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Rabbit Travel

Published on: May 03, 2022 • By: marilynrisinger · In Forum: Rabbits
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marilynrisinger
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May 03, 2022 at 05:56am
I have a 9 week old rabbit and need to travel 1000 miles away for 10 days. The flight is around 2.5 hours and the drive is around 16 hours. Is it safe for a 9 week rabbit to do either of these things? I really do not want to have to leave my rabbit in the care of someone else at such a young age for 10 days. What is the safest thing to do?
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Liz Buchanan BVSc MRCVS
Moderator
May 03, 2022 at 07:35am
Hello!  Rabbits are prey species ie when they get frightened, they sometimes freeze or allow interaction rather than run.  They generally pretend not to be stressed or in pain, because the animal that looks stressed and in pain will get eaten by the predator, which will always single out the weakest.   However, they are only 'designed' to cope with stress for very short periods of time (until the fox gets tired) and they struggle badly with chronically unsuitable conditions.  The  upshot of this is that rabbits do not look stressed to our eyes, even when they are.   They sit with Cortisol streaming through their veins, looking quite 'chilled out' in some shocking welfare environments.  That leads people to make huge mistakes as regarding their welfare. Travelling for a long distance will be terrifying for a rabbit.  It will involve new sights, smells, noises, most of them linked with dear for the animal.  It will be stressed and unable to run to safety in a carrier.  This is  a completely false environment and inappropriate. Furthermore, rabbits have a strong evolutionary need for company and forage.   They must not be kept alone;  those kept alone in general, as I understand it, have been shown to live for much less long and show many more stress behaviours than those bonded into pairs.  They do not form appropriate 'pairs' with humans.  In the past we didn't know that rabbits prefer to live in bonded groups and this led to some very poor welfare conventions.  But now we do know. I would recommend making alternative arrangements for your rabbit and furthermore, reading about bonded rabbit pairs and how to find a lifelong partner for your pet before it gets any older.  Please do not subject the little one to the stress of a flight; it is very unsafe.   Perhaps the breeder will take it back for a while and return it with a friend or sibling? I'm sorry that this will be a disappointing answer.
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Liz Buchanan BVSc MRCVS
Moderator
May 03, 2022 at 07:46am
I am sorry that this may be an unexpected and uncomfortable answer.  However, our understanding of good rabbit welfare has been changing over the last twenty years and the new research is not reaching clients.  (I myself kept a line rabbit largely in a hutch for many years).  However, rabbits should not be sold singly these days because now we understand more than we used to.  I will come back later and let you know some good resources.  Meanwhile, where did your rabbit come from and do they have a little friend' they were close to back there?
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Liz Buchanan BVSc MRCVS
Moderator
May 13, 2022 at 11:00pm
Hello!  I said some time ago that I would provide you with some good bunny resources on this topic.  Our blog has a search function and we think that you would find the one called 'Do rabbits need friends' very helpful.   The Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund also have some helpful information on their website.  The Rabbit Awareness Action Group can also be helpful.   I hope that some of this is useful to you.
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