Rabbits as house pets are a wonderful addition to any home. They are affectionate and can be wonderful companions. Before bringing a bunny into your home, it’s vital to do your research.
Rabbits have unique requirements that you should be aware of and may not be suitable for everyone. There are quite a few considerations to make when deciding on bringing a rabbit into your home.
We’ll talk about housing alternatives, rabbit-proofing your home, and bonding with your house rabbit in this article. We will also discuss important topics such as your rabbit’s dietary requirements, house training, and typical medical issues that your house rabbit may face.
What You Need To Know About Rabbits as House Pets
Rabbits make excellent house pets. A healthy indoor rabbit can live between seven and 10 years. Most people believe that owning rabbits is easy because they seem like low-maintenance pets. However, rabbit ownership demands the same level of commitment as a puppy and kitten.
Rabbits require a ton of care, and uninformed rabbit owners are faced with the realities of what it really takes to care for their rabbits. A pet rabbit will have the best chance of becoming a cherished member of your family if its owner is well-prepared.
Before you bring your rabbit home, there are a few things you need to ask yourself. Do you have enough space to house your rabbit? Will your rabbit have access to the outdoors? Are you able to offer your rabbit the proper nutrition it needs?
You should also be aware that having a rabbit as a pet comes with additional financial responsibilities. Prepare to spend money upfront on housing, food, and items you will need to bunny-proof your home. Also, make sure you can afford the recurring costs of a rabbit, such as food, litter, and vet expenditures to spay or neuter, annual exams, and illness.
Feeding Your House Rabbit
It’s vital to have a good understanding of your rabbit’s dietary needs throughout its life. Rabbits have a complicated digestive system, and a rabbit’s health depends on proper nourishment. Their diet should include plenty of fiber.
Feeding Your Rabbit Hay
A nutritious diet should include a range of grass hay (80%), fresh vegetables (10%–15%), and high-quality food pellets (5%–10%), all of which should be fed in the right quantities. Anything else should be treated as a special occasion treat and served in small quantities.
A continuous supply of clean, fresh water is required. The water can be provided in either a bottle or a water bowl, according to your rabbit’s preference.
The high fiber content of grass hay is vital. It is the single most significant factor in ensuring that all rabbits have optimal digestive and dental health.
A diet consisting primarily of hay can also serve as preventative health care for your rabbit. Good quality hay can help to maintain healthy teeth and keep your rabbit’s gut healthy. Every day, numerous times a day, give your rabbit fresh hay.
Changing the type of grass hay or mixing grass hays together is also recommended. Rabbits respond well to small variations in the smell and texture of hay, resulting in good, consistent eaters. Because various rabbits enjoy different types of hay, pay attention to your rabbit’s personal favorites.
Feeding Your Rabbit Leafy Greens
Feed your rabbit at least three different types of leafy greens every day, and mix it up by rotating between different greens. Because rabbits are more prone to calcium issues, feed them lesser amounts of high calcium greens.
Feeding Your Rabbit Vegetables and Fruit
Your rabbit requires fresh vegetables on a regular basis. Fresh foods are an essential element of your rabbit’s diet. They give additional nutrients as well as a variety of textures and flavors that improve your rabbit’s well-being. Fresh food also offers hydration, which is beneficial to their kidneys and bladder.
Fruits can also be given in small amounts as training treats. Hand-feeding the treats is also a terrific method to form a strong bond with your bunny. Your adult rabbit should eat just under a cup of mixed vegetables each day and a small amount of fruit a couple of times a week.
Note: A rabbit’s digestive system can not process high amounts of sugar. Too much sugar can cause a host of medical issues, including diabetes and gastrointestinal stasis. Most sugary fruit should be given as treats and in moderation.
Feeding Your Rabbit Pellets
Pellets of high grade contain at least 18% fiber and are less than 2% fat. Look for food that is made up entirely of basic green pellets, with no additional colorful ingredients. Pellets should be measured, and rabbits should receive roughly a quarter cup per 5 pounds of body weight per day.
Pellets that contain nuts, seeds, or other “treats” and colorful bits or that use the phrase “gourmet or muesli mix,” are typically highly rich and high in fat and should be avoided.
It’s essential that new rabbit owners educate themselves about what a rabbit can eat, which foods should be given in moderation, and what is toxic to their pet. A poor diet can lead to many health issues and may even be fatal to your rabbit.
