Caring for Your New Rabbit
You need to purchase a hutch or a cage for your rabbit, unless it is going to be a house bunny. You can buy cages from Pet Smart, Petco, Walmart, and many other stores if you are looking for brand new cages. Another great spot to look is craigslist.com and local breeders-you can usually get or find great quality cages for a lower price!
We have found heavy ceramic dishes work best, but many rabbit owners just use heavy household dishes/bowls. You can also find dishes that attach to the cages like j-feeders or EZ crocks.
If you are buying a water bottle, we recommend a 32 oz size, rabbits can drink A LOT, and you don't want your bunny to run out of water when you are not home to fill it up again. For water you can also use a heavy ceramic dish or E-Z crocks. We personally have found that E-Z crocks work best in winter because if the water freezes the E-Z crock won't break like a ceramic dish would when the water expands.
We currently feed our rabbits an all organic feed, consisting of a special blend of oats, barley, wheat and sunflower seeds. Along with this we provide our rabbits with mineral blocks. However, if you are unable to feed your rabbits this way, we recommend using Show Quality Rabbit Pellets. You can find this at your local Tractor Supply or other farm/feed stores.
You can buy small sacks of hay at many stores for around $3-$4.
Bedding should be non-aromatic, such as carefresh. You can buy large bags of these at pet stores for around $15. Wood Shavings (NOT PINE) and Sawdust also work very well. They are extremely absorbent, and smell fresh and clean.
If you have already acquired a non wire cage, such as one with a plastic bottom, we would recommend that you look into purchasing a litter pan for your rabbit. Rabbits are easily litter trained. Just find the area in the cage that they tend to go to the bathroom the most, put the pan in that spot, add a few of their droppings into their pan, and Ta-Dah! Now it is much easier to clean the cage out every day!!
Pet Nail Clippers
You can find these at many pet stores.
You can also find these at many pet stores.
Don't be afraid to spoil your rabbit a bit!
Here are some great toy ides:
- Cardboard boxes for crawling inside and chewing. Add 2 doors to the box, your bunny will love it!
- Cardboard roll from toilet paper or rapping paper.
- Cat toys; Cat toys that can roll around are favorites among bunnies!
- Bird toys; Toys that hang from the top of the cage and have bells are great fun for you rabbit.
- Toys with ramps and lookouts for climbing and jumping onto to get up high.
How long do rabbits generally live?
Rabbits can live an average of 5-11 years. Depending on how healthy and what kind of an environment they live in, they can live for a very long time. So make sure you are committed to give your rabbit a permanent home.
Should I get a male or female rabbit?
If you plan on ever spraying/neutering your pet, their personalities will be quite similar in the end. If you are not planning on spraying or neutering (and are only getting one) I would recommend a buck for a pet. They are calmer and less territorial about there cages and space than does are. Though they could possibly spry, it is also possible for a does to spray. If are are getting a single buck, it would be fine living alone and not being neutered. Actually, if you are only getting one rabbit it is much better NOT to spray or neuter it. It is very hard on the rabbit stress-wise, and some vets will not spray/neuter rabbits because of this.
Should I get one rabbit or two?
Rabbits can be happy whether they are in pairs or alone. If you can only afford one, you can keep your pet alone. But you need to make sure to pay lots of attention to it, at least an hour a day if you possibly can. If you are unsure if you will be able to take this much time out of your day, why not get a companion for your little friend? Rabbits will groom each other, and provide each other warmth. It is often much better to get two rabbits from the same litter, because they will be less likely to fight. If you are only getting one rabbit, it is not necessary to spray/neuter it. If you are getting two, I would suggest looking into this! Although it can be stressful for the bunny, it will eliminate aggressive fighting and territorial feelings between the 2 rabbits.
How much time does rabbit care take?
Though a rabbit is much smaller than a dog or horse, they are still live animals and require plenty of love and care. You can except to spend at least an hour a day playing with your rabbit if you can. Your rabbit will get lonely. Feeding and watering your rabbit does not take much time out of your day. It will only take you a few minutes to open the cage, fill the water bowl and feed bowl, and be on with your day! Just remember that your rabbit is alive, and relies on you to take care of it.
Can my rabbit we house trained?
Yes! There are many rabbits in the world that are. A good book to check out is
House Rabbit Handbook-How to live with an Urban Rabbit by Marinell Harriman
How do I hold my rabbit?
Always make sure to support your rabbit's hind end and feet to make him feel more secure. NEVER pick your rabbit up by the ears, feet, or tail. To pick your rabbit up, hold your rabbit just behind his front feet with your left hand. With your right hand, support your rabbit's bottom, and lift him up so he/she is positioned in your arms in a comfortable way for the both of you.
The kind of cage you buy for your rabbit could affect their health and happiness, so make sure you are choosing one that is best suited for the breed of your rabbit.
