Moving to the USA with my guinea pig?

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Post   » Mon Aug 07, 2006 7:08 am

Hi, I have been a member of Guinea Lynx for a couple of years but I haven't been posting. I'm hoping there are people here who can help me with my problem.
I have one 3 1/2 year old male guinea pig. I will be moving to the USA and need information on flying with a guinea pig and going through customs and immigration in the USA. I have been doing some research on the internet for the past two years and I have called the Department of Health, the Fish and Wildlife Service, CDC, and others that I can't remember now. They all say, "There are no restrictions or requirements if brought in as pets." Does this mean that I can be 100% sure they will let me in with him when I reach the port of entry?
I am having trouble finding out if an airline will let me take him in the cabin with me. Does anyone have experience with this?

Annette & Rodney the Guinea Pig

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It started with Louie...

Post   » Mon Aug 07, 2006 8:59 am

Good question. I hope someone will come along with answers for you. I wish you a good move and hope everything goes smoothly.


Post   » Mon Aug 07, 2006 9:28 am

I am not sure because I never had to do this before, but you may want to try and contact customs and ask them what you need to do. I think you may have to have a health certificate for your pet. Also, when you call customs make sure you find out who you are talking to and I would advise getting the person’s ID number to whom you spoke to, just in case you need to use it as a reference. Oh yeah you may want to call the airline and find out their requirements are with pets also. I would get a name and ID number from the person you speak with there as well. I think some airlines have restrictions on flying pets certain times of years because of the hot weather. You may want to ask about this as well. Good luck.

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Sewing for a Cause

Post   » Mon Aug 07, 2006 9:34 am

Lynx did put a thread on this in the Placement, did you by chance follow that link?

From what I've understood in my readings over time is you are indeed correct on all. Typically you are allowed two bags to carry on the plane with you, one being a purse or laptop and the other of a specific size (I forget this so you'd have to check it). But this second 'bag' would be the guineas.

Just double check by calling the airlines to find out if the carrier has to be a hard shell or soft shell. I've read there has been controversies about the types because of kids getting out of seats and putting fingers through bars.

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Post   » Mon Aug 07, 2006 11:01 am

Yes, this thread:

It deals with transport to and from Canada but may give you some ideas for where to look.

The individual airlines have their own rules about animal transport. You'll have to find out what your options are regarding those available to you.

I see you're in Japan. You should have lots to choose from.

Good luck!!!

Let Sleeping Pigs Lie

Post   » Mon Aug 07, 2006 2:57 pm

Consumer Reports magazine just published an article about flying with pets in their September issue.

According to the article, most of the major airlines (Alaska, American, Continental, Delta, Northwest, United, and US Airways) allow one pet carry-on kennel per person, and it must fit underneath the seat. The quoted charges range from $75 to $80 per kennel.

They also suggest booking early and choosing a nonstop flight.

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Post   » Mon Aug 07, 2006 10:25 pm

Make sure a guinea pig is on the list of acceptable pets.

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Post   » Wed Aug 09, 2006 3:26 am

I have been doing a ton of research. It looks like the only way to get him in the cabin with me is if I can get a shrink to certify that I am emotionally disturbed and need a guinea pig as an emotional support animal.
Now I am trying to figure out how to make his kennel as safe and healthy as possible. The trip will be 24 hours door to door. It will take 4or 5 hours just to get to the airport.
Here are some of the things I have read:
"Reduce the quantity of food the day before but give enough water."
"Fit your pet with a collar that can't get caught in the carrier doors"
"Do not feed your pet for four to six hours prior to air travel."
"Put ice cubes inside of your pet's kennel."
"Carry a current photograph of your pet. If your pet is lost during the trip, a photograph will make it much easier for employees to search."
"Write Live Animal on top of and at least one side of the crate. Use arrows to indicate the upright position of the carte."
"Tape a small pouch of dried food outside the crate so airline personnel will be able to feed your pet in case he gets hungry on long-distance flights."
“The water dish must be accessible from the outside.”

The websites don’t even seem to think about animals other than dogs and cats. There is no way Rodney could go 30 hours without food and water! I think the not feeding them is so that they won’t get sick, but guinea pigs don’t throw up and poos/wets aren’t an issue like with a dog.
My plan was to have an absorbent mat in the bottom of the kennel. There is a food dish attached to the door. I was going to put pellets in it, but they will probably fall out. He has a water bottle attached to the back/inside of the kennel. I don’t know if it will leak in the airplane. It doesn’t on car rides. One of my family members wants to put a water bottle in each corner of the kennel. :P Maybe you can weigh in on our “discussion” about it. I was going to pack him in with a lot of timothy hay. He can hide in it or eat through it. I was going to take vegetables to feed him until I have to give him up at the airline.
What do you all think? Any suggestions?

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Sewing for a Cause

Post   » Wed Aug 09, 2006 11:59 am

"Give him up at the airline", is he not going on board with you?
This is not a cat or dog but a small animal which needs a consistant degree of things. Get your vet, if need be, to write a note that this pet needs constant suppervision as stress can cause a multitude of problems, including death.

