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How Travel With a Bearded Dragon (Easy and Stress-Free Steps)

As a bearded dragon parent, I know the joys of sharing my home with these charismatic, spiky companions. But what happens when wanderlust strikes, and you want to bring your beardie buddy along for the adventure? Fear not, fellow reptile enthusiasts! I’ve got you covered with this handy guide on how to travel with a bearded dragon.

Whether you’re a seasoned beardie caretaker or new to the scaly side of pet ownership, traveling with a bearded dragon doesn’t have to be an anxiety-inducing experience. With proper planning, you and your reptilian companion can hit the road (or sky) with ease.

In this article, we’ll explore essential tips and tricks to ensure your bearded dragon’s comfort and safety during travel. We’ll cover topics like preparing a travel-friendly habitat, understanding regulations and requirements, managing temperature and stress, and keeping your beardie entertained throughout the journey.

Checklist for Transporting Your Bearded Dragon

A quick list of what you’ll need is given below, which includes everything you’ll need when transporting your dragon to take proper care of your bearded dragon. It will adjust based on the length of your journey. A quick trip to the vet, for example, will not necessitate bringing most of these items.

  1. First, check pet laws
  2. Leash and harness that can be adjusted
  3. Newspapers, paper towels, bath towels, blankets, and Carrier as bedding/substrate.
  4. Cleaning materials
  5. Food
  6. Heat sources, like as hot pads or warm water bottles
  7. Local Veterinary and Pet Supply Store Contact Information
  8. Snacks, vitamins, and supplements
  9. Enclosure or tank
  10. A thermometer/temperature gun, UVA/UVB light, and a basking light/heat lamp are all recommended.
  11. A bowl of water

Obtaining Permits and Documentation

Whether you’re crossing state lines or venturing abroad, it’s essential to have the proper permits and documentation for your bearded dragon. After all, you wouldn’t want your vacation cut short by a surprise visit from the “Lizard Police” (not a real thing, but you get the idea). Here’s what you need to know about travel regulations:

1. Interstate Travel Regulations

Different states have varying regulations regarding the transportation of reptiles, so it’s essential to research these requirements before setting off. Some states may require permits or health certificates for your bearded dragon, while others might have specific rules about traveling with live animals. Better safe than sorry!

2. International Travel Requirements

If you’re planning an international escapade with your bearded dragon, you’ll need to investigate the requirements for both your destination and any countries you’ll transit through. This could involve obtaining an import permit, providing proof of your bearded dragon’s health status, or meeting other documentation requirements. Make sure to give yourself plenty of time to gather all the necessary paperwork.

Packing Essentials

how to transport a bearded dragon

As a proud bearded dragon parent, you know that traveling with your scaly sidekick requires some special planning. But don’t worry, I’ve got your back (and your dragon’s too)! Here are the essential items you’ll need to pack for a smooth trip with your bearded buddy.

1. Travel Enclosure

Size and Ventilation: Choosing the right travel enclosure is crucial for your bearded dragon’s comfort and well-being. Make sure it’s large enough for your beardie to move around a bit, but not so big that it becomes a reptilian roller coaster. Ventilation is also essential, so opt for an enclosure with mesh sides or air holes to keep the air fresh for your little explorer.

Secure and Comfortable Design: While on the road, you want to ensure your bearded dragon feels secure and snug in their enclosure. Consider a design that includes a tight-fitting lid, as well as a soft, absorbent liner (like a reptile carpet or paper towels) to provide some cushioning for your beardie’s delicate belly.

2. Climate Control

Portable Heat Source: You may be a warm and loving pet parent, but your body heat alone won’t cut it for your cold-blooded companion. Bring a portable heat source, such as a heat mat or heat tape, to maintain the optimal temperature for your bearded dragon during your travels. Remember to place the heat source under only one side of the enclosure, creating a temperature gradient that allows your beardie to thermoregulate as needed.

Thermometer and Hygrometer: Your bearded dragon’s comfort (and yours) hinges on maintaining the proper temperature and humidity levels. Pack a digital thermometer and hygrometer to monitor the enclosure’s climate. Trust me; your bearded dragon will thank you with a happy head bob.

