Welcome to the ultimate rabbit care guide! Raising happy, healthy bunnies requires proper diet, housing, training, and veterinary care but the rewards of rabbit companionship make it all worthwhile. Whether you’re considering getting your first ever rabbit or looking to improve life for your current fuzzy friend, this definitive handbook covers everything you need to know about rabbit ownership. From litter training and bunny proofing your home to understanding rabbit body language and keeping them entertained, our experts have packed this guide with 300 word sections dedicated to all the essential information for any rabbit lover. Let us hop right in and help you give your pet rabbit their best possible life!
What should rabbits eat?
Rabbits should eat a diet primarily composed of grass hay, such as timothy or orchard grass. Hay should make up at least 75% of their diet, as it provides fibre needed for healthy digestion. They should also be fed a small amount of fresh vegetables daily, making sure to introduce new veggies slowly. Pellets can be fed in limited quantities to adult rabbits. Treats like fruit should only be fed sparingly.
Do young rabbits need a different diet than adults?
Yes, baby rabbits under 7 months old should be fed an alfalfa-based diet because of the higher protein and calcium content needed for growth. Once they reach 7-12 months old, transition them slowly onto an adult diet of grass hay, veggies and pellets. Always make dietary changes gradually to avoid upsetting their digestive system.
How do I get my picky rabbit to eat their hay?
If your rabbit is rejecting their usual hay, try introducing a new type of grass hay for some variety. You can also mix in a few herbs or try soaking the hay in apple juice to make it more enticing. Reduce pellets and treats to encourage hay consumption. Frequently restock small piles of fresh hay around their space to keep it appealing.
My rabbit is overweight, what can I do to help them lose weight?
For an overweight rabbit, cut down on high-calorie pellets and treats, avoiding fruits completely. Increase exercise opportunities with larger living spaces, playtime and toys. Introduce more hay types to stimulate interest. Consult your vet to rule out any health issues. Weight loss should be gradual to avoid liver problems.
What should I avoid feeding my rabbit?
Avoid feeding rabbits anything high in carbohydrates or sugar, which can cause digestive issues. Do not feed chocolate, cookies, crackers, cereals, nuts, seeds or high-starch vegetables like peas. Iceberg lettuce should also be avoided as it can cause diarrhea.
What is the best kind of cage/enclosure for my rabbit?
The best enclosures allow for exercise, while preventing injury and limiting mess. Good options include large dog crates, puppy exercise pens, or custom-built spacious hutches. The enclosure should be tall enough for the rabbit to stand on hind legs without hitting the top. Minimum recommended size is 4'x4' for small breeds and 6'x6' for large breeds.
Should I free roam my rabbit?
Free roaming is great enrichment if you properly rabbit-proof the space first. Make sure there are no exposed electrical wires or poisonous houseplants. Block access to cords and baseboards. Start with a single room and supervise the rabbit. Only allow full-run of the house when fully litter trained. Limit free roaming at night.
What items do rabbits need inside their enclosure?
Rabbits need a litter box, hay rack, water bowl, toys, dig box or tunnels, and a hiding place like a cardboard box or igloo. Line the floor with timothy hay bedding. Avoid cedar or pine shavings. Platforms and ramps allow buns to hop up and explore.
Why is it so important to keep rabbits indoors?
Indoor rabbits live longer, healthier lives. Outdoor hutches leave them vulnerable to temperature extremes, predators, insects, and illness. Rabbits are very social and thrive with indoor bonding and interaction. Free roaming provides needed exercise and enrichment.
How can I understand my rabbit’s body language?
Observe ear and tail positions to read your rabbit’s mood. Ears back and thumping signal fear. Teeth grinding or nipping mean displeasure. Upright ears and twitching nose are signs of happiness. Circling feet indicates anticipation of interaction. Flopped over is relaxed. High tail is curious/alert.
How do you know if a rabbit is happy?
Happy rabbits display relaxed body language – laying stretched out, flopped over, or resting chin on floor. They will run, jump and playfully toss or nudge toys. You’ll see tooth purring and grooming behaviors. They’ll eagerly approach you for pets and treats.
How do I know if my rabbit is depressed?
Signs of depression include low energy and lack of interest in toys or treats. The rabbit may spend more time hiding or sleeping. Other symptoms are weight loss, dirty bottom from lack of grooming, and behavioral changes like aggression. Try interacting more, a new toys, or a bonding bunny friend. Seek vet help if it persists.
