When traveling is in your plans, whether it be a vacation or a move, plans
will need to be made for your rabbit. Rabbits have different personalities
and each will react in varying degrees to stress, but you should keep in
mind that most rabbits are stressed by changes--unfamiliar surroundings,
changes in routine, changes in type of food/water, and changes in temperature.
Rabbits show stress by getting diarrhea, becoming withdrawn or aggressive,
or by refusing to eat. By planning carefully, you can minimize these stresses
for your rabbit.
Find a reliable friend who knows your rabbit or a pet sitter
who knows rabbits to come once or twice a day. Have the person meet with
you and your rabbit to go over care and expectations. Leave a list of
instructions covering feeding and cleaning routines, signs of illness,
and phone numbers of your veterinarian and other people who can give advice
on rabbits (in case a question arises when your veterinarian is unavailable).
Daily portions of vegetables and fruits can be fixed ahead and stored
in ziploc bags in refrigerator drawers for up to a week (parsley, carrot
chunk, broccoli, & celery store well but your rabbit should be accustomed
to these before your trip). How to fnd a pet sitter:
If you are going on an extended vacation with lots of sightseeing, you would
probably do well to leave your rabbit at home. If you are going on a longer
vacation of a month or more where you will be based at friends' or relatives'
homes, you may be able to take your rabbit. However, you should make sure
that your plans agree with your hosts and that there are no allergies to
rabbits. Of course, if you are moving, you will need to plan on moving your
rabbit also. People have moved rabbits over long distances; It just takes
If your rabbit is not used to car rides (except to the
vet), start regular car rides as early as possible before your actual
trip. Start with short (30 min.) weekly or twice weekly rides in a pet
carrier. Try to have some longer rides (1 hr.-3hr.) before the trip. Remember!
Don't leave your rabbit in a warm car at the store.
If you are moving long-distance and are also moving several animals,
you might consider renting a panel van with no partition between the driver
and cargo (allows AC/Heat to circulate). Place cages on top of carpet
remnants or pads to minimize vibration and secure cages to wall of van.
Rabbits like the solid roof. End-opening doors sometimes make it difficult
to get some rabbits out; some have doors on the top but these are usually
not tall enough to allow many rabbits to sit up. Solid bottoms may make
it difficult to maintain a clean area for your rabbit unless you get
a large carrier that will accommodates a small litter pan. It is also
difficult to attach water bottles and food bowls to doors.
Rabbit carriers-Sold through rabbit supply catalogs.
These are made of cage wire, sit in a metal tray which holds litter,
and have top-opening doors. Small travel water bottles are made for
these carriers. Good sources are KW Cages 1-800 447~CAGE; Morton-Jones
A small rabbit cage or your rabbit's regular cage is perhaps the best
choice if you will be on the road for more than a day.
1. "Tatoo" a telephone number of a reliable friend or relative in rabbit's
ears with a nontoxic felt marker. The ink wears off but provides temporary
2. Type short notes for your purse, suitcase, and car giving emergency
instructions in case of accident i.e.: phone number of person to call
who knows what to do with rabbit and other instructions for rabbit.
3. Take the
House Rabbit Handbook and other rabbit health information with you.
Contact HRRN for handouts on medical concerns which may also be helpful
to veterinarians on your trip.
4. If you need a vet, look for one with experience with "exotics" and
ask about experience with rabbits, numbers seen, antibiotics (no amoxicillin/ampicillin),
anesthetic (isoflurane is best), and fasting for surgery (no fasting for
rabbits). Avoid emergency clinics if possible because they are often unfamiliar
with rabbits and more expensive.
a Provide wet towels over cage with breeze and frozen water cartons
to lie against if you have no air conditioning in hot weather.
b. Don't leave rabbit in parked car in the hottest part of the day
while you are in a restaurant. You may have to get food-to-go, take
food along and stop in shaded rest areas, or wait until early morning
and late evening to stop to eat.
2. Rabbits do not like drafts.
Carriers should not be placed where AC/Heat blows directly on them.
3. Water bottles will often leak out all their water.
Rabbits tend to not drink while traveling. Water should be offered
at all stops. Add Pedilyte to combat dehydration but be sure the rabbit
will drink it. You may have to syringe/dropper feed water.
4. Rabbits may also not eat while traveling.
Offer favorite vegetables, pellets, and hay at all stops. Put some
hay and pellets in carrier while traveling.
5. Try to establish some routine.
as to length of time in car each day, stopping times, feeding and
"Imagine being a small animal inside a roaring, quivering airplane for several
hours. Your ears may pop, probably for the first tirne in your life. The
air on the floor where your box sits is hot and stuffy, or maybe quite cold.
When finally let out, you're in a totally unfamiliar place. Ask yourself,
is this an experience your rabbit really needs? (B. Woolbright, HRJ, Vol.2,
#12). Yes, if it is the only way to get your rabbit to a new home with your
family. Perhaps, if you are going on a trip longer than a month. Probably
not if you will be gone less than a month.
Rabbits who are nervous, fear the vacuum cleaner, tremble in the car,
or who are older or have health problems will most likely find a plane
trip too stressful.
Rabbits who are calm and not bothered by car rides and new places
will cope better but may still find planes weird and scary.
A one-to-two hour plane trip may be better than a 10-hour car ride.
However, four days in a car may be less stressful than an all-day trip
of changing planes and traveling to and from airports.
If you choose to fly with your rabbit, you will need to:
1. Make a reservation well in advance.
It will cost approximately $50 regardless of whether your rabbit is
in cargo or under your seat.
2. Shop around for an airline which will allow you to take your rabbit,
preferably in the cabin.
Some allow pets in the cabin, but not rabbits. Most allow only one
animal in the cabin per flight.
3. Find out from the airline what type carrier you need.
Under-the-seat carriers cannot be any larger than 8" x 17" x 12~ which
is too small for some large rabbits. The type with a top-opening door
allows you better access to your rabbit. Line the carrier with paper
towels or newspapers and hay. Do not take your rabbit out of the carrier
4. Take food pellets, hay, and water in your carry-on bag to offer
at all layovers.
Also take medical supplies and other supplies listed on page 3.
5. Prepare for emergencies (see page 3).
6. Check with the airline on their requirements for a health certificate.
You may have to visit an unfamiliar veterinarian before returning
7. Accustom your rabbit to travel.
Take him in his carrier on car rides at least one month prior to the
Carriers are loaded from baggage carts while engines are idling. People
wear earmuffs; rabbits don't. Cargo is pressurized and has limited temperature
control, but these are not activated on the ground. Animals cannot be boarded
if ground temperature on the tarmac at departure or destination is too hot
or cold, so the possibility exists that your rabbit might not get on the
same flight as you. Adjusting your travel time to earlier or later in the
day according to the temperatures may help. Try to get your rabbit hand-delivered
to you and to the plane rather than letting him be put on a conveyor belt
or baggage cart. A generous tip to a sky-cap may get your rabbit hand-delivered.
For a list of regulations for transporting animals by air which will
give you some insight into travel conditions, write Animal Care-APHIS,
US. Dept. of Agriculture, Hyattsville, MD 20782.