The holidays are an exciting time filled with parties, gifts, decorations, and yummy food. But amidst all the festive hustle and bustle, it’s important not to forget about the needs of your furry little friend! Rabbits require special care and consideration to stay happy and healthy during the holiday season. Loud noises, crowds, travel, tempting treats, and disrupted routines can all stress out your pet bunny. Never fear! In this article, we provide 11 indispensable tips to keep your rabbit cheerful this Christmas. You’ll learn how to rabbit-proof your home, introduce guests properly, choose safe gifts and toys, travel in bunny comfort, and so much more. Read on to find out how you and your rabbit can both thoroughly enjoy the holidays this year!
1. Keep from overcrowding your rabbit
The holidays often mean more people in your home, which can be stressful and overwhelming for your rabbit. Be mindful not to overcrowd your rabbit during busy holiday gatherings. Make sure your rabbit has a safe and quiet place to retreat when they need a break from all the commotion. Set up a pen or enclosed area for your rabbit with their litter box, food, water, toys, and a place to hide. Only allow supervised interaction with your rabbit when guests are over to prevent stress. Limit the number of strangers interacting with your rabbit at one time. The holidays should be an enjoyable time for both you and your rabbit, so be aware of your rabbit's stress signals like lack of appetite, lethargy, or unusual aggression, and take steps to reduce their anxiety if needed. With some planning and awareness, you can keep your rabbit comfortable even with a full house this holiday season.
2. Keep loud noises away from the rabbit
The holidays often mean lots of noise from gatherings, celebrations, music, kids playing, etc. Loud noises can frighten rabbits, as their hearing is very sensitive. Take steps to keep excessive noise to a minimum around your rabbit. Provide your rabbit with a quiet space away from the main party. Close the door and consider playing soft music to drown out shouting or loud music. If hosting a loud family gathering, consider keeping your rabbit in a comfortable area well away from the noise and excitement. Discourage loud singing, shouting, or kids running near your rabbit's area. Be aware of noise from TV specials, holiday movies, video games, etc. and keep volume low. If your rabbit seems scared by fireworks, loud music, or rowdy guests, comfort them by speaking softly and petting them gently. Keeping noise down will help prevent undue stress on your rabbit this holiday season.
3. Make sure you socialize your rabbit
The holidays mean disrupted routines and new people, smells, and stimuli for your rabbit. Make sure to dedicate time for socialization to help your rabbit feel comfortable amidst holiday hustle and bustle. Let your rabbit explore while supervised if guests come over, so they become accustomed to new people. Pet your rabbit while visitors are present so they associate newcomers with your affection. Ask guests to offer healthy treats to help your rabbit warm up to unfamiliar faces. Consider a secure harness and leash to allow your rabbit to investigate holiday sights, sounds, and smells while keeping them safe. Maintain their routine as much as possible regarding playtime, feeding, etc. Socializing will help prevent your rabbit feeling anxious or fearful when unfamiliar people and activities ramp up this time of year. A well-socialized rabbit will feel more relaxed and at ease despite holiday disruptions.
4. Travel in short spurts
If traveling with your rabbit this holiday season, plan to stop often to allow them to rest and relieve themselves. Rabbits get stressed in the car, so limit drive time to intervals of 2-3 hours. Let your rabbit out regularly at safe rest stops to move around and use a litter box. Provide water and hay at every stop. Avoid feeding treats or unusual foods on the road. Bring along familiar items like a litter box, toys, blanket, etc. to minimize stress. Never leave your unattended rabbit alone in the vehicle. Keep the car interior quiet and calm by avoiding loud music or rambunctious passengers. Check that the temperature in the car remains comfortable for a rabbit. Research rabbit-friendly hotels in advance if needed along your route. With frequent breaks and attention to needs on the road, your rabbit can safely travel this holiday season.
5. Avoid poisonous holiday plants
Holiday plants and greenery may pose a risk to your curious rabbit's health. Be sure to keep potentially toxic plants well out of reach of nibbling rabbits. Popular festive plants like poinsettia, mistletoe, holly, and lilies are poisonous or toxic if eaten. Opt for artificial versions of dangerous plants for decorating. If using real Christmas trees or wreaths, prevent access so rabbits don't ingest pine needles or sap. Trees may also leak sap, so place a barrier underneath. Rabbits love to play with and chew new items, so keep candy canes, ornament hooks, tinsel, candles, snow globes, and other enticing holiday decor safely out of reach. Monitor your rabbits closely if allowed near the Christmas tree, since ingesting electrical wires can electrocute them. Taking basic precautions can let you deck the halls while keeping your rabbit healthy and safe from hazardous holiday hazards.
