So you’re a new rabbit owner. Congratulations! Rabbits can be awesome pets, and are typically very easy to care for. The rabbit is one of the most popular small animal pets, because they achieve a decent size, they have a calm demeanor, and people love how cute they are. No doubt as a responsible pet owner you want to do everything you can to ensure that your rabbit gets the best care possible! This rabbit care guide seeks to help answer all your questions including “how to take care of a bunny”! Keep in mind that a rabbit is a long lived pet. If properly cared for they can live more than 10 years.
Rabbit Housing – Indoors or Outdoors
The first thing on the list is providing proper housing for your bunny. Your bunny needs a home, and you should make sure you choose a cage that’s both large enough for them to move comfortably and for them to feel secure in their environment. It’s possible to keep rabbits both indoors and outdoors, but you should be aware of a few things first.
Outdoor Rabbit Keeping
Your rabbit will be fine outdoors, but you should ask yourself what the temperature is like in your area. If it’s very hot or very cold you may consider keeping your bunny indoors. Rabbits are delicate creatures, and they don’t do well with extreme heat or extreme cold. If you have a nice climate for at least part of the year you could for example keep them outside during summer, and move them to an indoor cage in winter. If it gets very cold you can also provide a heater of some sort for them.
In any case it’s important to protect your outdoor bunny from the elements! You should place your rabbit hutch or cage in a protected area. This could be on a porch or in the shade of a building such as a shed or the back of your house. You may need to purchase or build a shelter to put the cage under. This shelter should be in a position where it will absorb most of the heat from a hot day or shield your cage from wind and rain. It’s also advisable to put your cage in a spot where predators will be wary to approach. If it’s out of the way a crafty wild animal may try to reach in the cage and kill your rabbit even if they can’t actually get in. As a bonus, if your rabbit hutch is near a garden their droppings make excellent fertilizer.
Indoor Rabbit Keeping
If you choose to keep your rabbit indoors you’ll benefit from the ability to more easily climate control their cage, and to protect them from predators. A rabbit cage needs to be of decent size for your rabbit to live happily so you’ll have to find a sizable spot in the house for it. If you have a spare bedroom or a den that’s not used much it can be a good place for it. Keep in mind that rabbits are not always neat, and they may throw food or hay out of the cage.
You should also be wary to place your cage away from walls, hanging objects or power cords. Rabbits by nature will chew anything within their reach. This can quickly end very badly. Simply pull the table their sitting on out away from anything you think they can realistically reach from their cage.
When choosing a cage you should pick one that is at least five times the length of your rabbit. A larger cage is always better, and your pet will love having space to romp around. This is particularly important should you choose to have more than one rabbit. Bunnies need their own space just like people.
The most common type of cages are made of wood or metal. Some of these have build in nest boxes that provide a dark place for your rabbit to hide. If the cage you have does not contain one of these you need to buy a box house! If your bunny has to be out in the open all the time they will quickly become stressed. In the wild a rabbit spends much of its time hiding in a burrow. You should replicate this if you want a healthy rabbit. A wire cage can be very hard on a rabbit’s feet, so you may also invest in an insert or padding to make it more comfortable for them.
Did you know that rabbits can be litter trained? Much like a cat a rabbit actually likes to keep their cage neat. You may find that without any input from you that your rabbit chooses to always use the bathroom in the same corner of the cage! If this is the case you can buy a corner litter box from the pet store, and your rabbit will most likely immediately start using it. This makes cleaning your bunny’s cage much easier. You can simply dump out the litter pan instead of having to sweep up the whole cage.
Feeding Your Rabbit: What to feed rabbits
Rabbits require a balanced diet. You can’t expect to just feed them carrots everyday and have a healthy animal. The majority of your rabbit’s diet should be made of leafy greens like romaine lettuce, spinach and bok choy. You can also give your rabbit other foods like carrots, berries, broccoli, squash, melons, zucchini, and other fresh fruits and veggies. These should be fed to your rabbit on a daily basis. I have another article about what to feed your rabbit that provides a much longer list of foods.
While there’s nothing wrong with feeding your bunny pellet foods that should not be the only thing they get. The pellet foods are good for providing them with all their nutrients, but they should be supplemented with fresh greens and veggies. In addition you should also provide your bunny with hay both for eating and for bedding. In the wild rabbits spend much of their time grazing on grasses, and in captivity you should provide them something similar. This can be purchased at most pet stores or from farm stores as well if you’d like to buy it in bulk instead, which is cheaper.
Your rabbit needs a constant supply of fresh water. This is best achieved by the use of a hanging water bottle. These are normally plastic, and they hang on the outside of the cage. They have a small metal nozzle with a ball inside. The rabbit will lick the nozzle to make water come out. This is ideal because rabbits will chew on everything you put in their home, quickly destroying it.
Do rabbits play with toys?
Yes, you may be surprised to learn that rabbits play with toys! There are a variety of rabbit toys on the market meant for both enrichment and for chewing. Much like a dog it’s important for a rabbit to chew for the health of their teeth. Many of these are made out of wood, woven grass like wicker or cardboard to give something safe for your rabbit to wear down their teeth. There are other toys though that are purely to alleviate boredom. With nothing to do an animal will quickly get bored. Toys are an excellent way to help their mental health and give them something to do. For rabbits they will toss around little woven grass or plush toys for fun. You can also give them treat dispensing toys. The rabbit will have to work to figure out how to get the food out.
Do rabbits need friends?
Rabbits are social creatures, and they do much better with friends. Though if you purchase a male and a female you could very soon have more rabbits than you can handle! It is possible to get rabbits that are spayed or neutered or to take them to a vet and get it done. Unless you want a lot of baby bunnies you should get two animals of the same gender or be prepared to have them neutered.