There may be occasions when you need to transport your tortoise in a car, such as a trip to the vets, when moving across the country, or when going on vacation.
Unfortunately, riding in a car is stressful for tortoises and can harm their overall health if they endure too many trips. So, limit car rides to emergencies and when you have no other choice.
Preparation will ensure your tortoise’s journey is as comfortable as possible. Secure the tortoise in a cardboard box with a mulch or paper floor, and keep the tortoise in the back seat.
Ensure the temperature remains stable and doesn’t allow the tortoise to move around too much.
You can travel with a tortoise, but it’s not recommended unless it’s absolutely necessary.
The new sights, sounds, and activities can disturb a naturally solitary and routine-bound tortoise. In the worst cases, it can result in lowered immune health due to stress, leading to illness.
However, it may be necessary to travel with your tortoise in some circumstances.
If your tortoise is sick, you’ll need to take it to a vet for examination and treatment. Also, if you’re traveling cross-country to a new home, you’ll need to take your tortoise with you.
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 blood after traveling.
High and consistent levels of cortisol cause depression, weight loss, and reduced life expectancy.
So, you must take practical steps to ensure your tortoise is as comfortable as possible during the journey. This should help it calm down and keep its cortisol level to a minimum.
The best way to travel with a tortoise in a car is by transporting it in a properly ventilated carrier box.
Prepare a Carrier Box
Preferably, the carrier will be a cardboard box with a layer of mulch 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 enough space to move around and become jostled by the ride.
Your carrier container should be dark-colored or opaque, so the tortoise can’t see through it. This helps the tortoise sleep through the journey, keeping its stress levels low.
It’ll also ensure it can’t see rushing cars, flashing lights, and other disturbances that could stress it.
Alternatively, you can cover the carry box using an old towel or blanket to keep it dark. The more sound you can block out, the better, as traffic noises can be stressful, even with their limited hearing.
The bottom of your tortoise’s transport box should be lined with a layer of substrate to ensure it is comfortable during the car ride.
This can be the same as the substrate in your tortoise’s tank to give it a feeling of familiarity.
Alternatively, newspaper strips are a good choice of substrate since they can absorb any urine that your tortoise might pass during the trip. However, mulch provides more soundproofing and padding, making it a better option if you’re planning to take a long drive.
No matter your choice, place a thick layer of substrate at the bottom of the carry container. This acts as a shock absorber and gives your tortoise traction to balance itself during bumps.
Secure The Travel Box
With your tortoise safely nested inside the carrier box, secure it safely in your vehicle. This can be in the back seat or trunk of the car.
If you need to carry other bags, suitcases, and boxes in the trunk, pack them first, then place the travel box on top. This ensures the tortoise isn’t injured or the carrier box damaged.
However, the safest place may be in the back seat. While it’s not as dark or soundproof, it does allow you or a friend to monitor the tortoise during the journey.
If you hear it flopping around, pull over and check that your tortoise isn’t struggling on its back.
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 your pet remains comfortable and safe during its journey:
Perforating holes on the sides of the carrier box will ensure your tortoise can breathe effortlessly during the ride.
Travel At A Cool Time of 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, the last thing you want is your tortoise to spend hours inside a tiny box in sweltering temperatures.
If you’re concerned about the heat or can’t travel at these times, put your tortoise inside the car with you. Set the air conditioning at around 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Remember that the inside of the box will always be warmer than the outside. For this reason, your tortoise shouldn’t experience a sudden drop or increase in temperature.
Do Tortoises Like To Travel?
Tortoises grow stressed and agitated when put inside a new environment, such as a car. While a single trip may not have much effect, regular trips can negatively impact the immune system and wellbeing.
To avoid this, leave your tortoise behind if you’re visiting friends or vacationing. Instead, ask a friend or neighbor to check on the health of your tortoise and offer food/water.
If you travel with your pet, take it to a vet if you notice any drastic changes to its health after the trip.