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flying internationally with rabbit from Italy to the US...help!

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genepy

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Hi everyone!
I have a gorgeous bunny (who is curled up against me as I'm writing this) named Genepy... she's big, sweet snuggle monster and I love her dearly. She is 4 years old and in good health. I currently live in Italy, but I am moving to the US in January. I don't want to leave Genepy behind - I love her too much and someone would likely eat her if I left her in Italy (seriously!). Does anyone have any recent experiences with flying internationally with rabbits? Specifically from Italy, or potentially Switzerland, as I live on the border. The only airline that I've found which is a possibility is United, but they don't have any direct flights anywhere near to where I'm going (North Carolina), mainly to NYC. The customer service representatives seem to all indicate that it is probable, but I won't know for sure until I buy my ticket.

Here are my questions:
1) how do you deal with layovers with a rabbit, with all the moving around? what if the connecting plane has a tighter under the seat space?
2) does anyone know the policy from flying from Italy to the US? On United's page it seems to say that only commercial breeders can bring rabbits, but none of the customer service reps knew about that
3) do rabbits usually handle air travel decently? My rabbit is pretty chill- she loves being handled and deals with strangers and loud noises reasonably well, but gets nervous in the car. She freaks out if she gets near a dog, but cats don't bother her. Is a sedative a good idea or bad? My instinct says bad, but who knows.
4) any other airlines that permit rabbits as carry on?
5) can you recommend a good travel case that is suitable for airline travel? She's a pretty big bunny (around 4 kg)
6) anything else that I am not thinking of?

Thank you for the help! I know that it will be extraordinarily stressful for her, but I can't find any other options. Freighter ships won't accept pets, and cruise ships are too expensive and rarely accept pets anyways. As I said above, if I try to adopt her out in Italy, it's likely someone will eat her.
 

HoneySereanaBunny

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i know there is a aroplane especialy for pets but im not sure if it runs in italy&america, it might be england. also it is quite expensive i think.
 

Margalitb

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Here are the notes I took from the website http://rabbit.org/faq-vacations-and-travel/

o Bring:Water/food dishes, hay, newspaper, garbage bags, vinegar (for cleaning), paper towels, Pedialyte (often become dehydrated during travel), ice packs and towels to soak in cool water for heat stress, any medications

o Prepare for emergencies: Make a list of emergency instructions, phone numbers of who to call; Take the House Rabbit Handbook and other rabbit health info with you; contact HRRN for handouts on medical concerns which may also be helpful to veterinarians; Make sure you know of an experienced “exotics” vet (ask about numbers seen, ask about antibiotics (no amoxicillin/ampicillin), anesthetic (isoflurane is best), fasting for surgery (never)); Avoid emergency clinics

o Staying in hotels: Look for one which accepts pets; Ask for a room on the ground floor of motels in the back if you are unsure of pet policy; Keep him in his cage except for exercise in the bathroom; Hang the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door at all times; It may be risky leaving him in the motel while sightseeing due to staff reaction and stress of being alone in an unfamiliar place

o Staying in other people’s homes: Explain his living conditions before the visit; Will they mind an indoor rabbit?; Space for exercising?; Are they allergic?; Be diligent about cleaning

o Travel in general: Rabbits cannot tolerate heat (provide wet towels over cage with breeze and frozen water cartons to lie against if you have no air conditioning in hot weather; do not leave in car); Rabbits do not like drafts (carriers should be put where AC/heat doesn’t blow directly on them); Try to establish a routine (length of time in car each day, stopping time, feeding/exercise time); Don’t let carriers slide during sudden stops

oAir travel
- Only if absolutely necessary! Not for rabbits who are nervous, fear the vacuum cleaner, tremble in the car, are older, or have health problems. A 10hr car ride is better than a 2hr plane trip!
- Make reservations in advance
- Find out from the airline what type of carrier you need. Under-seat carriers cannot be more that 8”x17”x12”. Type with top-opening door allows better access. Line the carrier with paper towels, newspaper, or hay. Don’t take out during flight!!
- Take food pellets, hay, and water in carry-on bag to offer at all layovers
- Also take medicine (Laxatone or Petromalt for hairballs/swallowing carpet, etc; Acidophilus from health food store to combat stomach upset; Prozyme enzyme powder from rabbit supply catalogs or vet (keeps stomach flora functioning); Pedialyte for dehydration (very common during travel)
- Take Medical supplies (Eye-droppers or syringes for feeding, etc.)
- Take health certificate and info about procedures at customs if needed
- Prepare for emergencies (see above)
- Accustom him to travel. Take him in his carrier on car rides at least one month prior. Work up to rides of an hour or more, if possible
- ABSOLUTELY NEVER IN THE CARGO HOLD WITH LUGGAGE

