Transportation advice for rabbit owners
Transportation is potentially stressful for rabbits and it may take them some
time to recover after travelling. In addition, a novel environment such as a
veterinary practice is a potentially frightening place for rabbits.
Please follow these guidelines when transporting your rabbits to make their journey as
stress-free as possible:
Before travelling, always consider
whether the planned journey is
necessary and in the rabbits’ best
interests. If it is not, reconsider
undertaking the journey, as
transportation is potentially stressful
Try to ensure that anywhere you need to transport your rabbits to (such as a
veterinary practice) is located close to your home, to ensure your rabbits do not
have to travel long distances.
Make sure your rabbits are fit to travel and if in any doubt, contact your vet. If you
own a rabbit that is pregnant, seek advice from a vet before transporting her.
Rabbits do not tolerate heat well, so ensure your vehicle is kept cool and well
ventilated, and avoid travelling during the hottest parts of the day.
Remember that rabbits are prey animals and are easily frightened, so ensure they
have access to safe hiding places at all times.
Check your rabbits regularly, and give them frequent breaks, during journeys.
Provide constant access to fresh clean water. Portable, non-spill watering aides can
be purchased. Always provide your rabbits with water in the way they are familiar
with (e.g. bottle or bowl) and check their water supply regularly.
Please make sure there is hay available for your rabbits to eat in the carrier. It is important to ensure that your
rabbit is continuing to eat normally after he/she has been on a journey. If your
rabbit's eating or drinking habits changes or the number of droppings gets less or
stops, talk to your vet straight away as he/she could be seriously ill.
Never starve your rabbits before taking them to the vets. Unlike cats and dogs
going to the vets for an operation, rabbits do not need to be starved before going to
the vets, as their digestive system needs to be kept moving at all times.
Transport your rabbits in a sturdy, non-collapsible, well ventilated and secure carrier
that your rabbits cannot chew easily or escape from (cardboard boxes are not
appropriate as they are easily chewed and can become damp and unsafe if rabbits
urinate or if it rains).
Ensure your carrier is of a suitable size and shape to allow all the rabbits being
transported to enter easily, lie comfortably in any direction and turn around
unhindered. However, the carrier should be small enough to provide feelings of
Choose a carrier of a design that opens from the top and the front to allow the
rabbits to be removed easily.
Line the carrier with newspaper to absorb urine and a towel or vet bed to provide a
non-slip surface. Only provide a towel or vet bed if you are sure your rabbits will not
Partially cover the carrier to help your rabbits feel more secure, especially when
travelling at night to prevent your rabbits being frightened by the glare of car headlights. If the carrier is partially covered, ensure there is adequate ventilation.
Familiarise your rabbit with the carrier
beforehand by leaving it open in their home
enclosure, with the front door open to encourage
them to investigate.
Rabbits should never be pushed into the carrier,
but enticed in with a healthy snack or some
Strap the carrier into your vehicle with a seat belt or secure it in a footwell (behind a
seat), so your rabbits are safe and are not jolted. The carrier side should face the
direction of travel so the rabbits are not thrown face on should the vehicle have to brake suddenly.
Never place the carrier in direct sunlight or in the boot of a saloon car.
Remember that rabbits that live together and are friends should travel together. This provides the reassurance of safety in
numbers and also ensures that the same
scents are transferred to both rabbits while
out and about, which avoids the potential
problems associated with reintroducing
rabbits after a period apart. If you do
experience problems when reintroducing
your rabbits at any time, speak to your vet
for advice. Your vet can then refer you to a
qualified behaviour expert if necessary.
Place familiar items in the carrier with your rabbits, such as their favourite toys and
some used bedding material (like hay), to provide familiar smells and reassurance. If
a rabbit really must travel on his/her own, it is even more important to provide familiar-smelling items in their carrier.