3. Food and Water

Easy-to-Carry Food Options: Your bearded dragon can’t live on love and admiration alone; they need a balanced diet on the go! Bring easy-to-carry food options, such as a small container of live insects (crickets or roaches, yum!) and a bag of leafy greens. You can also pack some dried or canned insects as a backup. Just be sure to keep the live insects in a well-ventilated container to avoid any unwanted escapees.

Hydration Techniques: Last, but certainly not least, don’t forget about hydration! Offer your bearded dragon water in a shallow dish or through a spray bottle, misting the enclosure’s walls. Alternatively, you can use a dropper or syringe to gently offer water directly to your beardie’s mouth. Stay vigilant about keeping your scaly friend hydrated, and you’ll both enjoy a happy, healthy journey together.

Transportation Methods

By following the following tips and understanding the unique needs of your bearded dragon, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable journey for both you and your scaly companion.

How To Transport Your Bearded Dragon in a Car

Hitting the road with your scaly sidekick can be an adventure for both of you, but ensuring their safety and comfort is a must.

Based on the situation at your final destination and the length of your journey, you may need to pack everything your beardie will need to stay healthy and comfortable, such as food, proper heat and lighting, its water bowl, tank, substrate, cleaning supplies, a thermometer, and your beardie’s furniture or accessories.

Here are some best practices for placing the travel enclosure in the car:

1. Heat Up Your Car Beforehand: During the winter, especially when the temperature drops below 65°F, you should definitely turn on your car’s heat to maintain a comfortable 70-75°F during the journey. Before you bring your beardie’s carrier inside, make sure your car is nice and toasty. This is done to avoid sudden temperature changes, especially when it is already very cold outside.

2. Secure the Carrier: To prevent unnecessary movement, use a seat belt or bungee cords to secure the carrier. While the car seatbelt was not designed to completely protect a carrier or box in a major crash, it may be useful in such cases.

3. Sunlight in the Car: Even in cold weather (such as winter), always take precautions to avoid direct sunlight hitting your carrier in the car. Even though it might help if you are losing heat in the carrier, it can quickly lead to overheating due to the heat packs inside, especially if you are not closely monitoring the temperature. It’s best to avoid it entirely and instead rely on safer methods of warming up your bearded dragon during the trip.

4. Secure Spot in the Car: Choose a spot in the car where the enclosure can be secured and won’t be exposed to direct sunlight, drafts, or extreme temperatures. A seatbelt can work wonders in keeping your bearded dragon’s home away from home stable during the drive.

5. Keep a Watchful Eye: Keep an eye on your bearded dragon during the journey by taking regular breaks. Not only will this allow you to stretch your legs, but it’s also an opportunity to check on their well-being, provide them with water, and make sure they haven’t been plotting an escape.

6. Drive Carefully: It goes without saying that one should always drive cautiously, especially when transporting a pet. Because pets (particularly bearded dragons) cannot react to car accidents in the same way that humans can (for example, by extending their arms for protection), you should be extra cautious when driving to avoid this. 

Even small, sudden accelerations or brakes that seem insignificant to humans can cause stress in your dragon’s carrier. Remember, a happy dragon is a calm dragon!

How To Transport Your Bearded Dragon in a Plane

Soaring through the skies with your bearded dragon requires some extra preparation. Here’s what you need to know:

When it comes to flying, your bearded dragon has two options: cargo hold or cabin. While the cargo hold is temperature-controlled and pressurized, you might feel more comfortable having them by your side in the cabin. Each airline has its own rules, so weigh the pros and cons to find the best fit for your scaly friend.

Transporting bearded dragons in airplanes is fraught with danger and should be avoided in general, especially if you cannot keep your dragon’s carrier with you in the cabin. It may also be subject to plenty of restrictions. If it is unavoidable, ensure that you take all necessary precautions to keep your beardie safe.

1. Check if the airline allows it: To prepare for flying your bearded dragon, you will need to conduct extensive research. Find out first if the airline allows it and what kind of requirements you’ll need (papers, veterinary clearance, permits, etc.).

2. Check restrictions in your final destination: It’s important to check with your final destination to see if there are any restrictions on bringing in an exotic animal. Some states or countries may outright prohibit it. You should look up the nearest exotic animal vet in your destination and keep their contact information on hand in case of an emergency.

