The right way to care for your pet rabbit
Everyone loves bunnies because they are soft, fluffy, cute, cuddly and super friendly! Sadly, these intelligent, little animals are often purchased on a whim. Many people don’t realize the responsibilities that go with caring for these cute little furballs. So, when they get tired of the chores associated with pet rabbit care, they end up abandoning their pet rabbits either in the street or in shelters.
Caring for your pet rabbit doesn’t have to be a tedious task if you know how to do it right. Here’s a pet rabbit care guide that will help you get the most enjoyment out of your everyday pet rabbit care.
Things to Know Before You Bring Home a Pet Rabbit
Before you get a pet rabbit, the first question to ask yourself is, “Am I ready for a pet rabbit?” They have a long lifespan (approx. 10 years) so bring them home only if you are prepared to take on their responsibility, long term. Rabbits are beautiful creatures, brimming with personalities but owning them is not all huggles and snuggles. They have some quirks you should know about:
Bunnies chew through everything. From computer cables to smartphones to slightly frayed rugs, they’ll find a way to chew through it. So, if you’re thinking of giving your pet free reign in the house, make sure it’s bunny proof!
They poop a lot. Bunnies can leave trails of round pebble-sized droppings in their wake but, it’s not messy. And they also eat their own poop. Thankfully, just like cats, rabbits can be litter trained.
Similar to dogs, these little furballs like to mark their territory. To avoid this problem, it’s a good idea to get your pet spayed/neutered.
Rabbits get bored easily. If rabbits are not mentally stimulated, they’ll make their own fun chewing your possessions. To avoid this issue, you can provide them with a cardboard box filled with bunny toys, empty toilet paper rolls, and other paper products that you no longer need. Later on this article, we’ll discuss more fun DIY activities for your bunnies.
Rabbits don’t like to travel. This is because they get stressed out in unfamiliar environments. It’s best to have a good pet sitter at home when you are away.
Bunnies are gregarious animals. They love to stay in groups and feel lonely in the absence of other rabbits. So, it’s always good to adopt 2 compatible furry pals instead of one.
Rabbits may be a handful at times, but they can make delightful pets if given a little love and care. So, if you are ready to take the next step, here are some tips you need to know to keep your rabbits healthy, happy and comfortable always:
Preparing Your Home for a Bunny
While most people love to keep their bunnies indoors, they are more than happy being kept outdoors. If they are kept in a safe and secure hutch, your rabbit can call it home.
Here are some important things to keep in mind if you wish to keep your bunnies outdoors:
- The hutch should be spacious and built from sturdy and good quality weather resistant timber.
- To make the hutch safe and secure it should be fitted with a fixed galvanized wire mesh, locks, sliding bolts and padlocks.
- Their home should be in a protected area where they will feel comfortable retreating to. Make sure to place comfortable bunny bedding for your little ball of fur. You can even use a layer of newspaper, with straw, hay or shredded paper on top to keep your bunny comfortable.
If you want to let your bunny roam around the house, here are some tips to make your house “bunny-proof”:
- Rabbits love to chew, so make sure you cover all the wires and chords with flexible tubing.
- Use a baby gate to keep your bunnies confined in a safe area in your house.
- Keep all the houseplants out of your bunny’s reach because some may be poisonous to your furball.
Make sure to empty your bunny’s litter box every day and clean their crate once a week.
Feeding Your Bunnies
A healthy and nutritious diet is important to ensure your bunny is in good health. Vegetables, fresh grass, and hay should make up the bulk of your rabbit’s diet. You can also feed your bunnies commercial rabbit pellets. However, be careful with them because they contain a high in calorie count, so it’s better to stick to a home-made diet. You can buy hay from local feed or pet stores. Make sure to refresh the hay often in order to avoid unwanted parasites and infection.
2-4 cups of varied veggies should be provided to your rabbits daily. Here are some vegetables rabbits absolutely love:
- Turnip Greens
As a rabbit’s digestive system is very sensitive, here are some food items to absolutely avoid:
Grooming Your Bunnies
Rabbits are wonderfully clean and hygienic animals, who groom themselves to perfection. Yet some grooming is required to keep them in good shape. Here is what you need to do:
- Wipe their ears: Use a soft cloth to gently clean your bun’s ears. If you notice wax or debris, get it cleaned by a vet.
- Brush their fur: Regular brushing is important to keep your bunny’s fur soft and shiny.
- Trim their nails: Rabbits’ nails grow continuously so it’s important to trim them with the help of nail clippers.
- Clean their scent glands: Rabbits have scent glands near their anus that need to be regularly cleaned. If you notice your bunny scooting its bottom on the ground, or if you notice a foul odor, clean the area with a damp cotton swab.
- Never bathe your rabbit unless necessary: Immersing your rabbit in water may cause him to get upset. So, do not bathe your rabbits. However, if you notice your rabbit with a ‘poopy butt’, you need to clean its genitals and hind quarters.
Training Your Business and Understanding Their Behavior
Just like cats and dogs, rabbits are quite trainable. It may take some time and patience, but it’s totally worth it. Training your pet rabbit and understanding their behavior is a wonderful bonding experience. This helps you understand them better and appreciate their uniqueness. Training your pet includes – litter training and redirecting their natural behaviors like chewing and digging.
Keeping Your Bunnies Mentally Stimulated
As discussed earlier, rabbits tend to get bored very easily. To keep them stimulated and happy, you can make some inexpensive toys at home. Here are some fun ideas to keep your bunnies mentally stimulated:
Cardboard boxes with door holes, where they can play hide and seek with their friends.
You can use an old deep tub and fill it with soil for them to dig in.
You can hide treats in their hay.
The best way to keep your bunny happy is to get them a friend. 2 rabbits are always better as they can keep each other company. Your bunnies can groom each other and flop on the floor next to each other. Awww!!
Spaying and Neutering Your Rabbits
Rabbits are one of the fastest breeding animals and their desire to mate can be really strong. So, unless of course, you want a house full of cute little bunnies, it is important to get your pet rabbits spayed or neutered. It also keeps unwanted behavior at bay, like marking their territory. Additionally, it increases their lifespan and helps avoid many diseases. So, get your bunnies spayed/neutered as soon as they reach the right age.
Signs That Your Bunny Needs To Be Seen By A Vet
It is very important to understand your bunny’s body language in order to detect any problems early. Here are some signs to look for:
- Their eyes: Your bunny’s eyes should be bright and clear.
- Teeth: Rabbits’ teeth grow continuously. If you notice your bunny’s teeth long enough to cover its bottom teeth, take your pet to a vet for evaluation. It’s possible that he/she’s not grinding them down enough.
- Look through their fur: Your bunny’s fur should not be matted. If you notice matted fur, dandruff or lumps on your bunny’s body, it means a visit to the vet is in order.
- Check their stool: If your bunny has loose feces or not passing stool at all, call the vet immediately.
- Keep their activity level in check: Your bunny should be active and fairly friendly. If you notice any behavioral changes, call the vet.
- Signs of illness in rabbits: Cloudy eyes, nasal discharge, loss of appetite, lethargy, and abnormal stools should never be ignored. Also, if your rabbit is tilting its head to one side, it could indicate a dysfunction of its nervous system, which is a serious issue.
It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of getting a cute, fluffy pet rabbit. Knowing how to care for your pet properly is the key to enjoying their wonderful companionship for years.
About the Author
Anoop Nain is a proud father of four rescued dogs and two Flemish giant rabbits. Besides being a full-time dog father, he is a freelance content writer/blogger and an educationist, with more than 6 years experience in the field of content writing.