How to Take Care of a Pet Bunny?
They’re cute as heck, small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, and they make great companions. Rabbits even help purify drinking water by eating bugs! But owning a rabbit is not just an enjoyable hobby it requires a lot of work. There are lots of things to consider when deciding whether to bring home a new bunny or not. Here are some answers to common questions people ask about caring for these little furballs.
How much do bunnies need?
A single adult rabbit needs around 60 square feet (5.6 square meters) per year to live comfortably. That means you’d need at least 1-2 acres (0.4 – 0.8 hectares) of space if you want to house more than one bunny. If you don’t have this kind of space, you’ll need to find ways to increase your rabbit’s living area. You could buy a bigger cage or try building a pen out of PVC pipe and wood.
Rabbits also need plenty of food. They can eat up to 4 percent of their body weight each day, so you’ll need to figure out what percentage is right for your rabbit based on its size. For example, a small rabbit will only need 2-3 percent of its weight eaten daily. A large rabbit may require 5 percent or higher. The average adult rabbit eats 3-4 percent of its body weight daily.
It’s important to note that most rabbits only eat certain types of food grasses, hay, vegetables, etc. It’s a good idea to check with your local shelter to see what type of diet is recommended for your particular rabbit, but generally speaking, rabbits need to eat healthy, fresh foods like veggies, fruit, and pellets.
The easiest way to ensure your rabbit gets all the nutrition it needs is with a commercial pellet formulated specifically for rabbits. Pellets contain all the nutrients your rabbit needs including protein, fiber, calcium, and vitamins. Some vets recommend feeding your rabbit raw or cooked greens once a week, but there isn’t any evidence that rabbits benefit from it.
What’s the best way to handle bunnies?
There are two main methods for dealing with rabbits: free-ranging freely outdoors or keeping them indoors in cages. Both have pros and cons. Free-ranging rabbits tend to be friendlier and less stressed because they aren’t confined to small spaces like cages. However, rabbits who go outside are often exposed to predators, weather extremes, toxic chemicals, and disease.
Indoor rabbits enjoy being able to interact with humans and other rabbits while still having a safe environment. In addition, indoor rabbits tend to be healthier since they receive proper veterinary care and have better access to fresh water and food.
If you choose to free-range your bunny, make sure you have adequate fencing. This fence must be sturdy and tall enough for your rabbit to hop over. Also, you’ll need to have an escape route nearby such as stairs. Your bunny may attempt to climb this fencing or run away through the door. Make sure to train your rabbit to use the stairs and teach her where the exit is.
Keeping your rabbit indoors doesn’t mean she has to stay in a cage. Many rabbit owners keep their rabbits in spacious pens or huts with comfortable beds. These shelters provide ample room for exercise and they protect rabbits from the elements and potential hazards. Most hut/pen systems include separate areas for sleeping, eating, and playing.
However, many rabbits prefer to spend time outdoors. To accommodate this desire, you can build a rabbit enclosure using PVC pipes and wood. This structure provides a safe place for your rabbit to hang out.
Another option is to purchase a hut made of wire mesh from a company like PetCube. These structures come in various sizes and offer additional features like hiding places, ramps, and tunnels. You can order a hut online or contact your local animal shelter to learn about similar products available there.
Do you have to feed them every day?
You shouldn’t feed your rabbit too frequently. Rabbits need to eat roughly twice a day, but experts say three times a day is ideal. Giving your rabbit too many treats can cause digestive problems and obesity. Feeding your rabbit too much high-quality hay can actually harm them. Hay contains yeast which causes mold buildup in the rabbit’s ears and nose. Overfeeding hay can also lead to health issues like diarrhea and constipation.
To avoid this problem, mix in lower grade hay with high-quality hay during colder months and eliminate the low-grade hay altogether during warmer months.
Your rabbit needs fresh water throughout the day, especially after meals. Water bowls should be cleaned regularly to prevent bacteria growth. Check the bottom of the bowl occasionally to look for poop. If you notice feces, rinse the bowl thoroughly until no traces of fecal matter remain. Cleaning the water bowl may sound labor-intensive, but it helps keep your rabbit happy and healthy.
Some vets recommend giving your rabbit special supplements containing essential fatty acids and vitamin E. Fats help regulate moisture levels and Vitamin E keeps skin and coat supple. It’s important to remember that rabbits don’t drink milk like we do. Milk makes up approximately 10% of a rabbit’s total dietary intake. Therefore, rabbits need to consume more fat and fewer carbohydrates to maintain their energy level.
In general, you should never give your rabbit table scraps. Although it may seem cruel to deprive your bunny of his favorite meal, it can potentially spread germs and diseases. Most veterinarians agree that rabbits should be fed table scraps provided that they were raised on one of the following: corn, oat, alfalfa, and timothy hay. All other plants, fruits, and vegetables should be avoided.
Caring for rabbits is fairly inexpensive considering that you’ll need to pay for housing, food, toys, vet visits, and supplies. It’s recommended to budget $500-$1000 annually to cover routine care.
Many shelters charge adoption fees because they rely heavily on donations. This fee covers expenses associated with taking care of animals like cleaning cages, maintaining fences, providing medical treatment, and preparing animals for adoption. Shelters save money on resources like food, bedding, and medicine by relying on volunteers and donations.
Be aware that adopting a rabbit does involve responsibilities beyond regular care. You’ll need to complete a background check before bringing a new rabbit into your household. Since rabbits are social creatures, it’s helpful to meet your future companion beforehand.
Don’t feel overwhelmed by the thought of caring for rabbits. Just follow the above tips and you’ll be well prepared to bring joy to both yourself and your furry friends.
Annie the Bunny was adopted from the Humane Society of Missouri, and later rescued by the humane society again. Annie now lives with her foster family in St. Louis, Missouri. Read more about Annie’s story here.
How exactly do you own a bunny?
Rabbits need to be checked by a veterinarian at least once a month. During this visit, your vet will perform a physical exam to assess overall health and wellbeing. He or she will likely test blood samples to detect parasites and infections. In addition, your vet will examine eyes, ears, mouth, teeth, skin, heart, lungs, kidneys, spleen, stomach, intestines, and lymph nodes. Vets also recommend checking the nails of your rabbit to determine whether they are growing too long.
Vaccinations are necessary to protect against viral illnesses and diseases. While your vet may recommend vaccinations for specific conditions, he or she will typically recommend all standard vaccinations for rabbits.
Although rabbits are relatively easy to take care of, you’ll need to brush them to remove loose hair and debris. Brushing is especially important to prevent bacterial infection. Keep brushes sterilized between uses to prevent contamination. You can wash your hands before touching your rabbit to prevent spreading illness.
Once your rabbit reaches adulthood, it’s normal to expect him or her to start producing droppings. As mentioned previously, rabbits should be kept indoors to reduce the chances of exposure to harmful substances. Droppings can contain viruses, bacteria, and worms which can transmit disease.
Rabbits produce waste in different forms: solid stool, liquid stool, urine, and gas. Solid stool usually appears dark brown in color and consists mostly of undigested plant material. The liquid stool is thick and yellowish-green in color and contains partially digested food. Urine is clear and odorless and comes from the bladder. The gas passes through the anus and exits via the rectum.
Keep your bunny healthy by ensuring that his or her habitat is clean and dry. Wash the bottom of the cage several times a week to remove old feces. Scrub the entire cage with warm water and soap to disinfect surfaces. Rinse the entire cage and scrub down the water dish to remove fecal matter and dead cells. Avoid letting your rabbit sleep on dirty bedding. Instead, change bedding and blankets once a week.