For many exotic animal owners, like geckos, the idea of leaving your pet alone while traveling can make you feel guilty.
As a result, you might wonder: can you travel with a gecko? If so, what are the requirements and considerations for taking your reptile pet on a trip with you?
In this article, we’ll answer whether or not you can travel with a gecko. We’ll also guide you through four steps to help you venture with your reptile pet. So, stick around!
Traveling with a gecko depends on several factors, such as the mode of transportation, the destination, and the type of gecko you have.
Generally, sudden environmental changes can stress your reptile friend, just like cats. However, you can car-travel with your gecko if you take the necessary precautions, such as placing them in a secure, ventilated, dark container.
For plane rides and public transportation, the crowd’s noise might stress your gecko. Not to mention, you need to check with the carrier to see if they allow geckos and can transport them. The same requirement goes for the target destination as well.
Additionally, not all geckos are the same. Sure, most lizards prefer warm climates. Still, geckos come from six families and have adapted to several habitats, such as deserts and forests.
So, it’s best to leave them at home when possible instead of traveling with them.
As a rule of thumb, most geckos can tolerate 1-2 days on their own; you can even leave them longer if you don’t pet them regularly. However, ask a friend to watch your reptile friend since leaving it unattended for a week can be risky.
Here are four reasons why traveling with a gecko is challenging or may not be possible:
Like humans and animals, geckos experience stress too. Several reasons can cause stress to your lizard friend, such as inadequate container size, environmental conditions, and food.
Additionally, geckos exhibit anxious behavior when exposed to predators like snakes—all of which can negatively affect their health.
A study done on the behavioral response of Moorish geckos showed that dangerous situations increase the oxidative stress response in those reptiles. The former increases the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS).
Those compounds contain a free electron, which reacts with other cells and organelles. As a result, it damages the tissues and disrupts the body’s normal physiological functions.
For that reason, try to avoid exposing your gecko to stressful situations. Here are some common telltale signs to know if your lizard pet is stressed:
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Vocalizing and loud noises
- Tail waving
- Excessive hiding
- Glass swimming
When traveling, providing your geckos with necessities like food and water can be challenging. Not only that, but your reptile friend has specific temperature and humidity requirements.
Traveling to a cold destination with low humidity can cause your gecko to suffer from dehydration, overheating, or shedding.
In that case, you need to take extra precautions, such as adding a heating pad and providing a water dish in the container, to ensure your gecko’s well-being—which can be challenging to provide.
Of course, bringing your pet with you on your journey costs more than traveling alone.
However, that depends on the mode of transportation. Taking your gecko with you won’t add to the travel costs if you’re using your car.
Airlines, on the other hand, are a different story. They usually have strict rules and policies when it comes to carrying pets on the plane. That’s especially true for lizards.
In general, most airlines won’t accept geckos in the cabin or as checked luggage. You’ll likely need to ship your reptile pet as cargo, which comes at a hefty price.
It’s important to consider the legal requirements of the destination you intend to visit. Some countries have restrictions on bringing certain animals, such as reptiles.
For instance, New Zealand has strict pet entry rules. The country doesn’t allow reptiles, birds, guinea pigs, or even certain dog breeds!
Even if the country allows it, some state laws prohibit entry. That’s why you should research the regulations of your destination to ensure you can legally bring your gecko into other countries.
If you’ve done your research about the destination and found it feasible to travel with your gecko, you still need to find a solution to prevent gecko stress when traveling.
Here’s a four-step guide to help you experience a seamless trip with your reptile friend:
Whether you’re traveling by plane, bus, train, or other means of public transportation, you should check if they accept geckos.
Make sure to ask about the specific requirements of the container, such as the dimensions and weight. Additionally, check if you need to bring any paperwork or health certificates.
When choosing a traveling container, you need to focus on functionality as well as your pet’s convenience.
While it might be easy to travel with the terrarium, most of these containers are made of glass. Not only would the transportation companies refuse it for safety reasons, but these enclosures aren’t secure enough.
A sudden car turn could break the tank and swing your gecko to the other side. Even if the terrarium is secure, your reptile friend can bump into the decor, leading to troublesome injuries.
Opt for a secure container with tight lids and ensure it’s made of plastic or other durable material.
Additionally, choose a small travel box to ensure your gecko doesn’t move back and forth during the journey. However, check if it’s well-ventilated.
Another thing you need to keep in mind is limiting exposure to surrounding stressors, such as predators or people.
To tackle that problem, cover the box to create a dark, quiet environment for your gecko. Of course, avoid handling your pet during travel.
From the above, you can see that tank decor can do more harm than good for geckos during travel. That’s why you shouldn’t add any ornaments to the enclosure.
Simply cover the box’s bottom with some insulation. You can use newspapers, paper towels, blankets, or anything that’ll provide good grip and warmth.
You can also use heating or cooling pads to regulate the temperature. For humidity, keep a spray bottle nearby to mist the container.
As surprising as it may sound, avoid feeding your reptile pet while still on the road, as it might cause indigestion or similar problems. Don’t worry, though. Thanks to their fat-storing tail, geckos can go a couple of days without food or water.
Still, pack a small amount of food in a separate container to feed your pet if you’re worried your trip might take longer than 24 hours.
Geckos need time to get used to a new environment. Suddenly moving them to a new enclosure can make them anxious and cause stress-related issues.
That’s why you should familiarize your reptile friend with the travel box at least a week before traveling. The former process is pretty straightforward.
Simply place your gecko in the new container for a few minutes. Start with 10-15 minutes and increase the duration each day until your pet is comfortable with its new enclosure.
So, can you travel with a gecko?
You can travel with a gecko as long as the chosen transportation and destination allow exotic pets’ entrance. Generally, airlines won’t accept exotic pets like geckos.
However, if you’re traveling in your car, you can take your reptile friend. Just make sure to provide a small enclosure with proper ventilation as well as proper temperature and humidity to ensure your geckos’ well-being.
Additionally, make sure to familiarize them with the container before traveling to prevent stress. Having said that, it’s best to leave our geckos at home and ask a friend or a professional to take care of them while you’re away.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Film/Video/Media Studies, as well as an associates degree in Communications. I began producing videos and musical recordings nearly 15 years ago. I am a guitarist and bassist in Southwest MI and have been in a few different bands since 2009, and in 2012 I began building custom guitars and basses in my home workshop as well. When I’m home, I love spending time with my three pets (a dog, cat, and snake) and gardening in my backyard. I also like photographing wild birds, especially birds of prey.