How to care for a pet rabbit – an In-depth guide
Rabbits are cute, snuggly pets who everybody likes to hold and cuddle with. They are unique pets who love being around people. But, are pet rabbits that easy to take care of? Are pet rabbits low maintenance?
Taking care for a pet rabbit is quite straightforward. If you have the right knowledge about their behavior, rabbits are pretty easy to take care of. They make great pets and can live a long, happy, and healthy life. Rabbits are low maintenance pets and need just 2-3 hours of your time.
Here is everything you need to know to care for your rabbit and keep them healthy and happy.
Step 1 – Set up an indoor cage for your pet rabbit
Rabbits need a large and spacious cage to move around comfortably. As a general rule, your rabbit’s cage should be at least 4 times the size of your pet. While setting up your pet rabbits cage, make sure you spread enough bedding to make the cage comfortable.
Rabbits are indoor pets. Setting up a cage large enough for them to fit comfortably and move around is necessary for the health of your rabbit. Although your rabbit will be out of his cage for most hours of a day, setting a comfortable home is necessary for your little one.
According to PetHelpful, your rabbit’s cage should be at least 4 times the size of your rabbit. If you have a smaller breed of rabbits that are less than 8 pounds, a cage of size 24” by 36” would be quite comfortable for your pet. For a slightly larger rabbit, a cage of size 30” by 36” would be more suitable.
When you buy a cage for your baby bunny, do remember that he would grow big in the next few weeks. A baby rabbit can grow as much as thrice it’s size at 14 weeks.
Along with being large enough, you should also make the bedding of the cage more comfortable. If you are buying a wire cage, make sure you spread some hay, shredded paper, or straw on top of it to make it more comfortable and warm for your pet rabbit.
Here are some good rabbit cages which are comfortable and fun for your little buddy
|Cage||Size (LxWxH)||Weight||Extra Accessories|
|Midwest Home deluxe rabbit home kit||39.5"x 23.75"x 19.75"||16.2 pounds||Hay feeder, water bottle, feeding bowl, elevated feeding area, detachable base to contain litter|
|AmazonBasics animal cage habitat||31”x 21.8”x 18.1”||11.37 pounds||Balcony, access ramp, non-trip food bowl, non-drip water bottle, hay guard|
|Ferplast Krolik Rabbit Cage||55.9”x 23.62”x 19.7”||30.6 pounds||Large water bottle, feeding bowl, hay feeder, elevated feeding area, detachable base to contain litter|
|Living World Deluxe Habitat||30.7”x 18.9”x 19.7”||12.6 pounds||Balcony, access ramp, hideaway, food dish, water bottle, hay guard|
Step 2 – Set up a rabbit litter box
Rabbits poop a lot, so it’s better to set up the litter box in the initial days at a place that your rabbit chooses. It is preferable to set it up near the food or water bowls. The litter box should at least be 10 cm tall, for an average-sized home rabbit. Fill the box with rabbit litter or organic paper, and spread a little hay over the first layer.
Rabbits tend to pee and poop in one area. You can take advantage of this, and set up a litter box to poop-train your rabbit. This would save you hours of cleaning up the mess your rabbit would leave behind. Rabbits poop a lot, so it’s better to set up the litter box in the initial days at a place that your rabbit chooses. It is preferable to set it up near the food or water bowls. You should buy a cage with a detachable litter box so that you can easily clean your rabbit’s poop when he is inside the cage.
The litter box should be big enough for your pet rabbit to lie comfortably. The height of the box would vary according to the size of the rabbit. The box should at least be 10 cm tall, but 15 cm is more comfortable and preferable for an average-sized home rabbit.
The litter box should be filled with rabbit litter which does not have a very strong smell. Avoid using cat litter, as it is usually made of clay and can clump into balls. Rabbits tend to swallow it and can be fatal for your pet. Avoid using wood shavings as well. Organic paper litters are more suitable for your pet rabbit.
After lining your litter box with recyclable organic paper litter, spread a little hay on top of it. Rabbits like to eat hay and poop at the same time, so it would be easier for you to poop-train your little guy.
