- Rabbits can live between 7 and 12 years. This is a longer life expectancy than other small pets such as guinea pigs, hamsters or gerbils. It is a good idea to consider this timeframe when you adopt.
- If you will be keeping more than one rabbit, it is always best to be sure you plan appropriately.
- Rabbits reproduce easily.
- Many veterinarians will spay and neuter pet rabbits. There are some low-cost clinic options for rabbit spay and neuter surgery as well.
- Spaying or neutering a rabbit can offer health benefits as well. The risk of certain cancers decreases after a rabbit is altered. In addition, rabbits tend to be calmer and more friendly companions. Rabbits are social animals and like to be with other rabbits. Altering your pet rabbits will ensure that male and female bunnies don’t reproduce.
- Spay and Neuter surgery for rabbits is common and safe. Many veterinarians are trained and provide the service often.
- If you don’t plan to spay or neuter your pet, always be sure that if you are keeping two rabbits, they be the same gender.
- Rabbits need adequate space to move around and get exercise.
- Consider how many rabbits you may have and allocate enough space for all to be able to move about the space easily.
- Always ensure that the enclosure is safe and secure, and your rabbit cannot squeeze out from any open spaces or jump over any sides that are too short. Many rabbits can jump very high, so having a secured top or very tall enclosure may be important.
- Wire bottomed cages are not recommended. Rabbits can get cuts and sores on their feet which can easily lead to infection. Rabbits have been known to break limbs getting caught in wire bottomed cages.
- Check internet tutorials or books for fun and easy DIY enclosures
- Consider the location for the enclosure in your home. Rabbits can sometimes be noisy at all hours.
- Rabbits chew a lot and can be destructive. Ensure your rabbit enclosure is secure and is away from furniture. It is especially important to keep rabbits away from electrical wires. They are notorious for chewing wires, which can be dangerous.
- Rabbits poop a lot. You should be prepared to make regular cage cleaning part of your daily routine. Some rabbits can be litter box trained.
- Many owners keep “house rabbits”. This means they are frequently free to roam the house or a dedicated room or space that is rabbit-proof and free of hazards. Because rabbits can be litter box trained, letting them roam is a really fun way to enjoy your pet and get them integrated into your household.
- Rabbits chewing can get them into trouble! Always remove electrical cords, anything small and plastic or metal and keep human food, medicine and other items out of reach. Rabbits are highly likely to chew on and destroy wooden moldings, trim or baseboard.
- Be sure to have a safe enclosure that you can put your rabbit in when you are away from home or sleeping.
- Rabbits are animals that need to eat almost constantly.
- Their digestive system must be working nearly all the time for them to stay healthy.
Hay – Fresh hay should be supplied daily as this is what the rabbit will munch on most of the time. Consider how many rabbits you have to ensure that there is adequate daily supply for them to eat
Pellets – Follow the instructions on the bag to determine the appropriate amount of pellets to feed daily. Be careful not to overfeed as rabbits can easily become overweight and this is not good for their health.
Fresh Vegetables and Fruit –
Daily: Bell peppers, carrot tops, cucumber; Herbs: basil, cilantro, dill, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, thyme; Lettuces: romaine, green leaf, red leaf, Boston bibb, arugula, butter
Vegetables once or twice per week: Carrots, Collard greens, Dandelion greens (pesticide-free), Kale, Spinach
Fresh fruit once or twice per week (The appropriate serving is one to two tablespoons of fruit (either one kind or a mixture) per five pounds of body weight): Apple (no seeds), banana; Berries: blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, cranberries; cherries (no seeds), grapes, melon, nectarine, orange, peach, pear, watermelon
Introduce new foods very gradually to avoid digestive upset. If your rabbit develops any sign of loose stool, reduce the amount of fresh vegetables and fruit for several days, until digestion returns to normal. Then try reintroducing the food in smaller portions.
Water – Ensure that your rabbit always has ample supply of fresh water.
If they are using a bottle with a spout, rinse and clean the bottle daily. Rabbits will drink from the bottle with food in their mouths, sending particles of food up into the water bottle. Regular cleanings and fresh water are critical for the health of your rabbit. For a deep clean, you can use diluted white vinegar and let it soak in the bottle for 30 min. Use a clean bottle brush if you have one. Carefully and thoroughly rinse the bottle and spout and refill with fresh clean water.
Water Bottle Cleaning Trick – If you don’t have a bottle brush, and the inside of the bottle is looking gunky or slimy, fill partway with crushed ice and then add a little diluted white vinegar. Close the bottle and shake vigorously. The crushed ice will scrape the inside of the bottle and help to remove any slime or debris buildup. Rinse thoroughly with fresh water.
- Your rabbit will need some fun things to do to keep them entertained safely.
