Your First 24 hours With a New Pet Rabbit

Welcome to the wonderful world of rabbit ownership! There’s nothing quite as exciting as bringing home your very first bunny. While rabbits may seem like simple pets, there’s actually a lot more to know than just giving them a carrot now and then. The first 24 hours with your new long-eared friend are critical for making them feel safe, secure, and ready to bond with you. This comprehensive guide will walk you through everything from prepping their living space, interpreting their behaviors, proper handling techniques, diet and nutrition, and more rabbit care tips. By the end, you and your new pet rabbit will be well on your way to building a happy life together! So get ready, because the hoppiness starts now!

Bringing your rabbit home

The first 24 hours with your new pet rabbit are an exciting time! When bringing your rabbit home for the first time, it's important to make the transition as smooth and stress-free as possible. Here are some tips for the first day home with your new bunny:

Choose a quiet, low-traffic area of your home to set up the rabbit's enclosure. Rabbits are easily frightened by loud noises, children, dogs, and too much activity. Let your rabbit get settled in a calm environment first before introducing them to the rest of the household. Provide a box or hideaway area where they can retreat if they feel scared.

Keep the car ride home short and smooth. Transport your rabbit in a secure carrier strapped into the backseat. Avoid a long car trip if possible, as this can be stressful for rabbits. Drive carefully over bumps and turns. You may want to play soothing music to help keep your rabbit calm.

Once home, allow your rabbit short periods of exploration, about 10-15 minutes at a time. Let them hop around the bathroom or kitchen, while you sit quietly. Do not force interactions. Let your rabbit approach you and get used to your presence. Moving to a new home is very stressful for a rabbit, so give them time to adjust.

Resist overhandling your rabbit at first. Rabbits are prey animals and being picked up can make them feel vulnerable. Limit handling to only when necessary in the first few days. Always support their full body weight from below and do not dangle them in the air.

Check that your rabbit is eating and drinking. Provide their usual diet of hay, pellets, and vegetables right away. Make sure fresh water is always available. Loss of appetite is common when rabbits are stressed, so monitor their food intake closely.

Give your rabbit a litter box with their familiar litter to avoid accidents. Rabbits are very clean animals and typically like to use the litter box. Show them where it is located. Clean up accidents immediately with an enzyme cleaner.

Be calm and patient as your rabbit gets used to their new home. Sit quietly in the same room while ignoring them at first. Let the rabbit come to you first before attempting to pet or hold. Getting to know each other may take days or weeks. Go at their pace.

With proper handling, time, and patience, bringing home a new rabbit can be a wonderful and rewarding experience for both owner and pet as you begin your lives together! Always put your rabbit's needs and comfort first during this transition.

What behaviors to expect from your new rabbit

Bringing home a new pet rabbit is exciting, but you may not know what to expect behavior-wise those first 24 hours. Here are some common rabbit behaviors you may see as your new bunny gets acquainted with their environment:

Hiding – Rabbits are prey animals, so their instinct is to find a safe place to hide when first entering a new territory. Do not be alarmed if your new rabbit runs under the bed or dresser and stays there awhile. Provide a box or hideaway so they have a place to feel secure.

Thumping – Rabbits communicate by thumping their back feet. This is a sign of displeasure, anxiety, or getting your attention. You may hear frequent thumping as they adjust to their new home. Try to identify what’s causing discomfort.

Urinating/dropping pills – Rabbits communicate through urination and dropping fecal pills. Expect your new rabbit to mark territory, especially if you have other pets. Be patient and consistently clean up messes.

Teeth purring – Rabbits make a soft teeth purring or clicking sound when content. You may hear this as you quietly sit near your rabbit helping them relax.

Lack of appetite – The stress of a new home often causes rabbits to eat less. Make sure fresh hay is always available, and monitor appetite closely. If they won’t eat for 12+ hours, call your vet.

Mounting toys or feet – Rabbits display dominance behaviors such as grunting, circling feet, and humping. Neutering curbs sexual behaviors in the long run.

Nipping – Nipping or gentle biting is a common rabbit behavior. It’s how they interact with each other. Say “ouch!” loudly to teach them nipping you is not okay.

Tooting – Rabbits pass gas! Ingesting foods that are new to their diet may cause excess gas and soft stool until their digestive system adjusts.

Chinning – Rabbits have scent glands under their chin and like to rub their chin on items to mark their territory. Expect them to explore and chin new belongings and furniture.

Binkying – Rabbits show joy and happiness by twisting and hopping in the air! Seeing binkying is a good sign your rabbit is getting comfortable.

As you get to know your new rabbit's personality, you'll better understand their behaviors. The first 24 hours are an adjustment period. With time, patience, and care, you'll both settle happily into your new life together!

