It’s not always easy to find the best carrier for a pet rabbit. Most carriers marketed toward rabbits are too small, while cat and dog carriers don’t always take rabbit needs into account. To make matters even more confusing, very few pet carriers are ever tested for vehicle safety and would provide very little protection in the event of a crash.
The best carrier for pet rabbits is the SleepyPod Mobile Pet Bed. This carrier is one of only two that have passed the crash safety test and is recommended by the Center for Pet Safety. The sturdy design and shape of this carrier also give rabbits enough space without the risk of injury during travel.
If you prefer to use a more traditional carrier, instead of the Sleepypod, there are still ways you can travel safely. These also may be your only options if you need to take your rabbit with you for air travel since the SleepyPod may not fit the carry-on requirements of some airlines. I will also go over how to pick and travel with an appropriate carrier if the SleepyPod is not an option for you.
Important: As an Amazon Associate and an associate to other companies, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.
The Safest Carrier: SleepyPod Mobile Pet Bed
SleepyPod carriers are highly rated for safety and high-quality design. The SleepyPod Mobile Pet Bed is my carrier of choice because it is safe, has good ventilation, and is easy to clean. It is also a comfortable option for your rabbit, especially during long car rides.
Did you know that most pet carriers were never actually built for car safety? When a few of these other carriers were tested by car and pet safety companies, they proved to be ineffective for protecting pets in the event of a car crash. The dummy animals would crash straight through the plastic sides of carriers or unhinge the doors. Sleepypod is one of the only companies to actually test their products and make them durable enough to protect your rabbit during a car crash.
The Sleepypod Mobile Pet Bed, along with the other carriers created by this company, is certified by the Center for Pet Safety. The SleepyPod company even provides video footage of their crash tests to prove they have taken the necessary steps to create durable and safe designs.
The Center for Pet Safety also shows video footage of their own crash tests for SleepyPod carriers. They display multiple crash tests on their website, successfully protecting the dummy animal inside.
The SleepyPod is available in two sizes, the Mini and the Medium. The mini is circular with a 13-inch diameter. It would be an acceptable size for most rabbits, up to about 7 or 8 pounds. If you have a larger rabbit or multiple rabbits, you’ll want to go with the Medium size. This one has a 17-inch diameter and is certified to fit pets with a combined total of 15 pounds.
Personally, I hate cleaning. I’m always looking for easy-to-clean products with minimal elbow grease. The Sleepypod Pet Bed checks this box too!
This carrier is made so the top half unzips from the bottom. It has a plush lining inside that is easily cleaned in the washing machine, and you can wipe down the two halves with a damp cloth or pet-safe cleaner. Then you just put everything back together to use again next time you travel with your rabbit.
Ventilation and comfort
The domed design of the SleepyPod Pet Bed provides ample ventilation for your rabbit. This will prevent the interior of the carrier from collecting heat. Instead, your rabbit can stay in a cool, comfortable climate.
The carrier also comes with a cushioned bottom, which gives your rabbit decent footing for the car ride. The slippery floors of traditional carriers are not suitable for rabbit feet and can cause injury over long car rides.
While this carrier is undoubtedly the safest option available for car travel, there are a couple of limitations that may mean this is not the carrier for you. The first is the price. Because of the extra work and expense that has gone into crash tests and creating a durable carrier, the SleepyPod is one of the most expensive options. The last I checked, these carriers go for more than $150, which is easily three to five times the price of other carriers. (check the current price on Amazon)
This Sleepypod carrier is also not approved for air travel. The company does have a different version that is correctly sized to carry onto an airplane, the SleepyPod Air Carrier. This version has also been safety tested and certified by the Center for Pet Safety. However, many customers have pointed out that there is limited ventilation in that design, which could potentially lead to overheating in rabbits. The Sleepypod Air may be okay for short plane rides, but I would not recommend it for any long flights.
Picking an appropriate carrier
The SleepyPod carrier is the safest carrier for car travel. However, it is also expensive, and only the mini size is small enough to use as a carry-on for most airlines. You may need to make do with a different type of carrier if this one is not an option.
To decide which carrier will fulfill your needs, you need to think about the qualities of the carrier, such as size, ease of access, and ventilation. These are all that will help make sure your rabbit is comfortable and safe even if you cannot get the best option.
Your rabbit’s carrier should be big enough for your rabbit to turn around comfortably and lay down lengthwise inside. However, you do not want the carrier to be much bigger than that. If a carrier is too large, the rabbit can slam against the side of the carrier if you make a sudden stop or crash. There is a much higher chance of injury.
For most rabbits, a small cat carrier is the best size. Carriers that are about 19-20 inches long are a good size for most rabbits (such as this one from Petmate). For large rabbits, you’ll want to get the next size up to give your rabbit enough space inside.
