Travelling with your rabbit

Rabbits are best left at home, but sometimes they need to be transported – moving house and veterinary visits are obvious examples. Travelling can be stressful for your bunny so, in recognition of Rabbit Awareness week (2nd-10th June 2018), the team at your local Healthy Pet Club practice have put together some tips about travelling.

Preparation

How to minimise stress:

  • Use a carrier that is:
    • Designed to transport animals
    • A suitable size (e.g., small/medium dog carrier)
    • Designed to open at the top and sides – this makes it easier to get your rabbit in
  • If you have more than one rabbit, consider taking a companion
  • Familiarise your rabbits with the carrier before you travel:
    • Put into the carrier:
      • Treats/food
      • Toy
      • Lightly used bedding (the familiar smell provides reassurance)
    • Let your rabbits explore the carrier
    • If they don’t go in voluntarily, place them in it
    • As they get used to it, shut them in for short periods
    • Then pick the carrier up – keep it close to your body, and don’t swing it about
    • Work up to periods of 30 minutes in the carrier
    • Get your rabbits used to using a water bottle.

The journey

  • Keep journeys as short as possible
    • If the journey must be long, take regular breaks
    • If the trip will last more than one day, take an exercise pen for overnight
  • Place something absorbent in the carrier base
  • Provide hay
  • If the journey will be of any length:
    • Attach a water bottle to the carrier
      • If you cannot do this, offer water once/hour
    • Take with you a litter box, cleaning supplies, and enough food and litter for the journey
  • Place the carrier on the vehicle floor or use the seat belt
  • Keep your rabbits’ environment cool and well ventilated > 
    • If possible, travel when the weather is cool
    • Keep the temperature inside the car <24°C
    • Do not place the carrier in direct sunlight
    • If you use the air conditioning, do not let it blow straight into the carrier
    • If necessary, put an ice pack, wrapped in a towel, into the carrier
  • Consider covering the seats to protect them from stress-induced spraying.

Keeping your rabbits safe

  • Only take your rabbits out of the carrier in an enclosed space
  • Consider having your rabbits microchipped in case they escape
  • Don’t let cats or dogs get too close
  • Cover the carrier with a blanket in situations that might scare the rabbits (e.g., at the vet)
  • Never leave your rabbits unattended in the vehicle.

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