How to Transport Exotic Pets During a Move

Moving across the country with exotic pets

Moving can be stressful for everyone in your household — even your pets. But unlike moving with a dog or cat, if you’re planning an interstate move and own exotic pets like reptiles, birds, ferrets, rabbits or other unique animals, they need a little extra TLC. Plus, you’ll want to be sure you’re moving them safely and legally to your new home.

Before you head out, review this information to help prepare for moving with your exotic animals.

Woman petting her pet bird during a move.


Helpful pre-moving tips

Take the proper precautions to ensure your pet arrives safely. Here are some quick tips to help you prepare:

Know the laws before you go

Each state has its own set of rules and regulations when it comes to animals. Before your move, check laws in your new area to find out if your pet is allowed there. After that:

  • Gather paperwork proving your pets are up to date on inspections and vaccines
  • Contact the city, county or homeowners’ association in your new neighborhood and ask about restrictions on exotic pets in the area
  • Ask about the rules — how many pets are allowed, transportation requirements and where they can stay

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, certain species may require a special permit to own, possess or even transport them. Check with your state wildlife management agency to determine if the species of exotic pet you have requires a permit.

Stick to the routine

Animals can experience just as much stress as people on moving day. To help reduce their anxiety, stick to their normal routine and feeding schedule, and find a calm space away from the movers.

Transporting your exotic pet

Most moving companies, including U-Pack®, cannot move pets. Considering this, you’ll need a plan for moving them on your own. If your exotic pet is traveling by air, rail, bus or boat, it’s important to note that each has different rules and regulations — check with the individual carrier for the details.

Regardless of how you’re planning for your pet to travel, stock up on essentials like food and water ahead of time, and make certain there’s plenty of air flow to their carrier or cage.

Overnight lodging with your exotic pet

If traveling to your new home requires a hotel stay, you’ll need to plan ahead for an exotic pet-friendly hotel. In some cases “pet-friendly” may refer to basic household animals like dogs or cats, so it’s best to call and speak directly with the hotel staff about their specific rules.

Tips for moving different kinds of exotic animals

Now that you know some basics, here are a few things to consider when moving different kinds of exotic pets:

Reptiles and amphibians

Reptiles and amphibians are cold-blooded and can’t regulate their temperature. Keep this in mind when transporting pets like lizards, iguanas or snakes. If they aren’t traveling in their normal enclosure, make sure to transport them in a cage or carrier with enough room to move around. Also, avoid placing things inside their carrier that may shift in transit.

For reptile friends needing a wet environment, consider placing wet sponges or damp towels inside their carriers to provide moisture.


Birds can be skittish and anxious if their habitat is disturbed. It’s best to move them in their cage. If your birds aren’t typically caged, like peacocks, or other larger birds, or if you can’t move the bird in its cage, you’ll want to find a container with plenty of ventilation and one that’s big enough to transport them.

Rabbits, ferrets and other small mammals

Rabbits, ferrets and other animals of similar size need to be transported in a cage big enough for them to move around freely, but rigid enough that they won’t chew through it. Remember, these animals are easily affected by heat, so make sure their carriers are well ventilated and there’s enough water for them to stay hydrated. Limit messes by placing a layer of absorbent material in the bottom of the cage to soak up any waste or spilled water.

Bigger animals

Large animals like llamas, horses or a larger breed of exotic animal require a trailer to accommodate them. If you don’t already have a trailer, arrange to have one for them on moving day. The trailer should have proper ventilation, adequate cover from the outdoor elements and enough room for moving around comfortably.

Nocturnal creatures

For nocturnal pets (those that sleep during the day and are active at night) — like chinchillas, pythons, rats, hamsters, or other animals — try to avoid altering their sleeping schedule. They may sleep during the move! Stock up on extra treats and cover their cage to keep light out.

A safe pet is a happy pet!

Each pet is unique and requires special care, and we hope these tips help you prepare your exotic animals for a safe long-distance move. Do you have any exotic animal moving tips to share that we didn’t mention, or a concern we didn’t address? Please leave a comment below.

Get more information on preparing for a move with any type of pet in our comprehensive guide for moving with pets.