Can You Travel with Pet Snake (in Car, Train, Plane)?

Yes, you can travel with your pet snake. If you have your own vehicle, there are no issues, but in case you want to use public transport while traveling with your snakes, you need to check what’s allowed and what’s not.

Everyone who has a pet snake eventually has to take it on a trip. You may need to take your snake to the vet.

You will need to move your snake with you when you move to a new home. You may even want to take your snake on a long vacation.

It’s essential to remember that traveling in cars, trains, and planes isn’t a natural activity for your snake.

You can travel with your pet snake, but taking care of your snake on a trip requires some basic preparations.

We’ll discuss taking your snake on a short trip to the vet, taking your snake with you when you move, and taking your pet on long-distance trips in your car or on public transportation.

How to Take Your Snake to the Vet

Snakes come in a range of sizes, from small enough to wrap around your finger too long and thick enough to stretch out across your minivan.

Snakes also need different accommodations for short trips as they age.

How to Take a Hatchling Snake to the Vet

Baby snakes that have only recently made the trip from the pet store or a breeder to your home don’t like to be moved during the first month.

If you have to take them somewhere locally, you need to give them three things:

  • A plastic container that you have warmed to the room temperature level
  • A lid that has air holes (but small enough so that your snake doesn’t crawl through), and
  • A place to hide inside their container

Even Tupperware with small holes (1/8 inch, that is 3 mm, or less in diameter) can work.

But if you don’t provide your snake with a plastic hide box that fits inside its container, it will look for places to hide outside its container at the first opportunity.

How to Take a Small Snake to the Vet

Snakes of all ages up to 5 feet (125 cm) long can travel to the vet inside a pillowcase. You don’t have to worry about smothering your snake inside the pillowcase.

Snakes thrive in lower-oxygen conditions than most other pets, and a pillowcase is fine for trips of up to half an hour.

Turn the pillowcase inside out before placing your snake inside so it won’t get caught on any loose threads.

Then put the pillowcase swaddling your snake inside a large plastic container with a secure lid. This combination keeps your snake warm but makes sure it doesn’t escape.

Don’t place your snake inside a clear plastic bag.

Opaque, breathable material like a pillowcase shields your snake from the visual stimulation of everything going on outside their container and gives them a sense of security they can’t experience in a see-through container.

The outer box prevents injuries and unfortunate contact with other pets and pet parents in the waiting room.

How to Take a Larger Snake to the Vet

Anacondas, Boa Constrictors, Pythons, and other large snakes can travel comfortably inside a laundry bag.

Turn the bag inside out to make sure there are no loose threads that could get caught in your snake’s scales.

As with smaller snakes, place the laundry bag containing the snake into a secure, escape-proof box. The outer enclosure prevents escape and injury.

Any time you take your snake to the vet, keep these points in mind:

  • A few pieces of crumpled newspaper or paper towel in the bottom of the bag help catch any waste your snake may release on the trip.
  • If you are worried about whether your snake can breathe through the bag, try this: Before you put your snake in the bag, see if you can breathe through the bag. (This shouldn’t take more than a few seconds.) If you can breathe through the bag, your snake can, too.
  • A cooler works well for transporting a snake in a bag. The insulated sides of the cooler keep your snake warm.
  • Avoid jostling or inverting the container holding your snake while you are driving to the vet. Use the heater or AC to keep your car temperature about the same temperature as your house.
  • Astroturf is a great liner for containers for larger snakes.

Moving with Your Snake

When it comes to moving houses, you can’t forget about your snake!

On average, Americans move 11.7 times in their lifetimes. Many pet snakes live to be 20 to 30 years old.

This means that if you have a pet snake, you will be taking your snake to your new home more than once in your snake’s lifetime.

U-Haul has the following suggestions for moving with your pet snake:

Before you pack your snake’s terrarium, take your snake out and put it in a pillowcase or laundry bag. 

Turn the pillowcase or laundry bag inside out for your snake’s comfort. This step keeps your snake from stressing out from watching all the activity during the move.

It is particularly important for friendly snakes, like Corn Snakes, Green Snakes, Ball Pythons, California Green Snakes, and Kenyan Sand Boas.

If you are traveling during cold weather, you will need a battery-operated heating pad or blanket at the bottom of the box.

Don’t forget to poke holes in the lid of the container so your snake can breathe. And make sure the lid is tightly secured to the box to keep your snake from escaping.

Disassemble your snake’s enclosure before putting it in the moving van.

  • Empty your snake’s enclosure. Empty your snake’s water dish. Discard the mulch or substrate in the bottom of the enclosure. You will need to replace it when you get to your destination. Pack everything else in the enclosure—hiding place, climbing poles, artificial plants—in their own shipping container.
  • Cushion breakable parts of your snake’s enclosure. Wrap glass terrariums in furniture pads or blankets. Put lights in bubble pouches. If the enclosure is more than 20 gallons (about 75 liters, or 0.075 cubic meters), ask the movers to secure it with a mover’s wrap.