Bunny-Proofing Your Home
Rabbits are incredibly inquisitive and tenacious. If left unsupervised, they will chew on electrical cords, furniture, and even your television remote control. They will chew on anything they can sink their teeth into, so it’s essential to rabbit-proof your space.
Although rabbits can be taught to avoid chewing on specific objects, it’s best to take all necessary precautions. Here’s a list of items that need to be rabbit-proofed:
- Some houseplants are toxic for rabbits. Ensure that you remove any toxic houseplants from your home or out of your pet rabbit’s way.
- Baseboards or wooden flooring can be covered with plastic to prevent your rabbit from chewing it. For rentals, move furniture up against the baseboards to discourage chewing.
- Use wire tubing to protect electrical cords. Keep your chargers and electrical cords off the ground. If you have no other alternative, fence in the area with electrical cords to prevent your bunny from getting to them.
- Bunnies love to chew on paper, and your books are no exception. Keep books and important documents tucked in storage boxes or high shelves away from your rabbit.
- Cover your wooden and plastic furniture legs. A good choice of deterrent is bitter apple spray. This could discourage your bunny from chewing on your furniture.
Getting the right kind of housing is one of the most important aspects of owning a rabbit. You can provide a comfortable and healthy environment for your rabbit with the correct planning and care. Rabbits need to run, jump, stretch, dig, and forage in order to survive.
Rabbit cages for larger bunnies should be at least 30 by 36 by 18 inches in size, with solid bases. There should be no wire floors, as this can cause sore hocks. Towels or rugs to rest on are always nice, and a litter box is a must.
Most people opt for the standard, traditional enclosure. However, there are several more options for a rabbit’s living quarters. Living in a pen is a popular option. Many rescue organizations promote this since it allows for nearly unlimited playtime, and your bunnies are not cooped up in a cage.
Setting up a puppy playpen or most commonly known as an X-pen in the corner of a room is a fantastic option for your rabbit. Puppy enclosures are large enough to accommodate all of a rabbit’s needs while also enabling them to roam. They’re also simple to move as needed.
Always be sure to protect your flooring. A good option is interlocking click tiles as they are easy to clean, waterproof, odor-proof, and stain-proof.
If you have a spare room, convert it into a rabbit room. Rabbits are social animals but also need their own space. Rabbits need a space where they can hide, play freely, and sleep. Be sure to bunny-proof the room before moving your pet rabbit in.
Relocating Your Rabbit
Rabbits are particularly sensitive to changes in their environment because they are prey animals. Even if the changes are made with your bunny’s best interests in mind, significant or abrupt changes in your little one’s home environment and daily routine can be quite upsetting.
If you want your rabbit to be a free-roaming bunny, make gradual changes to acclimatize them to their new surroundings. Instead of tossing your rabbit’s enclosure out the window and giving them free rein of the house, keep the rabbit pen gate open and let them explore.
This will give your rabbit the time he or she needs to adjust to having more space to explore. This will also ensure your rabbit feels safe and comfortable in their usual enclosure nearby for napping or hiding.
Expand the area once your rabbit seems more comfortable. Make the playpen bigger or provide access to only one room of the house. You can start letting your rabbit out unsupervised once they’ve become used to their new free-roaming lifestyle.
For rabbits, having their own little sanctuary where they won’t be disturbed is essential. Rabbits sleep a lot, most of the time throughout the day. A place that resembles a burrow, with a roof over their heads and an entrance and exit passage, is an ideal spot for rabbits to sleep.
House Training Your Rabbit
Rabbits are incredibly clean animals, and litter training them is much easier than you may imagine. It’s best to neuter your male rabbit because even litter-trained males can spray in the house. This will be them marking their territory. It can be more difficult to break them of this habit once they’ve started.
Here are a few tips for training your house rabbit:
Set Up the Litter Box
Make sure there’s a litter box available. Use a larger litter tray with high edges or put the tray in a crate or indoor cage. Leave the door open so your rabbit can come and go as it pleases.
The high sides of the litter box can contain any overspill and droppings. Place the litter box in your rabbit’s main living space.
Use the Appropriate Litter
Scented, clay-based, or clumping litters can be hazardous to rabbits, so stay away from them. It’s also a good idea to stay away from wood shavings and pine pellets. Paper pellets, shredded paper, or straw are all suitable options.
