Traveling with rabbits for long periods of time

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mgbulla

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Hello! Recently my rabbit passed away, and I've been interested in adopting a new one. I called a local shelter, planning on asking a few questions about a specific rabbit I wanted to adopt, but the lady on the phone sort of shut me down from adopting any of them when I said that I'm in college and currently living at home, so I would have to take the rabbit either in a car or on a plane with me when I go back to school.

She said that traveling with a rabbit is almost entirely out of the question--something about, if they're in their carriers for too long, they could hold in their poop and pee and die from it? So you have to let them out to drink, eat, and play for a little while once every 2 hours? I'd never heard this before, and I'd never traveled with my previous rabbit for longer than a 30-minute car ride to the vet. I did a lot of researching, including on here and on other sites, but I haven't found anywhere that they could die from being in the carrier. I mean, heart attacks and stress, yes, but nothing about holding in pee and poop and dying from that. Most sites seem to say it's okay to travel with rabbits as long as you take the necessary steps to make sure they're safe and healthy.

I'm really confused. She seemed to know a lot more than me--at least, I'd assume so, since her whole job is taking care of rabbits. But I can't find what she was talking about anywhere online. Has anyone else heard of this before? Would it be irresponsible of me to get another rabbit and try to take it with me to college? The administration would let me have the rabbit and the dorm isn't small, so it's not an issue once I'm there--it's just the getting there.

Any thoughts are appreciated. Thanks so much.
 

Blue eyes

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Depends on the rabbit. There are some rabbits that don't seem bothered much by car travel (though airplane travel is another whole issue in itself). Most rabbits get highly stressed from car travel, but not all. No way to tell until it is tried.

On a similar note though, moving a rabbit from one home to another, is, in itself, stressful. It is the rare rabbit that isn't highly stressed moving to a new location/home. I would assume you, as a college student, would be travelling back & forth quite a bit each year (perhaps minimally for 1. start of school, 2. fall break, 3. winter break, 4. spring break, 5. summer break). That's a lot of moving back & forth which would be really hard on a rabbit.

Plane travel is much more iffy. It wasn't all that long ago that the news was filled with stories of prize and pet rabbits dying while in the cargo hold. Don't know if there are any airlines that will allow a rabbit in the main cabin with you. If so, the commotion and altitude change is bound to be most stressful as well.

I can't say about rabbits "holding" their poo and pee, but a stressed rabbit can get GI stasis. Stress is one possible cause of GI stasis and GI stasis can end in death when a rabbit's gut stops moving and/or there is a blockage.
 

Sam_

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my rabbit sits on my lap for up to 3 hours before he leaves to go potty

If the plane ride is short enough you could think about getting him an emotional support certification and then they may allow you to board with the rabbit
 

Apollo’s Slave

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Plane travel can be very stressful for a rabbit (although, I’ve never done it myself). I’ve taken my rabbit in the car before and he seemingly quite enjoys it, the longest car journey we’ve been on was about 2 hours and he stayed in his carrier the whole time. I’ve never heard of a rabbit holding it’s poop or urine in and dying from it, if anything, Apollo would just go in his carrier. As Blue Eyes said, rabbits generally get quite stressed during travel, especially if you have to do it often.
I’m not sure how accurate this is but a list of airlines that let you take your rabbit as carry on: Can I Take My Rabbit on a Plane? [Yes! Here's How] - Pets That Travel
 

mamaflora

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What do you all think about living in an RV with a rabbit? With school and work online, and the virus raging in our city, and loved ones far away but no way to actually go inside their homes, we are considering hitting the road in an RV. One of the big questions we have is the rabbits. Can we set up a pen for them in the RV and successfully live in there with them, do you think? They free roam in a room here part of the day and stay in a walk-in closet at night. (They can access the closet in the day too.) We could likely do something similar in the RV using maybe a dog pen? I also have a sort of large cage that someone gave me, which I have never used. And a hutch which I was also given that I have never used. (They have a hidey house in their closet etc.) I could also maybe encourage my husband to rig up the hutch inside the RV somehow, so it is secure. And let them stay in there as an enclosure when we are in transit or when we can't have them roam? I wish they were fully litter trained but at least am glad they always pee in the litter box and mostly poo in their enclosure. I figure with daily or even twice daily touch up cleaning, this could work? Also, I have lion heads and figure...I can give them haircuts to keep down the shedding in such a small space? I have not done this yet as their shedding seemed to turn into a natural haircut. I think I can store hay and other supplies for them in some of the storage bins below the living area in the RV. It won't be a huge RV because we need to pull it with our regular-sized pick up truck. And we are a family of 4. Love to hear any thoughts or advice you all have. We have been in our home for 25 years - these times are prompting us to such an adventure! Thanks so much for considering!
 

Momma Luvbun

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My sister did it, no problem 😁 hers was a single bun and it was free in there.

