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BASICS OF BUNNY CARE
A rabbit’s diet is mostly HAY, not pellets! TIMOTHY hay is better for a bunny, because it has more FIBER. Give lots and lots of hay for your bunny. Only give ¼ cup a day of pellets! Do not buy pellets with seeds and such in it; that stuff is bad for your bunny. Only plain pellets, preferably Oxbow brand.
LOTS OF WATER! Bunnies (like all animals) need lots of water. Never, ever let your bunny run out of water. Use a heavy crock bowl for water. Water bottles are second choice, and really not a good idea. For one, the ball can easily get stuck. For two, the bottle often slips out from the metal hook. Also, bunnies aren’t used to tilting their head to drink; that isn’t natural. They drink putting their head DOWN, like at a river. Makes sense! So, use a bowl instead, if you can! Check water at least a couple of times a day and clean out the water bowl regularly.
Your bunny can enjoy vegetables and fruits like lettuce, carrots, apples, BUT only in tiny amounts. What is a tiny amount? Lettuce should be something like romaine lettuce, and a handful is good enough (i.e., one cup). A carrot should only be about an INCH in length that you give. An apple slice is all you should give (and NO seeds; it will kill them). Never give a full apple, full carrot, etc. This is way too much for them; it will not only make them fat, but it will cause a lot of gas, and that is very painful for a bunny.
A bunny’s home should be a playpen, not a cage! Only if your bunny is getting out a lot to get exercise and play, can he come back to a cage, and only if the cage is LARGE (like for a large dog). A playpen is preferable, though. Lay down an indoor-outdoor rug and then put the pen on top of it, so edge to edge the carpeting is protecting your own carpeting. Your bunny needs a lot of exercise and stimulation. Bunnies run for a living, after all! Give your bunny tunnels and cardboard boxes to run through and dig at. Bunnies love cat and bird toys, too, such as wooden pieces, stuff to bat around and pick up and fling. Bunnies love to play just as much as cats and dogs!
Bunnies need a nice, soft place to relax. Simply use a dog or cat plush sleeper, which you can find super cheap at Marc’s for $4 (buy an extra 1-2 as backup).
Bunnies WILL use a litter box! Yes, that’s right! But do NOT use cat litter; rabbits like to eat litter, and it WILL kill them. Only use ALL-NATURAL litter that is paper-based. A perfect brand is Carefresh. Change regularly! To encourage your bunny to use it, place a small amount of hay in the litterbox. If your bunny poops outside of the litterbox (which WILL happen because they can’t help it sometimes; they poop all the time), simply use a paper towel and pick the poopies up and place in the litterbox. Your bunny will eventually understand that the litterbox is where he should go.
A bunny’s nails and teeth constantly GROW. This means you must PAY ATTENTION to two things: One, to keep their teeth filed down, they need things to CHEW. Keep wooden pieces (cardboard boxes and toilet paper tubes are best) in the pen. Two, for the bunny’s nails, check the nails weekly. If the nails are curling out and down into the rug/floor, it’s time for a trim. Take your bunny to a rabbit savvy vet. Nail trims average $10-15. DO NOT TRY TO DO THEM YOURSELF; YOU COULD CUT INTO A BLOOD VESSEL (known as a “quick”) and traumatize your bunny! Let a vet do it.
Bunnies are SOCIAL creatures. Do not leave your bunny alone day after day, without stimulation and love! Kiss your bunny, talk to him and comfort him. However, bunnies like their alone time, too. If your bunny doesn’t want to be touched or hops away, leave him be! Do not force your bunny to do what you want him to do. This is your friend, after all; not your servant or toy!
Learn the proper way to pick up your bunny. Make sure one hand is cupping the BUTT and your bunny is against your chest, with his head near your neck/face. The other hand should be on his BACK, cupping it. This way the bunny doesn’t feel like he will fall downward or backwards! The feeling of safety is everything to a rabbit! Always softly talk to your bunny, so your bunny gets used to your voice, and is comforted by it. When putting the bunny down, CROUCH DOWN to the floor before putting him down. NEVER bend over and let him loose; this will make him feel like he’s FALLING. Gently release your bunny while crouched down.
