Lately I've been writing a lot of blogs on animals other than hamsters. Well and friend and coworker asked me for some tips for her two bunnies. So....Here is a blog on proper rabbit care!
What Is A Rabbit?
A rabbit is a small mammal that makes a wonderful pet/friend! Rabbits actually rank fourth in North America as pets. (After cats, dogs, and birds.) When most people think of a rabbit, they think of a tall grey and white rabbit, standing upright, munching on a carrot, and asking "What's up, Doc?" shortly followed by some sarcastic remark. Yes, I'm speaking of Bugs Bunny. But a Rabbit is so much more than most Loony Tunes fans think! Bunnies are very intelligent, strong, and fast. Their speed is in their back legs. (Did you know that a rabbit can actually kick it's back legs so hard, it can break it's own back? Don't worry, your bun won't do this for no reason. It would only happen if they were trying to escape the jaws of a predator in the wild and made a wrong move!)
Ever noticed that many rabbits look different? Just like dogs, there are many different breeds of bunnies. There are even Rabbit Shows! Most of the buns you would buy from a pet shop are mutts. The most popular pet breeds are Dutch, Lop, Rex, Mini Rex, Satin, Mini Satin, and Netherland Dwarf. These bunnies may have short or long (Angora) fur and it may be coarse or silky. Their ears may stand straight up or may hang down to the sides of their head (Lop eared).
Bunnies usually love other bunnies and can often be housed in same sex pairs or groups, as long as there is enough cage room. But I stress that these buns be of the same sex to prevent reproduction. A rabbit's gestation period is 30 days and litters typically have 5-8 young. Babies are called kittens or kits. Please be mindful of this and leave breeding to the professionals!
Is A Rabbit The Right Pet For Me?
Before bringing home your furry friend there are some things to consider.
*Do you live in a rent house or an apartment where you have a landlord? If so, check with them first to make sure small animals are allowed in your home. There may be a security deposit and/or additional rent required. Make sure your budget will allow for this.
*Do you have time in your schedule to properly care for this little bundle of joy?
*Do you have room in your budget for all of it's expenses?
*Do you have a safe area in your home for a roomy cage?
*Do you have any other pets or small children that may harm or scare the Rabbit?
*Does anyone in your home have an allergy to fur? If so, they may be allergic to buns.
****Are you only adopting a bunny as an Easter gift for a child? If so, stop and rethink what you are doing! Many rabbits are sold as Easter gifts, but soon after the holiday passes many people grow tired of their pet or find out the care and/or expense of a bunny is too much for them and try to get rid of them. Easter rabbits will often end up in shelters, abandoned on the side of the road, or released into the wild. Please read on and think carefully before taking on the responsibility of an Easter bunny!
Rabbits can be amazing companions, but you have to provide the right things for them to be happy and healthy!
Cage/Hutch: Bunnies need plenty of space to run around and play. A rabbit's cage/hutch should be relatively large. Your bun should be able to sit up on his/her hind legs, with his/her ears sticking straight up without touching the roof of the cage. If his/her ears touch the hutch is too small. Another thing to conciser heightwise, is that bunnies hop. Your friend should be able to hop around comfortable without any part of it's body touching the hutch roof. Lengthwise and widthwise, the cage should be long enough so that your rabbit can lay down and completely stretch out without touching the walls. If it cannot do this, the hutch is too small. Keep in mind, the cage will have more things in it aside from your baby bun! Of course, your hutch should be as large as you can afford and have room for. Many people build their own cages/hutches, as it is cheaper and they can build them the way they want them. Cages/hutches can be indoor or outdoor. though many people have both. If you are housing multiple rabbits in the same cage, they should all be able to stretch out completely without any part of their bodies touching each other or the cage walls. Overcrowding a cage can be dangerous. Your bunnies can become irritable, ill, fight each other, stressed, and much more.
Free Run: Many people let their rabbits loose in their house or fenced in backyard like a cat. Rabbits can can potty trained relatively easy, so this is possible. Remember that other pets can scare or harm the bunny so be aware of this.