I'd probably use a dog crate that way nothing could fall on the buns in transit, they are contained and safe. It sounds like you have already out a lot of thought into it.
Good luck on your new adventures 🥰
 

mamaflora

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That is reassuring to hear! Thank you for the dog crate idea! My bunnies seem to be...pretty relaxed bunnies so I am hoping that holds true for this potential experience.
 

Abi :)

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Some buns can go into stasis during car journeys due to stress so make sure you have a nearby vet number to hand (just in case). If you are planning to go for a long period of time then I would recommend taking an emergency kit for them.

Your emergency stasis kit should ideally have syringes (preferably large and small for feeding critical care or liquid food), Fine Grind Critical Care by Oxbow Health, perhaps some baby gas drops (sometimes gas pains can be related to stasis) usually people recommend simethicone drops.

Your kit could also include other things that may be useful in day to day/normal situations such as cotton buds (people usually use for cleaning scent glands), a pair of nail trimmers (rounded cat ones so the nail doesn't break), styptic powder or pen (used on the nail as sometimes when cutting too far it can bleed, the powder just stops the bleeding) and finally which ever grooming brush/brushes you use, if you don't have any I've seen people use flea combs, the furminator, the fur buster or even just your hands to pull out the jellyfish furs, and finally you could keep a bag of treats in the kit as sometimes you may need to bribe your bun.

Hope everything goes okay :)
 

mamaflora

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Thank you for these incredible tips. I will definitely do this...
Been in the same house with the same man (and eventually 2 kids) for 25 years.
Never thought I would be taking off into the wild with the whole crew and with these bunnies but...here I am!
 

Cgrandin34

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I have flown with my rabbit in the main cabin with me from Hawaii to Massachusetts. In 6 hour segments. I had him in a soft cat carrier so he could go "under the seat in front of me" but I would keep the carrier on my lap for the duration of the flight. I put a puppy pad in the carrier so he could pee if he wanted to. I had a few pee pads, cubes of alfalfa (because I knew he would want to eat it no matter what) and a pet water bottle.

After take off he would be a little unsettled but he would get use to the hum after about 20 minutes and lay down and look more at ease. I would offer him the water bottle and just hold it myself and let the sipper into the carrier and he would take some sips. He would munch on his cubes of hay and he was alright. The lay overs are probably the most challenging for us because the airport would have various levels of noise and usually more dogs barking.

I dont know if my rabbit is just more tolerant of travel and if every rabbit could handle it but he had been use to a house with loud children (outside our room never in our room) and barking dogs (again never in our room).

I have also had him on long car rides from Massachusetts to Alabama. That set up looked different and I was able to make more stops for providing some care to him. I can share how I did those car rides as well.

I guess you would just have to see the bunny's personality and resiliency. I have moved around for the last 4 years and have had him with me and he always settles into the transitions pretty well. He adapts to new houses well and doesn't mind car rides, which makes attempting to stress bond him so much harder 😂
 

mamaflora

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Thank you for sharing about this. I am in a debate over whether to even try it, because...I certainly don't want them to have a medical emergency over coming, or to be just unhappy and stressed. My bunnies are totally bonded so they are really generally happy with or without us people. My 4 year old however is so in love with them. We pretty much spend all day either watching them in "cute positions", feeding them and caring for them, or pretending to be them. She doesn't have close-in-age siblings so during this time of no school and no play at the playground or with other kids in any way, she has just been spending her days with them. I was hoping we could all continue to be one big happy family while we have to leave home but...I am debating whether this is the best choice for the bunnies. I myself am also quite attached to them and think it would be great fun to have them along in our traveling home IF they are peaceful and safe.
 

Hermelin

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You can do small car trips with your bunnies to help reinforce traveling is good and get use with the sound. Myself can take both my boys on car trips and they will be relaxed. Eating and flopping in the carrier, they won’t react to the sound and will often beg for treats.

As long they get time to accumulate and learn that the carrier and sounds is safe, they can adapt and be relaxed.
 

mamaflora

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This is a great tip! Thank you so much for the kindness in taking time to help me with this! I love caring for these sweet creatures and hope we can still do them right in travel. We likely will spend a month or so at a time in one location and the travel distances will usually just be a few hours so hopefully it will be manageable. Housing all their hay in a tiny camper is another story LOL but we will find a way!
 

DelawareRunner

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We're thinking about doing the same with my bunny and two guinea pigs when my husband retires in a few years. Traveling just a few hours and then staying somewhere for awhile shouldn't be too stressful. Let us know how things work out :).
 

mamaflora

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Thank you! There will be times when we drive further or stay shorter but generally should be short drives and long stays. We are now doing some creative thinking about how to rig a hidey house are for them, contain the hay better and store their supplies. An adventure! I will definitely write back here and share how it worked out!
 
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