Most rabbits hate travelling in a car and it can be a stressful experience for them. However, the occasional trip is required – for their regular vet visit, a medical emergency or even to their regular pet hotel for their holiday.
What type of carrier should I get?
Your rabbit’s carrier should be:
Carriers should be sturdy so that your rabbit is protected in the event of an accident. A fabric or soft carrier would offer little protection from projectiles in the event of an accident.
Rabbits are notorious for chewing and may chew through their fabric or canvas carrier during the journey. The last thing you want is to suddenly find your rabbit underfoot while you are driving! Besides, the carrier should last for a considerable length of time as it can be costly to replace it regularly due to damage from chewing.
Just the right size
The stroller should provide sufficient room for your rabbit to lie down and yet be able to turn around comfortably without being too large. A reasonably-sized carrier which allows your rabbit to lie down during the journey, while being able to turn around comfortably in the carrier is ideal. Avoid an unduly large carrier as your rabbit may slide across the carrier when your car makes left or right turns. Worse still, your rabbit may be flung around in the carrier if you need to brake hard suddenly. This will result in injuries.
Openable from the top
Having a carrier which can have the top lifted off makes it easier to getting your rabbits in and out of it. It also means that your vet can have a quick look at your rabbits while they are sitting in the carrier before handling them. Most pet carriers are designed for dogs/cats and may not suit rabbits who may not hop into a front-opening cage willingly.
What To Put Inside the Carrier
For short car trips, a water bottle will suffice. However, if your rabbit is not used to drinking from a bottle, you can consider bringing along a bowl, so that you can stop and give your rabbit some water during the journey.
Hay & Vegetables
For short trips, a small quantity of hay for your rabbit to munch on will suit. For longer trips, simply top up the hay regularly and change it if it’s soiled. A small quantity of leafy vegetables will also help to keep your rabbit hydrated during the trip.
An absorbent lining, such as a puppy pad, towel or sheet will help to keep your rabbit dry, in case of toilet accidents.
Place a folder towel or blanket in the carrier to provide cushioning.
Having at least one item which your rabbit is familiar with will provide some comfort and re-assurance during the trip. This could be their favourite toy, a blanket or even a shirt you’re your scent on it.
If you have 2 or more rabbits, travelling together allows them to comfort each other during the journey. As far as possible, let them share the same pet carrier instead of separating them during the journey.
Safety in the Car: Cooling
Generally, rabbits do not tolerant heat very well, so if you are travelling on a hot day, ensure that your car is kept cool and well-ventilated, preferably with air-conditioning switched on.
Don’t forget to cool your car before putting your rabbit into the car.
For further cooling, you may consider placing a damp towel over the carrier along with an ice pack wrapped in a small towel inside the carrier. This is optional if your car is sufficiently cool.
Most importantly, never leave your rabbit unattended in a vehicle as heatstroke can occur even on cool days. You wouldn’t leave a baby or child unattended in the car – your rabbit should not be treated differently.
Safety in the Car: Heating
Rabbits handle cold weather better than hot weather. When travelling in winter, ensure that the heating vents are not blowing directly onto the carrier.
Safety in the Car: Seat Belt
Never travel with your pet carrier on your lap! In the event of an accident, the pet carrier could fly out of your arms.
Always secure the pet carrier with a pre-tensioned seat belt, so that it does not extend and result in the pet carrier shifting around uncomfortably during the journey.
NEVER place your rabbit’s travel carrier in a fully enclosed boot. The last thing you want is for your rabbit to suffocate!