House: You will need to rabbit proof your home before letting your baby bun run free. Make sure there is nothing your rabbit can get caught on or stuck in. Short trash cans should be picked up or have lids on them. Some people block off the bottoms of beds, sofas, ect. so prevent their bunnies from hiding under them. This is not necessarily, so long as the underside is kept clean and tidy. Make sure to monitor them in areas with rugs or carpet, as they might try to chew them. This goes for fabric covered furniture and anything else they can get their ever-growing teeth on. Rabbits, just like most other small animals, have teeth that never stop growing and chew on almost anything, so keep everything you don't want shredded out of their reach. This brings me to the wires. We live in a world that is drowned in technology and we all have homes full of wires! Make sure your baby bun does not chew on any wires, as they can get electrocuted as well as cost you your TV wires and cell phone charger. You can approach this in multiple ways. Pick up as many of the wires as possible. You can also buy clear tubing from Home Depot of other hardware stores to encase the wires in to prevent chewing. And lastly, you can completely block off the backs of entertainment centers and other areas.
Backyard: If your going to let your bunny run loose in your yard you should make sure it is safe! Make sure there are no wild animals or other pets that could frighten or cause harm to your bun. Make sure there are no holes in your fence and there are no dangerous objects in the yard. Be sure that any of the plants in your yard are not poisonous to your rabbit, as they will try to eat them. And lastly, make sure no pesticides have been used on the grass or plants.
Food: How many times have you heard someone refer to a salad as "Rabbit Food"? Did you know that's technically wrong?
*Hay: Rabbits need an unlimited amount of grass hay. Offer fresh grass hays such as timothy, oat, coastal, brome, Bahia or wheat.
*Pellets: A quality commercial brand of rabbit pellets is also essential for your baby bun's heath.
*Fresh fruits and vegetables can be offered, but should not make up too much of the bun's diet. Uneaten fruits and veggies should be removed after 24 hours. Most rabbits enjoy
broccoli, dark leaf lettuces, kale, parsley, carrots (with tops!), endive, escarole, dill, basil, mint, cilantro, culantro, spinach, tomato, celery (cut up into 1" pieces, to avoid problems with the tough strings getting stuck on the molars!).
Food Bowl/Water Bottle: You'll need a fairly large bowl for your baby bun's food. A ceramic bowl is hard t over turn and chew proof. If offering treats, fresh fruits/veggies, a separate bowl should be provided. Hay racks and spinners can be bought to keep the cage floor clean and keep the hay itself clean. Your rabbit will need plenty of water, which should be provided from a water bottle.
House: Rabbits can get stressed sometimes, so they need someplace to hide in! There are many options for this, from plastic igloos to wooden boxes. Rabbits love to burrow so fill their houses with aspen wood bedding, paper bedding, and/or hay.
Toys: Rabbits love to chew on, and push around toys. Balls, toilet paper tubes, ferret toys, cat toys, anything they can easily push around. There is a wide variety of rabbit toys to choose from. Most of them are chewing materials, since a rabbit's teeth never stop growing. Bunnies do not need an exercise wheel or saucer because their cage/habitat should be large enough that they can run around and get the exercise they need. (Though a rabbit running on a wheel is not completely unheard of.) Rabbits are very smart animals and can be trained to do tricks and run obstacle courses. In fact, most rabbits can play fetch and hide and seek with you!
Rabbits often become stressed due to a variety of factors, that can actually make them ill! Baby Bun owners should be well aware of this. When rabbits become too stressed they may stop eating and become unhealthy and irritable. If you think your bun is too stressed try to figure out what is bothering him/her and solve the problem. You should also contact a vet if they seem unhealthy.
Things that can put a rabbit under stress are (but are not limited to):
Other animals (sometimes including other bunnies), Children, Loud noises, Desire to mate, Diet/food change, New habitat, Rough handling, No place to hide.
Actually, I had two rabbits years ago when I was younger. Sugar and Flour. I loved those little girls so much! I'll write a blog about them one day. Before we moved into our apartment I was seriously considering adopting another bunny, but decided against it because I was worried I wouldn't be able to give him/her enough room to play in.
Hope you all enjoyed this!