If you are like most new bunny pawrents, you will run to Google for answers on how to care for rabbits. Let us help you out by answering some of the most common rabbit care questions. It’s always best to do your homework and find out what it takes to care for rabbits before you bring them home. That way you can be 100% sure that rabbits are right for you.
Do rabbits make good pets?
Yes, but they require a bit more finesse than cats or dogs. Most new bunnies do not seek attention or want cuddles straight away. Rabbits are prey animals whose immediate instinct is to hide when bigger animals (ie: people) are around. However, when given their space and allowed to approach people on their own terms, rabbits can become social and playful little pets! The trick is patience. Rabbits are very intelligent and can quickly learn that their new human friend provides tasty treats in exchange for head rubs and bunny kisses. They may even learn that being stroked and spending time with their new human friend is rather enjoyable! Gaining a bunny’s trust is an amazing experience and definitely worth the work.
Are rabbits easy to care for?
Rabbits do take more care than most people realise. That is why we always say that rabbits do not make an ideal pet for young children. It should always be the whole family that care for the them. Rabbits love nothing more than a strict routine. This not only keeps them happy, but healthy, too. Rabbits need a lot of space to stretch their legs and run. They need an endless supply of fresh hay and water, lots of places to hide and soft bedding for snoozing. Being prey animals, rabbits need a very secure, quiet area where they can retreat to and feel safe. Fresh air and sunshine are important, but bunnies should never be left to free roam alone in the garden. They need to be supervised at all times or have a secure pen to play in while outdoors. Rabbits also like to chew, chew, chew so in the house, things like electric cords, carpets, baseboards, books, etc. are fair game to their busy chompers and must be kept out of reach or protected. Rabbits also require grooming, nails cutting and regular health checks. Company is also very important. Rabbits should live with another rabbit as they are very sociable animals and can become depressed if left on their own. Your company is also very important to them.
Are rabbit clean pets?
Overall, yes, they are! Rabbits are great self-groomers. A bunny’s fur naturally smells very clean due to the amount of time they spend cleaning themselves. You should never bathe your bunny as this causes them undue stress. They do need regular brushing to get rid of excess fur, especially when they are molting. Bunnies can also be litterbox trained, just like a cat. Bunnies typically like to keep their space neat, but occasional accidents can happen. Their home should be kept clean. We always say if you won’t lay down in your bunny’s home, then don’t expect your bunny to!
Can you keep rabbits indoors?
Definitely! Rabbits are quiet little critters who would make wonderful house pets. As previously mentioned, they require space to run. As a rule of thumb, a single rabbit requires at least 8 square feet of enclosure space combined with around 24 square feet of exercise space. They can stay in their enclosure while you are away, but make sure they get at least 5-6 hours of exercise a day. Many bunnies can become free-roam house bunnies, but you will need to bunny proof your home beforehand. Also, if your house/apartment is rented check with your landlord or apartment manager to make sure pets, in general, are allowed.
Do rabbits require vet care?
All pets should visit a vet at least once a year for annual checkups, and rabbits are no exception. You should keep in mind that rabbits will need to see a vet that specialises in rabbits as they are classed as exotic pets. Bunnies do require annual vaccinations. If your rabbit does show signs of being ill, they can go down hill very fast, so acting quickly the minute you see that something is not right is key.
Here are some a couple of common ailments to keep in mind.
Dental problems. Common chomper issues include elongated incisors, root abscesses and gum infections. These are common in bunnies who are not given a proper diet. Providing fresh hay, fresh veggies, safe chew toys, and keeping a close eye on your bunny’s eating habits can prevent a painful and costly vet visit.
GI Stasis. This issue arises from a lack of movement through the digestive or gastrointestinal tract of a rabbit. Stasis can arise when rabbits are stressed or have sudden changes to their environment or diet. If not caught and treated quickly, it can become deadly. Not many people realise that healthy, happy rabbits can live up to 12+ years!
What do rabbits eat?
Hay is the most important food to rabbits. They should have unlimited amounts of good quality hay available to them at all times. This can include meadow, timothy, grass or oat hay. Fresh greens, pellets and fresh water make up a rabbit’s daily diet. Safe veggies for rabbits include romaine and red left lettuce, mustard greens, carrot tops, parsley, cilantro, bok choy and radish tops. Fruits such as apple, strawberry, blueberry and banana should be given very sparingly as treats, as they are full of sugar. Carrots are also full of sugar and should be given very sparingly, too.
Overall, rabbits can make wonderful and entertaining pets. The more time you spend with them, the more you get back from them. Bunny parents should always provide a good diet, lots of room to run, yearly vet visits and lots of love.
If a rabbit sounds like the perfect companion, then please Adopt, don’t shop! There are so many rabbits, of all ages, waiting for their furever home in rescues right now.
Written by Shelby Stone, keeper of the Mile High Menagerie. Full time mom to fur and feather babies, a software engineer and social media manager at Small Pet Select.