Only a little layer of litter will be required at the bottom of the litter box. Rabbits, oddly enough, like to eat when using the litter box. Make sure you have plenty of hay available for your bunny.
Make Provisions for Little Accidents
Limit the amount of space your rabbits have access to until they’ve mastered litter training. In the first few weeks, you might want to consider putting down plenty of newspaper for them. If your rabbit has an accident, clean it up as soon as possible to prevent them from returning to the same location.
Keep an eye on your bunny to determine where they prefer to go to the bathroom. Place litter trays there until they begin to use them on a regular basis.
Leaving a few rabbit droppings on the tray is a good idea. This will make it easy for them to comprehend that this is the proper location for them to do their business. You can even do this with their urine too—place the urine-soaked newspaper in the bottom of the tray.
Do Not Reprimand Your Bunny
Even if you think your rabbit isn’t getting the hang of it, you should never punish them. They may become fearful of you since they don’t understand why they’re being scolded. Consistency is key. They will eventually get the hang of it.
Litter training can be difficult at times, but the key is perseverance and constant reinforcement of positive behavior.
Mental and Physical Stimulation
If rabbits are bored, they will get into mischief and can become destructive. Rabbits are intelligent and need mental and physical stimulation.
One fun idea to keep your rabbits entertained is to turn a cardboard box into a fortress. Fill empty toilet paper rolls with hay, add a digging box, and other paper items found around the house are an excellent distraction for rabbits.
Provide lots of safe, chew toys throughout the rabbit-accessible areas of your home. These toys will not only help to refocus your rabbit’s natural chewing tendency, but they will also stimulate his or her mind and keep them mentally active. It’s important to rotate these toys on a regular basis to keep your rabbit interested and prevent boredom-related behavior.
Socializing Your Rabbits
Although rabbits can be quite friendly, it could take a while before your rabbit trusts you. Unlike dogs and cats that can bond quickly with their owners, rabbits require more time. Every rabbit has its own unique personality, so no two rabbits will be the same.
Because rabbits are prey animals, picking up and cuddling rabbits is quite distressing for them. As they attempt to break free, you may be scratched, kicked, or bitten. In the process, your rabbit could injure itself too. Being picked up feels like a predator-like grasp for rabbits.
Sitting on the ground in your rabbit’s area is the best approach to socialize your rabbit. Avoid the desire to pick them up and stroke them. Your bunnies will learn to come to you. Offer your rabbit a treat to make the process of socializing easier.
Even the grumpiest rabbit will come up to check you out after a while. They’ll rub their chin on your shoe or leg, then bounce over to nibble on the treat you’ve put out. This is their method of claiming you and making you feel comfortable. If you can do this with your bunnies daily, they’ll soon choose to hop into your lap or follow you around.
Never put your hand in front of your rabbit’s face and ask them to sniff it. This will almost always result in a bite because it’s their blind area and will catch them off guard.
It is essential to note that not all rabbits enjoy being handled. If you notice your rabbit becomes fearful or stressed when you pick them up, let go. It’s not your fault; it is just your rabbit’s preference.
Companionship is essential for a rabbit’s well-being, and it can be offered by us, another rabbit, or, better yet, both. Because male/female pairings are their normal way of existence in the wild, the optimum rabbit pairing is always neutered male and spayed female.
House rabbits who don’t receive enough connection from their human owners are more likely to engage in harmful behavior such as chewing at the baseboards and carpet. Boredom and loneliness create or worsen this type of behavior.
A rabbit will always be happiest if it lives alongside another rabbit. A lone rabbit, on the other hand, can be quite comfortable if it has enough human interaction. This has several advantages for you as an owner: your rabbit will form a stronger bond with you. Your rabbit will also be a more interactive pet, snuggling up to you and licking your hands and face.
Bonded rabbits who live in pairs or groups spend their days resting, grooming, and playing together. This is something that, no matter how hard we try, we will never be able to duplicate. Your rabbits will still communicate with you and express affection, but they will be less “needy.”
It may be difficult for a rabbit who has been accustomed to living in a pair or group to adjust to life as a solitary rabbit. A rabbit that has lost its mate, for instance, will be unhappy and may have health problems as a result. Finding a new relationship is the ideal cure for this.
If you decide to get your rabbit a companion, keep in mind that both rabbits must be neutered or spayed. The rabbits’ ages don’t matter all that much, but the closer they are in age, the less likely one will die years before the other.
