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Discussion Starter #1
I'm pretty sure I know what I'm going to do, but I thought I'd ask, just to try to get a better idea from the rat's point of view.

I'm going home during Christmas break. I go to school in North Dakota and my parents live in Oregon. I take the train, which is a 31 hour trip. I will then be taking the train back to North Dakota about three and a half weeks later.

Plan A is to take them with me.
Since rats aren't (technically) allowed on the train, I'd have to hide them. I have a travel little Critter Keeper, I'd bring some extra litter with me, and lock myself in the bathrooms (hmm, bring sanitizing wipes... Although Amtrak's pretty clean) to play with them a bit and change litter so they didn't get stinky. Water access would be limited, and so would light. But the train is safe, I'm sure I'd be able to take them out every couple of hours during the day, maybe once or twice at night (I catnap like no other on the train).
I would bring their normal cage with me in a checked luggage, so they'd have a big cage at my parent's house.
My parents have cats, but they've been with rats before and haven't gone after anyone. Plus, there's always doors. And my parents would like to see the ratties, I got them over here.
My main concern here is any undue stress to them from travelling.

Plan B is to leave them here with a friend.
The major snag in this plan is that I don't really have any friends who would be willing to take them. I'd have to ask someone outside of my immediate sphere of friendship, which could be weird. Plus I'm sure I don't have any aquantances who have experience with rats, and they'd probably still have to travel at least 5 hours to get home with my friend, as I don't have too many that live in North Dakota. Most of my friends are from the MSP area.
Plus, this leaves my babies away from me for almost a month, with someone wtih questionable rat skillz.

Ideas? I know this isn't the perfect situation. I think they'd be okay travelling, it's just a little over a day, and I'd take them out frequently. But I just wanted opinions on how to make this a better idea, if indeed there is a way to do it. Thanks!
 

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I would bring them, but that is just me.
 

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I wouldn't, and here's why...

I'm assuming you'll be traveling via Amtrak? I love them, they are my favorite way to travel. HOWEVER, if you break any of their rules, they can and quite possibly WILL remove you from the train then and there. They legally have every right to do so, as purchasing your ticket shows you will agree to their rules. And, as you know, their rules include no animals on board, except for service/seeing eye dogs.

I've traveled a total of 8 days (round trip) on Amtrak, and we saw at least 2 people kicked off for smaller offenses than sneaking animals on board.

I wouldn't want to risk it, myself. If you do, I would make sure you have a plan B in case you do get removed from the train. Someone would need to pick you and the rats up. I'm going to guess, though, that if this were really possible, a train trip wouldn't really be necessary.

A lot of people would go ahead and do this anyway. You may not be caught. You and the rats may be fine. But then again, you might not be so lucky. It's a huge risk/gamble.

If I were in your shoes, I'd find a nice pet sitter or someone I could trust. Worst came to worst, I'd find a good vet that will accept rats for boarding.

I like to error on the side of caution, though, especially when traveling. They have every right to kick you off for breaking the rules, just like any plane or bus company. That's one thing when it's just you, and another when you are sneaking animals around.
 

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well i would bring them myself, but i wouldnt take them out on the trip as it could get u caought. i know its hard to leave them alone when there just there infront of you in a carrier case, but you mist resist!afterall what can 31 rs of not bein hamdled really do. its not like you wont be handeling them for a week, wich is what could happen in plan b.well thats just my opinion anyway
 

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That's a difficult decision, and there really isn't a good solution either way. I would take them with me, personally. There isn't anyone I would trust enough to take care of my rats for a month, and that's just looking at the people closest to me. If you know a vet in the area really well and know that your rats would be taken care of, you might look into that, but I've heard enough stories of negligence from vets lately to not even trust a vet I didn't know.

It is definitely risky to sneak rats on Amtrak though, and I agree with Kimmiekins that you'll need a backup plan in case you do somehow get caught with the rats and kicked off. I've never traveled Amtrak though, so I don't know how likely that would be. My biggest concern would be them making too much noise from moving around, squabbling with each other, squeaking, etc... I'm sure if someone hears/sees movement from your bag, they'd have a right to check it if they suspect animals are in there. So I don't know.

Either way you do it, I really hope it works out for you and your rats!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
That's what occured to me, the squeaking. I wonder if there's a mild sedative I could use? It would probably make them happier all around, to just not deal with the trip, but I could be wrong.

I really just don't have anyone to leave them with is the trouble. I know it's bad to bring them, I know I could get kicked off. I see the likelyhood of them being discovered as pretty small, but anything can happen. Amtrak is pretty chill, and I normally get two seats to myself. And I'd probably have them up in the overhead part (not a compartment like a plane, just a rack) so that the noise and smell would be less noticable. But if I get kicked off in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere... Yikes. Do you know what's between North Dakota and Oregon? Basically wilderness and tiny settlements.

