Vacation season is just around the corner and we thought this would be the perfect time to address an important question: What do we do with our rabbit while we are traveling? This is where we rabbit slaves have it a bit more difficult than dog or cat owners, because there are very few boarding kennels that even offer to take in rabbits. Also, it is more difficult to find someone who would pet sit. Every single person we know already owns a dog or a cat and since Bunny is at the bottom of the food chain, we’d rather keep him away from animals that may try to eat him. So what to do?
Before listing the options, let me tell you that we both absolutely dread leaving Bunny behind. In our minds, no one else can take care of him well enough and treat him the way he deserves. No one will understand how important and precious he is. Luckily, we have more than 6000 followers on facebook, which may help to make that point a little clearer to our sitter… Ha!
Option 1: Rabbit Stays Home with Sitter
The least stressful solution for the rabbit would be to have a relative or friend take your place for the duration of the travel and follow the routines the rabbit is used to while temporarily living in your home. You could also hire someone for the job – we were surprised to find out how many professional pet sitters there are in the area, even for “exotic pets”. Simply google “pet sitter” and you should get plenty to choose from. Not everyone would be comfortable with this arrangement, though, and that’s completely okay.
Option 2: Rabbit Stays Home, Sitter Visits
Leaving the rabbit at home and having a relative, friend, or (professional) sitter come over 2-3 times a day is another acceptable solution. As a teenager I often watched our neighbor’s cats – you may have a responsible kid in your neighborhood as well who’d be happy about the job. Unless you have a VERY good friend or deep pockets, this is definitely a task for a person who lives close to your house, because driving to someone else’s home more than once a day becomes rather annoying. With this solution, the rabbit will have a stress-free time, but unless you have more than one rabbit, it may get very lonely and bored. In that case, be sure the sitter spends some time socializing.
Option 3: Rabbit Stays at Sitter’s Home
Again, a relative, friend, or (professional) sitter could help out, this time by letting the rabbit stay at their house. This solution is a little more stressful for the rabbit, because of the new smells, noises, and people. Be sure to choose someone who doesn’t have a pet that could potentially be dangerous to the rabbit – the hunting instinct could kick in any time, even if the dog is generally mellow or the cat nurturing. If that isn’t possible, a safe, separate room may be okay, but weigh the risks before making the decision. Our Bunny has stayed at a friend’s house before and she kept him in her bedroom with her dog safely behind the locked door at all times unless she was there to supervise. The dog and Bunny did get along, but it’s better to be safe than sorry!
Option 4: Rabbit Also Goes On Vacation
This solution is potentially stressful/harmful to the rabbit, especially if the trip is long and you are planning on staying at more than one location. Constant motion as well as unknown smells and noises can take a toll on the rabbit’s health. While it’s certainly possible to let the rabbit tag along, especially if you are not going far, think of your rabbit’s personality and wellness before considering the option. Bunny doesn’t mind car rides and enjoys going outside, but for other rabbits opening the screen door already stretches them to the limit. If you do decide to take your rabbit, make sure it’s for the rabbit’s benefit or because there really isn’t any other option, not because you can’t stand being separated. Plan ahead and accommodate your rabbit’s needs as usual. If you are staying in a hotel, make sure it allows pets and rabbit-proof the room before letting the bunny run around. For more information, check our article on sleepovers and hotel stays. Also, safe transportation is a must! We covered that topic in a separate article.
Option 5: Rabbit Stays at Boarding Kennel/Vet’s Office
Some people are lucky enough to have a boarding kennel nearby that actually accepts rabbits. Sometimes vets or rescues offer that type of service and it never hurts to call and ask around. Before committing to a place, take the time and visit it before your trip. Maybe even unannounced. Let them show you where your rabbit will stay exactly and what kind of care is provided. Is it clean? Are other animals in close proximity (stressful)? Do they require vaccinations? Is there a vet in the house or nearby? Will the rabbit get exercise? Only if you feel good about the place should this even be an option.
Whatever you decide, the person in charge of your rabbit should have detailed instructions and ideally some experience with rabbits as well. Make sure they know that a rabbit needs to be fed regularly and missing a feeding isn’t an option. Also, it’s always a good idea to have a backup plan, a second person in the area who could take over if the initial sitter has to back out for any reason in the middle of your trip. Make sure you mention small details that will make your rabbit’s time more pleasant – for example, we will definitely ask our sitter not to pick Bunny up unless absolutely necessary, because he hates it and would probably hurt himself trying to get down. Check out the pdf file below, it’s a great care sheet to leave with any sitter. Happy holidays!
Care Sheet for Rabbit Sitter – Downloadable PDF