Below is an article on traveling with rats in hot weather that was written specifically for summer rat shows. I do want to add though that there is also a danger for those traveling with with rats in cool weather, and that is placing the cages too close to a car heater. This can cause death by heatstroke in even the coldest weather so please be careful out there!
by Mary MacDonald
Over the Spring and Summer months and well into the Fall in the NW, cars can become ovens. We have traveled the California Central Valley and Arizona in the summer and these are the techniques that have evolved. We learned them after 'Buttercup' died from the heat in Arizona, and we had to bury her under a cactus!! It can happen! Stress, from excess heat, can also damage the immune system, helping to bring on mycoplasma.
1. Sunshine coming through the car windows on the rats can increase the temperature, even with air conditioning, and hurt their eyes. Cover the top and the sunny sides of their cages with sheets of cardboard to protect them from the direct sun.
2. Rats get thirsty when they travel. The water bottle that is left on their cages will drip with all the motion. No ratty likes their house really damp. I don’t know if a heavy water crock with a little water in it would work. Give them water when you stop….Or….stop to give them water. Lettuce and fruit such as melon or grapes work, but watch out for diarrhea, which nobody needs on a road trip.
3. If you stop for food, you only have a few choices: 1) Go through a drive-in window and then eat in the car in the shade so you can judge the temperature in the car. 2) If you only have a few rats, invest in a large gym bag and put a small plastic cage filled with bedding in it. You can pop them in there and carry them into the restaurant as your ‘jewels, or other valuables’; play them down and put them on the floor by your feet while you eat. 3) You can travel at night and stop by about ten in the morning, at your hotel.
4. There are a few other road tricks to help your gang stay cool. 1. Have two quart jars with leak proof lids, per cage, that you have filled with ice, and wrapped in a rag held in place by rubber bands. The rag helps collect the condensation. Put these in the bottom level of the cage so they can’t fall off a shelf and bop somebody… It is a good idea to even secure them to the side of the cage with a twisty tie. You can refill these jars with ice on the road. 2. You can have a thermos of ice water and a rag, and wipe down the rats tails three times each with the cold water as often as needed, since rats use their tails to moderate their temperature. Also, you can wipe their ears with the cold water. 3) I don’t like to have the car’s air conditioning or wind from the windows, blowing directly on my rats, so I direct the airflow up and away from them. 4. Old (or new) bath towels can be another help in many ways. Bring some of them.
REMEMBER, NEVER LEAVE THE RATS UNATTENDED IN A CLOSED CAR!
Added note from Angela:
A spray bottle kept in a cooler can almost immediately cool down a rattie too. My little rat orchids love to be misted when it is hot.
Added Note from Lizzy for anyone crossing the border:
On weekends in the summer border line ups can be 45 min to more than 2 hours long, especially at peak times on Friday and Sunday evenings. Make sure you are prepared to keep your rats cool and comfy should your car's air conditioning fail during that time! (Note: in winter, border line ups are not usually quite so long.)
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