BIG NO-NOs WITH YOUR BUNNY
NO LOUD NOISES! Bunnies like it quiet and comfortable, safe. Screaming, laughing too loud, loud music, sudden loud noises, etc., spook and even traumatize a rabbit with fear. Show respect to your bunny’s comfort!
NO SMOKING OR OTHER TOXINS! Smoke and other bad stuff in the air will kill a rabbit. Their system is VERY sensitive to these things, so keep the air he is breathing CLEAN.
NO HOT, STUFFY ROOMS. Your rabbit’s room/play area must be cool and ventilated. Hot, stuffy rooms can easily kill a rabbit.
NO KEEPING THE RABBIT OUTSIDE IN THE COLD. On the flip side, freezing weather can easily kill a rabbit. THIS IS A DOMESTICATED RABBIT, not a wild hare! Domesticated rabbits will not survive outside. Besides, why would you want him outside, away from you? He’s your buddy and should be with you anyway! Keeping any rabbit outside is cruel and a huge safety risk.
DANGERS TO LOOK OUT FOR AND PAY ATTENTION TO
One thing you must understand is that rabbits are PREY and wired as such. That said, they will try to HIDE THEIR ILLNESS, because in the wild, predators can “smell” weakness, fear and illness. So it is up to you to pay VERY CLOSE ATTENTION to your bunny regularly and notice any changes in him!
A common issue with rabbits is “G.I. Stasis,” which can turn into “G.I. Obstruction,” if not treated. A rabbit will die quickly (and painfully) if you do not treat him at the vet right away. The BEST way to avoid GI Stasis is to keep his diet healthy. Lots of water, LOTS of hay (the fiber is key) and plenty of room to run around and keep his tummy working properly. A rabbit will ball himself up and his belly will start to look puffy and hard to the touch when he starts to develop GI Stasis. Upon touching the belly, your bunny will try to move away from you or shift his tummy, because of the pain. He will also avoid eating and drinking. If he doesn’t move, go to the bathroom, etc., in a few hours, he needs to go to the vet! A vet will give him medicine to help move things along in his belly and reduce the pain, too. NEVER handle a rabbit who is in pain; it will make things worse, and is cruel. The ONLY time you pick him up is if you have to get him into a pet carrier and to the vet. Use a TOWEL to pick him up and gently place him in the carrier.
If you hear your bunny chiseling his teeth back and forth really loud (almost a crunching sound), this is another sign he is in pain. He should be taken to the vet if he is not moving around, not eating, going to the bathroom and making this crunching sound. Always have a towel and a pet carrier nearby just in case, because rabbits deteriorate quickly!
If your bunny has discharge in his eye, this is usually a sign of his teeth being overgrown OR sinus issues. Take to the vet!
If your bunny does not poop regularly, this is a HUGE deal. Bunnies poop all the time, after all. This is the biggest sign there is a major issue and your rabbit should go to the vet ASAP!
Always bunny-proof your home and wherever your bunny hops around and gets into! Bunnies WILL chew carpet and wiring, and can get electrocuted! Keep wires away! You can buy cheap wood panels from Home Depot to block areas you don’t want him to access. Bunnies will also get into plants, so keep ALL PLANTS up and away fro your bunny! Many ARE poisonous to a rabbit.
Above all else, LOVE your bunny. Show him attention daily and keep an eye on food, water and his habits. If he is hopping around, playing and eating and pooping, he is good. If any of these things change, this is when you need to really keep a close eye on him! Trust me when I say your bunny’s health can make a turn for the worse VERY quickly, so keeping a close eye on him is IMPERATIVE.
Bunnies are the highest maintenance pet, above a dog and a cat! They have special needs and require special care and attention to live a long life. They can live longer than dogs (15 years!), but only if you do your job as a bunny servant!
GOOD LUCK, AND REMEMBER: RESPECT THE BUNNY!ur bunny while crouched down.
Above all else, LOVE your bunny. Show him attention daily and keep an eye on food, water and his habits. If he is hopping around, playing and eating and pooping, he is good. If any of these things change, this is when you need to really keep a close eye on him! Trust me when I say your bunny’s health can make a t