Ventilation is vital for rabbits. Airflow through the carrier keeps the temperature cool and pleasant for your rabbit. Since rabbits are known to get heatstroke in hot temperatures, it’s very important to think about the number of air holes before choosing a carrier. This is especially important on sunny days when heat might get trapped inside the carrier. Ideally, there will be several holes on every side of the carrier, including the door and the top of the carrier. A thick mesh material will also provide enough airflow most of the time.
Easy to clean
Rabbits often have accidents when they are inside their carrier. With no litter box to hop into, that means you will have to be prepared to clean up a mess. Plastic carriers are the easiest to clean. You can place a towel or pee pad on the bottom to give your rabbit non-slick footing. Then just wipe down the interior.
Carriers that have a removable cushioned insert are also relatively easy to clean. You can throw the cushion into the wash and wipe down the inside of the carrier for future use.
While not 100% necessary, I have found carriers with a door on top to be very useful. It’s a lot easier to lift your rabbit out of the carrier at the veterinary office or place them inside if they won’t go in independently. Top access will also make the carrier easier to clean since you don’t have to reach all the way to the back of the carrier. You can simply open up the top and clean the inside.
You want to make sure your rabbit cannot get out of any carrier you choose to use. Ensure all doors are secure and that your rabbit won’t easily chew through them. You also want to make sure that any locking mechanisms are working correctly, so your rabbit can’t shove the door open and escape.
Safe travel with typical carriers
With carriers that are not the SleepyPod and have not been certified as safe in vehicles, there is a specific way of placing them into your car to make them as safe as possible during a car crash. According to tests performed by the ADAC (a German car safety company), the best place to put a pet carrier is in the foot space in front of the back seat, directly behind the passenger or driver’s side seat.
This place in the car protects the rabbit from being thrown through the front or side of the carrier. The position between the two seats also helps the carrier absorb some of the initial impacts of a crash without losing its structural integrity.
Do NOT place the carrier in the car in the following:
- Securing it with a seatbelt (if it hasn’t been safety tested): The ADAC tests showed that wrapping a seatbelt around a carrier with poor design will crush the carrier, injuring the pet. If the seatbelt was secured through a handle or ‘seatbelt loop,’ the entire carrier came unhooked.
- In the front seat: Airbags in the front seat can dent or crush a carrier.
- Secured in the back seat, horizontally: In most safety tests, the animal slammed straight through the side of the carrier without losing much velocity. They would likely go straight through the windshield.
- Secured in the back seat vertically: The animal took the door off its hinges or slammed through the back of the carrier.
- Using straps or clips from a design that has not been safety tested: The straps and buckles from designs that are not tested end up ripping off of the carrier or car, causing the carrier to go flying through the vehicle.
What about fabric carriers?
Many people will recommend against using a fabric carrier for pet rabbits. The reasoning is that the rabbit will quickly chew through the sides of any fabric material and get free. In theory, this is a reason to avoid the carriers, but I’ve found that this has never been a problem in practice.
It would actually take rabbits a pretty long time to chew through the side of a fabric carrier. They are made with thick, durable material and are not easily ripped apart. In addition, rabbits tend to be too scared while being carried or on car rides. They don’t spend any time trying to escape.
Plastic carriers are probably still the better option since they will hold up more in the long term. However, there is no need to altogether avoid fabric carriers. The only time I would say not to use a fabric carrier is if you expect your rabbit to be in the carrier for an extended period of time unsupervised.
What carriers to avoid
As long as the carrier is not flimsy or falling apart, I wouldn’t rule it out as an option. If you can’t get the SleepyPod, I typically recommend a sturdy plastic option, but that is entirely up to you.
The only types of carriers that you definitely want to avoid are:
- Wire pet carrier: Anything with a wire bottom is not great for transporting rabbits. The wire can dig into the rabbit’s feet, causing sores or injury.
- Cardboard carriers: You may receive one of these when you first bring your rabbit home. They are really only designed for one-time use and will not keep the rabbit contained for very long. Rabbits can quickly chew through cardboard and escape from these carriers.
- Wicker carriers: These are not commonly used anymore, but you may run into them occasionally. Rabbits like to chew on the wicker material of these carriers, and they can end up chewing through and escaping.
- “Pet Travel Tips.” Center for Pet Safety. https://www.centerforpetsafety.org/pet-parents/pet-travel-tips.
- Sandner, Volker. “Test Report: Securing Pets in Cars.” ADAC. February 2008. Accessed: https://wachusett.pssweb.net/Test%20report%20pets%20in%20cars-1.pdf.
- “Research and Development.” SleepyPod. https://sleepypod.com/research.