How to behave around your rabbit

Bringing home a new rabbit companion is exciting, but it's important to learn proper rabbit care and handling to create a happy home. Here are some tips for how to behave around your new rabbit in the first 24 hours:

  • Move slowly and speak softly. Loud noises and quick movements will frighten rabbits. Sit quietly and let your rabbit approach.

  • Get down on your rabbit's level. Sit or lie on the floor when interacting. Towering over them is intimidating.

  • Do not force petting or handling. Rabbits are prey animals and dislike being picked up. Let them get to know your scent before touching. Offer treats from your hand.

  • Avoid direct eye contact at first. Staring is aggressive in the rabbit world. Look at them from the side and blink slowly to indicate you are not a threat.

  • Do not chase or corner your rabbit. Give them space to hop away and hide if they feel overwhelmed. Never grab out of fear they will injure themselves.

  • Clean up all accidents right away. Rabbits may mark territory with urine or droppings when stressed. Use an enzyme cleaner to remove smells completely.

  • Provide a litter box with their usual litter in it immediately. Most rabbits will use a litter box if given one.

  • Give your rabbit time alone to adjust. Sit in the room doing your own thing nearby so they learn to feel comfortable in your presence.

  • Let your rabbit set the pace for handling and interactions. Forcing contact too soon can break trust and damage your bond.

  • Avoid introducing loud children, pets, or excessive stimuli until the rabbit has adjusted to its new home.

With time and patience focused on your rabbit's needs, not your own desire to play or cuddle immediately, you will form a strong, trusting relationship with your new rabbit friend. Go slowly and speak softly as they settle in.

Setting up your rabbit's home

Preparing your home for a pet rabbit goes beyond just getting supplies. You need to rabbit-proof your space and set up an enclosure that meets your rabbit's needs. Here are some tips for setting up your rabbit's house in the first 24 hours:

Type of enclosure

The best enclosures allow room for exercise while preventing access to unsafe areas. Popular options include:

  • Exercise pen – An adjustable wire pen that creates a spacious, customizable enclosure. Minimum size 4×2 panels or 8 sq ft.

  • Cage – Well-ventilated multi-level cages provide space while limiting mess. Minimum size 6 sq ft. Leave door open when home.

  • Bunny room – Rabbit-proof a spare room by covering wires, removing baseboards, and providing litterboxes.

  • Free-roam – Bunny-proof your whole home and let your rabbit freely explore when you are home and awake to supervise.

The more space the better. Ensure your rabbit has room for a litter box plus food/water dishes with still enough space to stretch and hop around comfortably .


Rabbit-proof your home or enclosure area by providing:

  • Hideaway house – A cardboard box or small pet house gives shelter and privacy.

  • Litter boxes – Provide at least one box per rabbit, plus extras around your home.

  • Water bowl – Heavy ceramic bowls prevent tipping. Refill daily.

  • Food bowls – Use heavy dishes that attach to cage walls or the floor.

  • Hay rack – Offer a continuous supply of fresh hay in a wall-mounted rack, box, or mat.

  • Toys – Pack cardboard boxes, tunnels, and wood chews provide enrichment. Rotate to keep it interesting.

  • Substrate – Use bedding like aspen chips or paper-based litter. Avoid cedar, clay litter, or wood shavings.

  • Grooming supplies – Provide a brush and nail clippers for health grooming.

Take time to fully bunny-proof before allowing free access. Create a safe, stimulating home base where your rabbit can comfortably rest and play.

Feeding your rabbit

Proper nutrition is vital to your rabbit's lifelong health. Here are some tips for feeding your rabbit in the first 24 hours home:

  • Provide unlimited grass hay at all times. Hay should comprise 75% of diet. Alfalfa, timothy, and orchard are good choices.

  • Gradually transition pelleted food if brand is different than previous. Pellets should only be 1/4 cup per 6 lbs body weight.

  • Introduce new vegetables slowly. Try small amounts of lettuce, kale, carrots, cilantro – monitor stool and avoid diarrhea.

  • Always have fresh, clean water available in a tip-proof bowl. Change it daily.

  • Avoid sugary fruit and treats. Stick to a consistent feeding schedule and amounts.

  • Check if your rabbit is eating cecotropes – normal behavior they ingest directly from anus.

  • Monitor appetite closely. Call your vet if your rabbit hasn't eaten in 12 hours or longer.

  • Provide a salt lick or mineral block to lick for nutritional balance.

  • Keep food and water dishes clean and full. Scatter extra hay to encourage eating.

  • Store pellets and hay in cool, dry spot to prevent mold and maintain freshness.

A rabbit's digestive system is very sensitive. Making dietary changes too quickly can disrupt gut flora and cause diarrhea. Transition new foods slowly. Follow your vet's advice if concerns arise. Proper nutrition sets up your rabbit for a long, healthy life.

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