There will be occasions when you must transport a tortoise in the car, like going to the vet for medical care, taking an extended vacation, or moving to a new home.
Riding in a car can be stressful for tortoises because they don’t understand what’s happening. However, advanced preparation will make the tortoise’s journey more comfortable.
Limit car rides to emergencies and use a non-seethrough enclosure, like a cardboard box. The sides of the box must be tall enough to prevent the tortoise from climbing out and getting hurt or lost.
Put the tortoise in a box with multiple layers of folded newspaper to soak up any urine. Also, keep the box dark with a lightly-fitted lid to keep the tortoise calm and secure.
Put the enclosure on the floor on the non-driver’s side if you’re traveling alone. The box can be secured on the seat if you have a suitable passenger. Never put the tortoise’s box in the trunk.
Ensure the temperature remains comfortable, so the tortoise doesn’t get too hot or cold. Always keep the tortoise’s box out of direct sunlight and drafty conditions (due to open windows or air conditioning).
Can You Travel with a Tortoise?
You can travel with a tortoise, but it should be avoided unless absolutely essential.
The new sights, sounds, and activities can disturb a naturally solitary and routine-bound tortoise. In the worst cases, stress can result in lowered immune health, leading to illness and disease.
However, it may be necessary to travel with a tortoise in some circumstances.
If a tortoise is sick or injured, you’ll need to take it to a vet for examination and treatment. Also, you’ll need to take the tortoise along if you’re traveling cross-country to a new home.
These circumstances are out of your hands, so the tortoise must adapt to the unwelcome stimuli.
Is It Bad To Travel with A Tortoise?
ISRN Veterinary Science discovered that tortoises experience spikes in cortisol concentration in their bloodstream after traveling.
High and consistent cortisol levels can cause depression, weight loss, and reduced life expectancy.
So, take practical steps to ensure the tortoise is as comfortable as possible during the journey.
How To Transport A Tortoise in A Car
The best way to travel with a tortoise in a car is by transporting it in a ventilated carrier box.
Prepare a Carrier Box
Preferably, the carrier will be a cardboard box with several layers of folded newspaper at the bottom.
Ensure the carrier box has enough room for the tortoise to stretch its legs and reorient itself if it overturns. However, it shouldn’t have so much space that it gets jostled by the ride.
The carrier should be dark-colored or opaque, so the tortoise can’t see through it. This helps the tortoise rest or relax during the journey, minimizing its stress levels.
It’ll also ensure it can’t see oncoming cars, flashing lights, and other disturbances.
Alternatively, cover the carry box using an old towel or blanket to keep it dark inside. The more sound you can block out, the better, as traffic noises can be unsettling, even with tortoises’ limited hearing.
Choose The Right Substrate
The bottom of the tortoise’s transport box should be lined with folded (not torn up) newspaper. It’s a good choice of substrate since it can absorb any urine passed during the trip.
Regardless of choice, put a thick substrate layer at the bottom of the box because it’ll act as a shock absorber and allow the tortoise to balance itself if there are any bumps or sudden turns.
Secure The Travel Box
With the tortoise inside the carrier box, secure it safely in the vehicle.
The floor opposite the driver is a good position if you’re traveling alone. The box can go on the nearby seat if you have a passenger to turn over the tortoise if it gets flipped over.
The trunk is unsafe because it can get too hot, and you can’t see what’s happening during the car journey.
Is It Safe To Transport A Tortoise In A Car?
Traveling with a tortoise inside a car is safe if it’s kept inside a sturdy and well-ventilated carrier box. Drive carefully, and avoid sudden stops, accelerations, and jostling.
There are precautions you can take to ensure the tortoise is comfortable and safe during its journey:
Good Air Circulation
Perforating holes on the sides of the carrier box ensure the tortoise can breathe easily during the car ride.
Travel Early or Late in The Day
If you’re planning a long trip that requires you to be on the road for several hours, schedule your ride for early in the morning or later in the evening when the sun isn’t as intense.
According to Ecology And Evolution, extreme temperature fluctuations can adversely affect a tortoise’s metabolism and behavior. So, avoid keeping a tortoise in an enclosed box in sweltering temperatures.
Remember that the inside of the box will always be warmer than the outside.
Do Tortoises Like To Travel?
Tortoises grow stressed and agitated in a new environment, including a car. While a single trip may not have much effect, regular trips can negatively impact a tortoise’s immune system and well-being.
To avoid this, leave the tortoise behind when visiting friends or vacationing. Instead, ask a trusted friend or neighbor to check on the tortoise’s welfare and provide food and water.
Tortoises can travel by car if the temperature is kept out of direct sunlight and in a species-specific range. The travel box should be well-ventilated, and the substrate should be soft and absorbent.