Owning a pet is much like having a child of your own, as you need to care for it just as much. However, the benefits of owning pets are numerous, as they are more than just for fun. Pet rabbits, especially, are great for companionship and relaxation. There is usually a high demand for rabbits as pets in the US and UK, as they are the pet of choice. There are so many breeds of pet rabbits with different colors and sizes. So, it doesn’t matter if you want a cute dwarf rabbit or a lop-eared bunny, you will definitely get one. Pet rabbits are easily one of the cutest pets in the world. Their soft, snugly fur is great for grooming and stroking, while their tiny paws are adorable. These are some of the features that attract people to them easily. Another feature that also makes them very appealing is the fact that they are quiet.
Therapists often advise patients dealing with anxiety and stress to get pets that can help their relaxation process. Pet rabbits are a great choice, because of their peaceful and quiet nature. Unlike dogs that bark every once in a while, pet rabbits barely let out a sound. This helps their owners get enough relaxation and peace while having them around. Having rabbits as pets, is, also, a great choice for a first pet for middle-aged kids. Rabbits do not pose any danger to kids and are great for teaching your kids responsibility. With so many more benefits, even more, people often want to get a pet rabbit.
If you’re thinking about getting a pet rabbit, then you need to take some important factors into consideration. Here are 15 things you need to know before owning a pet rabbit.
Budget & Finances
The first important factor you should take into consideration before getting a pet rabbit is your budget. Like every other pet, rabbits do cost a lot of money to adopt. The adoption fee for most rabbits cost over $70 or more depending on where exactly you might be adopting from. Asides from the cost of adoption, having a rabbit as a pet, also, comes with other expenses. You have to think about providing adequate living conditions for the rabbit to live and survive. Feeding and medical expenses will usually take more of your finances, as they will cost a lot.
For feeding, you should think about feeding them vegetables like the Greens, as well as, hay. They, also require regular veterinary checkups and supplements. Feeding your pet rabbit might cost over $50, however, vet bills aren’t easily estimable, as they are recorded based on what exactly might be wrong. Asides from feeding and treatment, you should also, make provisions for a clean litter box, pet safe cleaning supplies, grooming, and other incidental costs. However, there are ways to minimize your expenses by considering different DIY options. Even though those options exist, it is important for you to understand that owning a rabbit as a pet doesn’t come cheap. You need to be prepared for it.
Good Bunny Housing
Another vital factor needed to take care of your pet rabbit is a good bunny house for its accommodation. The first thing you need to understand about rabbits is the fact that rabbits are social animals. Rabbits thrive on interaction, hence, the location of their houses should be within the home. Of course, it should be in a place where they find relaxing, however, it shouldn’t be secluded. Also, pet rabbits require enough space to properly live comfortably. Their pen should be big enough to contain a litter box, food bowl, a source of water and toys.
The spacing available in your pet rabbit’s pen is really crucial to its survival. It should have enough space to stand upright, flop about whenever and stretch outwardly out of curiosity. If you decide to have a 5-6 pound rabbit as a pet, then the ideal pen should be 30” x 30” x 24”. This will give it enough space to live comfortably. Sometimes, getting the ideal cage or pen for your pet rabbit can be difficult. To make things easier, opt for large dog crates or simply build the perfect one for your bunny rabbit. There are so many online tutorials that make the process easier.
Bunny Proofing Is A Must
Bunny proofing is a must if you plan on having a rabbit as a pet. This is essential, especially because rabbits should be allowed to roam the home occasionally. Bunny proofing is literally beneficial to both your pet rabbit and you, the owner. While it prevents your pet rabbit from harm like electric shocks and other hazards, it, also, prevents them from destroying your properties. It is normal to find that pet rabbits will chew on electrical cords and wires. The only way to prevent this is by bunny proofing your wires.
Try placing spiral cable wrap all over all electrical wires, as this will prevent them from getting hurt. Also, it is better to make these wires difficult to reach altogether. So, you can run electrical wires under the furniture to protect our pet rabbit. Another way to bunny proof your home is to keep certain items higher than usual. For example, books and house plants. House plants are artificial and thus, contain certain chemicals that are bad for your rabbit. Always keep these out of reach by hanging them in higher places. As for books, to prevent them from being destroyed via chewing, be sure to keep them at higher places as well. Your pet rabbit will be easily protected if it cannot reach items that are harmful to it.
