9 Tips on How to Care for a Pet Rabbit
We grew up surrounded by images of cute and cuddly rabbits, whether they were on our Easter cards or featured in cartoons. Rabbits have always been a symbol of cuteness.
As a result, many of us view them as perfect pets. However, experts will tell you that these are extremely complex animals. With complex and specific needs to ensure they can live a healthy, happy and long life. In this article, we will outline nine basic steps for you to follow to learn how to care for a rabbit.
1 Create a safe space
If you’re going to buy a rabbit as a pet and you want to live a happy, healthy and long life, you’re going to have to keep it inside your home or in an outdoor, predator-proof rabbit hutch. Either option should resemble their natural habitat as much as possible.
It should be large enough for them to exercise on their own throughout the day. You can allocate a nice big area in your home that needs to be escape-proof and modified with proper bedding, burrows and other natural elements. An outdoor hutch is a much easier option if you have space.
2 Prepare the rest of your home
If you don’t have enough outdoor space available to create a safe area for your bunny, you’re going to have to rabbit proof your home. Rabbits need a lot of space to explore and move around. In order to remain healthy, you should allow your bunny to do this, but it’s vital to protect your home at the same time. Everything will have to be rabbit proofed.
Covering every wire in your home, or at least in their area, using flex tubing or plastic sleeves is one option. Moving them completely out of reach of the rabbit is another. Rabbits like to sharpen their teeth and they will happily gnaw on baseboards, house plants, bookshelves and even the underside of your bed. Basically, anything that’s in reach, isn’t safe from a rabbit.
With that being said, you need to provide lots of chewable toys or healthy veggies they can nibble on.
3 Find a source of fresh hay
Hay is a staple food of every rabbit’s diet, and they should always have a fresh source of it. You can give your baby rabbits alfalfa hay, but adult rabbits prefer Grass Hay or Timothy Hay. Experts will tell you that using a large hay feeder will help you provide your rabbits with a clean, accessible, and dry amount of hay whenever they need it.
4 Lay out a source of freshwater, high fiber pellets and leafy greens.
Outside of hay to maintain a healthy diet, rabbits need a fresh source of water, a rich source of fiber and fresh vegetables every day. If you have the space and they live outside, we highly recommend starting your own bunny garden. Not only will this provide a cheap source of food for your bunny, it is a great way to get the whole family involved in rabbit care.
5 Provide an accessible litter box
Rabbits are clean animals and have a tendency to pee and poop in one specific area. Once you recognize this pattern, you can provide them with a cat litter box that is shallow enough for them to easily access.
I line my rabbits’ litter boxes using a cat litter made from recycled newspaper. I don’t like using clay or wood as these aren’t safe from my Bunnies. Rabbits tend to poop and eat, and because of this it’s important to keep the litter tray clean as much as possible.
6 Provide them with a play area
Most people are completely unaware of the fact that rabbits need exercise and mental stimulation to remain happy and healthy. I remember the first cardboard castle I bought for my rabbits because they spent days chewing at the pieces, but it also provided them with a great place to play and hide. You have a wide variety of ways that you can enrich your rabbit’s life such as providing them with access to puzzles and toys to keep their interest peaked.
7 Maintain a grooming schedule
Although rabbits are extremely clean animals and will naturally wash themselves, it’s important for you to groom them too. Rabbits will shed at least twice a year, during this time it’s important for you to regularly brush your bunny to help remove any excess fur. Unfortunately, if you don’t do this your rabbit can easily ingest the fur while grooming itself, resulting in significant digestive problems.
Indoor rabbits are most likely going to spend the predominance of its time indoors, and you will quickly notice that its nails will continue to grow. As there’s nothing to naturally wear them down. Buying a nail clipper will help you keep your rabbit’s nails at a healthy length and prevent them from either curling into their paw or snagging on things as they walk.
8 Find a vet who specializes in Rabbit care
Because rabbits are natural prey for a wide variety of other animals, they have learned to hide any weakness or illness. It’s important that you give your rabbit a regular health screening to ensure it’s peeing, drinking and eating is normal. When you first get your rabbit, I advise finding a vet near you who has significant expertise in rabbit care. It’s also advisable to become rabbit savvy yourself and study up on the most common ailments your rabbit may suffer from.
As I mentioned previously, rabbits are very sensitive creatures, add this to the fact that they will naturally hide any weakness. So, it’s important to schedule a regular veteran checkup so they can scan their gut, teeth, eyes, and ears to ensure your bunny is in optimum health. It’s probably a good idea to get your rabbit neutered or spayed too. This can help improve its overall health, reduce inappropriate behavior, and improve its sanitary habits.
9 Become an expert in Rabbit behavior and body language
It may not come as a surprise to you to hear that rabbits differ greatly from dogs and cats. For your bunny to live a long happy and healthy life together, you’re going to have to understand their body language and behavior. What does it mean when they act or behave in a certain manner? If you can learn to adapt to your bunny’s natural instincts, you’ll quickly form a loving and trusting bond.
If you follow the 9 steps outlined above, you’ll be off to a brilliant start in learning how to care for a rabbit so you can live a long happy and healthy life together. Don’t treat their care-routine the same as any other common housepet. These little creatures are different and special and you’ll need to get used to their ways quickly for optimal health and happiness.
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