If you own, or you are thinking about owning a bunny, then you need to know how to take care of a bunny. Like every pet, the bunny care is still a big responsibility.
They need a safe environment where they can run around and explore, they also need to be groomed (depending on the breed). While a balanced diet of hay, pellets, fruits/veggies and freshwater can make your bunny very happy.
Rabbits have always been a very popular pets among children. But, more importantly, parents needs to know how to take care of a bunny.
Rabbits need freedom and this is one of the most important facts that you need to know before you adopt a furry friend.
So keep in mind that the rabbit should not be constantly caged – especially at the beginning,
The cage needs to be large enough to accommodate a food and water bowl, a space where the rabbit will move and a litter box in one corner.
Cage bedding – You may find many different things that people are using as a cage bedding. Some people use towels, papers, foam mat things. Others are not using anything at all (which is not recommended). At the bottom of the cage, it is best to put straw, sawdust or hornbeam.
The bigger the cage, the better. See also: 15 Best and Affordable Rabbit Cages for indoor use.
Put some toys in the cage, rabbits like to have fun, they are very social and playful creatures. Their favorite way of playing is pulling into various boxes and tunnels and jumping over obstacles (cans, wooden obstacles). They are mostly playful in the morning and in the evening, while they usually rest during the day.
This is something you can put in the cage: boxes, baskets, snacks, toothbrushes, baby toys that can be pushed, wooden sticks, rolls of used toilet paper, plastic bottles, old magazines etc.
If you do not keep your rabbit busy all the time, he will find his own fun in the forms of your carpets, cables or furniture.
Hay is the most important food in the rabbit diet. It must be available for your pet throughout the day. 70 -80% of the daily food should be hay. Feeding with different types of hay maintains a balanced diet, and minimize starvation.
In addition to the hay, a balanced diet should contain a mixture of quality dry food. Food that warrant heavy chewing, which is necessary for keeping their incisor teeth at a manageable length. They grow throughout their lives about 3-4 in (10 cm) per year.
Depending on how big the bunny is, give him 2-4 cups of freshly mixed vegetables. Fruits will serve great as a treat or reward, only in the amount of 1-2 tablespoons a day.
Fresh and clean water should ALWAYS be available for your bunny (especially during the hot days).
There are foods that should not be part of the rabbit diet:
- Chocolate (this is poison for the rabbit!)
- Most ‘human’ treats
- Breakfast Cereal
Bathing a rabbit is not recommended, do that unless absolutely necessary! They spend most of the time in cleaning their fur. Rabbit bathing can be very stressful, to the point of a heart attack. The only time rabbits can have baths is when they get a build up of urine around their genitals and only if the rabbit is very dirty or has soiled himself. Read more in our article about rabbit bathing in case you find yourself in such situation.
How to care of a bunny health
Although they are generally healthy animals, rabbits are sensitive to some diseases. Owners should check every now and then to look for possible symptoms of the most common diseases, such as:
- Digestive tract blocking hair (symptoms: bunny eats poorly, only wants sweets),
- Bacterial infections ( symptoms: tears in the eyes, sore eyes, leaking/wet nose, excessive sneezing, difficult breathing),
- Urinary stones ( symptoms: deformities, bloody urine, painful howling) This is also the most serious and requires immediate surgery.
Health Tip: Always try to keep the living area of your bunny clean since it is vital for a good health. A build up of ammonia is hard for the respiratory system of the rabbit.
If you notice that the rabbit is unusually calm and quiet, lacks appetite, or eats poorly, has a mushy feces, has a bloated belly, or behaves abnormally – be sure to take it to the vet as soon as possible.
Under proper conditions, with a lot of love and patience, a rabbit will keep you happy for a decade, which is the average lifespan of a pet rabbit.
How to hold and pick up a bunny
Most rabbits don’t like being picked up. However there are things that you can do to make your rabbit love being picked up.
Rabbits can be handled generally the same way as cats, just more gently. Never pick up a rabbit by the ears. You need to deal with them fairly and with much love. They do not like being lifted out by the ears or the skin behind their neck.
Over time, especially if you spend time on the floor, on the rabbit’s level, the bunny will likely allow you to pet him.
- Areas they like: Forehead, back over the ears, the sides of the head.
- Stay away from: the back, stomach, paws and tail.
I brought home a new rabbit. Now what?
Any environmental change for the rabbit is stressful. Therefore, once you have brought the rabbit to your home, put it in the prepared cage and allow it to adjust to the new conditions.
If you have young children who are eager to play with the bunny, explain to them that they must be patient, gentle and not disturb the rabbit. Stress can kill the rabbit.
After a few hours, the rabbit begins to clean himself and take food, which is a sign that the stress phase has passed.
There are several tricks when making contact and domestication. Take a piece of food in your hand and call the rabbit in a gentle voice to get near you. The process is not complicated, but it takes a lot of patience. Avoid sudden movements, loud voice and violent way of catching the rabbit. The most important thing is building the trust.
After a while, you should definitely let the bunny out of the cage. It is important to keep an eye on the rabbit because the rabbit likes to nibble all around, including cables, wires, furniture pieces and more. If you have poisonous plants in your apartment, be sure to remove them to prevent poisoning.
After a while, the rabbit will gladly approach you, cuddle with you and play.
If you have a garden or a large balcony, you can make a wire-enclosed space that can be used most of the time (not in direct sunlight, drafts and cold weather).
How to take care of a bunny may seem a lot, but this will, no doubt, be the start of an amazing, life-long friendship.