As mentioned before, rabbits are very social animals and need to be kept busy to survive for a long time. According to research, pet rabbits that are usually kept outside the house live a maximum of 2-5 years. However, those who live in the same space as their owners, live a longer duration of about 7-10 years. Now, living comfortably in the same space as their owners also entail being engaged. If you’re planning on having a rabbit as a pet, then you need to think about various forms of entertainment. Rabbits are usually attracted to what they see and will keep themselves entertained by trying to chew on everything. This, however, can lead to the damage of your properties.
To prevent this, it is essential to provide different forms of entertainment for your pet rabbit. Some great options often include paper products like; an old telephone book, toilet paper rolls or a paper castle. Any item you might not have any use for that is safe for your pet rabbit to chew on is always a great choice. This will keep them busy and prevent them from wrecking your home.
Litter Box Training
Teaching your pet rabbit how to use the litter box, is a very important factor you need to consider. Although rabbits are generally clean and neat animals, they do require adequate training. Now, if you choose to adopt your rabbit from a rescue home, then this might not be a bother. This is because most rescue homes usually teach the basics of litter training to rabbits they rescue. However, if the opposite is the case. then you definitely need to train your pet rabbit. Training your pet rabbit on how to use a litter box can be easy with a lot of patience and consistency. Use a plastic box with low sides and an open top for your litter box. This makes it easy for your rabbit to get in whenever it needs to.
Opt for old newspapers or larger bags used by cats for litter, preferably the unscented version. Ensure they are layered properly, as rabbits do not bury their litter like cats. It is always advisable to avoid using clay-based or clumping litter, as this can be harmful to your pet. Put enough litter to absorb the wetness of urine and train them on how to use it. Most of the time, rabbits love to eat hay and poop at the same time. So, a good way to teach your pet rabbit how to use the litter box is by placing its food next to it. Try placing its hay feeder next to the litter box. Also, try limiting its space for movement, until it is well trained.
Spaying & Neutering
This process involves removing the reproductive organs of pet rabbits. Spaying and Neutering rabbits are safe and good for their health. According to research, a high percentage of un-neutered female rabbits suffer from uterine cancer at just 5 years of age. Asides from the reduction of health problems, it also, reduces the occurrence of territorial aggression. Like many other animals, bunnies tend to mark their territory by pooping or urinating all over the house. Neutered males and females will not be able to do this. Also, they are more friendly, as they don’t have to worry about mating.
Female rabbits can be spayed as early as 4 months old when they are sexually mature. Male rabbits can be neutered immediately the testicles descend at 8-12 weeks old. The procedure usually costs about $50-$75 and is safe with the right veterinarian.
Before adopting or owning a rabbit, having an idea of what its feeding habits will be like is essential. Feeding your pet rabbit with the best food and in the right amounts is essential for its growth and survival. The sole content of a rabbit’s diet is fiber. Their proper food must contain high fiber content for them to be well fed. The major choice of food for most rabbits is hay, grass, and vegetables. These food options are rich in fiber and are great for rabbits. However, the choice of hay and grass usually depends on the age of your pet rabbit. A good example is Alfalfa. Alfalfa is a great choice of food for younger rabbits because it contains high protein and sugar content. However, oat hays is essential for older rabbits. Hay is ultimately the best option for providing adequate fiber to your rabbit, which helps its digestive system. Also, hay helps in wearing down the teeth of Rabbits, which is crucial for growing adequately.
Asides from fiber, your pet rabbit, also, requires enough vitamins, which can be gotten from vegetables and fruit. The best vegetable options to feed your rabbit are; broccoli leaves, carrot tops, collard greens, mint, kale, and lettuce. Your pet rabbit will easily accept fruits like raspberries, strawberries, bananas, and apples without seeds. Also, always remember to give them fresh water to aid digestion and promote hydration always. With proper nutrition, your pet rabbit will be healthy and happy always.
