Undertake-a-Pet.com Weblog How To Take Care of a Bunny


By Adrienne A. Kruzer, BBA, RVT, LVT
woman holding and taking care of bunny
David Prado / Stocksy
There are many causes rabbits have grown in recognition as pets (together with the enjoyment their huge ears, mushy fur, and fluffy tails carry), and there are actually over 50 breeds of rabbits for bunny lovers internationally to look after. Some breeds have particular concerns, however general, caring for any rabbit breed requires the identical fundamental gear and data. In case you’re taken with adopting a rabbit, or even when you have already got one, right here’s your information to what to know and must preserve your rabbit wholesome and completely satisfied and ensure they stay an extended life.

Setting Expectations 

The lifespan of a wholesome pet rabbit is between 5 and ten years, however on your rabbit to have a contented life, you’ll must do your half in offering them with correct care. Rabbits have particular person personalities and provide superb companionship, however in alternate, they require house, common cleansing, correct diet, psychological stimulation, and veterinary care. In addition they ought to have a rabbit buddy, so if you’re planning on getting a bunny, you must ideally plan on getting two. A rabbit requires extra work than a hamster or guinea pig, so it’s vital to know every part that’s required to correctly look after them earlier than deciding {that a} rabbit is the proper pet for you.

What To Feed a Rabbit 

Rabbits are herbivores, in order that they solely eat plant matter, however the particular varieties and ratios of various plant issues are vital. As a younger rabbit, alfalfa hay ought to make up about 80% of your rabbit’s food regimen, with some darkish leafy greens and fortified rabbit pellets making up the remaining 20%. As your rabbit matures into an grownup, you’ll need to swap your grownup rabbit from alfalfa hay to a grass hay equivalent to orchard or timothy hay. Restrict rabbit pellets to about 1/4 to 1/2 cup a day, however you possibly can present as much as two cups of darkish leafy inexperienced greens. When you have a dwarf breed or different smaller breed of rabbit, chances are you’ll must lower the quantity of greens and pellets you present.

There are a selection of uncooked greens that may be fed each day to rabbits, together with:

  • Alfalfa sprouts
  • Arugula
  • Basil
  • Beet greens
  • Bell peppers
  • Bok choy
  • Boston bibb lettuce
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Butter lettuce
  • Carrot tops
  • Cilantro
  • Clover sprouts
  • Cucumbers
  • Dill
  • Endive
  • Escarole
  • Fennel
  • Inexperienced leaf lettuce
  • Mint
  • Okra leaves
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Pea pods
  • Radicchio
  • Radish sprouts
  • Radish tops
  • Pink leaf lettuce
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Thyme
  • Watercress
  • Wheatgrass
  • Zucchini

The next greens and fruits might be consumed a restricted foundation (a few times every week) to keep away from digestive points:

  • Apple (with the seeds eliminated)
  • Banana
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Broccoli (solely the stems and leaves)
  • Calendula flowers
  • Carrots
  • Chamomile flowers
  • Chard
  • Clover
  • Cranberries
  • Cherries (with no pits)
  • Collard greens
  • Dandelion greens (pesticide-free)
  • Day lily flowers
  • Dianthus flowers
  • English daisy flowers
  • Grapes
  • Hibiscus flowers
  • Honeysuckle flowers
  • Kale
  • Marigold flowers
  • Melon
  • Nasturtium flowers
  • Nectarine
  • Orange
  • Pansy flowers
  • Papaya
  • Peach
  • Pear
  • Pineapple
  • Plum
  • Raspberries
  • Rose flowers
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Watermelon

Additionally be certain to supply contemporary water from each a water bottle and a water dish. Rabbits will drink extra water in the event you present a water dish, however select one that can not be simply tipped over.