Here are some good litter boxes which are comfortable for your pet and look good in the corner of your house as well.
|Litter Box||Size (LxWxH)||Weight||Additional Features|
|Ware Manufacturers Pet pan||12.75”x 9.25”x 6”||0.75 pound||Odor-resistant plastic, locks to cage, plastic guard, easy to remove, easy to clean|
|Rubyhome rabbit litter box||11.4”x 8.8”x 6.3”||1.1 pound||Stain and odor resistant, durable, extra spacious, easy to clean, removable grid floor design|
|Kathson large rabbit litter box||16”x 11.8”x 6.3”||1.8 pounds||Fixed knob, stain-resistant, low-entry design, durable, hygienic, easy to clean|
Step 3 – Rabbit-proof your house
Before bringing your pet rabbit home, you need to rabbit-proof your house. For the safety of your pet, all the wires should be lifted at least 3 to 4 feet above the ground. Do not put house plants in close range to your pet rabbit, as it mind end up intoxicating your pet.
Rabbits love to roam around the house and chew almost everything that comes in their way. So, before bringing your pet home, you need to be sure that your house is well-proofed for your pet rabbit.
To take care for a pet rabbit and to create a safe space for him you need to lift all the wires at least 3 to 4 feet above the ground and cover them with plastic sleeves. You can save your baseboards by fixing them with plastic guards.
House plants and pet rabbits are not a very good combination. Not only will they chew your plants off, but various plants are toxic to rabbits, and chewing on them can be fatal for your pet. Plants like a tulip, holly, and tomato leaves are deadly for your pet. You can keep your plants on an elevated surface, which is not in the reach of your pet rabbit.
Blocking off areas using fences or baby gates is a good option if you want to limit your pet rabbit to a certain area of the house. This is an easier and more convenient approach, as you just have to rabbit-proof a certain section of the house instead of the whole.
Step 4 – Feed your rabbit plenty of hay
Your pet rabbit’s diet should contain plenty of hay. Hay provides all the essential fibers which are needed by your rabbit for good digestive as well as dental health. Place a slightly larger hay feeder in your rabbit’s cage, so he can chew on it all day.
Your pet rabbit has a very different food habit than shown by Bugs – the bunny. Your pet’s food should mainly consist of hay. It needs to be readily available at all times. But why is hay necessary for your rabbit?
Hay is really necessary for your pet rabbit as it provides all the essential fibers which are needed by your rabbit for good digestive health. Apart from maintaining good digestive functioning, hay also helps in wearing down your rabbit’s teeth, which grow almost continuously throughout their life span. Hay also encourages the use of litter boxes by your rabbit. All you need to do is to line your litter box with some hay, and your pet rabbit would tend to use the litter box the next time he wants to poop.
A slightly larger hay feeder should be used for feeding them hay when they are out of their cage. This not only saves your time, as you do not have to refill it again and again, but a larger feeder also keeps your hay dry and fresh.
You should feed your baby rabbits with alfalfa, as it has a high caloric content which helps in their development. As your rabbit gets older, you should switch to timothy, orchard grass, or oat hay. They are more suitable for rabbits above the age of seven months. Always choose hay which looks and smells fresh. It should be stored in a dry place in a container through which it can breathe and stay fresh.
Here are some good rabbit hays which you can feed your pet to keep them healthy.
|Kaytee Timothy hay||12 pounds||High fiber, low protein, low calcium, high-quality 1st cut hay blend|
|Standlee premium western forage Timothy grass||10 pounds||High digestive fiber, highly palatable, moderate protein, freshly cut and sun-dried|
|Oxbow Western Timothy hay||5.6 pounds||Grown in USA, hand-sorted, hand-packed, high digestive fiber|
Step 5 – Provide fiber-rich pellets, fresh greens, and water
Supplement your pet rabbits diet with fresh fruits, vegetables, as well as fiber-rich pellets. It helps in balancing out the nutritional needs of your pet rabbit’s diet. Pellets are highly concentrated in nutrients, thus helping in the proper weight gain of your pet. Make sure your rabbit stays hydrated all day. Fill up a bowl of fresh water and place it inside his cage every day.
