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Travel with rabbits isn’t always as simple as “put their cage into the car and go.” Some bunnies hate traveling, some love it, and plenty can’t be bothered to worry.
Though every bunny travels differently, one of the best ways to tackle any problem is to consult folks who have been there. And that’s where we come in!
Our bunny buffs have over 10 years of experience raising rabbits. And we put together this article to include general travel information, specifics for both cars and airplanes, common problems and how to avoid them, and health considerations for keeping your bunny happy and healthy.
Things You Will Need
The supplies you’ll need will differ based on the length of trip and method of travel. But here’s a basic checklist of necessary supplies for traveling with your fuzzy friend:
- Water bottle
- Clean water
- Food (hay, pellets, greens, veggies, some fruit)
- Litter box
- Emergency medical supplies for your rabbit and/or their medications
- A clean towel or blanket
- Some “emergency fund” money
Traveling with Rabbits: The Basics
The first step is to start strategizing and gathering the necessary items well before your trip.
It’s a fact of life that things will go wrong, and when you’re far from home, that can be especially stressful. So, give you and your bunny as big a leg up as you can and start planning now.
Consider making a note of emergency vet clinics and exotics veterinarians near your stops and destination.
Introduce your rabbit to travel slowly
To get your bunny ready for longer trips, try taking them on short adventures. Let them acclimatize to their carrier, the car, being carried, etc.
Many rabbits are a little shy or even skittish, so slow and steady is the name of the game. Short trips out and then back to safety and comfort will help build trust between you and your rabbit.
Let your rabbit’s comfort level dictate how long you’re away from home and how adventurous you want to get. Check out Lennon the Bunny and his human’s informative and fun YouTube channel for all kinds of ideas and how-to videos.
Map out your stops
Whether it’s in your phone, a notebook, or on a map, plan the physical route you will be taking. That way, you can map out how often and where you will be taking breaks from “go go go!” mode to relax and check in with your rabbit.
Choose an appropriate carrier
We recommend one that is small enough that your rabbit won’t get thrown around in a turbulent situation. But also big enough that they can have a stash of food and lay down fully.
Hard plastic carriers like this are your best bet. Fabrics can be chewed through and don’t provide much protection. And metal bars can get little feet caught and twisted in between them.
Depending on your bunny’s usual litter box setup, you’ll want to either put in the carrier or keep it nearby. Rabbit’s love their bathrooms, and some may be finicky about pooping or peeing without the familiar comforts of home.
Keep bonded pairs together
If traveling with a bonded pair, get a carrier big enough for both if possible. Because even though travel can be a strain for bunnies, the bonds of bunny love are strong!
Together, they will support and comfort each other during new and strange experiences. Separated, they may be even more stressed by being unable to be close to their best friend.
Give your rabbit plenty of food and water
Some rabbits don’t eat or drink much when traveling. But if they don’t keep eating (and pooping!), it can cause big problems. Dehydration and GI stasis are the most common health problems a traveling bunny will face, and both are extremely dangerous and easily fatal.
To help keep your rabbit’s digestive system running smoothly, give your rabbit plenty of their favorite foods. Within healthy moderation, give them fresh greens and veggies freely. And keep a stash of fruit for treats throughout the trip (fresh or dried).
Like at home, make sure your bunny has plenty of clean water and hay.
If your rabbit does not poop for more than 8 hours, get them to the nearest emergency vet.
Bring a basic bunny first aid kit
Some of our favorite first aid kit items for traveling:
- Simethicone: anti-gas, can even be given as a preventative
- Neosporin: plain (no pain relievers or antibiotics), in case of cuts or abrasions
- Saline: good for cleaning eyes and injuries
- Oxbow Critical Care: concentrated, liquid food
- Small oral syringe: can be used to administer simethicone, water, or liquid food
- Towel: for cuddling or calming a stressed bunny if you need to administer medicine
Also, take a look at this pretty comprehensive list of rabbit emergency supplies from MyBunny.org.
Get a credit card
Money can’t buy happiness. But it can certainly buy security, especially on the road.
If you don’t already have one, just get a credit card. Nothing is worse than having to check your bank account while making a decision about your pet’s health.
Trust us. We’ve been there. It’s always better to have the option to tap out and go home, or get a hotel room, or get your car towed, or any number of other potentially expensive situations!
Pay attention to your bunny
If nothing else, pay close attention to your rabbit’s behaviors while traveling for cues on what they need from you.
Traveling with Rabbits by Car
Secure the carrier
Car travel can be bumpy for little guys, no matter how careful you are. Make sure your rabbit has as little chance to be slid or thrown about as possible.
The safest spot for your bunny’s carrier is behind the passenger chair, lengthwise along the seat. You can use a seatbelt to keep it from sliding around, or even paracord or ratchet straps.