This might come as a shock, but it is important to understand that rabbits eat their feces. Not all of it, but cecotropes, also called caecal pellets or night feces. Cecotropes are reingested by rabbits for more nutrients. Caecal pellets contain protein, fiber and high levels of vitamin B and K. Rabbits usually reingest caecal pellets at night or early in the morning.
As a matter of fact, if your pet rabbit ever stops eating caecal pellets, then it is an indication that something might be wrong.
Locate A Rabbit Savvy Veterinarian
An essential part of maintaining and sustaining the health of your pet rabbit is by locating a veterinarian that understands the health of rabbits. Rabbits tend to live a long term life, which ranges for about 8-12 years when properly taken care of. Most times, rabbits can lose their lives if their health isn’t properly tended to. This can also happen as a result of isolation. Providing them with the best options of nutritious food and keeping them engaged can prolong their lives. However, they need to be taken for a proper check up regularly. Rabbits are usually considered an exotic animal in veterinary terms. Hence, they require a specialist, who has an in-depth knowledge of them.
It is important to take your pet rabbit to the vet at least once a year for medical examination. If you have an older rabbit as a pet, then you might need to increase that number. Taking your pet rabbit to the vet will cost you over $40. However, it will cost you more if your rabbit needs more than just a regular checkup. The cost of proper medication might increase to over $100. The health of your bunny, is, however, worth that amount of money.
Cleaning & Grooming
Keeping your pet rabbit clean and healthy is a must for all owners, as it promotes good hygiene and health. Like most animals, rabbits need to be cleaned and properly groomed for their own safety. The following are the important parts of grooming your pet rabbit.
Baths: The first thing you should understand about rabbits is the fact that they do very well in cleaning themselves. So, you really do not need to do much. It is, also, important for you to understand that rabbits don’t like being immersed in water. This usually leaves them in shock just like cats. To give your pet rabbit a proper bath, all you need is a bathtub, some towel, mild shampoo, and a dryer. Layer a piece of towel underneath the bathtub so your rabbit can grasp it, while you hold the upper part of its body above the bathtub. Gently massage the hind legs and work your way upwards to the body with shampoo. Rinse the lather off slowly with fresh, clean water and towel dry its fur. To dry it, even more, use a hair dryer and set it at warm.
Ears: The next essential part of your pet rabbit’s body that needs to be checked is the ears. Always check your rabbit’s ears for a build-up of wax, which will require you to visit a vet. Never attempt to clean it out on your own, as you might cause more damage.
Brushing: It is pretty normal for the fur of your pet rabbit to molt after a while. All you need to do at this point is a brush with a soft brush. However, you do not necessarily need to do this daily.
Nail Trimming: Your pet rabbit needs to have its nails or claws trimmed at least every 4-6 weeks. Usually, wild rabbits will wear theirs out while living in their natural habitat. However, since your pet bunny will not be doing a lot of digging or cutting with theirs, you need to cut them up. You can do this yourself with some clippers or take him/her to the vet. If you decide to do the trimming yourself, it is important to use an adequate source of light. This will prevent you from clipping the blood vessels by accident.
Fleas: Fleas are usually a normal thing with all pets that have a lot of fur. However, it should be taken care of immediately. If your rabbit is scratching all over then, it probably has fleas and should be taken to the vet immediately. The best treatment for fleas is usually given based on the body size and weight of your pet rabbit. With the right treatment, your pet rabbit will be fine in no time.
Signs To Know Your Pet Rabbit Is Unwell
Owning a pet rabbit, as mentioned before, is like having a kid of your own. You need to provide adequate care and be mindful of symptoms that are unusual to you. Your pet rabbit might be sick and the only way to know this for a fact is by taking note of certain symptoms. The following are a few symptoms that you should immediately take seriously once you notice them;
Poopy Butt: The first major symptom you should take into serious consideration is a poopy butt. This happens when the stool of your pet rabbit changes from its round solid state to be mushy and soft. This condition usually happens when there is a problem with the diet of your pet rabbit. To combat this problem, try feeding your rabbit more hay and pellets. However, if the condition persists for more than 2 days, then a trip to the vet should suffice.
