Adopting a rabbit pet is a great responsibility as these animals are extremely sensitive. They demand not only special diets and sleeping conditions but also plenty of love and interaction with their human companions.
Unfortunately, many people consider a bunny as the perfect gift for Easter, especially for their children, only to find out that they cannot commit to looking after these pets and providing them a healthy environment for them to grow.
However, if you’ve decided to adopt a rabbit for all the right reasons, you will easily find that these creatures are very affectionate and create special bonds with their owners. Here are a few tips on how to raise these pets according to their needs.
What type of rabbit should you get?
There are over 46 different rabbit breeds that are recommended as pets, so finding the right one could be tricky. Don’t forget that bunnies from pet shops are not necessarily purebred, so this shouldn’t be the only aspect you focus on.
Rabbits also come in various colors, ranging from white to grey, black, brown, and everything in between. When it comes to their weight, it varies from 3-4 pounds to 16 pounds or more.
You should pick the right breed for you according to where you plan on keeping your bunny. Bear in mind that they are active animals, so we don’t suggest you keep them in small and compact rabbit cages. On the contrary, they will require plenty of space to run, jump, and hide, so think about the size of your house, room or garden first.
The Netherland Dwarf is one of the smallest rabbit breeds. An adult bunny weighs under 2.5 pounds, so they aren’t as high maintenance as other breeds. These rabbits are perfect for teenagers and youngsters and can very well live in smaller places, including kitchens or your child’s room.
Other breeds like the Rex, Giant Papillon or Angora can weigh up to 15 pounds or more, so they will require plenty of free space to run, jump, and move. The Angora rabbits are known for their thick fur so they will also need special combing products and a diversified diet.
We suggest keeping large size rabbit breeds in gardens, backyards or large spaces, with natural light and various possibilities of entertainment.
Bedding and shelter
If you brought home a baby rabbit, the easiest way to look after it in the first few months of life is to purchase a special cage, made of metal or plastic. Fill it with highly absorbent rabbit pellets to create a comfortable place to sleep and rest.
In our opinion, natural sawdust is the perfect choice for small to medium pets like rabbits, as they will maintain a fresh air in the room and neutralize specific pet odors. We prefer this natural option as it is 100% biodegradable and won’t harm the atmosphere or your pet. However, make sure the sawdust is smooth and doesn’t come with sharper edges that might cause cuts and bleeding to your pet.
Paper bedding is another good option as long as it is carefully shredded and doesn’t come with the same sharp edges that might harm your bunny. However, you’ll have to change the bed a few times of day and also bathe your rabbit once in a while to keep your friend away from infections and bacteria.
For some breeds, indoor housing is essential as these individuals can easily die from heart attacks at the approach of a predator. Other external factors like weather, fleas, and viruses can also lead to diseases and infections that might harm your pet.
If you do decide to keep your rabbit outdoors, make sure it benefits from a welcoming and comfortable home. We suggest big houses built from wood to shelter them from rain, wind, cold temperatures, and snow. Don’t forget to also add toys and even labyrinths or other entertainment options that will stimulate your bunny’s natural curiosity and keep it busy and active.
Food and supplements
Just like many other small pets, rabbits enjoy a 100% vegan diet, based on fresh fruits and veggies.
Contrary to the public opinion, not all rabbits are crazy about carrots, so you shouldn’t force your pet to eat them unless he or she wants to. Another myth implies that cabbage is amongst your bunny’s favorite dishes. On the contrary, this veggie is toxic and could cause health problems such as diarrhea or constipation.
Keep in mind that you should adjust your pet’s diet according to its age and needs. For instance, cubs should receive organic and natural food for baby rabbits, as well as milk until the age of 1-2 months. After that, you can start feeding your bunny a mix of seeds, nuts, fruits, and veggies.
Most bunnies have a sweet tooth, so once they taste fruits they will keep on coming back for more! Some of the safe fruits you can feed your rabbit include apples, pears, bananas, berries, papaya, mango, melon and watermelon, grapes, kiwi, and others.
Dry foods are also a great option because they are crunchier but beware of those with added sugars. We suggest preparing your own dehydrated snacks such as banana chips, raisins or apricots, without adding extra sugar.
Berries are excellent due to their high level of antioxidants and vitamins. Watermelons are great during the summer because they are refreshing and hydrating at the same time since they contain 90% water.
As for vegetables, there are plenty of delicious and nutritious options, from sweet potatoes, kale, and carrots, all rich in vitamin A, to cucumbers, lettuce, kohlrabi leaves, spinach, etc.
As a general rule, rabbits should also have access to a permanent source of fresh water, no matter how many veggies and fruits they eat. This will keep them hydrated, and help them cope better with the hot temperatures outside.