I got my first rabbit! Everything you need to know before getting a pet bunny
Bunnies are one of the most adorable animals and it’s hard to resist their charm. If you want to adopt one, you have to be fully prepared because these cute little fur-balls are a lot of work!
Before going any further, be sure you really want a bunny
Rabbits require time and energy. If you get tired of your rabbit then you can’t just release it into the wild because it will surely not survive. The reason for you wanting a rabbit could be as gift for your young child; in this case please consider another pet since rabbits are very fragile (many children kill them while squeezing them). Lastly, consider adopting a rabbit instead of buying them in stores; they are one of the most abandoned animals and adoption can really make a difference.
The things to get
Here are some of the things you need to have before getting your rabbit.
1) Rabbit cage
The size of the cage must be adapted for your rabbit adult size. Most of the cage sold in stores for rabbits are way too small for them. For a small rabbit (dwarf rabbit) consider at least a cage that is 120x60x40 cm.
Unlike the myth, rabbits don’t eat carrots. In fact, they don't naturally eat fruit or vegetables. Some of them are too high in sugar and should be only occasional treats. Hay is the essential part of their diet and should be the only nutrient always available for the rabbit. There a ton of variety of hay. You can mix some of them: rabbits love different texture of hay and also know what part of it to eat in order to help their digestive system.
A small portion of high quality pallets (no mixes, just pallets) should be given to the rabbit. Eating too much of pallets can cause weight gain and prevent eating enough hay.
Have in mind that changing a rabbit's diet suddenly can be fatal, especially in babies or rabbits that are stressed. Do it gradually and always supervise your bunny. In addition, you can buy in a pet store or at the veterinary a powder that you will have to mix with water to prevent diarrhea.
4) No treats
They are not good for your rabbit and full of nasty ingredients. A rabbit only needs high quality pallets and plenty of hay. Vegetable and fruits can be given as a treat only when the rabbit is an adult (after six months).
5) Hay rack
Rabbits needs a lot of hay per day. Choose a hay rack which is as low as possible to the ground and with spacious grids in order to be able to easily pock out the hay.
Also, rabbits like to defecate and eat at the same time so if you are thinking of putting hay in his bed or just in a box where your rabbit plays, it will most probably urinate and defecate in them. This is why it’s recommended to put the hay only in the hay rack which should be positioned just next the litter so that the bunny can eat and defecate at the same time.
6) Water bowl
Say a big no to sipper drinkers for two reasons: 1) they are full of bacteria and 2) a bunny needs a lot of water per day and with a sipper drinker they can’t drink all the water they need.
A water bowl, a ceramic dish hard to tip over for example, is the most comfortable solution for your rabbit. Make sure to change water everyday and fill it preferably with bottle water.
7) Chew sticks and Toys
Did you know that rabbits’ teeth are always growing? This is why they need hard things to chew on to keep their teeth trimmed. Prove them brunches of orchard woods (preferably bought in pet stores to avoid worms and invisible animals present in woods from forests). They also love to play with cardboard tubes and boxes (be always sure that there is no ink printed since the rabbit will eat some part of them).
8) A litter box
Training your rabbit to use a little box can be really useful. Triangular ones are the best and can be easily put in the corner of the cage. To know if the size suits your pet, the rabbit should be able to freely turn around in it. Your rabbit will maybe need some time to get used to it or if you are lucky they can also learn to use it right away. Place your bunny fecal pellets inside the litter in order to train your rabbit. When you spot it urinate and defecate outside the litter, just take it and put it in the litter so that it can understand.
Also, rabbits eat their droppings because they need to digest twice so don’t be too shocked when you see your rabbit do it.
Choose a place for your cage that will become your bunny’s bed. You can use lot of material of bedding such as hay or straw. Always remember to not use the same material that you used in the litter otherwise your bunny won’t understand the difference between cage, litter and bed.
Socializing with your rabbit
Rabbits are very sociable animals and they hate to stay alone. If you can’t get your rabbit a partner (sometimes it can be hard make rabbits socialize or just be able to afford two rabbits), then no worries: you can be your bunny best friend. In order to know when to play with your rabbit, you have to understand when it is active: rabbits are crepuscular, which means that they are active at dusk and dawn.
A personal example: my rabbit is very active from 7 am to 12 am, then she goes to sleep. She wakes up at 6 pm and wants to play until 11/12 pm.
Give your rabbit the space it needs
Rabbits need to stay out of the cage for at least three hours per day; this is why they should not be confined in their cages all day. Your rabbit needs to exercise and jump around. Remember that rabbits love to chew everything: make sure your wires are protected as well as your plugs.
Rabbits are meant to run very fast in the wild to escape predators; this is why you often see them binkying (leaping in the air). Exercise in crucial for young rabbits to be healthy.
Now you are ready to start a journey full of love and joy with your rabbit! Are you excited?