Never Take a Turtle on Vacation
Like all reptiles, turtles would prefer not to travel. So never take them on vacation with you.
Choose the Right Container
Most turtles can – and will – climb. To prevent this, use a deep plastic box with a lid pocked with air holes. Line the bottom with a bath towel to prevent your pet from slipping during the trip.
Do Water Turtles Need Water?
Water turtles can go without water for an entire day. In fact, in the wild they will bask in the sun until they are completely dried up, so you don’t need to provide water for them. Just make sure you put them in a bathtub or another water source – and feed them in that water source – when you reach your destination.
Use a Thermometer
A thermometer is essential for turtle travel. Place the thermometer in your turtle’s box and check it. In general, you’ll want to keep your turtle at a low of 65-70 degrees and a high range of 80-85 degrees. Ideally, you should check with your veterinarian to find the right temperature for your specific turtle. You can control heat by lining the box with a damp towel and control coolness with an enclosed wrapped warm or cold pack.
Ensuring Proper UV Light
Although some types of turtles require UV light, several hours away from UV light won’t harm your pet. If you’re worried, stop and let them bask in the sun. But to avoid escape, never take a turtle out of his or her travel box.
Feeding Your Turtle
Turtles only need to eat and drink once a day, so do not place food or water in their box. In fact, they’ll probably be too stressed to eat or drink. When you reach your destination, make sure you feed and water your turtle. Don’t worry if they eat less than usual. This is normal due to the stress of moving. Always follow their normal diet. Never feed your pet plants from rest stops or other areas.
Exercising Your Turtle
Turtles adapt to travel much like we do to long car rides. We don’t want to live in a car, but we can tolerate it for a while. Thus, you do not need to exercise your turtle at rest stops. In fact, removing a turtle from his or her travel box can be dangerous since turtles can easily escape and hide.
Traveling During Hibernation
Bring your turtle out of hibernation a couple weeks before your move. It’s best to keep them awake so you can better see how they are handling the trip. It’s also difficult to keep them at temperatures that are cool enough for hibernation (low 40s). Be sure to cool your turtle back down, putting him or her back into hibernation after your move is complete.
Moving a sick turtle will stress it, which can lead to death. Instead, leave it with a friend or ask your veterinarian where you can safely board one.
Before you begin your trip, you should always identify animal hospitals on your route in case of an emergency. Click here to find AAHA hospitals. Check the availability of your veterinarian for consultation. Bring a copy of your pet’s medical records or find out if you can access online records.
Always call your airlines first. Airlines usually require a health certificate issued within 10 days of travel, as well as a current vaccination certificate. Other restrictions may apply. Find an airline that will let your turtle ride with you. Never transport it in the baggage area.
If your move involves crossing state lines, your pet must have a health certificate issued within 10 days of your trip. Authorities could ask to see the certificate if you’re stopped.
Greyhound Bus and Amtrak only allow service animals. Call individual boating lines to find out their requirements.