It’s that time of year again. Time for the wonderful vacation you’ve been looking forward to for months. But this year, you’ve got a little bunny living with you. You’ll need to make plans to make sure the little fluffer is well taken care of while you’re away.
The earlier you can make preparations for your rabbit, the better. Many options that are available for cats and dogs aren’t as good for rabbits. You’ll need to think through your choices carefully and pick the one that is best for your situation.
What should you do with your rabbit when you go on vacation? You can choose to board your rabbit with a vet or boarding kennel, hire someone to look after your rabbit, or take your rabbit with you on vacation. No matter what you choose, you want to make sure there is someone checking in on your rabbit to make sure they are healthy and to keep them from getting too lonely.
Ideally you will have someone who can spend time with your rabbit while you are on vacation. Rabbits are not as well understood as cats or dogs. You’ll want to take some precautions to make sure whoever is taking care of your rabbit understands their needs and will keep your rabbit happy and healthy while you’re away on vacation.
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Pet sitter or house sitter
The first and most obvious option you should consider when leaving to go on vacation, is hiring a pet sitter or house sitter to take care of your rabbit. This will typically be easiest on your rabbit because they will be in a familiar place. There won’t be the added stress of a new environment and the new sounds and smells that come with it.
If you are going to be gone for only a couple days, getting a sitter will most likely be the best option. However, if you will be gone longer, you’ll need to consider how much time the sitter will be able to spend with your rabbit.
Rabbits are very social animals and they can get lonely very easily. If you have a bonded pair or multiple rabbits, they’ll be able to keep each other company. If not, you should think about allowing a friend or sitter to stay at your house to take care of your rabbit. This will give the sitter more time to spend with the bunny, to keep them from getting depressed or lonely.
It’s also a good idea to consider hiring a sitter to stay at your house because they will be able to keep an eye on your rabbit’s health. Rabbits are prey animals, which means they have a tendency to hide signs of sickness. But if you spend time with the rabbit, you start to understand when their behavior is a little abnormal. If the sitter stays with the rabbit and spends time with them, they will be able to know the rabbits normal behavior and get help quickly if the rabbit is showing signs of sickness.
Give your sitter all the information they need
Ideally you will be working with a sitter who knows about rabbits. However, it’s not always easy to find a rabbit savvy pet sitter. You need to make sure you give them all the information they need to take care of your rabbit while you are away.
Even when you are on vacation, you want your rabbit’s daily routine to be as normal as possible. This includes their feeding routine and exercise time. Even if the sitter is very knowledgeable about rabbits, you will need to give them detailed information about how to care for your rabbit specifically. Include a list of exactly how much food you give them, and which fresh vegetables your rabbit eats.
If possible, you should invite the sitter over ahead of time. Show them the routine you use for taking care of your rabbit. You should have everything your sitter needs in an easy to find place, so that your sitter will be able to take great care of your rabbit.
You’ll also want to make sure your sitter is provided with any emergency vet information they might need. While we certainly hope that your sitter won’t have to bring your rabbit to the vet, it’s always a possibility with rabbits. Make sure your sitter has the information for your regular veterinarian’s office, as well as an emergency clinic in case they get sick at night or on a weekend.
Pros and cons of using a pet sitter
|The rabbit won’t be stressed out by their environment||The pet sitter might not be familiar with rabbit care|
|You won’t have to worry about transporting a rabbit or their supplies anywhere||The rabbit could get lonely if the sitter doesn’t stay|
|The rabbit won’t be stressed out by unfamiliar pets||It is likely to be expensive|
The next option to consider when going on vacation with your rabbit is boarding them at a vet office or pet boarding location. Boarding your rabbit with a rabbit-savvy vet could be a good option because you know they will get the care they need if your rabbit gets sick. This can also be a more cost effective solution if you’re going to be away for a long time.
This can also be a stressful situation for your rabbit, though. Most of the time vet offices and boarding kennels will have a number of animals. It can be a very loud environment with lots of scary smells around. If your rabbit has a skittish personality, they might not be able to handle the living environment very easily. In addition, staff at these places usually don’t have much time to devote to your rabbit’s socialization.
Alternatively, you can find someone who runs a business boarding rabbits in their home. This can be a great way to leave your rabbit in the hands of someone who is experienced with rabbits and will be able to spend time with them. It will still be an unfamiliar environment for your rabbit, though. Depending on where you live, it could also be difficult to find someone who boards rabbits.
