Are you ready to take your rabbit on a plane, bus or car ride but are concerned about how your pet will cope with the experience? Perhaps you are wondering what requirements have to be met for your pet to travel internationally. Maybe you’re looking for tips to ensure your fluffy friend is as calm and comfortable as possible while on the move. Here we’ll try to answer all those important questions in our guide on how to travel with a rabbit.
How will your rabbit handle traveling?
Generally, rabbits do not like to travel, and you should think really careful about bringing your rabbit on a trip of more than a few hours, if possible. If you have to relocate or take an extended vacation, then travel is unavoidable. If you just want to bring your rabbit along on a European sightseeing trip or a visit across the United States to see your family, then you should consider other options.
It may be better for your rabbit to stay with a pet sitter or in a shelter than to do all of that traveling, since rabbits are easily stressed and frightened. Also, if your rabbit has any health issues, you should talk to your vet before any extended travel.
Rabbits have trouble handling changes in temperature, unfamiliar noises, changes in their feed schedule and strange environments. You have to consider how stressful the trip will be for your pet and consider all of your options first.
Pick an appropriate carrier
Firstly, it’s so important that you choose a pet carrier or pet crate that will work well for your rabbit. If you use one that previously carried a cat or dog, it’s very likely the carrier will still contain scents of the animal (your bunny’s predator), which naturally may scare or stress your rabbit. Unfortunately, it may not be as simple as cleaning the carrier; your rabbit will only really feel at ease in their own personal carrier.
Another factor to consider with your pet carrier is size. To determine if the carrier is big enough for your rabbit, see if he or she can turn around inside the carrier without a problem. If your rabbit can, you’re good to go.
Acclimating your rabbit to its carrier
Most importantly, prior to traveling with a rabbit, acclimate it to the carrier. All time spent to this end will pay off on travel day. Keep the carrier available to your bunny and leave the door open. Put familiar bedding and some treats in the carrier and encourage your rabbit to spend time in the carrier every day.
The next step is to take your rabbit out of its normal environment in the carrier. Take short rides in the car to get your friend accustomed to riding in the carrier. Take it to a pet-friendly restaurant where it can be exposed to other people and activity. Always return home and provide treats for good behavior. The most time you can devote to acclimating your bunny to its carrier, the less stress it will have on travel day.
The most important thing you can do prior to traveling with a rabbit is to acclimate it to the carrier. All time spent to this end will pay off on travel day. Keep the carrier available to your bunny and leave the door open. Put familiar bedding and some treats in the carrier and encourage your rabbit to spend time in the carrier every day.
The next step is to take your rabbit out of its normal environment in the carrier. Take short rides in the car to get your friend accustomed to riding in the carrier. Take it to a pet-friendly restaurant where it can be exposed to other people and activity. Always return home and provide treats for good behavior. The more time you can devote to acclimating your bunny to its carrier, the less stress it will have on travel day.
When flying, choose the right airline
You might have guessed that not all airlines will allow rabbits to travel in the cabin. However, there are still many that will accommodate rabbits, so make sure to do your research, and if you can, choose an airline that allows for cabin travel for your beloved pet. Riding with you will definitely put your rabbit at ease and make flying much more tolerable. The following airlines all allow for rabbits to travel in the cabin, but you’ll have to alert the airline ahead of time so that they can accommodate you:
Related: Airline Pet Policies
Will flying internationally be a problem?
If you have to go overseas or to another country with your rabbit, you might be concerned about international regulations. Thankfully, Emma Williams, an expert on rabbit health and care at Flemish Giant Rabbit told us that rabbits are not considered to be heavily regulated because, for the most part, rabbits are not a mammal that is almost never found to have contracted rabies. You can take rabbit to and from the United States to many countries with a bit of careful planning. Whether you are travelling to India, Canada, Hong Kong or Japan, you should be able to take your rabbit with some preparation and considerations.
Importantly, there are other issues to consider when importing a rabbit to a foreign country. As an example, The United Kingdom will require 4 months of quarantine for rabbits entering from a non-EU Member State and South Africa does not permit the import of rabbits at all. That is why it is important to check import regulations before travel.
Which vaccinations do you need?
While flying internationally isn’t a problem, your rabbit will need to be vaccinated and have proof of these vaccinations before you can board the plane. You may be asked to provide documentation when you are booking the tickets so that there is no confusion at the gate. Your rabbit should definition be vaccinated for the following, if not others:
It’s a good idea to talk to your vet before travelling to ensure that your rabbit has the appropriate vaccinations close enough to travel time so that he or she doesn’t need to have them updated during the trip.
How to travel with your rabbit in a car
If you are taking a road trip with your rabbit, you will need to secure your furry friend properly and safely. You should strap in the pet carrier onto a seat if there is a spare seat. If not, then you can place the pet carrier on the floor or in the back of the car with the luggage. Just make sure that the carrier is secure enough that it won’t slide around or roll over, even if the car brakes suddenly or takes a sharp turn. As well, make sure there is plenty of air circulation for your rabbit.
You should also bring enough food and water for the trip. Luckily. rabbits do not get travel sick so you don’t need to worry about feeding them too close to your travel time. Feeding them as usual will help keep them calm and satisfied and less likely to stress out. You also have to consider how the changes in temperature may be affecting your rabbit. The car can become very hot when you travel, and anything over 85 degrees can be damaging to their health, so you may want to give your rabbit a personal fan, keep the AC at high in the car and ensure your rabbit gets plenty of water.
Although rabbits are generally not very good travelers due to how easily stressed they are, sometimes travel is unavoidable. You can make the trip far more pleasant for you and your pet by following these simple travel tips on how to travel with your rabbit.
Anoop Nain is the proud father of four rescued dogs and two Flemish giant rabbits. Although his “puppers” are grown up, each day with them is a new learning experience for him. He has a degree in Animal Behavior and Welfare.