Choosing a Pet Bunny
Choosing the right rabbit for your family can be a wonderful experience. There are currently over 40 breeds of rabbit. Dwarf breeds can be as small as two pounds, and the larger breeds can weigh more than 16. All breeds come in a variety of colors. Some breeds, such as the Mini Rex, have fur so soft, it's like a slice of heaven. Others, such as the Angora, need constant grooming, because their fur grows long, thick, and can mat easily. The best way to choose the right rabbit for your family is to attend a rabbit show in your area. There, you can speak to many breeders about the breed they specialize in. Not only that, you can see all of the colors up close, and feel all of the different furs as well. Choose whether you want a buck (male) or doe (female), and if you want a baby or adult. After playing with different kinds of rabbits, you can choose which one will best fit your family.
If you have another pet, such as a cat or dog, introduce them slowly. Most cats and dogs love bunny friends, but some can't get past the hunting instinct. If you have a cat or dog that wants to chew on your bunny, make sure you keep it in a room that isn't accessible to your little hunter.
Housing your rabbit is another decision you have to make before you purchase your bunny. Do you want a hutch outside? Do you want a cage inside? Do you need a cage? Where do you start? Whether you have them inside or outside, they need to be in a cage with a wire bottom, so their poop can fall through, and they don't have to walk in their waste. Rabbits can become extremely ill very quickly if they have to spend any time in their own waste. Keep a water bottle attached to the side at all times.
If you choose not to have a cage, make sure you give them a private place to hide, such as an animal carrier. Make sure they have water accessible at all times, they have a litter box, and that their area is safe for them. Rabbits are chewers and explorers, so if you don't want it nibbled on, keep it where your bunny can't get to it.
Don't use carpets or cardboard on the wire. This can make your bunny very sick. If you're worried about their feet, cage companies sell special floor mats just for bunnies. The only breed that has issues with the wire bottom of cages is Mini Rex, because they have a joint in their leg that is different, so if you choose one, be sure to get a floor mat, but wash it regularly. If you choose not to have a floor mat, you can prevent arthritis by giving your bunny floor time every day.
If you choose an outside hutch, make sure it's high enough off the ground to keep predators from getting them. Also, make sure a raccoon can't open the latch, because their hands are very dexterous, and you don't want to loose your bun to one of them. Should you choose an indoor cage, make sure you put it in a place where they can't easily bounce around and make the cage fall over. Make sure to clean the cage often. Give them chew toys to play with. The best cages for rabbits have removable trays underneath to make cleaning easier. Don't use pine bedding for your rabbit. It can promote respiratory infections. Bedding is not needed, but if you must, use straw which can be purchased at feed stores.
Handle your bunny often. Remember, they are prey animals, so they will be skittish for a while. If you work with them, they can be easily litter trained, and will quickly become a love. The more you love them, the more they'll love you. Remember to clip their nails often, because even if they aren't trying to get away from you, unclipped claws can really hurt. If you have a long haired bunny, keep them groomed so they don't mat up. Rabbits can also be leash trained, so you can take them to the park, or out for walks. Be aware that dogs and cats naturally want to chase bunnies, so if you see a dog headed your way, scoop up your bunny so he doesn't become lunch.
Feed your rabbit pellets that you can purchase at the pet or feed store. Alfalfa should be available all the time. Limit veggies and fruit to one or two times per week because of high calorie content, and some vegetables accumulate in their bodies and become toxic. Make sure you give your rabbit a salt wheel, and attach it to the side of the cage so it doesn't get covered in waste. Don't ever let your bunny run out of water.
Make sure to have your pet spayed or neutered, especially if you plan to have more than one, and you don't want any little baby bunnies every month. When you make the commitment to have a rabbit in your life, make sure you're willing to foot the bill if they need to go to the vet, because they deserve it. When you choose to make a bunny part of the family, you will soon learn how fulfilling they can be. Their funny personalities and big hearts make them wonderful pets for anyone from kids to adults.
To learn more about different breeds of bunnies, go to http://www.arba.net/photo.htm
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