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How to Travel with your Rabbit in a Car [Ultimate Guide]

Travelling with your rabbit in a car may seem like a daunting task. Let’s face it, most rabbits would probably be happier staying in the comfort of their permanent home, rather than coming along for a road trip.

Of course, sometimes you have no choice but to take your rabbit in the car with you. If you need to take him or her to the vet for example, or if you are relocating. You may even want to take your rabbit to a rabbit show.

Most rabbits will be totally fine on a short car journey, but long trips CAN be highly stressful for them.

To ensure your rabbit feels as comfortable and secure as possible while travelling in a car, you will need to prepare:

  1. Use an appropriate travel carrier.
  2. Line the bottom with a grippy, odour absorbing material.
  3. Make your rabbit’s travel carrier a dark cosy den with blankets and hay.
  4. Get your rabbit used to it’s travel home.
  5. Practice travelling with your rabbit in the car.
  6. Pack all the essentials.
  7. Ensure the car is an appropriate temperature.
  8. Strap the carrier into the car with a seat belt or place it securely on the floor behind a seat.
  9. During the car journey check up on your bunny often.
  10. After the car journey try to recreate your rabbit’s normal environment.

In this article we will go into detail on how to ensure travelling with rabbits in a car is stress-free!




Use an appropriate travel carrier.

#1 Obtain a solid, escape-proof carrier.

Your rabbit’s travel carrier must be rigid, well-ventilated and secure. This is to ensure that your rabbit won’t chew its way to escape.

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 some privacy. You want your bunny to feel like he is in a safe little burrow.

Furthermore, you also want the travel cage to have a large door on the top, as well as on the side, so you can easily access your rabbit.

Additionally, be sure to choose a travel cage that will allow you to attach a water bottle on the side.

Avoid using cardboard boxes as they are rather unsafe for your rabbit and probably won’t last longer than an hour. Firstly, they can easily be chewed through, and secondly, they won’t withstand any rain or urination.

#2 Choose the right size travel carrier.

Your rabbit’s travel carrier should be smaller than it’s normal cage.

This way it will be light and easy for you to transport. Additionally, your rabbit will feel more safe and secure in a smaller travel cage. Having a smaller travel cage will also prevent potential injuries as your rabbit could 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 lie down, stand up, sit down and turn around in, without any restriction.

Top tip – If you have a bonded pair of bunnies, put them in the same travel carrier. They will provide each other with comfort during the car journey.

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Make your rabbit’s travel carrier a cosy den.

#1 Line the bottom with a grippy, odour absorbing material.

You want to avoid your rabbit sliding around the bottom of its carrier during the car ride. This could cause your rabbit to become highly stressed, sick and could even injure your little friend.

Puppy training pads work really well to soak up any accidents, spillages and odour! They’re reasonably cheap and are available at most pet shops.

Alternatively, you could also line the bottom with a towel or newspaper. There is also the option of rabbit, bird or cat litter, which will do a great job of absorbing any odour.

Pine, cedar, or other aromatic wood shavings may be harmful to bunny’s health.

#2 Add a blanket.

Once you have lined the bottom with the absorbant material of your choice, you can add a blanket on top.

A blanket or towel will provide your rabbit with comfort, security and will provide him/her with extra grip.

Top tip – Using your rabbit’s favourite blanket will make him/her feel extra secure!

#3 Add hay and a secured water bottle.

Rabbits don’t normally eat much when travelling, due to stress. However, it is recommended that you provide your rabbit with some hay.

Not only will it provide your rabbit with a little snack just in case he or she does get hungry, but it gives your rabbit something to burrow into. A burrowed rabbit is a happy rabbit.

You could also pop a couple pieces of vegetables in the travel cage. Carrots and celery are ideal as they are dry and won’t make a mess.

Avoid putting a regular food dish in the carrier as it could injure your rabbit during movement.

Most small or medium sized rabbit water bottles (about 4-6 ounces) can easily be attached to the side of your travel cage.

If your rabbit refuses to drink water from its bottle during the car journey, you will need to offer it water yourself. Make regular stops to take your rabbit out of the cage and offer him/her water from your hand.

#4 Partially cover the travel carrier.

You’ll want part of the cage to be covered to recreate the safety of a small burrow.

Some cages already recreate this feeling with solid walls, however if yours doesn’t then you could use a thin, breathable blanket to cover the cage.

If your cage does come partially covered already, just be sure that there is adequate ventilation.




Get your rabbit used to it’s travel home before taking your rabbit in the car.

You want your rabbit to feel as at home in its travel cage as possible. This will minimise stress as your rabbit won’t feel completely out of its comfort zone.

Try to purchase your travel carrier weeks before your car journey so you have adequate time get your rabbit used to it’s temporary home.

a) Don’t force your rabbit in the cage.

This is VERY important.

You 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.

b) Entice your rabbit in the cage with treats.

This way, he/she will associate it with good things.




Practice travelling with your rabbit in the car.

