Complete Guide to Raising Rabbits: Diet, Health and Care Tips

Last Updated on May 31, 2023 by

Ever wanted a rabbit for a house pet? You’re not alone. Usually cheap and readily available, rabbits are one of the most popular pets in the US, and it’s not hard to see why. 

Under the proper care, a rabbit can also be as playful as a puppy, as quiet as a house cat, and as loyal as a dog. 

Raising Rabbits the Best Way Possible

There are also hundreds of rabbits and even more crossbreeds, meaning that anyone will always find a rabbit that suits them. 

Do you want a Flemish Giant that can grow as large as a medium-sized dog? Or do you want something small and cute like a Netherland Dwarf? Perhaps you like how fancy Angora rabbits look? 

That being said, just because rabbits are easy to take care of doesn’t mean that it’s also simple. To stay healthy and happy, rabbits need specific care, and it’s up to you as a responsible pet owner to provide it. 

So if you’re looking for a detailed guide, this article will teach all about the A to Z of rabbit care, including their diet, supplies, where to keep them, and of course, how to make sure they live a happy (and hoppy) bunny life! 

Raising rabbits can be very fulfilling yet challenging

Finding Your Rabbit Goal 

It might sound a little silly to think about having a goal when you are raising rabbits. But the truth is, it’ll be much easier if you have some goals in mind since you will be devoting time and effort to taking care of an animal. 

Do you want to raise rabbits as pets? Or for pelt? Do you eventually want to breed them and sell them off for profit? 

As early as now, you must know what you’re getting into. Here are some other considerations to think of before raising rabbits:

  • They can live 8 to 10 years or more, so make sure you’re willing to devote your time and attention.
  • They are social creatures that get lonely alone, so consider getting a pair.
  • They require time, energy, and veterinary care.
  • They undergo personality changes after adolescence.
  • Hay is a critical part of their diet. 

Preparing Your Home 

Ideally, you should do this step before picking up your rabbits, but first, make sure that you already know what breed you’re getting. This way, you can make any adjustments to your equipment. 

It’s also ideal so that the rabbits can immediately explore their new home when you get back. 

First, remember that rabbits are prey animals, so it’s a good idea to keep them indoors and not outside. When left on its own, your rabbit should be kept in a crate or cage at least 3 to 4 feet long. Inside the container, make sure you put: 

  • Plenty of toys, like cardboard boxes and plastic chew toys, as they need to chew things to keep their growing teeth in check constantly
  • A shelf (or shelves) where your rabbit can hop around to maintain leg strength 
  • Ceramic dishes for food and water
  • A litter box lined with newspaper and filled with sawdust litter or grass hay
  • A resting/hiding area, like an enclosed box full of hay

Make sure to clean the litter box regularly, as rabbit urine can have a strong odor. When it dries, rabbit urine also leaves a chalky residue, which you can clean with vinegar. 

Next, decide if you want your rabbit to roam around or be kept in a section of the house. If you don’t want them to roam around, you can use a puppy exercise pen to keep them in place. This pen can even be a substitute for a crate. 

If you allow them freedom around the house, now’s an excellent time to rabbit-proof your home. Keep away sharp objects, and don’t leave around any electrical wires that they can chew on. 

Of course, you can also let them explore your backyard if you have one. Just make sure you keep them in an enclosed pen with shade and that no other animals around can harm them. 

Purchasing Your Rabbit 

Once your home is ready, you can then purchase your rabbits.

Luckily, most rabbit breeds are very calm and easy-mannered, making them great for pets. In this step, the choice is up to your preferences and what kind of rabbit you want. 

The only thing to consider here is the size of the rabbit and whether you want a more active breed or a more docile and lazy one. Either way, finding the perfect rabbit breed for you should be no problem. 

Just make sure you buy from a trusted pet store or adopt from a good shelter. Make sure they are healthy and have no diseases. If you can, get a pair so your rabbit doesn’t get lonely. 

What to Feed Your Rabbit 

Now that your pet rabbit is with you, it’s time to ensure that they are fed what they need.

Remember that rabbits are herbivores, which means that they eat plants. Their bodies are also built for a diet that contains mainly high amounts of grass, leaves, flowers, and fruits. It’s also important that you keep them on a balanced and varied diet.

A Brown Rabbit Eating from a Person's Palm

To make sure that your rabbits remain healthy and happy, here are five key food types you should include in their diet: 

  • Fresh vegetables – Your rabbit will do well with a ‘salad’ of lettuce, cauliflower, chard, spinach, celery, and kale when it comes to vegetables. They would also enjoy carrot leaves, radish leaves, and watercress. 
  • Fruits – For fruits, give them some apples, oranges, pears, papaya, pineapples, cherries, kiwis, melons, or mangoes at least once or twice a week.
  • Feed or Pellets – While these can be found in most stores, they are not essential to your rabbit’s diet. Meals and pellets are processed food that mostly fattens rabbits. But if you insist on trying pellets, a tablespoon a day should do. 
  • Hay Hay helps rabbits brush their teeth and promote good digestion. This is why I recommend giving your rabbits unlimited hay. There are many types of hay as well, so find one that your rabbits will like. 

