If you have to bring along your pet rabbit when you travel by car or plane, practice the same motto as the Boys Scouts and “Be Prepared”. Rabbits are high-strung animals that become stressed out easily. Every rabbit will have his or her own reaction, to your interrupting their daily routine and changing their environment. Expect to spend time preparing and planning to make the trip as undramatic as possible for your beloved rabbit.
There are different concerns when taking your rabbit on short or long trips, as well as driving versus flying.
Travel safely with your rabbit by car
More than likely, when you take your rabbit to the vet, you will go by car. A regular checkup should be less stressful than if you have an emergency. For car travel, a small, cozy crate works best to help your rabbit feel safe and comfortable. That said, the crate should be large enough for the rabbit to stretch out and lie down. And, if your pet has a cage mate, bring him or her along for moral support.
Experts recommend that you place the rabbit’s crate with its side facing the front of the car, i.e., so that the cage front faces one of the doors. If you were to get into an accident with your rabbit, instead of his or her being thrust forward, which could strain their head and/or neck, the rabbit will move side to side. As mentioned, the smaller the carrier, the better.
When you place the carrier on the seat of the car, secure it with a seatbelt. Better still, if you can fit the carrier on the floor in back, it’s a safer way for the rabbit to travel. Conversely, placing the carrier on the floor of the front passenger seat is also relatively safe. However, beware of the temperature, season, and how warm it may be in the car. Rabbits are very sensitive to heat!
Longer trips in the car
Because rabbits are high-strung animals, while they’re traveling long distance by car, they may become nervous and refuse to eat or drink. Besides, they may forgo urinating or eliminating.
However, we still recommend bringing along towels and plastic bags to hold soiled towels. Offer water-rich vegetables as well, and don’t fret too much if your pet refuses to eat them. When you stop at a rest area, feel free to let your leashed rabbit hop around in the grass, far from the dog area.
Traveling by plane
Reports show that animals placed in the cargo section of airplanes can be injured or even die. If you’re not sure if it’s safe to place your rabbit in cargo when traveling by plane, please remember you have every right to be cautious.
When the government started to require that airlines reveal the numbers of lost, injured, and dead animals that traveled in cargo, many airlines stopped offering the option completely. Better still, some airlines allow rabbits in the cabin. We highly recommend calling the airline ahead of time and asking for the exact requirements individuals must follow to travel with their rabbit. Imagine how disappointed you would be if you showed up with your rabbit and they were not permitted onboard.
According to Colorado House Rabbit Experts, you can travel safely by plane with your rabbit. In light of the news of animals dying on planes in the last couple of years, most sources don’t recommend this. However, if you must travel by plane with your rabbit, and if he or she is relegated to the animal cargo space, please keep your pet in a small, airline-approved carrier. Provide towels and leafy green vegetables.
If you plan to fly during hot weather, schedule the flights as early in the morning or late in the evening as possible. This can help prevent the rabbit from being exposed to the sun, or perhaps being left on the tarmac during the hottest time of day. If the airline insists your rabbit be transported in the cargo space, place warning labels on the carrier telling the staff not to leave the carrier in the sun.
All the must-have supplies when traveling with your rabbit
Speaking of warm weather, if your car has no air-conditioning, we recommend including a cooling device in the carrier. For instance, fill and freeze plastic water bottles, or purchase freezer packs and include them in the rabbit carrier.
If the carrier is too large, which may cause the rabbit to bounce around, include towels and/or plastic bottles to cushion the carrier and prevent the rabbit from getting injured. Please avoid holding the rabbit in your lap. If you were to get into an accident, your pet could suffer a serious injury.
In addition to bringing towels for the carrier, you should provide:
- Litter/litter box
- Rabbit food
- Plenty of water
- Leafy vegetables
If you’re camping or staying overnight at a hotel, try to make the environment as close to home as you can. Set up the litter box and set up the rabbit food and water. Keep the rabbit carrier available and leave the door open, so your rabbit can go in and out at will. If you’re worried about the rabbit scampering around, perhaps close them in the bathroom.
A Few Last Words
Overall, sedating a rabbit is not a good idea. Anecdotal evidence suggests that rabbits feel safest when they’re awake and alert. If a rabbit resists being sedated, that could cause him or her stress. Perhaps it’s better to provide an appropriately sized carrier than drug your bunny.
Just as with dogs in cars during the summer, please remember cars can become severely warm in a short time. Please avoid leaving your rabbit alone in the car, especially when it’s hot. If you wish to travel with your rabbit by car or plane, do your research, and never leave the pet unattended.