Keeping a rabbit calm while travelling may seem like a daunting task. Rabbits are fragile creatures who are calmest when they are enjoying the comfort of their own homes or burrows. However, sometimes travelling with a rabbit is unavoidable. You may need to visit the vet, are moving house or are taking him to a friend or families house.
Don’t worry! With some planning, your rabbit can enjoy stress-free calm travel.
The following are 8 easy ways to keep a rabbit calm while travelling:
- Use a secure, private travel carrier for your bunny.
- Re-create the calm feeling of being inside a rabbit hole.
- Put your rabbit’s favourite blanket or toy in the travel carrier.
- Get your rabbit familiar with its travel home.
- Do some short practise runs.
- Talk softly to calm your bunny while travelling.
- Do not take your rabbit out of their travel carrier.
- Put bonded rabbits in the same travel carrier.
In this article we will go into each of these points in detail.
Why is it important to keep rabbits calm for travel?
Exposing rabbits to high levels of stress is dangerous as stressed rabbits are more prone to getting sick, and extremely high levels of stress can even be fatal. This is why it is very important to keep your rabbit calm while travelling.
Use a secure, private travel carrier for your bunny.
Your rabbit’s travel carrier should be rigid, well-ventilated and secure.
Cages made from solid plastic and metal wire are the best option for rabbits as they are strong and escape-proof. They’re also great as they provide your rabbit with much needed privacy.
Your rabbit’s travel carrier should be smaller than it’s normal cage. Not only will it be light and easy for you to transport, but your rabbit will feel calmer and safer in a smaller travel cage.
Additionally, a smaller travel cage will also prevent potential injuries as your rabbit would risk being thrown around in a large cage.
With that said, your rabbit’s travel carrier must be large enough for him or her to stand up, lie down, sit down and turn around in, without any problems.
Re-create the calm feeling of being inside a rabbit hole.
Rabbits are burrowing creatures and feel safest when inside a dark little den.
Here are a couple ways to re-create the feeling of being inside a safe burrow.
a) Stuff the carrier with hay and a blanket.
Rabbits don’t normally eat much when travelling, due to stress. However, it is highly recommended that you provide your rabbit with some hay.
Hay will give your rabbit something to burrow into and a burrowed rabbit is a calm rabbit.
Furthermore, a blanket will also provide your rabbit with something to burrow into, and will protect your rabbit from any bumps in the road or any turbulence.
b) Cover the carrier with a blanket.
Some cages already re-create the feeling of a burrow with solid opaque walls, however if yours doesn’t then you could use a breathable blanket to cover the cage. The darkness will calm your rabbit during travel.
This is particularly important if you will be going on public transport, like a train or a bus.
Putting your rabbit’s favourite blanket or toy in the travel carrier will calm him.
As mentioned above, a blanket will provide your rabbit with something to burrow into. To calm your rabbit even more, you can use your rabbit’s favourite blanket.
Your rabbit will associate the blanket and the scent of the blanket with the safety of home which will calm him.
The same applies for your rabbit’s favourite toy.
Get your rabbit familiar with its travel home.
You want your rabbit to feel as at home in its travel cage as possible. This will minimise stress and calm your rabbit as he won’t feel completely out of its comfort zone.
If possible, obtain your travel carrier weeks before your travels so you have adequate time get your rabbit used to it’s travel home.
Firstly, don’t force your rabbit in the cage – this is VERY important.
You definitely don’t want your rabbit to associate the travel carrier with fear and stress.
Instead, introduce the carrier during playtime, leaving door open so your rabbit can enter it willingly.
Do some short practise runs.
Once your rabbit has started to feel more comfortable in their new travel home, get them used to staying in there for longer.
Place your rabbit in the carrier with their favourite treat or toy for a few minutes at a time. Close the door and gently pick the carrier up, keeping it close to your body. Walk around slowly so that your rabbit gets used to the movement and being elevated.
Once your rabbit is used to being in their carrier around the house, it’s time for some test runs!
Start out by taking short trips and work your way up to longer ones.
If you are planning a road trip, start off with some short drives around the block. Meanwhile, for those of you planning a ride on the bus or a train, take a short trip to a local cafe or park.
Talk softly to calm your bunny while travelling.
Talking softly to your rabbit whilst travelling will sooth and reassure him. Thus, he will know that he is not alone and knowing that you are right there will provide him with a sense of safety.
Do not take your rabbit out of their travel carrier.
Your rabbit will feel a lot calmer in his travel home burrowed into some hay and his favourite blanket. Inside the carrier he is protected from the sights, sounds and smells of the outside world.
On the other hand, outside of the carrier your rabbit will be exposed to new sights, potential sudden movements and loud noises, which will stress him out.
Rabbits are easily frightened and high levels of stress can even be fatal. Therefore, it is very important that your rabbit remains calm while travelling.
Additionally, you don’t want your rabbit to escape if he does get scared.
Bonded rabbits will calm each other.
If you have a pair of bonded rabbits, place them in the same carrier. They will provide each other with warmth and comfort to keep each other calm.
In addition, this will also ensure that the same scent and smells are transferred to both bunnies while away from home. This way, you don’t have to worry about them rejecting each other when they are reunited.
Frequently Asked Questions [FAQs]
Can I take my rabbit on a plane?
Yes, many airlines will allow rabbits on their planes. Some even allow rabbits to fly in the cabin with their owners. Policies vary widely between different airlines, so you will have to check the rules for the airline that you are flying with.
Can I fly with a rabbit on an international flight?
Possibly! It depends on which airline you will be flying with, where you are flying to, stopover countries, and how long your flight is. Flying internationally between countries will require a different approach than a flying domestically. You will need to do extensive research for the country requirements, and check the policies of different airlines, as their regulations all vary.
What documents do I need to travel with a rabbit?
Requirements to cross borders with a rabbit depend on where you are travelling from and to. Different countries have different requirements when it comes to importing and exporting rabbits. Generally, you will need a health certificate to show that your rabbit is fit and healthy enough to travel. Your rabbit may also need vaccinations and a microchip.
Rabbits are prone to getting stressed whilst travelling. However, if you plan and prepare ahead, it can be a calm, stress-free experience for you and your rabbit.
Firstly, be sure to get an appropriate travel cage for your bunny weeks before your planned trip. This way, you can make sure your rabbit feels calm and safe in its travel home.
Aim to re-create a feeling of a being in a safe little burrow and protect your rabbit from the sights, smells and sounds of the outside world by covering the cage with a blanket.
Hope this has been helpful.
Happy and safe travels! 🙂