Who doesn’t love a cute little bunny? We often see them at farm stores, especially in the spring, but there are some important things to know before you decide to take a rabbit home.
One of the biggest mistakes people make is thinking that domestic rabbits are no different from their wild counterparts. However, this just isn’t true, primarily because domestic rabbits don’t tolerate extreme temperatures well. Therefore, the safest place for your domestic rabbit is indoors. Another reason to house your rabbit inside is to keep them safe from predators; just the sight or sound of a nearby predator can cause enough stress to give a rabbit a heart attack.
A second misconception about rabbits is that they do well in small cages. On the contrary, rabbits need space to hop around freely. This could be a large cage, a puppy pen, or a bunny-proof room. If kept in a cage, it’s important to let your rabbit out for exercise for several hours each day.
By nature, rabbits like to chew, so if yours is given free rein of the house or a room— even for a few hours—make sure to cover all ground-level wires with plastic sleeves or flex tubing. Baseboards can be covered with plastic guards, 2×4’s or furring strips. Take care to keep dangerous products, such as cleaning supplies, insecticides, etc. out of your rabbit’s reach and also be aware that certain plants such as aloe, azaleas, Calla lily, Lily of the Valley, philodendron, as well as some other plant bulbs can be poisonous to rabbits.
One nice thing about rabbits, is that, like cats, they can be trained to use a litter box. Start by placing a litter box in their cage to encourage this behavior. If your rabbit is allowed to roam your house, it’s a good idea to have multiple litter boxes. Litter products made of paper, wood pulp, or citrus are best, but be aware that rabbits enjoy spending time in their litter boxes so clean them often!
A rabbit’s diet should consist of primarily hay. Alfalfa is suitable for
young rabbits, but adults do best with timothy, grass, or oat hay. Using a hay feeder or net is a good idea since it will keep the hay clean and dry. You can supplement your rabbit’s hay with a few fresh fruits and veggies as well as pelleted feed. Of course, fresh water should always be available. To keep your rabbit healthy and parasite free, supplement with Wormguard Plus SC at 1 teaspoon 3 times a week. (1/2 teaspoon 3 times a week for small rabbits). WormGuard Plus SC is not only a great all natural dewormer, but it also contains grape seed extract and probiotics to keep your rabbit healthy.
Fruits and veggies your rabbit my enjoy include:
- Carrot tops (carrots are high in calcium and should be given sparingly)
- Dandelion leaves
- Apples (without stems or seeds)
Note: Iceberg lettuce isn’t safe to feed rabbits (another misconception).
Something to keep in mind is that rabbits are social animals and do much better with a friend. So if you’re going to adopt one, it’s best to adopt a pair.