Chinchillas love to ricochet off walls and spring across the floor of a room with speed that leaves pet parents scrambling to catch these rodents. They're often not quick to accept a ride about town with their owners, though. You can make travel as low stress on your chinchilla as possible through temperature control and a few creature comforts.
The most important thing to keep in mind when transporting a chinchilla is its temperature needs. Chinchillas are Andes Mountains creatures with thick, plush coats intended for a dry, cool climate.
When transporting a chinchilla, you'll need to keep the constant temperature they're used to, ideally in the 60s. If you have no choice other than to take your chinchilla out on a hot day, such as a necessary trip to the vet, freeze a bottle of water and put it in the carrier. If it's raining outside, cover the cage with a light, waterproof tarp or poncho. A fleece throw over the cage can provide extra warmth in freezing temperatures.
Do not place your chinchilla in an area of your car where it will not feel the benefit of the air conditioning in summer or heat in winter. Drape a lightweight sheet on the top of the cage to block rays from the sun, while keeping the sides free to allow unobstructed air flow.
Do not subject your chinchilla to temperatures higher than 75 degrees, and never leave her in a parked car. A chinchilla that has collapsed from heatstroke most often cannot be revived.
To take a chinchilla on a short trip, such as to the vet or just across town, use a small animal carrier or a small hard-sided kennel carrier sized for a cat or small dog. Make sure the ventilation is good so your chinchilla doesn't overheat. Line the carrier with a puppy pee pad to soak up any accidents. Add a bit of hay and a chew stick to keep your chinchilla occupied.
Don't keep her in a carrier longer than needed. If you're moving across town, put your chinchilla in a carrier and move her large cage separately. This eliminates the possibility of a cage getting dropped or accidentally opened during a move with a chinchilla still inside. Put your chinchilla's carrier in a cool, quiet place until the hubbub of moving dies down, then transfer her back to her cage. Provide a water bottle if the transport won't be as quick as a run to the vet and back
Let your chinchilla take a dust bath before a journey. A content chinchilla travels better.
The best way to keep your chinchilla from getting stressed out during long periods of travel is to replicate her home environment as much as possible. Cages marketed as starter cages for guinea pigs fit well in a car's backseat and provide enough room for a hide, a cool piece of granite for chilling and a food bowl. A small box or wooden hide gives your chinchilla a place to escape if the sights and sounds are too threatening.
Use the same small animal bedding you do at home and spot clean each night you're on the road, packing a small bag of bedding to replace discarded amounts. Add a bowl of pellets, handful of hay and a chew stick to the cage, and hook a water bottle on the side. Give occasional bits of dried papaya to help keep your chinchilla's digestive tract in order during the move, but don't initiate stomach upset by giving more treats than you would at home.
If you're pulling into a hotel for the night, check for pet-friendly accommodations and let your chinchilla get an hour or two of out-of-cage time in the bathroom with the door closed. Supervise your chinchilla to ensure she doesn't chew on baseboards or cabinetry.