Rabbits love to eat fresh vegetables and fruits. Supplement your rabbit’s diet with vegetables like broccoli, carrot tops, cilantro, kale, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, and other green leafy vegetables. They not only give a fresh touch to your rabbit’s diet but also helps in balancing out the nutritional needs in his diet. Always wash your vegetables with clean, cold running water before feeding them. Do not feed your rabbit with leaves of houseplants, as it might be fatal to them.
Along with fresh vegetables, you should also feed your rabbit with fiber-rich pellets. They help in the overall development of your pet and ensures proper weight gain. Pellets are highly concentrated in nutrients, high in fiber content, and low in protein. Pellets are an important part of your bunny’s diet when he is young. As your rabbit grows older, you should limit the intake of pellets, as they might lead to obesity and other health issues.
Filling your rabbit’s bowl with fresh water every day is extremely necessary. Your rabbit should stay hydrated all day. When you are buying a cage for your pet, try to buy one with a hanging water bottle so it’s easy for you to clean and refill it. You can also buy a small ceramic bowl and place it in your room near the litter box and fill it with fresh water. If your rabbit does not seem to drink enough freshwater, then you can leave their vegetables fairly wet to increase his water intake.
Here are a few selected rabbit foods which are one of the best for your pet rabbit and provide them with complete nutrition.
|Kaytee Fiesta Rabbit Food||6.5 pounds||Nut, tree nuts, peanuts||Contains prebiotics and probiotics, guaranteed fresh, veterinarian recommended|
|Science Selective Rabbit Food||4 pounds||Vegetables, abalone||Nutritionally balanced, high fiber, promotes healthy digestion, no added sugar|
|Small Pet Select Rabbit Food||12 pounds||Timothy hay, buckwheat free||Made in the USA, high fiber, low calories, low calcium, contains essential vitamins and minerals|
Step 6 – Keep your rabbit entertained with toys and enrichment
Your pet rabbit should be kept busy and entertained, so they can remain physically and mentally fit. You can build castles and toys for your pet, or buy chew toys from your local pet store. Rabbits love to play with logic toys, which sharpens their mind and gives them the challenge to venture.
Wild rabbits spend most of their time searching for food and digging holes to sleep. But for your pet rabbit, the food is served in a bowl and they have comfortable bedding to sleep in, which leaves them with plenty of time in their hand. It is important to keep your pet rabbit busy and entertained, so they can remain physically and mentally fit.
Many rabbit owners prefer to build castles and toys for their pets. This not only helps them bond with their pet, but they also end up spending quality time with their rabbit. Rabbits love to chew on cardboard. Making a little cardboard castle would keep them entertained for quite a while, and they will be busy hiding and chewing on the sides of their castle.
You can also use cardboard tubes from toilet paper or paper towel rolls and fill them up with some hay. They are one of the most favorite toys for your bunnies. This would not only keep them entertained but would also encourage chewing of hay which is good for their digestive system as well as dental health. You can even buy chew toys for your rabbit which would last them a little longer.
Rabbits are quite intelligent and curious creatures. These genuinely smart pets love to play with logic toys which sharpen their mind and provide them with an interesting challenge to venture. Logic toys are puzzles that require problem-solving to get the reward, which is mostly an edible treat. They require lids to be opened, drawers to be pushed or pulled, or balls that need to be rolled. These toys keep your pet rabbit busy and intrigued for quite a while.
Spending time with your rabbit and paying with them makes them happy and helps you to bond with your pet. You can either roll a ball with them, play a logic toy, or teach a skill to your rabbit. The best time to teach your rabbit a new skill is when they are hungry and active.
