Preparing your life to care for a new rabbit requires some research and planning, but the rewards in having a cute and cuddly pet are well worth it. Grange Co-op’s Pet Country has the helpful information you need for a successful bunny buying experience and happy, healthy life for your new rabbit.
On average, customers buying a rabbit should budget at least $100, which includes housing, food, treats, and of course, your new rabbit. Typically rabbits live seven to 10 years, but with proper care they can live into their later teens.
Grange Co-op sells “Fancy Rabbits,” which are not used for meat production. Most of our rabbits weigh less than seven pounds, but we sometimes feature larger fancy rabbits. Contact Pet Country to find out what size and type of rabbits we have in the store.
While there are 48 rabbit breeds recognized by the American Rabbit Breeders Association, Grange Co-op buys from local Southern Oregon breeders which limits our selection. Typically, we have Lion Head, Dutch, Holland Lop and Mini Lop and Mini Rex as well as mixed breeds.
Organizing your home space for your new family friend is exciting. Before purchasing a bunny, take the time to look around your home for the bunnies’ permanent habitat area. Now’s the time to start “bunny proofing” and determine if your bunny is going to be an indoor or outdoor pet.
- Prepare indoors: Move houseplants, electrical wires, and other animal foods away from the bunny’s habitat. Bunnies and adult rabbits will taste, chew, and dig anything tempting that’s within their reach. Rabbits should be free to roam the house, but the owner needs to make sure the home is completely bunny-safe to avoid injury.
- Prepare outdoors: Rabbits are very sensitive to temperatures 75 degree and higher. Rabbits cannot pant or sweat, and instead, cool themselves by circulating blood through their ears. Place the cage in a cool area where the sun doesn’t shine on them for long periods of time. To cool the rabbit, bring it inside or place frozen water bottles for the rabbit to rest on. For rabbit’s exercise, put up a rabbit run.
Warning — predators are always something to consider. If you let the rabbit out to play without your care, we suggest making a covered, protected area. Also, rabbits love to dig a burrow. Watch your rabbit during its play time.
Now that you’ve decided whether your rabbit will live primarily indoors or outdoors, here is some more helpful information to prepare you for your new pet.
You will need an appropriate size cage for both indoor and outdoor rabbits. Select your cage based on the adult size of your bunny. Cages with a solid bottom are preferred so to protect paws, wire bottom cages can be used but you will need a solid platform area in the cage for them to spend time. If not, a wire cage bottom can lead to health issues such as sore hocks. The hair will wear away and the hock will form bruises or abscesses. Seek your local vet’s office for more information.
Food, Water & Toys
Your new rabbit will need a water bottle, food dish, and toys which help control their growing teeth. Rabbit’s teeth never stop growing. Without chewable toys or sticks the rabbit will form malocclusion when the rabbit’s teeth have grown too long or malformed. This is a serious condition and can cause the rabbit to stop eating and possibly lead to death. To prevent malocclusion provide treats, chews, toys or salt sticks. Seek your local vet’s office for more information.
Grange Co-op uses CareFRESH Colors Pet Bedding because it absorbs and controls odor. Other bedding you can use includes pine shavings, Aspen, or stall bedding pellets.
Indoor rabbits will become litter trained. Yes, you can train your rabbit to use a litter box. Be prepared because sometimes they will use the litter box for urinating and then leave their dropping in the cage.
Rabbits will use one corner to potty. Place the litter box in that corner along with some dirty bedding inside to encourage them to start using the box. Hanging hay in or above the litter box is a great way to encourage staying in the box. Small animal litter boxes are recommended because the boxes have tall backs to keep urine and droppings inside. Don’t forget the scooper. Good Mews bedding and stall bedding are excellent products to use as litter.
Cleaning the Cage
Consider a couple things before purchasing your rabbit’s habitat: What kind of bedding do you want? And, is your rabbit going to be litter box trained? Bedding for litter box trained rabbits can last weeks, but you still need to clean the litter box regularly with a scooper. Flacked bedding should be cleaned every other day. Pelleted bedding needs to be cleaned twice a week. CareFRESH bedding should be changed twice a week. To make CareFRESH bedding last a week, simply clean droppings during the week and replace bedding weekly.
Rabbits are naturally going to chew on objects they find interesting, and this includes their habitat. There can be several reasons rabbits do this. They might want attention, maybe they’re bored, or they’re practicing good dental hygiene. If a rabbit’s teeth over grow, they are unable to eat and will need to be taken to the vet. When a rabbit chews on the bars of the cage they can possibly break their teeth or make them uneven, which can cause other health issues. Make sure you have treats, chews, toys or salt licks for your rabbit at all times.
Supplying a rabbit’s diet is simple. A rabbit’s diet should consist of 75% grass hay, 20% fortified pellets, and 5% treats. Bunnies and young rabbits need access to food at all times throughout the day. Small rabbits mature faster than larger rabbits, and the portions your feed may vary. Feed rabbits twice a day or leave food in a bowl all day. This is called “Free Feed.” Six months is an appropriate time to start introducing treats a little at a time. Introducing treats slowly to their diet will help you manage the nutrition they need from their hay and pellet diet. Hay must be available at all times. Timothy Hay and Orchard grass is a favorite. Alfalfa is legume hay, which is higher in carbohydrates. Feed alfalfa sparingly.
Fortified pellets are excellent to have available in their bowl. All pellets should be fortified.
Salt and mineral licks are also recommended as a supplement to their diet.
We are happy to announce that rabbits do not need vaccines. Providing a healthy diet with hay and pellets daily will help support the rabbit’s vitamin daily intake. Keeping a salt and mineral lick in the cage is a great way to ensure the rabbit receives additional nutrients.
Snuffles (pasteurellosis) a common rabbit ailment. This is comparable to a cold. The rabbits will sneeze and have nasal discharge. Veterinarians will treat this with antibiotics and the symptoms should go away way for a short period of time, but unfortunately it is not curable. Visit your local vet’s office for more information.
Attitude and Behavior
Each rabbit has a different behavior. A calm environment for them to grow up in makes a big difference with any aggressive behavior. Also, rabbits are a prey animal, so if they are startled they may react on instinct to protect themselves. Female rabbits might be territorial of their cages more than a male is. When female rabbit’s hormone levels are high they may be more aggressive.
Keep bunnies and rabbits entertained with edible toys. Provide two different types of toys for your rabbits to keep their interest. It’s quite enjoyable to watch your rabbit play with the toys by throwing them in the air, then hopping over to throw them again.
Holding your rabbit can bring it comfort and calmness. A great way to hold your rabbit is to cradle it in your arms like a football, placing the head towards your arm pit. Carefully pick up the rabbit by using one hand to hold an ear and the scruff while using the other hand to support the rump as you lift. Bring the rabbit close to your body. Now, the rabbit will feel safe.
Never pick up the rabbit by their ears. Also, if the rabbit is on your chest and gets startled, it may jump away and hurt itself or you. Supervise rabbit visits with young children. A rabbit’s strong back legs may hurt a child if they’re not holding it properly.