Also, here is a list of airlines that allow rabbits:
http://rabbit.org/to-fly-or-not-to-fly/
 

squidpop

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So, are they going to let you fly with the rabbit in a carrier and keep it on your lap? They let you do that with small dogs so I don't see why they wouldn't for rabbits. There are companies that specialize in flying animals overseas- you might want to find one and ask questions. You should also ask the airline if they have to go through any quarantine procedures. I flew from America to New Zealand with my Dog- and when he flew out of LA he had to got the the Vet fascilities have all his papers for shots checked and had to be examined by a Vet. Coming into New Zealand he had to go into quarantine. You should check and make sure you don't have to do anything like that.
 

Korr_and_Sophie

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International travel is a bit different than within a country. While there are airlines that allow rabbits in the cabin, international rules usually mean animals must travel in the cargo area. The airlines have little to no control over this, it is the countries that make these rules.

The US does not seem to have specific rules about rabbit. As long as they appear healthy, they are allowed. Individual states or cities might regulate further, so you would need to look into that. The one thing that can be an issue is hay. Due to the possibility of bugs, hay is not allowed and must be destroyed upon arrival. This means you could put some in the carrier, but would not be allowed to bring any with you otherwise. The carrier will probably need to be cleaned out as well. Straw and other bedding is the same.

You need to find a good airline that will allow a rabbit. If they do allow a rabbit in the cabin, they must stay in the carrier and the carrier usually has to stay under the seat. A large rabbit will not have much space to move around. Some airlines require soft carriers, but others are ok with hard ones, it can be hard to find a carrier that will fit under the seat and still has room for a rabbit to be comfortable. It can be suitable to have them in the cargo as you can use a bigger carrier, have a litter box and be able to give lots of hay and such.

If you are able to take him in the cabin, get a pet tent for any layovers and time in the airport. Some pets stores carry them, but you want one that folds up small so you can put it in a backpack or something. Puppy pee pads are good to line it and can be thrown out, most bathrooms will have paper towels if you need any, but you can use the pad to wipe up stuff as well. A couple plastic dishes for water are also good. You could put extra hay in a paper bag and just offer it out of that.

Do not give any sedatives. Rabbits need to be awake and aware of their surrounds so they can react to things. Pressure changes can change how the medications work, so it is best not use them.

Since it can be hard to bring food and hay with you, find a pet store as soon as you can. You might be able to bring a bag of pellets with you, so can transition her to something else, but hay is more of an issue. Getting other supplies is important as well. If she is not a chewer, a tent can work for a night or 2. A bathroom can also be easy to set up for a rabbit, even a bathtub can work. You might even be able to find someone who can loan you a cage and maybe some other supplies until you can get more organized.
 

squidpop

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I wonder if they would let you have hay cubes- since they are more compacted.
 

genepy

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Thanks for the replies. United appears to be the only airline that will carry rabbits as carry on internationally. Can't bring hay, but I'll bring some pellets for her. She doesn't like to eat during (or after) car trips so I don't imagine that she will want to eat much! She is a major chewer, unfortunately, so anything collapsible or soft won't hold her for long. Does anyone have experience with hard shell carriers available in Europe that are approved for airline carryon? I can't find any at all!
 

Watermelons

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Most airlines will not allow hard sided carriers as carry on under the seat. You also have odd dimensins to comply with. This is why its much better to fly them cargo so they at least have a carrier that fits them.