You could probably just do away with the pellets for the trip. Rarely do I give any on a 14+ hour and they do fine. Just keep the veggies and hay.

Water bottle, just one should be sufficent. If you have a spring loaded one, I'd suggest to use that one as it will leak the least. Do have a bottle of water that you can refill his bottle with should you need to.

Guinea pigs generally don't eat as much during trips, I'd probably fill two lunch box size brown bags with hay to replace a third you will put in the carrier with him when it needs changed. This will provide a house and contain the hay a bit.

About the only ones I think that would be good to do is carry the photo as they suggest and writing Live Animal with arrows for upright.
I'd also place and information tag as to what is allowed, like "hay and water only" or if you have some veggies add that on. You never know what someone could try to give them.

Glad to Support

Post   » Wed Aug 09, 2006 1:01 pm

I hope things go smoothly for getting your piggie here. This reminds me of my piggie Peanuts when I was a little girl. I brought him from Hawaii to California by plane. The airline officials told my father in advance that it would be ok for me to hold him in my lap in a carrier. But on the day of the flight at the airport, they said no pets allowed, period. Of course, I was a puddle of tears, so the airline booked Peanuts on a later flight than the rest of us. After arriving and spending the day in California, we had to go back to the airport to pick him up. They couldn't find him, though, and it turned into a bit of an ordeal. Finally, they located him and all was well. The problem was that the ticket had dangled into Peanuts' cage and he ate it!! There were only teeth marks on the shred of it left around the string. ha! So he wasn't in the system anywhere.

So moral of the story is, make sure he has an identifying label STICKER somewhere on the carrier in case you can't carry him with you.

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Post   » Wed Aug 09, 2006 1:06 pm

Winde- She said he could only go on board with her if she could certify she needed him as a support animal.

Annette- Have you booked your flight yet? If so, what one are you flying on? If not, I'm sure someone here can help you try to find one that will allow you to bring your guinea pig on the cabin with you. The flight from Japan to the east coast of the US is ~12 hours usually(at least from Narita to Atlanta and Narita to Newarkm NJ...its less to the west coast) so I assume you're doing quite a bit of traveling to get to the airport and then after the flight too? Is it only the international flight that you are flying or are you going to have to be flying domestically(either in Japan or the US) too?

According to Delta's website they'll let you bring pets on in the cabin with you but it also seems to only be for domestic flight and international flights to specific countries(Canada, Mexico, and a few others). It seems to assume that you're flying from the US so I don't know if it makes a difference that you're flying to the US instead. I tried looking on JAL and ANA's websites and couldn't find anything about it.

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Sewing for a Cause

Post   » Wed Aug 09, 2006 3:18 pm

CienD- she said it "looks like" that will be the only way. We don't know if she's verified it by actually calling the airline.

Then again, could always go and get that "certifiable nut case" paper if your piggie is not within your hands reach.
If ya hate to fly as much as I do, wouldn't be to hard to convice anyone!

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I gave AGAIN, dammit!

Post   » Wed Aug 09, 2006 4:07 pm

I cannot imagine a guinea pig surviving a flight from Japan to the US, or any flight, for that matter, in the cargo section. On numerous occasions I've seen people taking small dogs on board, but these were domestic flights. I wish you luck finding an airline that will allow Rodney on board.

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Post   » Thu Aug 10, 2006 1:16 am

We have made this trip many times. Here is the blow-by-blow of the fastest way from point A to point B.

Leave home, drive 30min. to train, ride train to Osaka 2 1/2 hours, change to another train, ride for 1 hour. Check in at Kansai airport two hours before flight. Fly 9 hours to LA claim, bags and go through customs/immigration. Hand bags off at the exit of immigration and proceed to gate. Wait a couple of hours for next flight. Fly 1 1/2 hours to Denver. Claim bags, drive 45min. to house. From the time we leave one house to then next house is 24 hours. The only time I would have Rodney would be in the cars, on the trains, and the few minutes in customs at LAX.

We always fly United because they have the most direct route to Denver. We are willing to use another airline if they will let us take him in the cabin. I called United twice and they said only cats, dogs, and birds in the cabin. This is mindless discrimination, because if they were at all educated they would know that guinea pigs are much better behaved than any of those animals.

Here is what I found online for the other airlines. I would still like to call them and ask.

American-No carry-on pets to/from Hawaii or Transatlantic/Transpacific or Central and South America.

Korean Air-Only dogs, cats, and household birds may be carried on Korean Air flights. Reptiles (including snakes and lizards) and rodents (such as rats, mice, ferrets, weasels, etc) cannot be carried as a pet for safety reasons.

Japan Airlines-Rules for Carrying Pets in the Cabin this option is limited to well-behaved dogs, cats and small birds (those that eat seeds, fruits, and insects).

ANA-Hello friendly owners of adorable pets! Your pets are important to us. ANA welcomes pets in cabin and as checked baggage. The following tips are provided to ensure a comfortable and safe flight for your pets, Pets are NOT allowed in the cabin on any All Nippon Airways flight, however they may travel as checked baggage or as air cargo.

