesn't put up a fuss. If you notice that he puts up a fuss at 10 seconds, open the door and treat at 5 seconds. Then, work up his time tolerance in the carrier.
Once your bird tolerates the carrier, start picking it up. It's important that your bird gets comfortable with motion. Again, always remember to use treats to reward calm behavior.
Then, put the carrier in your vehicle and drive around the block. Increase driving time as your bird tolerates the motion. Always make sure that the trip is pleasant and fun.
Now it's time to take your bird on a vacay!
How can I help my carsick bird?
Some birds get motion sickness. Take your bird for car rides prior to embarking on your trip to learn how your bird does with motion sickness.
Get the motion sickness out of your bird with a ginger tea. Place a few fresh ginger slices in some hot water, steep as you would for regular tea. Strain the ginger out when the water is cool enough to serve. Take a bottle of this with you on the flight along with regular water.
If your bird is prone to motion sickness, grab some bird electrolytes for the trip. Electrolytes help make the trip more comfortable for your bird. They also promote healthy hydration and metabolism.
Guide to the best bird carrier styles
Pet bird carriers come in four main styles, each optimized for a specific travel plan and bird size. By choosing the right type of carrier based on your mode of travel and bird's size, you'll make the journey safer and more comfortable for everyone. You can use their sizing chart to determine what size carrier your feathered friend will need to feel most at home while traveling. Take a look at the chart below and see how it works!
Collapsible wire bird carriers are an affordable option. They offer plenty of ventilation and you can easily modify the arrangement of interior accessories for your birds comfort. They also make great temporary cages once you reach your destination.
The downside is that they can't be taken on a plane and if your bird gets spooked while in a wire carrier, it can easily break feathers.
Popular brands include
- Kaytee Come & Go
- Prevue Pet White Travel Bird Cage
Acrylic Bird Carriers
Acrylic bird carriers are a popular style. One brand in particular, the Wingabago meets IATA requirements for airline use. Not all acrylic bird carriers are the same. Look for a carrier with a generous amount of ventilation holes and holes that allow you to vary the perch height. Acrylic bird carriers make great sleep cages and hospital cages.
The downside of acrylic bird carriers is that they are a little bulky. They can also be a little pricey. And, without enough ventilation holes, your bird can become overheated.
Popular brands include
- Wingabago by PlayfulParrot.com
- Perch and Go Carrier by Featherland
- Crystal Shuttle
Soft-sided Bird Carriers
There are a number of different soft-sided bird carriers available on Amazon. Many are very affordable. These lightweight carriers are great for small to medium sized birds that are used to being confined in a carrier for travel.
You'll want to look for a brand that is made with heavy duty cloth since your bird has a powerful beak that can literally chew through wood. One downside of cheaper, foreign made styles is that the cloth is often treated with chemicals and the metal hardware is not bird safe. Stick with US brands for safety purposes, if you can.
Popular brands include
- Celltei Cabin Kennel
Backpack Bird Carriers
Similar to soft-sided bird carriers, backpack styles have straps to easily carry your bird. There are a number of different bird backpack carriers available on Amazon. Many are very affordable.
You'll want to look for a brand that is made with heavy duty cloth since your bird has a powerful beak that can literally chew through wood. A major pitfall of cheaper, foreign made styles is that the cloth is often treated with chemicals and the metal hardware is not bird safe. Stick with US brands for safety purposes, if you can.
Popular brands include
- Celltei Pak O Bird
Whether you’re traveling to another state or just across town, selecting a pet bird carrier can be overwhelming. A good carrier should provide proper ventilation for your feathered friend and offer plenty of room for him to move around, but it should also be easy to store and my favorite styles are multi-purpose so that I can use them as sleep and hospital cages. Most importantly, however, it must ensure that your pet is safe.
Diane Burroughs, LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist trained in ABA therapy techniques. She specializes in avian anxiety disorders and is certified in Nutrition For Mental Health. Diane has written a number of bird behavior books and she offers behavior consultations. She's developed a range of UnRuffledRx Science-backed Parrot Wellness Supplies.
Diane's products have been featured in the Journal of Avian Medicine and Surgery and at Exoticscon, a conference for exotic pet veterinarians. Her bird collars & supplements are stocked in avian vet clinics and bird stores throughout the US. With over 30 years in the field of behavior, Diane has created thousands of successful individualized behavior plans that help pets thrive.
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