3. Check the transport conditions: Next, determine whether you can bring the carrier as a carry-on (with you in the cabin). This is the best option because you can keep a close eye on your dragon while it is flying. 

Otherwise, you may be required to check in your carrier (which will be placed in the plane’s cargo). If this is the case, you must thoroughly inspect the plane’s cargo or reconsider air travel entirely. Putting live animals in a plane’s cargo is often dangerous. You can also hire professional pet movers as an alternative.

Check with the airline to see if their cargo is pressurized and heated. Remember that your bearded dragon will require the proper temperature at all times in order to help it regulate its own body temperature. It’s also a good idea to ask about whether they can securely fasten your beardie’s carrier so that it doesn’t tumble or fall.

Again, triple-check that all of these conditions are met, especially when flying cargo, to avoid a potentially fatal situation.

4. Ensure your beardie’s comfort: Once everything is in order, you should ensure that your bearded dragon travels in comfort and at the appropriate temperatures. Soft towels or hand warmers can be used to line your carrier. 

Check with the airline to see if they will allow portable heat packs (if they have batteries, they will not be allowed in the cargo) and pack a few extras. You can use the above-mentioned quick homemade heat pack made from a wet towel.

5. Label your carrier properly: Don’t forget to properly label your bearded dragon’s carrier with your contact information. It’s also a good idea to include your veterinarian’s contact information (with permission). Airports can be extremely busy, making it easy to lose your beardie, if they have your information plastered all over them, you can be contacted immediately!

Public transportation

Navigating public transportation with your bearded dragon can be quite the adventure, but it’s essential to know the rules and restrictions before embarking on your journey:

1. Local Policies: Familiarize yourself with local policies regarding pets on public transportation. Some systems may allow small animals in secure carriers, while others may have specific guidelines or restrictions for reptiles. Always follow the rules and be prepared to provide documentation if necessary.

2. Keep Your Beardie Safe: Keeping your bearded dragon safe and comfortable is key. Choose a secure and well-ventilated carrier, and avoid peak travel times to minimize stress. If possible, find a seat away from other passengers to give your bearded dragon some space and avoid scaring any unsuspecting commuters.

Staying at a Destination

Traveling with your bearded dragon can be a smooth and enjoyable experience if you plan ahead and take their needs into consideration. By setting up a cozy temporary enclosure, maintaining a consistent routine, and ensuring their comfort and well-being, you and your scaly companion will have a fantastic time exploring new destinations together.

1. Setting Up a Temporary Enclosure

  • Choose a quiet, safe spot for your bearded dragon’s temporary home, away from drafts and direct sunlight.
  • Set up a suitable-sized travel enclosure with appropriate heating and lighting, similar to your beardie’s home setup.
  • Make sure to provide proper substrate, hiding spots, and climbing opportunities, because even on vacation, a bearded dragon’s gotta lounge in style.
  • Maintain proper temperature and humidity levels, and double-check them with a reliable thermometer and hygrometer. After all, we wouldn’t want our scaly friend to feel like they’re vacationing in the Arctic, now would we?

2. Maintaining a Consistent Routine

  • Stick to your bearded dragon’s regular feeding schedule, ensuring they receive a balanced diet of greens, insects, and the occasional fruit treat.
  • Keep their hydration in check by providing fresh water daily and misting them as needed. A well-hydrated beardie is a happy beardie!
  • Continue your regular handling and bonding sessions, as this will help your bearded dragon feel more at ease in their temporary digs. Remember, you’re their trusty sidekick on this adventure!
  • Monitor your bearded dragon’s behavior and health, and be prepared to address any signs of stress or illness. A quick trip to a local reptile-savvy vet might be in order if anything seems amiss.

3. Ensuring Your Bearded Dragon’s Comfort

  • Be mindful of noise and activity levels around the enclosure. As tempting as it may be to share your scaly friend with everyone, they might prefer some peace and quiet.
  • If you need to leave your bearded dragon alone at the accommodation, leave a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door to prevent any surprise encounters with housekeeping staff.
  • When you venture out for the day, consider leaving a favorite toy or a familiar item from home in the enclosure to help your bearded dragon feel more secure.

Returning Home

Once back, you will need to get your bearded dragon settled back into its familiar environment. Re-acclimating your scaly friend may take a little time and care, but don’t worry—I’ve got you covered with these tried-and-true tips for a smooth transition.