Continental-Continental allows domesticated cats, dogs, pet rabbits and household birds to be carried in the aircraft cabin on all domestic flights (except to/ from Hawaii). For International in-cabin pet acceptance and service charge information, contact our worldwide reservation office (in the U.S. 1-800-525-0280) for assistance.

Delta-Pets As Carry On
Your pet can travel with you in the cabin for a fee of $75 one-way (to be collected at check-in) when traveling within the United States or Canada. Pets permitted in the cabin include dogs, cats, birds, ferrets, rabbits, hamsters and guinea pigs. Monkeys, pot-bellied pigs, reptiles, frogs, mice, rats, and spiders are not permitted.

No matter how we fly I generally trust the Japanese airport staff to be careful with him. It's the nutty airport workers in LA that I'm terrified of. I've seen what goes on behind the scenes there. My uncle used to work for the airport. Those people don't care at all about little animals.

Thank you all for reading and responding. This is the one thing I am worried about with the whole moving process! My baby is the only thing I really care about.

Here is some video if you would like to see him:


Sparkles N Daisy

Post   » Thu Aug 10, 2006 3:03 am

I cannot believe how cute that video was. As social as Rodney is, you can probably pass him off as a small dog.

I too worry about him being stored as cargo for that long. He seems like such an active pig that is used to being free and I'm not sure how he would do without you there in a carrier. At least if he is on your lap in the carrier he can hear your voice.

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Post   » Thu Aug 10, 2006 3:14 am

Yes, Rodney loves his people! He knows his name and he comes when he is called. He is also potty trained. I had a little trouble with that link. ;)

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Post   » Thu Aug 10, 2006 6:55 am

I can't believe how social that little guy is! He sure acts like a little dog', too cute.
I really wish you the best of luck with moving him!

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I gave AGAIN, dammit!

Post   » Thu Aug 10, 2006 8:29 am

I cannot believe any airline would allow a bird in the cabin (the noise and mess!), and not a guinea pig. I'm unclear - has Rodney made this trip with you successfully in the past, or was he not with you for these former trips? I have fallen in love with him after seeing that video, and now I will worry about him until I know he has arrived safe and sound! When will you be travelling? You may have to make some phone calls and beg for special permission to take him on board. Geez, they would never even know he's there.

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Supporter in '14

Post   » Thu Aug 10, 2006 8:34 am

Convince them he is a rabbit or very small needy puppy. Is there any way you could get that waiver about having to have him with you? I could fake it if I needed too.

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Post   » Thu Aug 10, 2006 12:02 pm

I just wanted to share my experience of traveling with my pig even though it has only been within the US. I am a student and so occasionally go to my parents for 2+ weeks at a time and have found it less stressful on the pig for him to come with me than to board at the vet (I don't know many people in town and so don't have a reputable babysitter).

Both times he has come I have flown Delta airlines. They charge a nonrefundable fee of $50 each way. You must call ahead to make a "reservation" for the pet as only 2 live animals are permitted in the cabin. You may not sit in an exit row. His carrier counts as a carry on and I ensured it would fit beneath the seat in front of me for constant acces. Asle seats work best for this. Underseat dimensions should be available from the airline.

I first place an absorbent baby cloth on the bottom of the carrier, covered this with bedding, and then covered again with flannel (the flannel prevents bedding from spilling out the edges of the carrier, the final result is like a very absorbent pillow). I give him pressed hay cubes and pressed apple chews in the carrier to nibble on and bring a big supply of watery veggies like celery and dandelion although these go in my purse and not in the cage. Throughout the flight I stick small bigs of veggies through the holes in the cage to prevent him from gorging himself and getting an upset stomach. I bring a small water bottle which I store sipper tube up in my purse. I can then stick the sipper through the holes in the carrier to the pig for drinks on occasion. I am also sure to carry a supply of pellets, hay, and emergency medicines with me in my bag should my luggage fail to arrive with me. If it is going to be very cold I bring a blanket to wrap over the cage while going up and down the Jetway. For such a long flight you may want to bring extra towels and plastic bags to make a total change in carrier bedding at least once during the trip.

If I have a layover, I quietly open the carrier in the restroom stall and empty the poopies into the toliet. NOTE that this is actually rather prohibited. Technically the carrier should never open within an airport facility but who's going to check in the stalls? They can't go that long with all that poopie smell. Take care to follow all other regulations with care to prevent any troubles. I would NOT recommend placing the pig in the checked baggage compartment because these are not regualted as well for temperature and pressure. He will be jostled around and generally stressed. It may sound severe but for that long of a flight if they will not let you have him in the cabin with you, I almost suggest seeing if you can find a loving adopter in Japan who you can call and visit and see pictures from of course. I know no one wants to give up their baby but for a 24 hour flight I really fear he would arrive dead.

I only know generalized information about bringing animals into the US but I would go with the prior suggestions about calling all over the place and getting names and ID numbers for everyone you talk to. If you can get something in writing even better! Best of luck with your little pig.

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