As a bunny owner, you will need to transport your rabbit from time to time. You might need to visit the veterinarian or just want to take your beloved pet with you on holiday. No matter the reason, you will need to know how to transport your rabbit safely.
Don’t fret if you’ve never had to transport your rabbit, here is what you need to know.
Toki - The kids at the vet for claw trimming by Tjflex2
If you’re planning to go away for the holiday, you might want to take your precious bunny with you, but is it really in your pet’s best interest to travel with you? Travelling can be extremely stressful to you and your long-eared friend. Most pet bunnies will be much happier staying at home with a pet sitter rather than travelling with you.
If travelling is a must, there are a few things you can’t go without. These items are non-negotiable if you want your bunny to feel safe and comfortable. Travelling can make rabbits very sick due to the stress, so it is in your best interest to make your pet comfortable. A rabbit should never be allowed to roam freely in your car. It is very dangerous not only for your pet but for you as well.
Cat carriers are great for transporting rabbits, especially those with hard sides and multiple doors. Carriers will keep your fluffy friends safe while in the car, create a space for them to hide in and protect your car against urine and faeces.
You will need to make sure the carrier is big enough for one or two rabbits to turn around and lay stretched out. It should, however, still be small enough to create a sense of security for your bunny.
For rabbit carriers, a hard material such as plastic or wire is necessary to prevent chewing and escape. Collapsible, soft-sided carriers aren’t suitable for rabbits and neither is cardboard boxes. Both are too easy to chew through, and the boxes may become dangerous to your pets when soaked in urine.
The ideal carrier for a rabbit should be able to open both on the sides and at the top to make it easier to get to your fluffy friend. Other features should include a non-slip floor, hard solid walls and good ventilation. You can cover the carrier with a towel or blanket to make the interior even darker, but keep in mind that your rabbits still need proper ventilation.
It is very important for your rabbit to stay hydrated throughout the whole trip, especially if your travelling over a long distance. Providing a water bowl is a recipe for disaster since the water will spill all over the place as the car moves over bumps. It is much better to provide a rabbit drinking bottle.
Attach the drinker to the carrier to allow your rabbits access to water throughout the trip. Most drinkers come with metal clips to help you secure them to the carrier without any risk to your bunnies.
Make sure that your fluffy friend has ample hay to chew on inside the pet carrier. You might have to take some extra hay to replaced any soiled hay. The hay will also provide a nonslip surface for your bunny to relax on during your trip.
It is extremely important that your cotton-tailed friend has access to food at all times, even when going in for an operation. Never starve your rabbits, their bodies don't work like those of cats or dogs.
Rabbits have very delicate digestive systems that may shut down completely when your bunny is starved. This may lead to serious health problems and even death. If your bunny refuses to eat during a trip, contact your veterinarian immediately.
Most carriers have a removable floor that allows urine and faeces to collect underneath away from your pets. Your rabbit will stay dry, but there's no escaping the strong ammonia smell.
It is best to use an absorbent material like puppy training pads or newspaper to absorb the urine at the bottom of the carrier. Use puppy training pads if you want to take care of the smell. This way your bunnies will be much happier without the strong smell of ammonia constantly around them.
If you’re wondering which carrier is best for your rabbits, here are a few options:
This carrier is ideal for short trips to the vet. It is easy to assemble, hard to chew through and easy to carry.
This carrier has lots of ventilation holes, is difficult to chew through and have a top-loading door for easy access to your bunny.
This travel carrier is large enough to transport two or even three rabbits quite comfortably. If you have a bonded pair, this crate is the way to go.
This carrier isn't that great for driving long distances, but it is definitely ideal to take your bunny on a walk. It comes in handy if the vet is just a walk away.
This combination carrier is ideal for any situation or adventure you plan to go on with your bunny.
As a first step to reduce stress, get your bunnies used to the travel container a few days prior to your big trip. Place it somewhere within your bunny enclosure and let them investigate it on their own terms. You will soon notice them going in and out as they please without any motivation from you.
If you want to make the carrier even more attractive to them, place some yummy treats or hay inside for them to nibble on. On the day of the trip, feed them inside the carrier and close the door to keep them there. Bonded bunnies can travel together in one container as long as it can accommodate them both. Let the trip begin!
Just like with dogs and cats, it is possible to car train your rabbit, but it will take a considerable amount of time. Keep in mind that not all bunnies are good travellers and the majority prefers to stay home. If you’re someone that travels a lot and your bunnies will need to go with you, then car training will definitely be beneficial.
Start by getting your fluffy friends used to the travel container. Once they’re comfortable going in on their own, carry them to the car and start the car with them inside. Leave it running for a few minutes, then turn it off and take them back inside and feed them lots of treats. Do this for a few days until they relax and fall into the routine.
Next, drive around the block before letting them out of the car again. As they get used to the movement of the car, they will start to feel comfortable and behave normally. In time there should be no stress when it comes to travelling.
This whole process is called desensitization and will definitely help your bunny friend in the long run. Remember to be patient and loving and never scold your bun-bun for being scared.
There’s a lot of debate around where the safest place is to put an animal carrier in your car. Experts did a lot of experimentation and came up with the following:
The risk of injury is extremely high for the front passenger seat. If the airbags inflate when in an accident, they may damage the pet carrier and injure your beloved bunny. There is also a possibility of the carrier being thrown through the front window when braking hard or colliding with something.
While safer than being placed on the front passenger seat, there is still a significant risk of injury. When you’re in an accident there is the possibility of the carrier getting crushed.
The backseat is much safer than the front of the car. There is still a small risk of the carrier being thrown to the front of the car during a collision, however.
This is the safest area to place your pet carrier. There is nowhere for the carrier to go during a collision and much less risk of getting crushed.
If your carrier doesn’t fit behind the front and backseats, you can place it against the back of the backseat if you’re driving an SUV. If not, secure the carrier in the backseat. Never place your bunny inside the boot. It is too dark which can make the experience frightening and there is the possibility of running out of air.
If you’re transporting rabbits, remember to take your turns gently. Also, remember to break gently if possible. Taking turns quickly and breaking sharply will cause your rabbit to slide around and hit the sides of the carrier. This can be quite scary to them and cause potential injury.
Congratulations, you've managed to transport your rabbit safely but now what? If you just brought your rabbit home, you can check that you have everything you need on our rabbit care checklist.
Once you reach your destination, you will need to create a rabbit safe area for them to relax in. If you can, bring as many toys, blankets and other rabbit belongings with you to recreate their territory at home. It will also help them to settle if their smell is already around the place.
If your rabbit doesn’t travel well, you will need to give it time to settle and relax. Don’t force interaction and make sure there’s food and water available. If you can, bring bottled water from home and keep feeding them the same food to make them feel at home. Rabbits can sometimes be picky about the water they drink.
Travelling with your rabbit doesn’t have to be stressful for either of you. If you start car training early, you will have even more success. Don’t worry if your rabbit doesn’t travel well, just make them as comfortable as possible and keep your trips short. It is best not to keep them away from home for more than 2 days at a time.
Take some time to prepare your rabbit for travel, have patience and you both should have a great upcoming trip!