Things To Know Before Getting A Pet Rabbit

WHERE CAN I GET MY PET BUNNY? 

Sadly, each year, thousands of bunnies are euthanized by animal shelters because they’re unable to be rehomed. Most of the rabbits at animal shelters are between 4 months – 2 years old and often healthier than the rabbits you buy at the pet store. This is because most are already spayed/neutered, litter box trained and used to being handled. Rabbits bought from pet stores are typically at high risk of getting sick because they’re exposed to lots of germs at an age where they are most vulnerable to illness. Buying directly from breeders is slightly better, as there is often less exposure to germs, but the young bunny will still be at an age where stress can cause her to become unwell.

This is why I bring up the age of bunnies in animal shelters. The rabbit you buy from the animal shelter may not be as cute as a baby bunny, but it will still be adorable and won’t take long to bond with you. Even better, she’ll have a stronger immune system because she is older, so you will more than likely be, bringing a healthier rabbit into your family.

BRINGING YOUR NEW BUNNY HOME: 

Before bringing your new bunny home, you should have everything already in place. Set up her new home with hay, water, and a couple of handfuls of pellets. This way you can bring her home and place her straight into her new area to settle for a couple of days.

It is important to remember your bunny will be under a lot of stress due to her new surroundings, so be patient and allow her some space until she gets used to her new surroundings. 

By giving her the space she needs, you’ll limit the amount of stress she is under and avoid illness.

BEFORE YOU BRING YOUR BUNNY HOME

Before bringing your rabbit home, you should decide whether she is going to be a house rabbit and where she is going to live. 

GIVING HER FREEDOM TO ROAM

Rabbits can be great house pets and can be kept in the same way you would a cat. Giving your rabbit the freedom to roam around the house is a great way of creating a special bond with your bunny while providing her with a great life. If you have small children or other pets, you will need to keep her in a cage or pen just until she settles.

Cages are available at pet stores but are typically too small for an average-sized rabbit and the wire bottom of the cages is uncomfortable for the rabbit’s feet.

Pens offer more room and would be a better purchase and would allow your bunny to come out and play when she chooses.

IF YOU DO PURCHASE A RABBIT CAGE:

If you do decide to purchase a rabbit cage, rabbits find it more comfortable when they’re placed on the floor and not raised on tables, etc. This way, you won’t need to reach into her cage to drag her out, you’d simply open the cage door and let your bunny walkout.

This means you could open the cage, sit down, relax, and watch your little bunny explore her new home and as soon as she is settled, she’ll be right over checking you out. It’s a great way to make her feel safe and secure while showing her she can trust you.

LETTING HER OUT FOR LONGER PERIODS:

Under supervision, allow her out the cage for longer periods. This will encourage her to use the cage or pen for a place to pee and poop. 

It can take a bit of time before a rabbit settles down and bond with a new owner, so providing a calm and consistent environment will help her adjust more quickly.

A RABBITS LIVING ALONE WILL NEVER GET THE ATTENTION SHE NEEDS!

It is never recommended to keep a pet rabbit outdoors in a hutch. A single rabbit living alone will never receive the attention she needs and will feel like she is in a jail cell. I don’t know about you, but I would never lock my pet dog or cat in a tiny cage, outside for 24 hours a day and only feeding them once a day. Rabbits should not be either.

It is not only mental and emotional hardships an outdoor rabbit will suffer. Being exposed to extreme heat and cold weather could kill them. 

In the wild, rabbits can escape from the heat and sun. They are active at dawn and dusk and spend the hot midday hours relaxing in their underground burrows, where they can stay cool.

It is also difficult to keep a close watch on your rabbit’s health if she’s kept outside, and you could walk out one day and find a weak rabbit that is unwell. 

IF SHE IS KEPT OUTSIDE:

If your only option is to keep her outside, give her a bunny friend and provide her with shade, a wooden hie box filled with hay for protection from the weather, ice-free water if it is Winter, and fresh food. If it is Summer, give her a frozen 2-liter bottle of water to help keep her cool.

Take your rabbit out of her cage as frequently as you can and give her the exercise and attention she needs.

If you have purchased a cage with a wire bottom, put something down for her to stand on, like a piece of wood or carpet. If she excessively chews the carpet, you will need to remove it to avoid a blockage in the digestive tract.

PROTECTING YOUR HOME FROM NIBBLES:

One thing you’ll soon notice is that bunnies love to chew things. This is why it’s important all your important books, papers, etc are kept out of reach and all wires are made inaccessible. You should place any loose wires behind furniture or attach them to the walls, out of the bunnies reach. Some cables may be impossible to tuck away or attach to the wall, in this case, you can buy plastic tubing from hardware stores to cover them.

Many bunnies will chew on wooden furniture and other household items. When this happens, cover the nibbled area, place something nearby that the rabbit can chew. A cardboard box is perfect or even an old phonebook. And also place a litter box filled with hay next to the nibbled area to give her more interesting things to chew on.

Bunnies are social animals, so it is best to keep them in an area where you spend a lot of your time. But be careful, if it is extremely busy or noisy, it could become too stressful for her. 

Rabbits are smarter than many people think and it doesn’t take long for their personalities to blossom when they are allowed to share the freedom of our home.

LITTER BOX TRAINING:

Litterbox training is something most bunnies will pick up very quickly, though there will be the occasional bunny that doesn’t get it 100%, and fewer still, may never get it.

Start by placing her litter box in the corner of her cage where she pees, or the corner of the room she’s allowed in. You can try putting urine-soaked litter and poops in her litter box but the best thing to entice her to hang out in her litter box is to place some hay in it. Put roughly an inch of rabbit safe litter in her box then cover with a good handful of hay. The contents should be dumped when soiled, at least every other day, though daily is better. Regularly changing her litter and providing a clean living area will encourage her to use her litter box.

DO NOT USE THIS TYPE OF LITTER! 

Don’t use litter with additives or clumping litter as they are dangerous to bunny health. If your rabbit eats corn cob litter, it can result in a blockage.

Pine and Cedar bedding have been shown to cause liver and lung problems in small mammals and should be avoided.

Recommended Litters: Aspen Bedding or Carefresh newspaper pulp (recycled)

I hope you found this article insightful! 

We recently published another article titled: What Should I Feed My Rabbit Daily? which may be helpful if you’re a new rabbit owner. You can view the article HERE if you like.