Another thought I'm looking into would be to have someone drive them back. The obvious problem here is that there are very few people who live near me that both go to this school and drive home for Christmas, but I'll ask around.

Hmm. Thanks for the opinions. I'm going to keep thinking, but keep giving suggestions.
 

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I, personally, wouldn't recommend sedation of a rat without a vet present. I've also heard many say the same, including vets. Especially if they will be closed up and not checked on as often as possible, etc. Over-sedation of a rat would probably be a big risk. You might want to check with your vet. I'm not sure if it holds true for rats, but some animals do worse under a sedative while traveling.

I'm honestly not sure of the percent chance you'll be caught, but I did hear of someone who snuck a small dog on Amtrak and was removed from the train as soon as it was discovered. I've read that animals are not allowed in the stations, or "anywhere Amtrack", so if you sneak them on (and as I've said, I wouldn't), be aware that you'll really need to sneak around.

I would think the biggest risk is another passenger seeing them. We all know how much of the population feels about rats, and I don't think many people would keep quiet if they saw rats on the train.

It's so risky... But I do see you're in a bind.
 

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If you have big squishy males (that you washed well beforehand to remove any stench) I would say it would be easier (they probably would just sleep). But females tend to by quite hyper. Unfortunately I can't think of any way rats could be considered an official service animal, which would grant them free and clear access to the train (as traveling with my service animal (dog) has been very easy thus far, though people have complained about my not warning ahead of time I was accompanied by a dog). Good luck with whatever you decide!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Sigh. I wish there was a better way. I do know of one guy who is driving to an area sort of near me, and he migh tbe able to bring them. But he's not leaving the area until a good 12 days after me, so I'd have to leave them with him that long, and he has no rat experience at all. And he's not coming back, so I'd STILL have to sneak them on to get them back.

I really want to call Amtrak and plead my case, but I'm afraid that if they say no, they can trace my phone or something (since all I have is a cell), and then find me and search me and find my babies.

As to the sedation idea, I found this thing online (website) that talks about home surgery (something I would never attempt, but I guess there are those...) and methods of sedation. The one in particular that interested me that says

"For rats with congestive heart failure or labored breathing who would be at risk for general anesthetic, some minor surgeries, such as removing a subcutaneous tumor, can be done without general anesthetic. I have done four surgeries on rats with known or suspected heart disease to remove small tumors from the side or back (2 fibromas and 2 fibroadenomas) using this method. I used butorphanol, a sedative and analgesic, at a dose of 3-10 mg/lb (depending on the rat’s tolerance; normally 3-5 mg/lb) to sedate the rat. At this level of sedation, the rat remains on her feet and requires manual restraint by a second person. "

It sounds very non-threatening, but I would of course have to talk to my vet about it, since I'm not sure how long it lasts. But I feel like if I could sedate them, or rather just make them drowsy enough to chill for the ride, then it would be pretty easy to hide them. I've shuttled all kinds of fish around on Amtrak, and that's never been a problem. Though I understand a rat isn't like a betta in the eyes of most of the public.

If abseloutely nothing else presents itself, then my bf is willing to drop the girlies off at a pet sitters in the Minneapolis/St Paul suburbia (preferably somewhere near Apple Valley), so does anyone have any ideas for that if it comes to it?
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Oh, two more things-

That website I just noticed is by Debbie "The Rat Lady" Ducommun, whose name I've heard batted around as a great rat resource, in case that means anything to anyone.

Also, I would definately not let anyone else see the rats. I have ways (mainly, keeping their carrier in a bag, closed, and bring the bag with me when I left to attend to them), and no one would know they're there, unless they squeaked or got smelly, which I'm still working on.
 

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I like some of what Debbie D. has to say...

But I am 100% against home treatment, home medicating, etc. This topic has actually sparked quite a debate on this forum before, so I am not claiming that everyone else agrees with me...

But I am a RVT in an emergency vet. hospital, and we see some horrific things and unnecessary deaths caused by home treatment.

"My cat's leg has been bothering him for a while."

"Has he been Rx any medications for pain?"

"No, but I've been giving him Advil..."

And now the guy wonders why his cat is in liver failure. Unless you have a doctor's guidance, don't do it.
 

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My biggest concern with sedating them would be that breathing slows down with sedation (too much sedation slows it too much, which could happen if a dose wasn't exact). There's a reason vets (and people docs) monitor animals under sedation very closely... Which you won't be able to do, unless you're running off to check on them every few minutes. If they were kept in a closed-in area (in a container in a bag), the air-flow is already going to be reduced...

I don't know... I still think it sounds awful risky, both that Amtrak could (and would - honestly, call and ask what happens if they find someone has snuck animals on board) remove you from the train, and that the rats could suffer emotionally or physically (or worse).

I just don't think I would take the risk.
 
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