Rabbits are one of nature’s cutest bundles of fluffy joy, watching them frolic and twitch their little noses can bring a smile to the faces of even the grumpiest of us. Their overwhelming cuteness, fluffiness, and inquisitive nature have captured the hearts of many, this coupled with the fact that they are trainable make them good pets.
As we all know, moving house is one of the most stressful events in a person’s life despite us understanding what is happening. Throwing pets into the mix further compounds that stress, but few people spare a thought for how their pets are coping with the massive changes in their lives and routines. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to reduce their stress and anxiety during the entire moving process.
A few facts about bunnies
As prey animals, our adorable little long-eared friends are incredibly sensitive to the smallest of changes in their environment. Their inherent delicate nature may be useful for avoiding predators in the wild, but for domesticated rabbits, the upheaval of their safe environment can be an anxiety-inducing bunny nightmare.
Add in the fact that rabbits are creatures of habit which flourish in familiar environments, where they can also develop a daily routine and it is easy to see how a house move could be a bunny-traumatising experience.
Prepare the bunny for the move
The success or failure of ‘Operation: Calm Bunny’ depends entirely on how well you prepare for the move beforehand, and moving house with a rabbit requires a lot of preparation if you don’t want to have a fluffy bundle of trembling anxiety on your hands.
- Designate a rabbit safe zone. Ideally, this will be the area with its little house, toys, and litter box, all of your packed belongings should be stored elsewhere and the status quo of the safe zone maintained for as long as possible. Try to take on the mindset of a rabbit watching its humans pack, as far as they are concerned everything that smells familiar simply disappears before they are magically whisked off to a completely new place.
- Make sure that you have a secure cage suitable for traveling. Ensure that it is big enough for your little friend to be comfortable but not so big that they slide around inside. The cage door must also be secure, the last thing you want while driving to your new home is a scared rabbit bouncing off of every available surface.
- Rabbits are especially sensitive to heat. They only way they can regulate their body temperature is by sending blood through their ears. When they start to get too hot the blood vessels in their ears expand, as more blood passes through the ears it is gradually cooled and sent to the rest of the body. So while travelling try to maintain an interior temperature of between 4.5C and 24C to keep the little critter happy.
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How to move house with a pet rabbit
The journey to a new home is one filled with excitement as well as stress, you’re tired and constantly worried about if you have forgotten anything.
Adding a pet into this mix only adds to the stress, most animals may find the trip uncomfortable but it is still a terrifying and fun experience (think of how a dog reacts as it tries to figure out traveling by car). In order to stop your little rabbit friends understanding of reality shattering completely, follow the tips below.
- Make sure that your rabbit carrier is secured before setting off for your new home, bunnies generally don’t appreciate sliding dangerously across car seats.
- As mentioned previously, rabbits are quite sensitive to changes in temperature so make sure the carrier is placed in the shade and if it is a hot day turn the air conditioning on.
- Try to drive as smoothly as possible, rabbits can’t anticipate motion so sudden acceleration or stop abruptly can cause unnecessary distress.
- Check in on your little furry friend from time to time, make sure the fluffball is comfortable and not showing signs of overheating or stress such as seizures and weakness.
- When you arrive at your new abode, keep the rabbit in its carrier for a little while and refill its water and food. This will give your buddy a chance to calm down and overcome the driving experience.
How to help the rabbit adjust to the new home
After such a terrifying experience, the car trip, your rabbit friend would like nothing more than to curl up somewhere it feels safe. This can be problematic in a new house as the rabbit is suddenly in a new and unfamiliar environment, it doesn’t smell like home, and that shadow looks suspiciously like a predator.
- Give your bunny a few days to truly feel at ease in an unfamiliar environment. Over time your fluffy companion will adapt to your new home but there are steps you can take to make this process easier.
- Pick out an area and make it a ‘rabbit safe space’. As prey animals, rabbits like to have a safe place to hide, eat, and sleep. Place the cage, or carrier, in a suitable area and designate it ‘the rabbit zone’, this will become your little friends new safe-house they can escape to when daily life is too overwhelming.
- Keep your rabbit’s belongings in, or around, its safe space. Keeping food and water, toys, and everything else that your rabbit owns in ‘the rabbit zone’ will help to keep the little critter calm as well as reinforcing that this is home now.
- Introduce the fluffy explorer to the house room by room. Once your rabbit has adjusted and is eating normally, it is time to introduce it to the rest of the house. Take your time and let the little house-bunny explore each room, in turn, return the tiny adventurer to its cage in between exploring rooms so that it knows where to run to if spooked.
- Give them time and space. Regardless of what you do, your whiskered sidekick will still need time to adjust and all you can really do is be patient and give them space to come to terms with their new world.
So there we have it, your guide to moving house with a pet rabbit. All you need to do is plan ahead with rabbit welfare in mind, drive carefully, and be patient as they adjust to a new house. Doing this will ensure that you and your fluff-friend can enjoy rabbit-themed high-jinks in no time.
Did we miss anything? Do you have any tips for moving house with a pet rabbit? Let us know in the comments below or give us a shout on social media!