Rabbits are amazing animals! They’re very friendly, low-maintenance pets with a lot of personality. However, they do have some special needs when it comes to caring for them that you should learn about before bringing one home.
That said, there are some important things to know about how to properly care for a rabbit. Here they are:
- Give your rabbit plenty of time out the cage every day! They need space to stretch their legs and hop around a bit in order to stay physically healthy and happy. If you’re worried about how to get your rabbit out of the cage, don’t be! There are all kinds of creative ways to let your rabbit hop around a bit without needing to take them on a walk. For example, you can put the cage on a counter top and let them hop around on the ground. Or, you can hang a piece of string from your ceiling with a treat at the end of it so that they’ll pull it down. In your home, you can also construct tunnels or furniture for them out of boxes and other household items. Just find a way to make the space safe and fun!
- Refill their food bowl if it starts running low so that they won’t go hungry! Growing rabbits have particularly high calorie needs, so make sure you feed them enough pellets or fresh vegetables daily. But, if the dish starts to get too low, don’t fill it in the morning – wait at least a few hours before feeding them again. In the wild, rabbits have to work hard for their food, and they need time to digest it. So if you’re trying to encourage them to eat more, save some pellets in an empty milk jug and set it out for them a few hours after they’ve eaten breakfast.
- Be careful when you play with them! They enjoy being scratched and pet, but they’re also pretty fragile and prone to injury. Gently picking them up and letting them sit on your lap is usually a safe way to interact with them. However, if you’re playing rough and they take a tumble, they can get injured or even hurt by a household object. To prevent that, always set your rabbit down on a soft surface like a towel when you play with them. You can also cover their cage for safety reasons if you’re ever worried about things being thrown in there.
- Rabbits are naturally very clean animals, but they still need regular grooming. Bathe them about once a month so they stay healthy! Use warm water and soap-free shampoo (like baby shampoo) – dry off their fluffy fur thoroughly afterwards, especially their bottoms. Then comb out the tangles manually or with a brush. Rabbits are susceptible to parasites, so be sure to look closely at their ears and the base of their tails.
- Keep an eye on their eyes and ears. When they’re young, your rabbit may need a pair of bunny glasses or an eye-band to protect their eyes while they’re starting to develop. Also watch for ear mites and treats for them on the first sign of an infection, which is usually lots of itching around the ears. If you notice any discharge, redness, or swelling, call your vet immediately!
- If you notice any of those signs, call your veterinarian immediately! Rabbits can develop serious conditions that can cause blindness or even death before you notice anything wrong. They may also have other serious medical conditions that require emergency care if left untreated. Even when healthy, rabbits require regular annual checkups.
- Rabbits also need regular grooming! Usually once every few months, you’ll want to remove any loose fur and trim their fur to keep it looking nice and healthy. You can use scissors or clippers, whichever you prefer. Make sure their feet and tail are clean and dry before trimming – wet fur doesn’t clump as well. If you use scissors, take care not to hurt your rabbit’s skin. And don’t trim when they’re tired or stressed out – that can make it harder for them!
- They are prey animals: they have to be cautious! Rabbits are prey animals, meaning that they don’t like being eaten by predators. So, if you live in a populated area or have pets that might consider eating your rabbit, avoid putting the two of them together. You can also try a play pen or pet gate if your rabbit seems nervous with other animals around.
- What should I do if my rabbit starts chewing on something that they shouldn’t? Rabbits are very playful animals, but that doesn’t mean they always know what they should play with. If they start chewing on a shoe or an electrical wire, get them away from it and make sure they’re calm before you reprimand them. Otherwise, the chewing could cause irreparable damage to their teeth and gums, which can lead to a painful infection.
- What toys should I give to my rabbit? Give them a variety of toys! There are many specific rabbit toys available at pet stores and online that will help keep your pet active and entertained. Just like with other pets, it’s important to vary their playtime with different types of activities so they don’t get bored. Back when I had my rabbit, I gave him a variety of toys including a squeaky rubber puzzle, a water bottle and some treats. The cardboard box at the bottom of the rabbit hutch made an awesome toy for him to shred and play with. Sometimes he would sit in it so that he could let me know that he’d finished his chewing on the wood.
- What should I do if I think my rabbit is getting fat? Rabbits are prone to gaining weight easily, so it’s important to watch their diet closely. Cut back on the pellets and fresh greens if they start to get chunky and make sure you’re giving plenty of exercise. Rabbits can get pretty lazy, so you’ll want to give them toys and other activities to stimulate them and keep things fun.
And there you have it – 10 tips for rabbits. If you have any questions or concerns about your pet rabbit, call your veterinarian! They can help keep your pet happy and healthy.