Safe transport by car

 

Esther van Praag, Ph.D.  

 

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Rabbits are frail animals that are easily stressed and their transport represents a challenge. The carrier used for transport should be sturdy and protect the animal from exposure to the environment as much as possible. Allergens, sunlight, car lights, extreme temperatures, and being subjected to visual observation by people or other animals could potentially stress a rabbit in a carrier. The carrier should have a solid bottom, with no grid or holes that can lead to injury.

Nylon or cloth pet carriers, as well as cardboard boxes, should be avoided entirely since a rabbit can easily make holes in these materials.

 

NO

The plastic bottom of carriers is slippery and does not give support and traction to the rabbit during transport, especially when unexpected motion occurs.

The rabbit can hurt itself, fracture a limb or the spine, or luxate a shoulder or hip.

YES

For maximum safety the rabbit should be placed in a carrier padded with soft bedding, e.g., a cushion, towels, or a blanket to ensure safe transport.

A carrier should not be oversized nor overcrowded. The carrier should provide comfort and allow lying down and stretching out.

 

Safe methods of transport

Transportation in a carrier should not take longer than is necessary for traveling from home to the veterinary clinic. If the trip is long, stops should be scheduled at regular intervals. The car should be well ventilated and the inside temperature not reach higher than 24C (75.2F). Unless restricted by the veterinarian (e.g., before surgery), food, hay, and water should be supplied. Fresh vegetables or herbs can be provided if the trip is long.

The carrier with the rabbit should never be left unattended in a car, even when parked in the shade. Temperatures inside cars quickly climb to 30 to 50C (86 to 122F) on summer days, even when a window is left open for ventilation. The environment in the parked car can very quickly become fatal to the rabbit.

Several methods are available for proper and safe transport of rabbits. The following pictures present safe methods of transporting rabbits in a carrier by car. Depending on the car, the experience of the owner, and the size and weight of the carrier+rabbit, safe car transport methods may differ slightly. 

 

The carrier can be placed with the front opening facing forward. This will enable fresh air to enter.

This carrier is wrapped in a protective cover made of thin cotton cloth. This enables ventilation, but prevents the rabbit from seeing its surroundings. It also protects against drafts and cold winds.

A towel or small blanket (arrow) is used under the carrier to level it on the car seat.

The carrier can be placed with its front facing to the side. When placing it this way, it must be ensured that fresh air can enter and there is proper ventilation.

A towel or small blanket (arrow) is used under the carrier to level and stabilize it on the car seat.

When the carrier is placed on a seat, it should be secured with the seatbelt to keep it from falling, moving, or even being hurled accidentally into the windshield should unexpected braking or stopping occur.

The carrier can also be placed on the floor in front of the seat. To decrease vibrations during the drive, a towel or a blanket can be placed underneath the carrier.

The carrier can be placed in the back of a station wagon.

The floor of the car should be skid proof or covered with non-slippery material. The carrier must then be secured so it cannot move or roll over.

If the floor is slippery, the carrier must be secured with bungee cords or strong rope. NEVER use adhesive tape.

 

 

 

 

 

NOT SAFE

The carrier is not level. This puts enormous strain on the limbs and hip joints of the rabbit, which cannot sit or lay comfortably when the carrier is at an angle. 

The carrier is not level. This puts enormous strain on the limbs and hip joints of the rabbit, which cannot sit or lay comfortably when the carrier is at an angle. 

Although the carrier is kept horizontal, holding it on the lap is not safe.

During a sudden stop it can slip and fall or even be flung through the windshield of the car.

 

Thanks to Duncan, Yara and Stampi, for their help.

A big thank you also to B. Salt and T. Saarony for their contribution.

 

 

 

e-mail: info@medirabbit.com