If possible, place your snake in the cab, not in the back of the truck. Items in the cargo section of the moving truck move around during transportation.

This causes stress for your snake and can loosen the top of its container and enable it to escape. Your snake is safest when transported separately from your other possessions.

Don’t forget to provide cooling for your snake if you have to stop for more than a few minutes on a sunny day.

The cab of your truck or the passenger compartment of your car can heat up quickly. And don’t leave your snake alone in your car with other pets.

Once you arrive at your destination, set up your snake’s terrarium before removing it from its traveling container. The first thing your snake sees at its new home should be its old, familiar terrarium.

Can You Travel with Pet Snakes on a Plane?

In North America, four airlines will transport snakes.

They are Air Canada, Alaska Air, American Airlines, and WestJet.

These four airlines permit snakes in the cargo hold (never the passenger compartment).

Outside of North America, snakes are permitted on Aegean Air, Air Europa, and Finn Air, again, only as cargo.

All snakes on planes are transported on IATA-approved carrier containers.

Airlines also have restrictions on the weight and size of carriers and on how many snakes each passenger is allowed to bring.

  • Aegean Air accepts up to five snakes per passenger on flights using Airbus 319, 320, or 321 aircraft. Snakes can be transported internationally, but they cannot be kept in the hold for more than three hours unless the plane is in the air. This means that your snake may not make some connections if your plane is delayed.
  • Air Canada accepts snakes, but the kind of snake and number of snakes depends on the size of the plane. There are also restrictions on the size and weight of the snake’s crate that depend on the size of the plane.
  • Air Europa accepts snakes for travel within the EU and also to Africa. Up to five animals can travel with each passenger. Snakes must travel in rigid, clear plastic containers with metal lids. Wire cages are not acceptable.
  • Alaska Air accepts non-venomous snakes that travel with their owners. How many snakes, and what kinds of snakes, depends on the plane used for the flight.
  • American Airlines accepts snakes that can be carried in cages 48 × 32 × 35 cm or smaller. (That’s about 20 inches by 8 inches by 9 inches.) The cage must be made from clear plastic, metal or wood, and must have a metal, grated door. Hot or cold packs may be required. There is a long list of planes that cannot accept snakes.
  • FinnAir accepts snakes if arrangements are made through a forwarding company, like Travel Cargo-Pet Express. Fees and cage requirements are handled by the animal logistics company.
  • WestJet accepts extra-large crates (101 × 68 × 76 cm, or about 40 inches by 25 inches by 30 inches). It also accepts crates that weigh as much as 160 pounds (72.5 kilos). However, it will not ship snakes to destinations where they might be harmed by extreme heat at departure or arrival, and all shipments must be arranged in advance.

Most airlines charge $100 to $200 (US) for each flight carrying your snake.

What About Taking Your Snake on a Bus or Train?

Some buses and trains permit snakes, but many don’t accommodate pets of any kind.

When you are taking your pet snake on a bus or train ride, you need to make sure:

  • Your snake’s container is escape-proof. Unless the carrier requires cages to have transparent sides, it’s better to use an opaque container, to keep your snake calm. The carrier must be unbreakable and have air holes for ventilation.
  • Give your snake the experience of being in a burrow for its rides on a bus or train. Use the smallest container in which it can fit comfortably, and line the container with Astroturf.
  • Placing the snake in a pillow case gives it an added sense of security.
  • A dog or cat carrier works for larger snakes, like Anacondas, Boas, and Pythons, as long as the holes in the metal grate in the door aren’t so small that your snake could crawl through.
  • Provide heat packs or cooling packs when traveling in cold or hot weather. Don’t forget that your snake needs temperature control if your bus is delayed.

It helps to make some short trial runs with your snake before taking a long journey.

Frequently Asked Questions About Traveling with Pet Snakes

Q. My snake is my service animal. Aren’t airlines, trains, and buses required to accept service animals?

A. Sorry, but in the United States and Canada, only a dog can be your service animal.

However, in the United States, your snake can be your emotional support animal.

The plane, train, and bus animals have to balance your need for emotional support with the emotional comfort of other passengers.

It is highly unlikely that you will be allowed to have your snake in your seat with you during your trip, but most common carriers will accept your snake as freight if its enclosure is secure and there’s no risk of dangerous conditions for your snake.

Q. Can I just go on vacation and leave my snake at home?

A. It’s OK to leave your snake on its own between regularly scheduled feedings.

Just be sure you get back before your snake needs to feed again. Make sure your snake has enough water.

Its heating coils should be on a timer, and you should have the AC or heat running at least for your snake’s room while you are gone.

If you need to be gone for more than a week or two, you should definitely have someone come by to take care of your snake.

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