- Find lots of safe toys at pet supply stores. Always ensure they are meant for rabbits and don’t contain any toxic ingredients or hazardous materials that could be dangerous for the rabbit to chew on or ingest.
- Rabbit’s teeth grow constantly. They need to chew a lot to keep their teeth in proper condition. If their teeth grow too long or crooked, it can impact their health and their ability to properly ingest food.
- Safe rabbit chewable toys include wood, apple sticks and some fibers. Be sure to only give your rabbit items that are safe. Sticking with items from pet supply stores is the best way to ensure your rabbit’s safety.
Here is a basic list of supplies that most rabbits will need:
Enclosure – safe and secure and big enough for them to move around and get exercise
Water Bottle or bowl – most rabbits will drink out of a water bottle with spout.
Hay feeder – Some rabbits enjoy pulling the hay out of the hay feeder and it can help to keep the hay sanitary. Some rabbits will pull all the hay out and it will just end up on the floor of the enclosure.
Food Bowl – Check that it is shallow enough for your rabbit to dip their face into
Igloo or Hidey Hut – Make sure it is big enough for your rabbit to turn around in. If you are adopting a young rabbit, they may grow, and you may end up needing a bigger hidey hut.
Litter Box and rabbit safe litter – Learn more about litter box training here: https://rabbit.org/faq-litter-training-2/
Enrichment/Chew Toys – apple sticks, woven fiber, wooden chew toys are all great options
Grooming – Small rabbit nail trimmers, rabbit shampoo for occasional bathing, brush
*Note – if you are adopting a long-haired rabbit, consult your veterinarian regarding grooming needs as some long-haired varieties need regular bathing, brushing and grooming to stay healthy.
- Many rabbits can be litter box trained, just like a cat.
- Paper bedding can be a great option and is generally safe and easy to clean.
- Some owners prefer blanket style bedding that is regularly changed and laundered.
- Do not use wood shavings of any kind as these can emit odors and dust that can be harmful for your rabbit’s respiratory system.
Some notes about bedding –
Determine what you can accommodate your routine to. If you have a large household with a lot of family members and frequent loads of laundry, you may find it difficult to keep up with regular laundering of rabbit bedding. Where you live is something to consider. Before laundering, soiled blankets will need to be shaken out to remove poop and hay as you don’t want that going through the washing machine. If you live in an apartment or condo, this may not be practical and paper bedding may be easier as it can easily be dumped into a trash bag. Paper bedding can an easy solution, but it can also be costly, so if you are able to fit regular laundering of bedding into your routine, that might be the right option.
For soft blanket style bedding, you can line the bottom of the enclosure with a few layers of absorbent bath towels or similar material. The top layer should be something moisture wicking. Microfiber blankets work great for this. After a couple of washings, basic microfiber blankets can wick moisture away from the surface and down to the absorbent layers below.
Note: Many scented laundry detergents and/or fabric softeners can be irritants to rabbit’s skin and respiratory system.
No matter what bedding you choose, be sure to clean your pet’s enclosure regularly. This will probably have to be done daily, especially if you have more than one rabbit. If you have one rabbit, you may be able to do it every other day. Always check the cage daily and remove any old uneaten fresh vegetables.
- It is best to consult a veterinarian regarding grooming and cleaning for your rabbit.
- Some long-haired breeds, such as Angora, require regular grooming, brushing and bathing.
- It is most important to keep nails trimmed regularly. Overgrown nails can lead to discomfort and health problems. Letting the nails grow too long may make it difficult to trim the nails safely to get them to a proper length.
- Check out some YouTube videos of owners trimming their rabbit’s nails to get a good idea of the best way to do it safely.
- Make sure you check your rabbit’s nails weekly to determine when it is time for a trim.
Fun and Funny Facts:
- Rabbits engage in a behavior known as Coprophagia. This means that they consume their own feces. This is totally normal. Many animals do this. Since plant matter is not completely broken down the first time around, rabbits ingest caecals (a type of stool) to get as many nutrients as possible. This is somewhat similar to how cows chew their cud. Caecals contain essential vitamins, such as vitamin K and B-complex.
- Rabbits that are happy will sometimes hop and twist in the air, known as a “binky”.
- Some rabbits can be taught their name and can even be trained to do simple tricks.
- Some rabbits enjoy being cuddled or snuggled. Others prefer to be left alone. Since they are prey animals, they naturally try to avoid being picked up. Regular quiet contact and slow approaches with patting and gentle picking up over time will get them used to their owner and help them realize that they are safe. Still, some rabbits will prefer to be left alone and that is ok. It is often a good idea to adopt in pairs or groups (as long as they are all the same gender) as they can be social animals with one another.