Once your rabbit has started to feel more comfortable in their new travel home, get them used to staying in there for longer periods of time.

Put your rabbit in the cage with their favourite treat or toy for a few minutes at a time. Close the door securely and walk slowly around the house so that your rabbit gets used to the motion and being elevated.

Once your rabbit is used to being in their carrier around the house, it’s time for some test runs in the car!

Start out by taking short car trips around the block and work your way up to longer trips. This way, your rabbit can gradually get used to the sensation of being in a moving vehicle.




Pack all the essentials.

As mentioned earlier, rabbits on a car trip don’t normally want to eat. However, make sure that you pack enough food and water for any stop overs, or in case of delays.

Just to be safe, you may also want to consider packing extra supplies such as paper towels, blankets, trash bags or towels.

Additionally, if you have one to hand, you may want to consider bringing along a play pen. If you are planning on staying somewhere overnight, then it will provide your rabbit with more space to run around in. Just be sure that it is 100% secure as you don’t want your rabbit to escape!




Ensure the car is an appropriate temperature before taking your rabbit in the car.

Now that your rabbit is comfortable in their travel carrier, you need to make sure the temperature is okay for your rabbit before going on a real car ride.

You will need to ensure the car is cooler than 23ºC / 75º, as rabbits cannot tolerate any temperature higher than this.

Top tips: 

  • Cool the car before introducing your rabbit.
  • Don’t allow the carrier to sit in direct sunlight.
  • Do not leave your rabbit unattended in the car on a warm day.
  • Don’t allow the air-con/heat vents to blow directly onto your rabbit’s carrier.
  • If you don’t have air-con, place an ice pack wrapped in a hand towel inside the carrier for added cooling. You can also place a damp towel over the carrier. 




Strap the rabbit’s carrier into the car with a seat belt or place it securely on the floor behind a seat.

You don’t want the travel cage to be thrown around during the car trip.

Place the side of the cage toward the front of the car, so that your rabbit won’t hit his face if the car needs to brake suddenly.

Your rabbit can ride in the trunk of the car, as long as the carrier is secured down, is well ventilated, and not closed off.

NEVER place your rabbit’s travel carrier in a closed off trunk. It’s a scary place for a bunny, and you don’t want your little friend to suffocate!




During the car journey check up on your bunny often.

On a long car journey make regular pit stops to check up on your bunny, if they’re out of your view.

As mentioned earlier, most rabbits won’t want to eat during road trips, due to levels of stress. Therefore you will want to try give your rabbit a snack during a quick pit stop.

If your rabbit hasn’t had a drink, you may also want to offer him or her some water from your hand.

Look for signs of overheating.

Rabbits cannot stand temperatures of over 23ºC / 75º. If they are exposed to temperatures higher than this, they can get seriously ill.

Look out for the following signs:

  • Fast, shallow breathing
  • Hot ears
  • Listlessness
  • Wetness around the nose area
  • Tossing head back while breathing rapidly from an open mouth

If your rabbit overheats, immediately take him to a cooler place, out of the sun. Dampen his ears with cool water to help bring his temperature back to normal.

Top tip – if you are travelling on a hot day, wrap a frozen water bottle in a small towel and place it in your rabbits travel carrier.




After the car journey try to recreate your rabbit’s normal environment.

Once the car journey is over, put your rabbit back in its normal cage or recreate its normal home as much as possible.

Offer the same food that he/she is used to, and reintroduce his/her usually toys.

Give your rabbit lots of love and attention, just like you would at home.

Watch out for signs of illness.

Stressed rabbits are more prone to getting sick, therefore you want to keep an eye on your rabbits health after the journey too.

Rabbits are experts at hiding their sickness and injuries so if your rabbit shows the following signs of illness, you’ll need to take him to a vet as soon as possible.

  • Teeth grinding
  • Tilted head
  • Open-mouth breathing
  • Blood in urine or in his home
  • Limping or paralysis
  • Enlarged abdomen that causes your rabbit pain
  • Crying or whimpering
  • Decreased appetite for a couple days after the journey
  • Drooling, slobbering, loss of chin hairs
  • Discharge from nose, sneezing or coughing, difficulty breathing
  • Diarrhoea or decreased stools
  • Skin problems – hair loss, itchiness, flaking skin, or lumps on the skin
  • Aggressive behaviour (indicates substantial pain in a usually gentle animal)




Conclusion

Rabbits are prone to getting stressed whilst travelling. However, if you plan and prepare ahead, it can be a stress-free experience for you and your rabbit.

Be sure to get an appropriate travel cage for your bunny weeks before your planned road trip. This way, you can make sure your rabbit feels safe and secure in its travel home.

Furthermore, ensure that the car is bunny-safe and remains cooler than 23ºC / 75º at all times.

Look out for any signs of illness during and after the trip, and take your rabbit to the vet if you do suspect that he is unwell.

Hope you have found this helpful.

Happy and safe travels! 🙂

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