Here are a few interesting toys your rabbit can play with
|VCZONE bunny toys||Chew toy||Natural, pollution-free, improve dental health, release stress, perfect for the cage, great for exercise|
|Hamiledyi fun tree rabbit toy||Chew toy||Chew and scratch toy, pet-safe material, improve dental health, good for exercise, improve agility|
|Kaytee Toss & Learn Carrot Game||Logic toy||Promotes healthy activity, durable, mounts to any wire, pollution-free, release stress|
|Living World Teach and Treat Toy||Logic toy||Interactive, rewarding toy, stimulating, educational, keep them healthy and alert, improve observation and learning|
Step 7 – Groom your pet rabbit
Rabbits keep themselves groomed and cleaned. Do not bathe your pet rabbit unless it is necessary. Baths can be traumatic to your pet and can cause shock or undue stress. Brushing your rabbit at least four times a week is necessary for him to shed his hair. Rabbit’s nails grow continuously all over their lifetime. Clipping their nails is an important part of their grooming process.
Rabbits are naturally clean animals and wash themselves up quite frequently. But, it is preferred that you groom your pet rabbit frequently. A clean, well-groomed rabbit is a healthy and a happy rabbit. But, should you bathe your rabbits?
Pet rabbits should never be bathed unless it is necessary. Just like cats, rabbits keep themselves clean and maintain personal hygiene. Baths can be quite traumatic to your pet rabbit and can send them in a state of shock, undue stress, and at times a heart attack.
If your rabbit has rolled in the mud or has a poopy butt, a shallow bath might be necessary. In such instances, lukewarm water should be used to bathe your rabbit. You can also use a wet cloth and clean them up.
Brushing your rabbit frequently is necessary. These pets might look small, but it is astonishing how much fur they can shed. Brushing your rabbit at least four times a week is necessary and is vital to your rabbit’s well being. You can use rubber or silicone brushes to groom your pet, as they are both gentle and effective on your rabbit’s coat.
Another important part of grooming your pet rabbit is clipping their nails. Rabbits’ nails grow almost continuously and throughout their life. Wild rabbit dig holes which help in the frequent wear of their nails. For pet rabbits, you must clip their long nails, as they might cause discomfort in walking and playing.
Here are some of the grooming essentials which would be perfect for your little guy
|Grooming Kit||Equipment Included||Additional|
|Ware Manufacturing Grooming Kit||Pin brush, Bristle brush, nail clippers, wood chew toy||Safe and effective to use, reduces shedding|
|Dasksha Rabbit Grooming Kit||Hand comb, Deshedding glove||Durable, made with ultra-gentle materials, easy to use, comfortable|
|Ruff 'n Ruffus Grooming supplies||Self-cleaning slicker brush, stainless steel comb, nail clippers||Pain-free bristles, self-cleaning, safety lock, durable, easy to use|
Step 8 – Understanding the personality of your pet rabbit
All rabbits have unique personalities. They are affectionate creatures and can build a strong bond with their owner. Understanding your pet is a long term task, but playing with them, talking to your pet, and trying to understand your pet would be a good start for your relationship.
Rabbits are unique, curious, and intelligent creatures. They are not like your average home pets. It is essential that you understand the personality and behavior of your pet, to be able to take care for a pet rabbit and to live a happy life together.
Rabbits have affectionate personalities and can build a strong bond with their owner. When they are happy and full of energy they will hop around the room in little bunny blurs. When they are hungry they might get a little cranky and start chewing on things.
Rabbits love and demand attention. When they want you to love them, your pet rabbit will dig on your leg until you stop what you are doing and pet them. Contrary to popular opinion, rabbits don’t prefer being picked up. They love running on the ground and being pet on the head. Understanding your rabbit’s language and behavior is a lifelong task, but sitting with them, observing them, and petting them would be a start to your relationship.
Rabbits are easy to care for, friendly, and cuddly pets, taking care for a pet rabbit might sound a bit of a task, but it is pretty basic and easy. While taking care of your pet rabbit, you would get a chance to bond with them and understand their personality and needs.
Thinking about adopting a rabbit for yourself? Don’t miss out on these 13 unique facts about pet rabbits before bringing one home.
To find out other easy to care for pets check out 7 best low maintenance pets you can own in 2020.