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Basic Care

Posted on August 01 2016

  • Hay – good quality grass hay such as timothy – as much as the bunny wants.
  • Pelleted rabbit food (no more than 14% protein) – alfalfa or timothy formulas – limited amounts for adults
  • Fresh vegetables (see list) – about 2 cups per day
  • Fresh water – changed regularly
  • Have your rabbit neutered or spayed – essential for long term health
  • Trim nails every two months
  • Watch closely to see your bunny is eating well, urinating and passing round, solid stool every day. (Read important information on your rabbit’s digestive system)
  • If your rabbit stops eating or using the litter box take immediate steps to correct the problem.

Toys & Housing
House Rabbit Society A wealth of information, including:
Introducing rabbits
Litter training
Carrot Cafe (Laura Atkins excellent site for diet and nutrition

FOOD (more information on food here)

Treats (to be given sparingly)
Carrots, parsnips, apple, banana, pear, blueberries, grapes, raisins, craisins, dried fruits. Be careful with sugary treats that make rabbits fat and are bad for their teeth. DO NOT feed corn, fresh or dried. It can cause blockage of the digestive tract. More

In the litter pan you can use many products. Carefresh is excellent. Pelleted wood products such as FireMaster wood stove pellets, Woody Pet, Mountain Cat, Feline Pine and Horse Stall Bedding brands are very absorbent and control odour very well. Pelleted paper such as Yesterday’s News absorb well. Wood shavings (spruce or aspen) absorb but get soggy and do not control odour well. Corn cob is not very absorbent or odour controlling. Corn cob also has the drawback of being tasty to some rabbits. Watch your rabbit to make sure he does not eat any of the above litters you may choose to use. Hay can be sprinkled over the top of any litter to encourage use. Shredded newspaper and/or hay or straw can always be used.

NEVER use clumping cat litter. It is deadly if inhaled or swallowed. Clay cat litters are too dusty and might cause respiratory problems in rabbits. Do not use cedar or pine shavings that contain toxic oils.

The bigger, the better. It should have a side opening door so the rabbit can come and go itself. Large Dog cages make excellent rabbit pens. Hagen or Ferplast cages of wire with plastic tray bottoms are good. If cages have wire doors that form a ramp when open make sure you cover the ramp with something solid and permanently attached so the rabbit cannot get it’s legs caught in the wire. (more about housing)

Never use harsh chemical cleaners around your bunny. White vinegar is good. Make sure you rinse well as rabbits have very sensitive noses.

Never hit or slap your rabbit. A loud “No”, clapping hands or stamping a foot will generally do to discourage unwanted behaviour. Always remember that your rabbit is a rabbit and will exhibit rabbit behaviours such as chewing and digging. Provide places for these behaviours. Boxes of newspaper or hay/straw or grass mats are good for digging. Cardboard and some branches are good to chew. Some good branches for your bunny are, apple, willow, birch, alder. See the list of poisonous plants and avoid those. Make sure any tree branches are natural and unsprayed. Never give your bunny anything unidentified. More about training.

Housing; pens vs. cages
Rabbits don’t really need a cage. A cage can be handy when you need to confine rabbits for their own safety. An excellent way to confine rabbits is to use an exercise pen (commonly used for puppies). These are very practical as they fold up and can be set up anywhere from bedroom to lawn to keep rabbits safe while you are away or not able to supervise them. (Always supervise if they are outside.) They are available at almost any pet supply store. (Please buy pet supplies from stores that DO NOT sell rabbits.) Buy one at least 3 feet high as many rabbits, even dwarf rabbits, will jump over a 2 foot barrier. Please review the article Beyond Cages: The Possibilities of Pen Living.

If you do get a cage get one as large as possible. Large folding, wire, dog crates are good especially with a shelf or box in them so the bunny can jump up and down. If you get a regular rabbit cage choose one with a front opening door so the rabbit can come and go. If the wire door folds down like a ramp make sure you cover the wire with something solid so the bunny cannot get his feet caught.
Custom cages can be built quite easily. Here is a web site that tells you how build your own cage out of wire cubes. These kind of cubes can be purchased at Home Depot. Here is a terrific article about rabbit housing.

Rabbits do not need expensive toys but they should have a variety of interesting things in their environment to keep them busy. They will get lots of enjoyment out of a cardboard box with some holes cut in it. They will like it even better if you get a really big box and put other boxes inside it with holes in them. Terrific tunnels can be purchased at Rona or Home Depot. Look for cement forms, cardboard tubes that come in 6, 8 and 10 inch diameters. They are about $8 for 8 feet and the stores will usually cut these to size for you. Rabbits love to run through them, hide in them and chew them. They are terrific things for behind the couch on top of wire you don’t want the bunny to get. Wicker baskets and grass mats (100 natural) are great for digging on and chewing. More about rabbit toys.
Other cheap toys are wire cat balls with bells in them, soda can with a pebble in it and tape over the hole, toilet paper tubes stuffed with hay, hard plastic baby toys such as key rings (rabbits like to fling these around).

Please review the article More Than Just a Chew Stick for information about toys, houseproofing and understanding what play is for a rabbit.

Information provided by The House Rabbit Society


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