Asked Nov 7, 2008, 09:40 AM
Well, here is yet another attempt at a thread by Alty, they don't usually go very well.
There aren't many questions about rabbits on this site, but they do pop up once in a while, so I've decided to write a thread about rabbit care, what you need to know if adopting a rabbit and what you need to care for your rabbit. If you are thinking of getting or already have a rabbit this thread might help.
1. Rabbits need lots of room to hop and binky (thats a hop with a little twitch, and means the bunny is very happy). Make sure that your rabbits cage is big enough for him to run and jump around.
2. Rabbits need room to roam, they should spend at least 4 hours a day out of their cage to explore and exercise. Always supervise your rabbit; they can get into trouble very quickly. Rabbits love to chew and will chew on anything available, including wires and electrical cords, zap and bunny is dead. The best idea is to purchase or make an enclosure that the rabbit can run around in without the possibility of injury.
3. Rabbits need to play; otherwise they will find other things to do, not always good. Make sure that your rabbit has plenty of toys to occupy it. The best toys around are usually the ones you make yourself. Fill an empty toilet paper roll with timothy hay, your bunny will have a great time, let him chew on an old telephone book, it relieves stress and isn't at all harmful to the rabbit. Be wary of pet store toys, not all toys are safe for rabbits, even if made specifically for rabbits.
4. Rabbits don't have a gag reflex, they literally cannot vomit. A rabbit can get hairballs, but hairball meds will not help, those meds are used to bring up the hair, rabbits cannot vomit, so hairball meds are not only useless but quite harmful. The proper diet is the best thing to prevent hairballs.
5. A spayed or neutered rabbit is not only happier and healthier but easier to handle and live with. An unaltered male will reach sexual maturity at 6 months of age, if he isn't neutered he will become more aggressive towards you and his bunny friends, and he will most likely start to spray, its a nasty smell and will stain. An unaltered female has a life expectancy of around 3 years, most unspayed females will develop uterine cancer, the normal lifespan for a rabbit depends on the breed, but many can live up to 12 years if spayed or neutered and kept healthy.
6. Indoor versus outdoors. Well, Ill say only a few things on that subject. An outdoor bunny has a life expectancy 1/3 of that of an indoor bunny, weather, predators etc contribute to that. Also, an outdoor bunny will not have as much interaction with its human family, it will be more aggressive and less tame, its just a fact of life. If you insist on keeping your rabbit outdoors then make sure that he has the proper cage. It must have a roof and be insulated. He must have an area that's completely enclosed in order to get out of the weather, and an area that has a screen so he can look outside. Make sure to check the water dish daily, in the summer your rabbit will need more water, in the winter there's a possibility that the water will freeze. An outdoor rabbit needs plenty of nutritious food, to sustain him during winter. Also, an area to jump around and stretch his legs is a must. On a side note, I will never keep an outdoor bunny because of the risks involved, but the choice is yours.
7. Diet is very important to a rabbit if it is to remain happy and healthy. There are many things that your rabbit can eat, in fact, it is better to buy edible foods from your grocer than to give the rabbit rabbit food bought at a pet store. There are exceptions, some store bought rabbit food packs are actually very healthy for your pet, but most have no nutritional value whatsoever, they are just filler. Yes rabbits like carrots, but limit the amount otherwise carrots can and will cause tummy problems. Weeds, grass, lettuce, all these are okay and good for bunny. Bunnies have a very unique digestive system and need to eat the proper balance of foods in order to remain healthy. Water is also very important, always make sure that your bunny has a supply of fresh water.
8. Rabbits can be litter trained. In my experience, the younger the rabbit, the easier to train. Older rabbits are just too set in their ways some times, but, with patience, they too can be trained.
9. Rabbits are very social animals, two rabbits is always better than one, unless of course you plan on spending a lot of time with your pet. By a lot, I mean 5-6 hours a day. If you cannot commit to that amount of time, then get your bunny a bunny buddy. Bonding is possible with most but not all, its trial and error and patience. When bonding a new pair always start off in a neutral area, be ready to break up any fights, usually a loud clap will do the trick, but sometimes you have to physically intervene. When bonding the rabbits should be allowed to spend some time together everyday. Sometimes bonding takes a while, other times it can happen instantly, it depends on the pair. I have one rabbit that, despite numerous attempts, will not bond with other rabbits, he prefers his human family.
10. So many bunnies are relinquished to the pound every year. People simply don't think through their purchase before bringing that cute little fluffy bunny home. Yes, baby bunnies are adorable, but, like every other living thing on earth, they grow up. If not cared for properly then they can become a menace. Please do your research before adopting a bunny, also realize that most pet stores have no idea how to properly care for these animals, don't depend on them for advice on food, housing, veterinary care, anything. If you are thinking of bringing a rabbit into your home, consider a rescue from your local shelter. 1000s of rabbits are put to sleep every year in Canada, I'm not sure of the stats in the US. Save a life. I have 3 rescue bunnies, one store bought, all are equally special and unique, I can't imagine life without them.
There is so much to say, I'm sure I've missed something, but the above are the basics. If you have any questions Id be glad to answer them, if I don't know the answer Ill do my best to find it.
Everything I know about rabbits is from actually owning them and from research I've done in order to ensure that the rabbits in my care have the best life I can give them. I will never be a rabbit free home, I simply love these animals too much to not have at least one in my home at all times.
Owning a rabbit can be a wonderful experience, but you have to adapt to them, not the other way around. Make the effort and you won't be disappointed.