Of course, some foods can be poisonous for rabbits, as they can cause damage to your pet’s digestive systems.

In any case, avoid feeding your rabbit any of the following: 

  • Avocados
  • Bread
  • Seeds
  • Walnuts
  • Cookies
  • Rice
  • Sugary Cereals
  • Corn 
  • Beans
  • Oats 
  • Daffodils
  • Poppies
  • Figs
  • Apricots
  • Lilies
  • Ferns 
  • Reeds
  • Bananas
  • Custard Apples
  • Peaches
  • Plums 

If you can, you should also include some rabbit vitamins and nutritional supplements in your pet’s diet.

Of course, you should also make sure that water is available at all times for your bunny. It would help if you also changed it daily.

Remember that dirty water can easily lead to bacteria, and that’s a no-no for any pet. To avoid tipping, use a water bottle or heavy bowl secured to the side of the cage or pen. 

Common Health Problems You Should Be Aware of

While rabbits are generally tough animals, they may also need veterinary care, which can be expensive. This is why you need to make sure that you have enough budget to ensure your rabbit stays healthy.

Here’s a quick rundown on how to check the health condition of your pet rabbit:

You may need to find an exotic animal vet or one that has good experience working with rabbits. As with most pet animals, rabbits also need to be spayed or neutered.

The best age to neuter/spay a rabbit is when they reach 4-6 months. Spaying helps prevent common cancer in rabbits called uterine adenocarcinoma, affecting around 80% of female rabbits. 

Once this cancer spreads, it is no longer treatable, so prevention is better than cure in this case. Spaying also helps prevent other uterine diseases. 

Male rabbits don’t have common reproductive diseases like females, but neutering them around 8-18 months can help stop aggression. After all, you want a loving and cuddly bunny! 

Rabbits are also prone to other medical problems, and this includes:

  • Abdominal stasis (inability to digest waste) 
  • Bacterial infections
  • Ear mites and fleas
  • Overgrown teeth
  • Overgrown nails

Usually, these issues can be solved right in your home. For example, you can keep their toenails clipped and control teeth growth by giving them plenty of chewy food and toys. 

Mites and fleas can also be easily avoided as long as you keep their living space clean all the time. When possible, make sure you take your rabbit to the vet for check-ups. 

Litter Training Your Rabbit 

Once your rabbit has started settling in their new home, the next step is to provide them with litter training. This ensures that they won’t just pee or poop anywhere in the house. 

Luckily, litter training for rabbits is easy. To start teaching them, place a box in the corner where it usually pees or poops. You can also put some of their poop inside the box to help them. 

how to litter train a bunny

Another trick is to wet some paper with their pee and put it into the box. Your rabbit will then associate the smell with the box and start regularly going there to do its business. 

When it comes to choosing a litter box, never use cat litter. Instead, try paper or wood. Choose a box that is large enough for your rabbit to sit in comfortably. Also, make sure it has low sides or an entrance for your pet to go in and out. 

Your Rabbit’s Daily Routine 

After your bunny is used to its new home, it will start following a routine similar to the ones they have in the wild. 

Since rabbits are prey animals, they are crepuscular, meaning they get active during dawn and dusk. This means that your pet would most likely be up and about long before you wake up. 

This is when rabbits are most active, so it’s recommended that you wake up early in the morning if you want to spend some time playing and bonding with them. 

By mid-morning, your rabbit will start getting hungry, so make sure that their food is readily available for them. After eating, they will then nap, often for hours on end. Now and then, they would wake up to either snack some more or use the litter box. 

By night, your rabbit will then wake up again and follow the same activities they did during the morning. You can also play with them during this time.

They will then sleep for a few more hours before waking up at dawn and repeating the routine. 

Additional Rabbit Care Tips 

Here are some additional tips to keep in mind when caring for your long-eared pet! 

  • Lack of exercise can lead to obesity and poor muscle tone, so make sure your rabbit has enough space to run and hop around. 
  • Rabbits love to chew, so provide them with lots of chew toys and keep them away from electrical wires and cords. 
  • Provide them with unlimited hay, as it’s essential for their diet.
  • Of course, provide them with clean water as well. 
  • Remember that it’s essential to interact with your rabbit every day! Like humans, they quickly get bored, so provide them with toys and play with them. 
  • Never pick up a bunny by the ears! When handling your rabbit, scoop them up by the chest and be as gentle as possible.
  • If you have a grassy backyard, let them run around in a protected spot now and then. 
  • Give them a varied diet!
  • Enjoy! Rabbits are very cuddly and social pets that are sure to give you lots of love and companionship as long as you take care of them.

Final Thoughts

It’s important to understand that having a pet rabbit means preparing to make a long-term commitment.

When you bring a rabbit into your home, it is your responsibility to make sure they live a healthy and happy life. Often, this means putting in a significant amount of care and effort. 

That said, the reward for this effort is big, and you will be welcoming an affectionate and loving animal companion in your life!