How to Take Your Pet Rabbit on a Car Trip

Learn how to take your pet rabbit on a car trip in this Howcast video featuring bunny lover Amy Sedaris and rabbit expert Mary E. Cotter.

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Rabbits make wonderful pets. If you're thinking of getting one, check out these videos: Actress Amy Sedaris, who is a loving mom to her own pet bunny, helps rabbit expert Mary E. Cotter, Ed.D., LVT answer all your questions about how to take care of a pet rabbit. It's not always easy, but it's worth the work.

 
 

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Amy: Mary, I'm a businesswoman and I travel a lot. Now, can I take my rabbit with me in the car or on a boat? Mary: Well, I don't know about the boat but you can definitely, no. You can take your rabbit on a trip. Car, boat, plane, whatever you want. And the way to do it is to pick out the right size carrier for traveling. If you're in a car especially a lot of people buy a carrier that's way too big for the size of the rabbit. This is a dwarf rabbit. And this carrier, which is called a clam shell style carrier, because of the name. Amy: Well, the name. Mary: Like a clam shell. This carrier fits a small size litter box. As you can see in here I put a litter box in with some hay. Amy: That's clever. Mary: It's a great way for a rabbit to travel. Many rabbits are stressed by traveling. Amy: Yes. Mary: I would say most rabbits are stressed by traveling. Amy: They hate it. Mary: They don't like it. So don't expect your rabbit to eat or drink readily when you travel and that means that you need to have food and water available for when you stop. When I used to take my rabbit on fairly long car trips I would, every two hours I would stop and give the rabbit an opportunity for about 15 minutes to just sit on non-moving ground, and I would offer water and food. The rabbit almost always took water, and almost never took food. One thing that some rabbit owners do that's real useful is to bring a little plastic baggie of wet vegetables, nicely washed, fresh vegetables and to give the rabbit the fresh vegetables when you stop because he will enjoy chewing and get moisture at the same time. It is a good idea to have rest stops for rabbits when they're traveling because a lot of them will tremble when they're traveling and they'll quiet down when they stop traveling. So giving them a break every once in awhile, keeps them calm. Amy: So is it wrong, because sometimes, you know, when I travel I put like a blanket in the back seat and then she has the whole back seat. Mary: Yeah, that's . . . Amy: I know they can hop down and get underneath. Mary: Oh no. Something much worse can happen. Amy: But they just like to know that they're out of that and then they have their own space. Mary: Yeah that, I would never advise doing that. Amy: Okay. Mary: All it takes is one sudden stop. Amy: I know. Mary: And your rabbit flies off the back seat . . . Amy: Oh, right. Mary: Very, very dangerous. Amy: But she's driving so . . . Okay. Mary: No. That is dangerous. As a matter of fact for the same reason you don't want to get a big carrier because what people don't realize is when you put a rabbit in a carrier this size, like I'll do with little Bean here. He's in this carrier and I close the carrier and it's perfect for his size. He's able to stretch in different directions and lie down but not . . . Amy: And you can open it up from the side. Mary: You can open this up. The top opens so that your hand can fit in here. Amy: Yep. Mary: Like that. But the main thing about this, the main benefit, is that if you stop suddenly there's only two inches around him on any side . . Amy: Right. Mary: So if you stop suddenly he'll travel two inches and hit the side. He's not going to hurt himself. Amy: Okay. Mary: If you use a big carrier and some people want to give their rabbit as much room as possible, bad idea. Because if you have a big carrier and you stop suddenly, the rabbit's body's going to slam into the inside of that carrier and he could really hurt himself. Amy: Okay. Mary: So you want to choose the smallest carrier that will still allow your rabbit to turn around and lie down. And that's the safest way to travel with rabbits. I used to do a fair amount of air travel with my rabbit and I would use this kind of carrier because this fits under an airline seat. And I'd come to the airport two hours early, go to the ladies room, sit on the floor, let the rabbit out, people loved it. Children would come in, loved it. Give him water before we got on the plane. Then we get on the plane. Legally he has to be under the seat. And, I don't know if I should publicize this but the crew would always come over and say, 'Oh, can I see, can I see?' And I would open the carrying case and they'd be patting him. One stewardess one time told me not to feed him the salad from the lunch because they spray the salads with some sort of preservative. She said, 'I bring my own vegetables. I'll give your rabbit some of my vegetables.' Amy: Oh, that's funny. Mary: Very, very nice. But yeah, rabbits can do well with air travel. We know people who have traveled to Japan with their rabbits and back. Amy: Oh, wow. Mary: Yeah, to other areas of Asia. To, I think there's one person who took their rabbit to Africa. So, yeah, rabbits have endured long trips and made it out safely on the other end. So you can travel. Amy: Good to know. Mary: Car travel is not the only way. Make sure your carrier is the right size and shape.

Expert

  • Mary E. Cotter

    Mary E. Cotter, M.A., Ed.D., LVT is the founder of the NY-based Rabbit Rescue & Rehab. She serves as chapter manager of the NYC House Rabbit Society and is vice president of the International House Rabbit Society. Involved with rabbit rescue since 1982, she speaks and writes frequently on rabbit-related topics, addressing owners, veterinary professionals and shelter workers. Mary is an adjunct assistant professor in the veterinary technology department of LaGuardia Community College (City University of New York) and co-manages a 7,000-member Internet mailing list focused on rabbit health, care and behavior.