Check the boarding place first
Whether you’re boarding your rabbit in a vet’s office, a boarding kennel, or someone’s home, you always want to check the place before you leave your rabbit there. Sometimes the boarding place will not have sufficient space for a rabbit. Other times they are surrounded by other animals and will be living in a stressful, noisy environment. These are especially the case for places that are not experienced in boarding rabbits.
Check the place to make sure the caretakers will be able to give your rabbit the attention they need, keeping them as comfortable as possible. If you visit a place and feel uncomfortable with the living situation for any reason, then you should find another solution for your precious rabbit.
Pros and cons of boarding your rabbit
|You can leave your rabbit with an experienced caretaker or veterinarian||Not all boarding places are experienced with rabbit care|
|It can be a cheaper option than hiring a long term house sitter||It can be a loud or stressful environment for a rabbit|
Take your rabbit with you
In some cases, you can travel with your rabbit. This is especially an option if you are going to be staying with family or friends that are open to having your rabbit stay during your visit. It’s probably not the best option if you are going on a fast-paced vacation. That will only end up being stressful for your rabbit.
Whether going by car, plane, or train, there is a lot to consider before bringing your rabbit with you. You’ll need to make sure you have all of your rabbits supplies, and keep their health in consideration. You will probably need to bring an enclosure with you too, to keep your rabbit when you get to your destination.
Before choosing to bring your rabbit with you while you travel, it’s a good idea to take them on a couple shorter car rides to see how they react. If they do poorly after only a short trip, especially if they have any known health problems, it would be better to choose a different option.
When picking a pet carrier, you need to make sure that it’s a good size for your rabbit. You want your rabbit to be able to sprawl out and turn around comfortably, but you also don’t want to use a carrier that is too big.
A carrier that’s too big can be dangerous to a rabbit in a car. If you ever need to make a sudden stop, a rabbit could fly into the side of the carrier and get injured, so it’s best to give them no more than a couple inches of extra space in the carrier you use.
For most rabbits a carrier sized for a small cat will be the best option. I like to use carriers with a top-open door so that it’s easier to handle my rabbit depending on the situation. This is the carrier that I use when I need to travel with my rabbit. If you have a large rabbit (about 10+ pounds) you’ll want to purchase the larger size.
Rabbits will almost always get stressed out by car rides. They will usually not eat or drink much during the car rides, so it’s very important to make frequent 15-minute stops to help your rabbit calm down and encourage them to eat and drink more. It can be a good idea to bring some fresh leafy greens with you, such as leafy lettuce or cilantro. These are a healthy and enticing treat for the rabbit and will also help to keep them hydrated.
Carriers should be buckled in and you should not allow your rabbit to roam free in the back seat. This can be dangerous because the rabbit is not held down by a seatbelt. Any sudden stops will cause the rabbit to go flying. It can also be a problem because the rabbit may get curious and start to wander around. They may end up getting stuck under a seat, or possibly find their way to the front seat and distract you while you are driving.
It’s also important to remember that rabbits can be sensitive to changes in temperature. You should never leave them in a hot car, and try to avoid allowing any drafts to point directly at your rabbit. You may want to keep your car cooler than you normally would, to make sure your rabbit is as comfortable as possible.
Items you should bring with you
When traveling with a rabbit, you want to make sure you have all the necessary supplies readily available. You want to think about their diet as well as their enclosure set up when you get to your destination. You also want to make sure you have emergency supplies available just in case you need them.
Supplies to bring with your rabbit on vacation:
- Critical care with a syringe. (learn more about why this is so important)
- Your rabbit’s food and hay
- Water bottle, bowl and extra water for travel
- Syringe to feed water to your rabbit if necessary
- Temporary enclosure for the rabbit (such as a pet playpen)
- Litter box and a big bag of litter
- Extra towels in case you need to handle your rabbit and burrito them.
- Cleaning supplies for any leaks or accidents (make sure to use a pet-safe cleaner)
Air travel can be pretty tricky with a rabbit. Many airlines don’t allow pets in the cabin with their caretakers, but riding under the plane with all the other animals can be incredibly stressful for a rabbit and is NOT recommended. The House Rabbit Society has a list of airlines that allow rabbits, so if you have to fly somewhere, use an airline that will let you keep your rabbit with you.