Spaying / Neutering 

Rabbits sadly have a excessive prevalence of reproductive organ cancers, so spaying or neutering your rabbit is a good suggestion to maintain them wholesome. Neutering males may also assist lower territorial behaviors equivalent to aggression and urine marking, and if in case you have each male rabbits and feminine rabbits dwelling collectively, getting them spayed and neutered will forestall an undesirable being pregnant. Not all veterinarians are in a position and keen to carry out surgical procedures on rabbits, although, so chances are you’ll want to perform a little research to discover a vet close to you that treats them.

It’s superb to spay or neuter your rabbit after they’re between 4 and 6 months of age, however the process might be carried out later in life as properly. There’s all the time a threat when anesthesia is concerned, so focus on the professionals and cons of those surgical procedures together with your veterinarian to find out what’s finest on your rabbit.

Rabbit Enclosure and Atmosphere 

Rabbits will not be the type of pets that may simply sit in a cage. They require house to run, play and discover safely exterior their cages, in addition to an enclosed space to eat and sleep.

Relying on your house, your rabbit might be able to stay outside year-round in a hutch, which might be made or bought. Simply be certain your rabbit’s hutch is safe sufficient that predators like hawks and raccoons can not get inside them. If you wish to let your rabbit run round exterior, use a harness and leash or x-pen to present them some further house — however all the time intently supervise them.

In case you select to deal with your rabbit indoors, buy a big rabbit cage or make an enclosure out of a canine crate, x-pen, or giant storage container. Along with a cage, your rabbit must also have a rabbit-proofed room or space to run round after they’re not sleeping of their enclosure.

Rabbits don’t do properly in environments above 77 levels, so that you’ll need to restrict out of doors time when it’s hotter and make sure you present them methods to maintain cool. In case you don’t have air con, be certain your rabbit’s house has frozen water bottles, followers, and different issues that assist them keep cool.

Train & Enrichment 

Rabbits like to run and play — actions which are additionally good for his or her bodily and psychological well being. Present your rabbit with ample house every day to train, in addition to toys, meals puzzles, and different types of enrichment. Toys that your rabbit can choose up, roll, or throw are well-liked choices along with toys that may be chewed. Maintaining your rabbit’s physique and thoughts busy is vital for its general well-being, so you possibly can present psychological stimulation by stuffing hay and greens into empty rest room paper roll tubes, tissue containers, and store-bought meals puzzles.

Litter Coaching 

Nobody likes to seek out urine and feces everywhere, plus having a chosen space on your rabbit to get rid of waste matter makes your cleansing routine a lot simpler. Select a litter field with low edges so your rabbit can simply see and entry the world and place it someplace your rabbit already prefers to urinate, equivalent to in a nook. A nook of an enclosure or room is a well-liked place for a litter field to be positioned, however rabbits additionally usually defecate whereas they eat, so chances are you’ll need to place your rabbit’s hay hopper in order that they’ve to sit down within the litter field whereas they eat.

Place absorbent, dust-free substrate within the litter field, and put a few of your rabbit’s feces and urine within the litter field in the event that they get rid of exterior of it throughout the coaching course of. This may assist appeal to and remind your rabbit of the place they need to go. Keep away from cedar, pine, or different wooden shavings which might trigger well being points for some rabbits. And don’t use clay or cat litter both; they’re unsafe for rabbits.

You’ll be able to reward your rabbit with wholesome treats in the event you see them utilizing the litter field however don’t punish your rabbit in the event that they don’t.

Rabbit Proof Your House

Select a rabbit-proofed room or space in your house on your rabbit to spend time in every day. In case you can’t rabbit-proof a complete room, an x-pen can create a big house inside a room on your rabbit to run round in. Be sure there aren’t any carpet, strings, or wires on this space that your rabbit may chew on, get tangled in, or pull up. Additionally, preserve canine and cats away from the house and canopy or shut up any areas the place your rabbit may be capable to get caught, equivalent to ground vents, areas below doorways, tables, or cabinets.