Adopting a rabbit from a rescue center is often the simplest option because they will be able to discover a rabbit of the proper sex, age, and temperament. Be careful that a perfect match on paper may not always work. Rabbits have their own minds and, while naturally disposed to bond with another rabbit, may take a dislike to them for no apparent reason.
Benefits of Spayed/Neutered House Rabbits
Spayed or neutered rabbits are more attached and affectionate toward their pet parents, as well as quicker to litter box train. There are behavioral benefits to spaying or neutering your rabbit. Despite your rabbit being trained to use a litter box, hormones before neutering may lead to your rabbit marking its territory.
Neutering or spaying your rabbit improves litter box behavior, decreases chewing habit, decreases territorial aggression, and gives your rabbit a happier, longer life. Depending on sexual maturity, have your rabbit neutered by an expert rabbit veterinarian between the ages of 3 and 8 months.
Rabbits and Children
Rabbits are not suitable as pets for young children. They have a nervous temperament and might be hostile with children who want to cuddle with their pets.
Rabbits require more attention than most people realize, but they can be fantastic family pets. Children can help by learning to respect the small animal’s boundaries. Instead of the child, an adult should be the primary caregiver for the rabbit.
Medical Issues Every Rabbit Owner Should Know
Rabbits are prey animals and can hide their symptoms if they are sick. There are common medical issues new rabbit owners should be aware of.
Gastrointestinal stasis (GI stasis) is the slow movement of food through the gastrointestinal tract. Stress, dehydration, and anorexia from various underlying medical conditions, as well as gastrointestinal blockage, are all possible causes of GI stasis. A shortage of crude fiber in their diet, most notably hay, is a common cause.
Rabbits are more likely to suffer from digestive issues. There could be underlying disorders that are causing your digestive problems.
Dental issues are another common health issue. A rabbit’s teeth are continuously growing. They need to wear their teeth down by constantly eating and chew toys.
Hairballs are common in rabbits who brush themselves excessively or tear out their fur. It could be due to boredom, stress, or a lack of fiber in their diet.
Flystrike is a serious condition in rabbits that can be fatal. Flies lay eggs on damp areas of your rabbit’s skin. When the maggots hatch, they will feed off your rabbit’s skin. It is essential that owners check areas prone to moisture on their rabbits for any fly eggs.
Sore hocks (Pododermatitis) is a common issue that is preventable in rabbits. The sole of your rabbit’s foot can become inflamed, raw, and infected. The common causes for sore hocks are wire mesh flooring found in cages, carpets in your home, and damp bedding.
The medical issues outlined above are only a few of the problems that your house rabbit may face. It’s vital that rabbit owners familiarize themselves with common diseases and disorders.
Do Rabbits Smell?
Rabbits, contrary to popular perception, will not stink up your house. Rabbits are exceptionally clean creatures and groom themselves in the same way that cats do.
A rabbit’s urine is the only thing that smells as it has a strong ammonia odor. If you keep your rabbit’s litter box clean, your new pet rabbit will not stink up your house.
Can I Give My Rabbit a Bath?
Bathing your rabbit is not recommended. Submerging your rabbit in water can be harmful to them due to stress, injury, and hypothermia. The skin of a rabbit is also highly sensitive, and a bath could irritate its skin severely. Spot cleaning and giving your rabbit a dry wash are the best solutions.
Do Rabbits Shed?
Rabbits do shed hair a lot. Their fur will cling to your clothes, floors, and even your coffee mug. Prepare to vacuum and clean up a lot of fur when you have rabbits as house pets.
Rabbits as House Pets Checklist Summary
Rabbits are wonderful, affectionate pets that can be house trained. If rabbit owners know how to care for and look after their rabbit, they can enjoy an excellent quality of life. To summarize, below is a list of items to take into account:
- Indoor housing—A puppy pen, hutch, or spare room.
- Bunny proofing your home—electrical cords, furniture, baseboards, and flooring.
- Litter box—with rabbit-safe litter.
- Food bowl, hay feeder and water bottle/bowls.
- Cardboard box (hiding house) and chew toys.
- Plenty of hay, fresh vegetables, fruit as treats, and rabbit pellets.
Rabbit owners must become familiar with their pet rabbit’s nutritional needs. It’s also crucial to be aware of the most prevalent medical problems that rabbits can have. Please make sure that an adult is the primary caretaker if you get your children a pet rabbit. Rabbits make excellent household pets if they are properly cared for.