Stasis: Stasis is a very serious condition that prevents your pet rabbit from eating or pooping. This is as a result of an intestinal problem and can be fatal. It is important to visit the vet if you notice your rabbit refuses to eat and appears to be unwell.
Head Tilt: This is a condition caused by an ear infection called, Pasteurella and Encephalitozoon Cuniculi. This condition makes it difficult for a rabbit to hold it’s head upright. Hence, it tilts to the side. Also, it causes the rabbit’s eyes to roll backwards towards its tail. These symptoms can easily become worse, as the brain can become infected, which could lead to uncontrolled movement of the muscles. If you suspect, your rabbit might have these symptoms, it is best to visit the vet.
Caring For A Sick Rabbit
It is a common phenomenon for every living thing to fall sick. Unfortunately, your pet rabbit isn’t left out. If your bunny is sick, then there isn’t much you can do, but care for him/her, while they get better. Depending on what exactly is wrong with your rabbit, it might not move at all. If it is especially painful to move around, your pet rabbit will stay put. All you need to do at this point is to ensure you provide food and water next to him/her always. Prepare a safe, warm and comfortable spot for him/her to get better and recuperate. Also, bear in mind that they will pass out waste wherever they are. It is important for you to clean up after them properly to avoid infections and a rash. Wipe them gently or wash the fur of your pet rabbit, especially if poop is getting stuck to it.
If your pet rabbit has had surgery, then you definitely need to keep them confined and limit their movement. This will prevent injuries from getting worse or infected. It is, also important to make a separation if you have two pet rabbits. Most sick animals prefer being alone while they recuperate. With proper care, your pet rabbit will be well and happy in no time.
Bonding With Your Pet Rabbit
Building a relationship with your pet rabbit is one of the most important aspects of being a pet owner. Rabbits are usually expressive of what they like and don’t appreciate. However, a constant for most bunnies is the fact that they do not like being picked up. Most bunnies prefer being stroked on their backs, cheeks, shoulders or foreheads. However, they might not appreciate being touched on their ears, necks, feet or stomach. It is important for you to understand what bonding language your pet rabbit appreciates.
Even though this might be difficult the first few months after adoption, with patience and consistency, it becomes easier.
Rabbits & Kids
Pet rabbits might seem like the perfect choice for growing kids, however, the opposite is the case. Asides from the fact that having a rabbit as a pet comes with a lot of responsibilities, they might sustain injuries. A kid’s first instinct would be to pick up a cute bunny when they see one. Unfortunately, rabbits don’t like getting picked up and this could lead to a defensive attack. Your kid might get clawed and sustain really bad injuries. Also, rabbits don’t really do well with noise, as it frightens them. Having your kid running around the house would definitely make a rabbit uninterested in playtime. This will eventually lead to your child becoming uninterested and cause the rabbit to be neglected.
In order to prevent all this, you should teach your kid how to handle and play with your bunny. There are safe ways for your kid and your pet rabbit to interact with each other, so they can live and have fun together.
Having a pet sitter is necessary if you are always busy and you decide to have a rabbit as a pet. Rabbits usually don’t handle traveling and being placed in unfamiliar places well enough. As a matter of fact, most airlines do not make provisions for flying with a rabbit. Hence, if you’re always busy and need to travel every once in a while, having a pet sitter is ideal. It is important for you to note exactly what is required to keep your pet rabbit comfortable when you’re away. It makes the process easier if our pet sitter comes with a recommendation. That way, you can easily trust them and their services.
I can assure Rabbits can be very affectionate and very owner dependent. If treat it well, a Rabbit will ask to petting him and will be close to his owner often. Some breeds like Beliers can behave almost like dogs, following you around and asking for food standing up over their back paws, very fun to watch
Ultimately, it is important to carry out enough research before adopting a pet rabbit into your home. However, this properly detailed information is basically all you need to know about rabbits. With this aforementioned info and some more research, you will be adequately prepared for your new pet.