Edit: Read the united rules, they do allow hard sided oddly enough compared to airlines ive read prior. However as stated before, the sizing is very poor.
My 3lbs rabbits would not fit comfortably for an hour flight in a 7.5" tall carrier... never mind a flight halfway around the world.
And the allowance for an 11" soft sided is because it can be squished. I would never subject my animals to be flattened for any length of time.
Also they can not be removed from under the seat during the flight so you can not comfort your animal by taking them out or doing anything with them really.

Do the rabbit a favour and get it a decent sized hard sided kennel and fly it as cargo. It is a lot less stressful to have room to move, not be crammed in a tiny carrier under a seat with odd voices, and feet moving and all sorts of weird things happening all the time.
 
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PupTheRabbit

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I feel like flying the rabbit with cargo would be extra stressful. I think flying in general would be stressful too. But the best of luck to you guys and please update us and let us know how your baby does <3
 

genepy

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Do the rabbit a favour and get it a decent sized hard sided kennel and fly it as cargo. It is a lot less stressful to have room to move, not be crammed in a tiny carrier under a seat with odd voices, and feet moving and all sorts of weird things happening all the time.
This is what I was wondering. I have two concerns with cargo, though:
1) I've heard that animals aren't always treated gently
2) They put all the animal crates squished together. My bun is TERRIFIED of most dogs and if she spends an international flight next to a dog, I'm afraid that she won't survive the stress because that would be her worst nightmare (I think)

There are also no direct flights and I'd worry that there would be some sort of mix-up. I know this will be stressful for her, but strangely it is the best chance for her survival since she looks like a tasty food rabbit to nearly all Italians I know.
 

squidpop

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It would really be safest to have the rabbit as carry on so you can watch over it the whole time. When I shipped my dog to New Zealand people told me all sorts of scary stories about animals being left outside on the tarmac with the luggage and getting too hot and dying, and where they keep the luggage I imagine there is no air conditioning so it could over heat (sorry to sound scary). When I shipped my dog from Roanoke Virginia to New Zealand it had two transfer flights and lay overs- People said it would be Ok because it was during Winter- and thank goodness it wasn't August.
 

kmaben

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All three of our rabbit savy vets have recommended smaller carriers so they dont bounce around and injure themselves. Remember rabbits are burrow animals. They feel safer in tighter places. If you're coming to the US, airports wont allow animal shipping if the recieving air port is above so many degrees (I think its 80 farenheit) so flying cargo may not even be an option to begin with.
 

kmaben

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When I was in Germany I shipped my three rabbits,2 cats, and 2 dogs through a company called Petaire. I dont know if they are only based in Germany or if they have other places but they were amazing and affordable. They fly straight to where ever their destination is. You just have to have someone on the receiving end to pick up. Mine didnt have to be quaranteed or anything.
 

Xiaohuihui

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Please let us all know what you decide and how it goes. I am living in China and actually wanted to return home last year, but signed another contract because I couldn't leave my bunny... he is too big and timid to take on a plane, and he is kind of a handful (not to mention very spoiled) so I worry that a new owner would give him up after a few months. The sheer number of people who said "why don't you just "release him into the wild" if you can't take him with you?" terrified me. I don't know if I'll be able to leave this year or not. Ugh.
 

Azerane

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This is actually something I'm very interested in as it may be something I have to consider with Bandit depending on how the overseas situation with my fiance pans out. As far as rabbits go, Bandit is pretty relaxed, he'll sit in his litter tray right next to the washing machine while it's running, hop around while I'm vacuuming etc. It really depends on your rabbit. The confined space in the carrier is a little bit of a concern, but they are burrowing animals as has been said. Plus if you have a really long flight, no doubt at some point you're going to want to carry your bun to the bathroom, and clean out his carrier and put some clean towels or bedding in there for him.

I'm not sure I'd be willing to fly cargo either, simply because I'd be constantly worried about my rabbit, but either way it's going to be a stressful experience for your bun. The main issue I see occurring is a gastric upset from stress leading to stasis, in which case it might be best to have a vet appointment booked for the day of or day after your arrival so that you can get any medicines if needed to help kick the digestive system back into gear.

To be honest, I think your biggest obstacle may be the size of your rabbit. Bandit's only about 2.5kg so a 4kg rabbit is quite large and might not even fit under a seat! How long would your main flight be?
 
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