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Buying a pet rabbit? What You Need To Know
Nothing Beats a Happy Bunny!
A look at what it takes to own a bunny.
Things you need to know:
Sure, rabbits are absolutely adorable, everything they do makes you melt and just want to hug them but they are also a LOT of work. When properly equipped to adopt a bunny there is more of a chance it will be a happy one! Here’s what you need to know before making the crucial decision.
First off, who is the rabbit for? If it is for children, then they need to be taught that rabbits are very fragile, easily scared and need quite a bit of attention and love.
Housing: If you are looking for an outside rabbit, then a hutch AND run would be needed. Keeping it in a hutch full time is a bad idea and leads to very unhealthy and sad rabbit. They need to be able to run around and stand up, which they do often. If it is an indoor bunny you’re looking for then a cage will do, but again, they should NOT be kept in the cage all day. Let them out and stretch their legs and they’ll be doing Binkies in no time. See Video below on proper rabbit housing.
Food/ water: Some people opt for a water bottle to hang off the side of their cages. If you do get one of these, change the water and clean it daily. I use a little shallow dish, again, changing the water and cleaning it daily. For food, hay needs to be their main source of nutrition. Pellets and rabbit food can be handed out in little amounts and then as treats little chunks of Broccoli, apple, banana (very small amount) and maybe a bit of carrot. One big No-No is lettuce! DO NOT feed it to your bunny-it can cause serious health problems and be fatal.
Bunny proofing: Your house will need to be bunny proofed. It will consist of moving any cables or wires out of the reach of the rabbit. They can eat and chew cardboard and paper which means books, boxes, dvd covers...etc can be harmful if they are eating the paper and cardboard...just chewing is fine (not for your belongings though). Spraying perfume on wires that cannot be hidden helps a bit. They don’t like nasty tastes.
Litter training: Bunnies can easily be toilet trained. They will pick their own spot to poop in so if it’s in a cage then all that needs to be done is cleaning the cage every two days. If you have a bunny like mine that refuses to go where you want her then place a litter tray on the spot (it will usually be a corner), you can use paper towels and hay (They like to nibble as they do their business) in the tray and place a mat around the edges (optional-I chose to do this because Cocoa can sometimes miss her tray and get the floor). Cat mats are fantastic for this and they are easily washed and dried. I've also found that Cat boxes are much cleaner and the contents don't tend to be kicked out easily. If you find your bun is constantly missing the try and peeing outside of it, you will need a tray with a high back, these are available in any good pet supply shop and are literally as cheap as chips!
If your bunny accidentally goes on a carpet or wooden floors, stock up on white vinegar, spritz it over the spot and wipe away.
Bonding: This is hugely important for the happiness of your bunny. If it is an outside bunny, then bringing him inside or letting him out in a safe place (where he won’t get hurt by other animals or run away) for a while will do wonders. They also LOVE getting rubbed-behind the ears, on their backs, down their noses and sometimes their tummies. Cuddling them will let them know they are loved and cared for. Grooming is important for bunnies as a social aspect as well as a clean one so its important you spend quality time with them. (But don't ever comb your bunny...i they re molting then just use your hand to comb away the stray hairs).
Toys: Don’t worry! You do not need to go out and buy toys for rabbits-they’re not picky-you just need to figure out what personality the rabbit has. Cocoa chews so I use the cardboard toilet tissue rolls-cut them up and put hay inside and she will play for hours. She also does something we call ‘Smooshing’. I don’t know if there is a name for it but basically, she pushes blankets with her front feet and throws them around. She can also do this for a very long time! Use household items that are safe and the bunny will be very happy for an hour.
Neutering: Rabbits can get very energetic and mischievous so spaying them will calm them down. It also helps with unwanted babies (if you have more than one bunny) and reduces health risks. In female rabbits, they can get very ill without being spayed but you will also need to see a good vet that has a good success rate with rabbits as it is harder to spay females and a little bit more dangerous.
Socializing: Rabbits are very social. Cocoa hates being left on her own and gets quite anxious but when she’s around people she is very calm and happy. They need to play, be rubbed and given loads of love. She will also deliberately jump up onto the couch and sit between myself and my partner if we get too close and leave her out. She nudges us when she wants to be played with and will always let us know when she wants something.
Life duration: This one is important because most people don't know exactly how long rabbits live for. When making the decision to get one, you need to take under consideration that it will more than likely (if proper cared for) live up to 8-9 years. It is a commitment but one that's definitely worth it. Also have backup plans in-case the rabbit doesn't suit you. Some people just let their rabbits run free in a field if they don't want to keep them but that's a death sentence for any pet rabbit. They are unable to defend themselves, they will eat anything (even poisonous) and will get anxious and worried leading to heart problems when they don't find their way home.
Bunny Proofing: This is important for house bunnies, we learned the hard way that rabbits love...LOVE to chew wires, even those plugged in. So first off, prepare their night time place, for us its the kitchen as there's very little for them to chew. This is where we put the rabbits at night and when we aren't home. During the day they have free roam, upstairs and down. But in order for that to work, we had to bunny proof everywhere, no wires hanging within reach, no furniture they can chew, and plenty of wood for them to chew on and play with in every room. Not to say that our entire house is a bunny playground, but as long as they have something small to chew, they shouldn't go for the furniture. If you have hardwood foors or tiles, chances are your bunny wont move around too much, they have no grip on this floor so placing a few mats in their favourite places really helps. They sleep here, groom here and feel very comfortable.
A Very Happy Bunny
Details in Short:
What you need before getting a rabbit:
1. Hutch/ Cage and Run
2. Hay, pellets, water bottle/dish
3. Litter box, paper towels, cat mat (optional)
4. Vet number
5. White vinegar (just in case)
I hope this helps in your decision to get a pet bunny. When prepared, they are the most loving, entertaining little animals that will show you a lot of affection.
P.S. NEVER discipline a rabbit. They do not respond to taps on the nose, being smacked (even gently) or being kicked. Do Not do these to your rabbit, they don’t understand that what they are doing is wrong so awarding them and praising them for the good things they do (lying down, binkies, using the litter tray etc) will soon teach them that they are better rewarded for being good. They pick it up fast and become very house-friendly.
A Short video on rabbit housing
A guide to Rabbit Behaviour:
- Is my Rabbit Happy? The tell-tale signs
many people have rabbits as pets or for breeding, but are their rabbits actually happy? here are the telltale signs of whether your bunny is a happy one or a sad one.