Why is my rabbit being aggressive, and how can I prevent this?
Rabbits may bite or lunge due to fear, pain, or feeling threatened. Never hit or punish aggression. Redirect to acceptable chew toys instead. Neuter/spay can reduce territorial behavior. Give them their space and let them come to you. Build trust with positive reinforcement. Check for pain from illness or sores.
How do I know if my rabbit is sick?
Signs of illness in rabbits include reduced appetite or fecal/urine output, diarrhea, dull coat, discharge from eyes/nose, limping, abnormal breathing, lethargy, or hiding. Rabbits are prey animals that hide sickness well, so any behavior changes warrant a vet visit. Regular checkups are key to catching issues early.
My rabbit keeps getting poop stuck to their butt, how do I prevent this?
Poop sticking to a rabbit's butt is called a dirty bottom. It's often caused by obesity or an unbalanced diet. Increase hay, reduce treats, get weight under control. Add more crude fiber and water to their diet. Check for signs of GI stasis or diarrhea. Gently wipe away debris with a warm wet rag when needed.
How do I find a good rabbit veterinarian?
Look for vets specifically experienced in rabbit medicine, as they have very different needs from dogs/cats. Get referrals from local shelters and rabbit rescues. Ensure they are knowledgeable about diet, housing, behavior, common illnesses, reproductive care, and emergencies. Check reviews and visit the office.
How long do rabbits typically live?
With proper indoor care, diet and vet attention, the average lifespan of a pet rabbit is 8-12 years. Giant breeds tend to live shorter lives of 5-8 years. Diet and spaying/neutering greatly impact longevity. The oldest rabbit on record lived to be nearly 15 years old.
How do I keep my rabbit from digging the carpet?
Start by providing acceptable outlets like a dig box of soil, straw mat or phonebook to shred. Use vinyl flooring or rugs to cover carpet in areas they frequent. Some bitter sprays deter digging but avoid getting in their eyes. Block access to problem areas with cardboard or an x-pen when unsupervised.
How do I keep my rabbit from chewing on baseboards and furniture?
Rabbit proof your home by covering baseboards with cardboard or plastic. Apply bitter apple spray to deter chewing. Provide plenty of acceptable toys to redirect urges, like willow balls, apple branches and untreated wicker baskets. Confining them to an exercise pen when you’re away also prevents damage.
What other items do I need to rabbit-proof in my home?
Cover all electrical wires with plastic tubing or cord covers. Place houseplants out of reach or use an x-pen. Block access behind and under appliances where wires are exposed. Remove poisonous houseplants. Secure books, papers, and rugs that can be grabbed. Always supervise playtime.
Bonding with your rabbit
My rabbit keeps running away from me, how can I teach them to trust me?
It takes patience and time to gain a timid rabbit's trust. Sit quietly and let them come to you, never grabbing or chasing. Hand feed treats to build positive associations. Get down on their level and move slowly. Place worn clothing in their space so your scent is familiar. Gently pet and offer treats during lap time.
What can I do to bond with my rabbit?
Bond through positive reinforcement with treats, pets and playtime on the floor. Hand feed leafy greens during lap time on the floor. Allow supervised free roaming to interact. Offer new toys to pique their curiosity. Give head rubs and massage during shedding season. Speak softly and respect when they need alone time.
How much attention do rabbits need?
Though independent in nature, rabbits are very social animals who require daily interaction to thrive. Aim for at least 2-4 hours per day of human attention. Rabbits that are frequently left alone can become depressed or destructive. If you work long hours, consider getting your rabbit a bonded partner for companionship.
How do I litter train my rabbit?
Start litter training rabbits by placing the box in a corner they frequently potty in. Put hay and a few droppings inside to attract them. Rewards treats and praise every time they use it. Clean accidents with vinegar – don't punish them. Spay/neuter helps reinforce habits. Gradually move towards the desired location.
Can rabbits learn to come when called?
Yes, rabbits can learn to come when you call their name. Say their name and then reward with a treat when they hop over to you. Practicing during daily playtime will reinforce the behavior. Teaching them a cue like "come get your treat" can also work. Patience is needed, as rabbits are less food-motivated than dogs.
What techniques do you use to train a rabbit?
Rabbits learn best through positive reinforcement. Reward desired behaviors like litter box use with treats. Never punish them for accidents. Use clicker training to build associations between cues and rewards. Lure them with treats into performing behaviors like standing on hind legs. Be patient and keep sessions short to avoid boredom and frustration. Make training fun!