Tips for Taking Care of Your Rabbit
17 February, 2014

If you have recently adopted or purchased (please adopt if possible) a rabbit, you will be excited to bring this wonderful adorable creature into your home.  They are a lot of fun with big personalities.  However, similar to cats and dogs, they need the correct diet, housing and exercise.

Below are some tips to consider:

Rabbits need room in their homes

Rabbits need room in their homes for running and jumping. They need plenty of out-of-cage exercise time, as well as a cage that allows them to move freely. The minimum recommended cage space for a single rabbit is 2’ x 2’ x 4’. Although wire-bottom cages are common, they can ulcerate a rabbit’s feet. If you have a wire cage, cover the bottom with a piece of wood or corrugated cardboard. Better yet, buy a cage with a floor.

Make sure your rabbit gets exercise

Your rabbit needs a safe exercise area with enough room to run and jump, either indoors or out. Any outdoor area should be fully enclosed by a fence. Never leave a rabbit unsupervised outdoors even for a few minutes. You can rabbit-proof an indoor area by covering all electrical wires and anything else your rabbit is likely to chew. Recommended exercise time for indoor rabbits is several hours per day.

Rabbit’s diet

The most important part of your rabbit’s diet is grass hay which keeps the intestinal tract healthy; feed it free-choice, daily. In addition to hay, rabbits are also fed commercial rabbit pellets and fresh, dark green leafy vegetables. Until they are fully grown (around six months), rabbits can have all the pellets they want. After that, assuming the animal is also getting hay and vegetables, pellets should be limited to 1/8 to 1/4 cup per day per 5 lbs. body weight. Pellets should be fresh and plain, without seeds, nuts or colored tidbits.

As with all pets, fresh water should always be available for your furry friends.

Litter cleaning

Rabbits are very clean by nature and do their best to keep their living quarters clean. Most rabbits will choose one corner of the cage as their bathroom. As soon as your rabbit’s choice is clear, put a newspaper- lined litter box in that corner; fill it with hay (or any other grass hay not alfalfa). Pelleted-newspaper litters are also acceptable. If the litter spot is changed daily, your rabbit’s home will stay fresh and odor-free. Don’t use pine or cedar shavings and avoid using clay cat litters (both clumping and non-clumping); these may result in respiratory or gastrointestinal problems.

Handling your rabbit

Pick up your rabbit by supporting his front legs with one hand and his hind legs with the other—failure to do so can result in spinal injuries to the rabbit. Never pick up a rabbit by his ears; this can cause very serious injury.

Brush your rabbit regularly with a soft brush to remove excess hair and keep his coat in good condition. Have your veterinarian clip your rabbit’s nails or show you how to do so.

Rabbits should be spayed or neutered

Rabbits should be spayed or neutered by an experienced veterinarian. Spaying or neutering prevents breeding, spraying (males) and uterine cancer (females). Rabbits should not be housed with other rabbits unless all are spayed/neutered and they are introduced in neutral territory under careful supervision.

As with any new pet, it just takes a little time to get accustomed to his or her needs. Rabbits are great friends that need love, care, brushing and the right diet to thrive.

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