How To Deal with and Pet a Rabbit 

Rabbits ought to by no means be picked up by their ears or scruffing. Each of those restraint strategies are irritating and might injure a rabbit. To soundly choose up your rabbit whereas additionally making certain they really feel safe, place one hand below their chest and the opposite below their hind finish. Maintain the rabbit near your physique whereas supporting them. In case your baby needs to carry your rabbit, have them sit on the bottom to keep away from the rabbit by accident falling or being dropped. Don’t let your rabbit dangle whereas kicking their legs or restrain them so firmly that in the event that they kick their legs onerous in opposition to a floor, they’ll injure their again.

To pet a rabbit, gently stroke their fur within the course that the fur naturally lies. Rabbits take pleasure in having their head scratched and their again pet, however particular rabbits may take pleasure in having their chins scratched and even request a stomach rub by flopping over onto their sides.

Socializing 

Whereas they are often held and cuddled, bunnies could reply fearfully at first, maybe with a sudden motion that might startle a small baby and consequence within the bunny being dropped. For that motive, a rabbit is probably not a great pet for youths below 5. In case your rabbit is just not well-socialized, gaining their belief could take a while. Tasty treats ought to be reserved to present to your rabbit throughout socialization time, however persistence is the important thing ingredient. Transfer slowly and permit your rabbit to return to you, and keep away from grabbing or startling them. Sitting on the bottom in your rabbit’s play space encourages your rabbit to hop as much as you however allow them to come to you — don’t chase them. You may as well hand feed your rabbit their common hay and greens every day in the event that they aren’t used to being round folks in any respect. This may assist them study to belief you. Rabbits can nip, however they don’t seem to be sometimes aggressive and usually tend to run away if they’re scared somewhat than chunk.

Grooming 

Some rabbits want extra grooming consideration than others, however your rabbit could require common grooming, together with brushing, haircuts, nail trims, baths, and ear cleanings. In case your rabbit has fur that repeatedly tangles, has mats, or will get feces caught in it, it might require common brushing or haircuts. Most rabbits want nail trims until they spend sufficient time on surfaces that may naturally put on their nails down. Your rabbit may want ear cleanings, particularly if they’ve an ear an infection, mites, or floppy ears. They normally solely want baths in the event that they get soiled and particular care ought to be taken to not stress, chill, or overheat them whereas bathing them.

Bunny Examine-Ups 

As of 2021, one vaccination is on the market for rabbits in a lot of the United States: Rabbit Hemorrhagic Illness Virus (RHDV2). This vaccine is just not legally required like rabies vaccines are for canine, cats, and ferrets. Due to this, many pet homeowners don’t assume that rabbits want common check-ups with a veterinarian, however this isn’t the case. Rabbits ought to obtain annual bodily examinations identical to different pets so their vet can search for any modifications of their well being and hopefully handle them earlier than they turn into issues. Your veterinarian will hearken to your rabbit’s coronary heart, lungs, and intestine sounds, look of their eyes, ears, and mouth, really feel their physique for any lumps or different abnormalities, watch them transfer across the room, and focus on their habits, surroundings, and food regimen.

Contemplate Adopting a Rabbit 

Since many individuals don’t perceive on a regular basis required to correctly look after a pet rabbit, many relinquish their rabbits to shelters and rescue teams. Whereas you should buy a rabbit from a pet retailer or breeder, chances are you’ll need to consider rescuing a rabbit by adopting one as a substitute. Contact your native humane society, SPCA, ASPCA, or rabbit rescue group to see if any rabbits can be found for adoption. Even in case you are searching for a selected breed or age of rabbit, chances are you’ll be stunned to seek out that precise kind of rabbit is close to you, ready for a brand new house.

References

Rabbit Diet: What to Feed a Bunny

Basic Rabbit Care Handout and Infographic

Practitioner’s Guide to Pocket Pet and Rabbit Theriogenology

How to Keep Rabbits Cool in Summer

Rabbit Vaccines: Everything You Need to Know


Adrienne Kruzer is an achieved veterinary technician and author with over 15 years of hands-on expertise caring for home and unique animals.

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