We personally recommend buying a cage with a wire floor and a plastic/metal tray to catch the droppings. If you are placing your rabbit indoors (a barn, shed, or your house) these cages are very handy. 24 in by 24 in is big enough for most medium or small breeds, but the bigger the better!!! Many pet stores or feed stores carry good quality wire cages.
A rabbits diet should consist of commercial pelleted feed, water, timothy hay, and fresh vegetables.
Rabbits don't eat meat; they are herbivores. They eat vegetables, fruits, and other grasses. All the nutrition your rabbit needs can be found in commercial rabbit pellet feed. I buy show quality rabbit feed- it is of good quality and my rabbits like it. You can buy many varieties of pelleted feed, but make sure the pellets have a minimum of 18% fiber, and between 12 and 16% protein content.
To keep your rabbit healthy and getting all the fiber it needs, you need to make sure your rabbit has unlimited hay all day long.
Water is EXTREMELY important in your rabbits diet. Make sure they have CLEAN, FRESH water all the time. If you use a water bottle, we would suggest getting a 32 oz, because you don't want your bunny to run out of water! Otherwise heavy dishes, ceramic crocks, or EZ crocks work great too.
Feeding Different Ages of Rabbits
From Birth to 3 Weeks Old
3 to 4 Weeks
4 to 7 Weeks
7 Weeks to 7 Months
1 Year to 5 Years
Over 6 Years
Store bought treats are not very good for your rabbit. They are like junk food for your bunny. Though they may like it, it could cause them to have a shorter life, and not be as healthy. Here are some great treats for your bunny, that should be fed in small amounts!
Honey dew melon
Papaya (no seeds)
Lettuce (fresh, not iceberg lettuce)
Feed your rabbit treats in small amounts, they could get very sick from eating too many fruits. Veggies are more important for a rabbits diet. Also, make sure to never give your rabbits seeds if the fruit/veggie has seeds in it. Younger rabbits should not have treats! Wait until they are about six months old before you give them treats. This is because young rabbits digestive system are unstable, and should only be given pellets until they are six months old.
Before you buy a rabbit, think about where you will get one. As a personal opinion, we would recommend either adopting from an animal shelter, or buying from a breeder, rather than buying from a pet store. If you adopt, you are giving a pet that could have had a hard life a new home. A new, better, happier life. If it is not possible to adopt in your area, OR you would rather have a baby rabbit, we suggest a breeder. You are sure to get a sweet pet from a responsible breeder for your home or backyard.
Why shouldn't you buy a rabbit from a pet store/flea market?
Here are just a few reasons...
- If you buy a baby rabbit, they will grow up. If you buy from a breeder, you will be guaranteed to know how big they will get, as you will be able to see the parents. Many pet shops sell rabbits as "dwarfs" but when they grow up into very large rabbits, larger rabbits than you had bargained for.
- If you buy a baby rabbit from a pet store: many shops take the baby rabbits away from their mothers MUCH too early. If you purchase from a breeder, you will know their exact birth date, as well as parents' information. You do NOT want to get a baby rabbit that is under 6-7 weeks old. Baby rabbtits need to stay with their mother to develop intestinal bacteria. While babies are drinking from the mother (doe), their intestines are sterile. Taking away babies too soon means they may develop intestinal problems later on due to the lack of healthy bacteria.
- When you buy from a breeder, you will most likely have someone to call anytime and anywhere for help and tips on your rabbit.
- When you buy from a shop, you are getting animals that may not be very sociable, and you have no idea what kind of attention they have gotten. When you purchase from a hobbyist rabbitry breeder, you can be sure that they have spent many hours looking after their rabbits and making sure they have the best life possible
Find a hobbyist rabbit breeder who has been breeding to produce the best rabbits they possibly can, normally for show. These folks compete in rabbit shows throughout the year and every breeding they do is done in the hopes of producing a better show rabbit. *Not every rabbit in every litter that a rabbitry has will be show quality.* Good rabbit breeders will sort the litter, deciding which ones are promising show rabbits and which ones should be pets. The rabbits that do not quite meet the show rabbit standards are sold as pets.
Pet rabbits from hobbyists come from high quality, healthy, pedigreed mothers and fathers. Most rabbitry hobbyists care for their show quality grand champions just as much as the rabbits that are sold as pets. Hobbyist rabbitry's spend many hours learning and caring for their rabbits. Another advantage of buying from a breeder is that they will sell you a very good pet rabbit at a reasonable price. Making profit on pet rabbit sales is not normally their goal. They are raising grand champions to produce more grand champions, but somewhere online the line there is going to be some rabbits that do not meet the show standard.
Hobby breeders can accurately tell you, to the best of their knowledge, what sex your pet is. They can also show you the parents, so you will know how big your rabbit will get. They should also be able to give you your pets birthday, and pedigree upon your request. They are also always avaliable to answer your questions you may have in the future.
Most responsible breeders guarantee the health of the rabbit they sold you for at least 2 weeks. They will stand behind their rabbit and have a replacement for you in case something happens to your pet shortly after your purchase.