6. Rabbit proof your decorations
Your holiday decorations may attract your curious rabbits, so take steps to rabbit proof any festive adornments in your home. Avoid breakable ornaments which can shatter into sharp pieces if knocked from the tree. Opt for sturdy, plastic, wood, or metal decor less likely to splinter or shatter. Place fragile tree ornaments towards the top, out of reach from leaping rabbits. Skip tinsel, which can be accidentally ingested. Anchor your Christmas tree securely so it doesn't tip if bounced against or climbed. Keep wires out of reach or covered to avoid chewing. Ensure candy filled advent calendars or stockings are safely hung beyond rabbit's grasp. Consider securely blocking access behind furniture to electrical and other cords. Apply a bitter, rabbit-safe repellent spray to items you don't want chewed. With some thoughtful precautions, you can deck the halls safely this holiday.
7. Make sure your tree is safe to chew
If you do allow your rabbit access to your Christmas tree, take steps to ensure it's relatively safe for chewing and nibbling. Skip tinsel, small ingestible ornaments, chemicals, and flocking, which can pose health hazards if consumed. Opt for larger, solid non-breakable ornaments less likely to shatter into pieces. Use untreated, pet-safe wood or sisal tree stands that won't leach chemicals. Place pet-safe, untreated twigs or sticks on the tree for safe chewing. Provide plentiful appropriate chew toys to deter tree chewing. Consider spraying the lower branches with bitter apple spray deter chewing. Ensure your tree is fire resistant and flame retardant should wires be chewed. Supervise all tree access to monitor chewing. Choosing a non-toxic tree free of dangerous adornments will allow safe holiday enjoyment for pet rabbits. Just be prepared for some lower branches to be nibbled!
8. Teach guests how to interact with rabbits
Holiday parties mean well-meaning but possibly over-eager guests wanting to see, pet, or hold your rabbit. Take steps to ensure all interactions are positive. Gently guide guests on proper rabbit handling – support hindquarters when lifting, keep a secure grip, don't drop, dangle, or toss in air, stroke back up pet, etc. Demonstrate appropriate petting strength and pressure. Advise not picking up bunny without permission. Caution small children to be very gentle and quiet. Allow your rabbit to approach for sniffs at their own pace rather than forcing contact. Provide a safe retreat area for rabbit when they need a break from handling. Consider setting out helpful tips reminders for guests. Rabbits are prey animals and can be easily frightened by rough, loud, or forceful visitors. Politely advocating for your rabbit will help make holiday gatherings less stressful and safer when unfamiliar people are eager to say hello.
9. Give your rabbit holiday treats (but don’t overdo it)
It's tempting to shower your rabbit with holiday foods and sweets as festive gifts, but moderation is key. Limit sugary treats to a teaspoons worth or less per 2 lbs body weight, and keep portions small, accounting for usual pellets and veggies. Good options include a small piece of banana, apple, carrot, or berry. Avoid chocolate, cookies, candy, and other junk foods. Skip high fat, salt and seasoned delicacies. Slowly introduce any new foods to watch for allergies or tummy upset. Consider healthy festive alternatives like a small slice of pumpkin, broccoli 'tree', cabbage 'wreath', or timothy hay 'stocking'. Using treats for training rewards is better than free feeding. Be mindful of keeping up exercise to balance extra calories. While it's nice to spoil your rabbit a bit for the holidays, overindulgence risks dangerous obesity, gastro issues, and other health problems. Moderation and wise choices when gifting holiday foods will keep your rabbit happy and healthy.
10. Give your rabbit fun toys and gifts
The holidays are a great time to gift your rabbit new enrichment toys to play with. Pick safe, natural chewing items like untreated wicker balls, seagrass mats, or apple tree sticks. Food puzzles with hidden treats encourage active foraging. Try a tunnel, castle, or hideaway constructed from organic materials like pine or willow. Stuff a cardboard box with hay or paper to shred. Choose natural rubber or pine wood chews to promote dental health. Interactive toys like ramps, stacking blocks, or rolling balls provide amusement. Rotate toy options to prevent boredom. Supervise all new toys until safety is assured – discard any showing sharp bits or damage. Providing new novel toys and puzzles will entertain and mentally stimulate your rabbit during the holidays. Just be sure gifts are legal, ethical, and safe.
11. Keep your rabbit on a routine
Holiday disruptions to schedules can stress rabbits who thrive on consistency. Stick to your rabbit's normal routines as much as possible. Feed meals, snacks, and hay at the usual times each day. Maintain their housing setup and litter habits. Groom and health check on schedule. Allow normal exercise and play times. House rabbits sleep during daytime festivities, so encourage restful retreats. Going to bed and waking at their regular hours avoids disrupting sleep cycles. Make time for quality bonding amid holiday bustle. Consistent routines and scheduled downtime will help your rabbit feel safe and comfortable even with the holidays in full swing. With some planning, you can enjoy the festivities without throwing your rabbit's world out of whack this season.