Rabbits must be transported using appropriate cages and vehicles that are covered and fully enclosed.
Rabbits must be given adequate space that allows them to lie down, stand up and change position during transport and should always be covered, keeping light to a minimum.
During transport, food and water must not be withheld from rabbits for a period longer than 24 hours.
During transportation, the cages used for carrying rabbits must:
- be lifted and placed with care
- be positioned on the vehicle in an upright position without excessive tilting
- not be dropped or thrown
- be securely attached to the vehicle
- not be made of cloth or cardboard.
Transporting rabbits is a potentially stressful process for them if precautions are not taken. Stress arises from catching, handling, deprivation of food, water and freedom of natural movement, changes in temperature and unfamiliar surroundings. Care must be exercised to ensure that impacts of these are reduced. During transport, food and water must not be withheld from rabbits for a period longer than 24 hours.
The cages used for transporting rabbits should be sturdy and protect the animal from exposure to the environment as much as possible. The cage should have a solid bottom, with no grid or holes that can lead to injury. A blanket or towel should be placed in the bottom of the carrier to prevent slipping and the cage must always be kept level and restrained to avoid tipping and moving and be protected from wind, high and low temperature, rain, sleet and direct sunlight. The cage should also be covered to keep the rabbit in the dark as this makes them feel more comfortable. Do not transport a rabbit in cardboard or cloth carriers, as rabbits will chew a hole through these materials.
It is important to have good knowledge of the disease status of animals prior to bringing them to the school. This may involve vaccinations, parasite control and even blood tests where applicable. Advice from the local veterinarian should be sought.
It is a good idea to quarantine new rabbits from existing rabbits for a period of time. This should allow time for observation of any signs of illness or parasite infestations.