Did you know that the rabbit population in animal shelters grows every year? Rabbits can be complicated, yet very rewarding pets if you know a few basics beforehand. Before you let that round little rump and those fuzzy paws entice you into an impulse purchase/adoption let us guide you through some of the basics of rabbit ownership!
Rabbits Aren’t Cats or Dogs
It’s important not to treat them as such. They are a very different creature and how you care for them and respect them can be vastly different. Here are a few of the key points you need to be aware of:
- Rabbits are prey animals, unlike cats or dogs. Their instinct for survival kicks in each time they get spooked and its fairly easy to spook even a familiar rabbit.
- It’s very important that you let them familiarize themselves with their environment in a quiet and respectful way. You can’t always be quick to scoop them up, or even approach them, if they aren’t used to regular human contact, or are shy.
- Locate a vet that is trained specifically for rabbits. Cat and dog vets are not necessarily able to treat rabbits so be sure you have one picked out.
- All pets have different personalities, but rabbits can vary widely. Some are laid back and up for anything, some are stand-offish, even at their best. If you’re adopting, spend time with your rabbit before you commit. Bunnies need forever homes to be truly comfortable, not temporary ones.
- Cage/House – Even free-roaming (house tyrants, really) need to have an out-of-the-way bunny specific place that is off limits to you. It’s also important that you have a place you can confine them when doing house projects or when you go out. Rabbits can be dangerously curious and deceptively destructive!
- Two Litter Boxes – Two are best, one for their cage, one for the house. You may place the litter box where you want, but rabbits frequently will pick their own location and it can be easier to just place the box in the spot they pick.
- Bunny Litter – Wood chips are fine, but choose Aspen over Pine as pine can be unhealthy for them. Wood pellets and paper are also good choices – Cat litter is a big no-no!
- Timothy Hay & Pellets – Rabbits should have unlimited access to this delicious hay. They should have a trough in their cage and have access to more while in their litter box. Rabbits are happiest snacking on it while doing their business. Food pellets are also necessary. Choose high quality pellets with lots of vitamins and minerals. Rabbits also love fresh greens like kale, cilantro, spinach, and, as a treat, banana!
- Grooming supplies – A good, rabbit-specific brush is a must for the shedding season. Good nail clippers are also important.
- Harness & leash – House bunnies love trips outside! Use a harness with their leash to better protect them and focus on leash training them in the home first, before you venture out. Make sure the space you walk them in is free from predators.
- Food & Water Supplies – Food and water dishes must be secured. Bunnies are playful critters and anything not secured in their territory is going to get tossed about.