Drive as smoothly as you can while still driving safely. Try not to take sharp turns, avoid potholes, and don’t slam on the gas or brake.
Like people, some bunnies get motion sick. Attentive, smooth driving will also reduce the chance of tossing your furry friend about in their carrier.
Keep the temperature a little cool
Given their fur coats, most rabbits prefer temperatures on the cool side. 60-75 degrees is usually a good range.
Temperatures exceeding 80 degrees or high heat and high humidity make for poor traveling environments, as rabbits are quite prone to overheating.
If possible, keep their carrier out of direct sunlight. If your bunny buddy is panting, or their ears are hot to the touch, try slowly turning the AC up or directing a gentle flow of cool air toward their carrier.
For a more detailed look at signs, symptoms, preventions, and care for heat stroke in rabbits, check out RabbitHaven.org’s article.
Give your rabbit plenty of breaks
This will be different for every rabbit. But the noise and jostle of car rides can wear down even the youngest and most adventurous bun.
Give yourself plenty of time to get where you’re going so that you can allow breaks from driving as necessary. If your rabbit gets car sick, consider alternating hours of driving with stops at a pet-friendly hotel for a day or two.
Sometimes all a tired, unhungry bunny needs is a quiet, cool place to rest for a while before getting back to their mischievous, ravenous self.
Trust your bunny and your instincts!
Traveling with Rabbits by Airplane
Taking rabbits on airplanes is either a logistical nightmare or dream, depending on how much you enjoy planning.
Though there are a ton of details beyond what we cover here, this section will give you a look at some of the specific requirements for flying with rabbits that differ from other types of travel.
Find rabbit friendly airlines
There are several American and international airlines that allow rabbits in the cabin. Check out the current list on Wabbit Wiki. Always follow up with the airline to be sure.
Be aware. Some airlines only allow rabbits in the cabin if they are certified Emotional Support Animals.
Book your flight by phone
Most airlines require booking via phone when accounting for animals. This way, you can also ask your questions to a real human, as well as get all the guidelines you’ll need to follow.
Get a carrier that fits airline guidelines
Every airline has different requirements when it comes to the carrier a pet can be in. For in-cabin travel, most carriers will be required to fit under the seat.
Get the specific dimensions from the airline ahead of time, and size the carrier down just a tiny bit if possible.
Determine the pet import requirements of the country of destination
If you are traveling internationally with your bunny, that means you’ll have to deal with customs. And every country has different requirements for different animals.
A full rundown would require its own article, but here are a few resources to start researching animal import regulations for different countries:
Have all the required paperwork for customs
There’s a lot of paperwork that needs to be done before taking animals through international customs. So, do yourself a favor and get a well-organized file folder for everything.
Like your own passport, keep your pet’s paperwork in a secure and easy to reach part of your carry on. That way, if asked to present it, you’ll be able to do so with a minimum of juggling.
Have this paperwork in both English and the language of the country you are entering. And, of course, knowing the language yourself will go a long way toward smooth, positive interactions.
FAQs About Traveling with Rabbits
Are There Safe De-stressing & Calming Products You Can Use for Bunnies?
No, not really. It’s worth double-checking with your vet, but with small pets, there are few options.
Rabbits are much too delicate for any medication not prescribed directly to them by your vet. Never give them Benadryl or other drowsy making human medications.
The closest solution we’ve ever found is medicinal herbs. To learn more about natural herbal support for bunnies, check out Edelweiss Ranch and Rabbitry and contact your local herbalists.
Can I Take My Bunny on a Road Trip?
Technically, yes. But in many cases, it’s not a good idea.
Every bunny is different, but it takes a special rabbit to be both okay with travel and enjoy it! Even if you introduce a bunny slowly and carefully to traveling, some just aren’t cut out for it.
If you pay attention to your furry friend and keep their physical and mental well being at the top of your priorities, you’ll be able to tell if a road trip is safe.
What Is the Best Method to Transport Rabbits Long Distance?
That depends on your bunny and how quickly you need to be at your destination. A few hours away by car? Fluffy might not be excited, but he’ll probably be okay.
But if your rabbit gets car sick or refuses to eat during longer drives, consider a plane ride to minimize the time your rabbit will be stressed out during travel.
Whew, that’s a lot to take in! But if you remember anything from this article, let it be that one of the best ways to take care of your rabbit while traveling is to listen to their needs.
Because every rabbit’s ability to travel is different. But with loving attentiveness and calm determination, you’ll be able to tell exactly how to help your fuzzy friend travel well.
So, whether you’re moving across the state or the country, we hope this helpful, educational, and tested information will help get you and your rabbits there safely!