Even if your rabbit is traveling together with you in the cabin, it can be a difficult situation. There will be lots of loud sounds and people crowded into a small space. The change in pressure can cause a painful ear popping as the plain lifts off, and the temperature is not always ideal for a rabbit. Air travel should be considered a last resort for if none of the other options are feasible (for example, if you are moving and there is no other way to take your rabbit with you).
A couple things to keep in mind if you choose to fly with your rabbit:
- Get to the airport early because it can take a while to get through security
- Check for limitations of the size of your rabbit’s carrier
- Always have food, water, hay, and emergency medical supplies with you
Hotels are another tricky part about traveling with rabbits. Many do not accept pets, so make sure to call before making a reservation. To protect the property of the hotel you are staying in (because they probably aren’t rabbit-proofed), you should keep your rabbit in an enclosure or the bathroom unless they are having supervised exercise time. You’ll also want to keep a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door and avoid leaving your rabbit alone in the hotel room.
Similarly, for AirBnB reservations, you’ll want to check with the host to make sure they will allow rabbits in their home. Be clear about the kind of living conditions your rabbit needs and be sure to keep your rabbit out of trouble. This means always supervising your rabbit and cleaning up any droppings or accidents.
Pros and cons of bringing your rabbit on vacation
|Your rabbit won’t be left alone and get lonely||Traveling can be stressful for rabbits|
|You can keep a close eye on your rabbit’s health||Finding a place to stay that allows rabbits can be difficult|
|You will take good care of your rabbit||The place where your staying might not be safe for rabbits|
How long can your rabbit be left alone?
Ideally, you should not leave a rabbit alone for more than 24 hours, especially if they are a single rabbit. It can be tempting to leave your rabbit alone while you go away for a weekend, but you should at least get someone to come in and check on your rabbit to make sure they are doing okay. There are two reasons for this: it means someone can come in and check on your rabbit’s health, and it will help your rabbit have some socialization and stick with their regular routine.
Rabbits can get sick quickly. They usually don’t show signs of illness until they are very sick, so when they finally start showing signs, they need to be brought to a vet right away. If a rabbit hasn’t been eating or pooping for 12-24 hours, it can be fatal. So it’s best to have someone come in at least once a day to make sure the rabbit is healthily eating and pooping.
Rabbits are also social creatures that love routine. They’ll start to get anxious and depressed if you don’t come home at the end of the day, especially if they are a lone-rabbit. Having a person come in and go through your rabbit’s feeding routine can help to calm them down, especially if it’s someone your rabbit is already familiar with.
Considerations for your rabbit’s health
Whatever arrangements you make for your rabbit while you travel or take a vacation, it’s important to keep your rabbit’s health in mind. Always make sure your rabbit has:
- A consistent diet
- Enough exercise
- Someone to look after them who knows the signs of rabbit illnesses
- Some peace and quiet
- Someone to socialize them so they don’t get lonely
- Emergency telephone numbers available
How do you know if a rabbit is sick?
Rabbits, like many prey animals, have a tendency to hide signs of illnesses. The best indicator will be a change of behavior in your rabbit. For example, they may suddenly become less active then they used to be. If you notice any of these signs in your rabbit, you should get them emergency care right away:
- Not eating
- Not pooping
- Unresponsive/reluctant to move
How do you bond with a rabbit?
Sometimes rabbits are very shy and take a while to warm up to a new caretaker. Quietly sit on the floor with them and give them treats when the rabbit comes up to you. Avoid picking your rabbit up if you don’t have to, since this is something that many rabbits don’t like.
- “Vacations and Travel.” House Rabbit Society, July 10, 2011, https://rabbit.org/faq-vacations-and-travel.
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Recommended Products and Brands
Important: These are Affiliate links. As an associate to Amazon, Small Pet Select, and Chewy.com, I may receive a small commission from qualifying purchases.
The two brands that I use when buying food for my rabbit are Oxbow and Small Pet Select. These both have high quality rabbit products and are companies that care about the health of our small animals. If you are purchasing anything from Small Pet Select use the code BUNNYLADY at checkout to get 15% off your first order.
- Hay: Second Cutting Timothy Hay from Small Pet Select
- Pellets: Oxbow Garden Select Food for Rabbits
- Treats: Oxbow Simple Rewards
- Toys: Small Pet Select Natural Toys
- Enclosure/cage: A rabbit exercise pen
- Rabbit carrier: SleepyPod Mobile Pet Bed