Reintroduce the Habitat: Start by gently placing your bearded dragon back into its terrarium. It might be tempted to give you a puzzled look as if to say, “Is this really home, or just another pit stop?” Be patient and give your pet some time to re-familiarize itself with the surroundings.

Restore the Routine: Our beardie buddies are creatures of habit, so make sure to re-establish their daily routine as soon as possible. From feeding and basking to misting and playtime, sticking to their regular schedule will help them readjust quicker. And remember, consistency is key!

Monitor Health and Behavior: Keep a close eye on your bearded dragon’s health and behavior during the first few days after your return. Watch for any signs of stress, such as a darkened beard, loss of appetite, or lethargy. If you notice anything concerning, don’t hesitate to consult your trusted reptile vet. Better safe than scaly-sorry!

Ease Back into Socializing: While you might be eager to snuggle with your beardie after a trip, give them some space to readjust at first. Gradually reintroduce handling and playtime over a few days, as your bearded dragon becomes more comfortable in its home again.

Share Your Travel Tales: Okay, so your bearded dragon might not understand your detailed recount of the trip, but talking to them can still be soothing and reassuring. Plus, who doesn’t love a captive audience for their vacation stories?

Tips For Short-Length Trips

The most common reasons for traveling with your bearded dragon are trips to the vet or taking them somewhere to be boarded. Both are typically short trips, so planning for safe transportation is a simple matter.

Short trips of 1-2 hours to places like the vet will require the use of minimal equipment. Typically, all you’ll need is a carrier and some heat packs. Just make sure your beardie has the right amount of ventilation, temperature, and safety. However, it’s a good idea to be prepared for any unexpected events.

For example, pack an extra heat source or some food if it’s winter, in case something out of the blue happens, such as your car breaking down.

You want to avoid being too cold (below 65°F/18°C) or too hot (above 90°F/32°C). You can do this by checking in on your beardie at regular intervals throughout the journey. With just a little bit of preplanned and making your beardie comfortable you’ll find that the journey was way easier than you thought!

Tips For Medium-Length Trips

Your beardie will survive for less than a day without food or water. In fact, most bearded dragons can go without food for a few days. That is, with two exceptions, you will treat a medium-length trip the same as a short trip.

The first is to keep the temperature stable. For this, we like to use heat packs/hand warmers. They can last up to 8 hours and provide consistent heat during that time. It’s also a good idea to keep a few spares on hand just in case.

The second step is to look for beardie poop. It’s not uncommon for a trip’s stress to cause your beardie to poop. When this occurs in a small enclosure, such as your travel carrier, it is critical that it be cleaned out as soon as possible.

If you don’t, your bearded dragon will walk all over it and make a way bigger mess than you already have.

The bad news or good news is that bearded dragon poop STINKS! If you’ve properly ventilated your carrier in the small enclosed area of your car, you’ll know exactly when they pooped. Just make sure to come to a halt and clean it up.

For their sake, as well as the sake of the breathable air in your vehicle!

Conclusion

Traveling with a bearded dragon may seem like a hard thing, but with proper preparation and care, it can be a smooth and enjoyable experience for both you and your scaly sidekick. To recap, we’ve discussed the importance of preparing a travel habitat, ensuring your beardie stays comfortable and safe throughout the journey, and being aware of local regulations and potential health concerns.

As a fellow bearded dragon enthusiast, I can attest to the unique bond that we form with these remarkable creatures. Traveling together can be an opportunity to strengthen that connection, create lasting memories, and introduce our beloved beardies to the world beyond their terrariums. However, it’s essential to prioritize their well-being and adhere to the highest standards of reptile care during these adventures.

So, the next time you hit the road with your bearded dragon in tow, channel your inner reptile-whisperer, and take pride in knowing that you’re equipped with the knowledge and expertise to ensure a successful journey. After all, if your beardie could talk, they’d probably thank you for the fantastic voyage—right before requesting a tasty cricket treat, of course.

Here’s to many more happy trails and tales of traveling with your bearded dragon, and may the wind always be at your back, and the sun shining down on your basking beardie. Safe travels, fellow reptile road warriors!

Filled under: Lizards

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