Rabbit Care 101 – Tips to Care for Your Newly Adopted Rabbit
16 December, 2015

If you just adopted a rabbit and are not sure how to care for new bunny, don’t be nervous. Rabbits are adorable, affectionate pets that you can fit into your family with a little time and effort. For the most part, rabbits should be kept inside for them to thrive and keep them safe and healthy. Rabbits are intelligent, social animals who need affection, and they can become wonderful companion animals if given a chance to interact with their human families just as any rabbit should!

First you need to rabbit-proof your home

Rabbit-proofing your home is part of living with a house rabbit (not unlike young infants). Just like cats or dogs, it is only natural for rabbits to chew on furniture, rugs, drapes, and electrical cords. Cords must be concealed so that the rabbit cannot reach them. Exposed cords can be encased in vinyl tubing to protect your rabbit and your electric cords.

Rabbit Care 101 Graphic
f you give your rabbit enough attention, chewables, and toys, your rabbit will keep busy and hopefully stop chewing furniture and rugs. A cardboard box stuffed with hay makes an inexpensive play-box. Young rabbits (under a year) are more inclined to mischief and require more confinement and/or bunny-proofing than mature rabbits, like puppies!

Below are a list of the different items you will need for your new rabbit:

Housing essentials include: a roomy cage, resting board, litter box that goes in the cage, pellet bowl or feeder, water bottle/crock, toys, and a pet carrier.

What you should be feeding your rabbits:

Limited pellets daily, fresh water, hay /straw (for digestive fiber and chewing recreation), fresh veggies, barley in small amount, wood (for the right chewing), multiple enzymes as a digestive aid.

Grooming list for your rabbit:

A flea comb, brush, flea products safe for rabbits, toenail clippers

Think about spaying or neutering your rabbits:

Although most rabbits will use a litterbox, hormones may cause unneutered males and unspayed females to mark their territory. Spaying or neutering your rabbit improves litterbox habits, lessens chewing behavior, decreases territorial aggression, and gives your rabbit a happier, longer life. Have your rabbit neutered between the ages of three to six months, depending on the rabbit’s sexual maturity by an experienced veterinarian.

Make sure your rabbits get exercise

Rabbits may have free run of the home and it is important that they have the freedom as they need to get exercise. However, it’s best for most and necessary for some to start with a cage. To make cage time learning time, fasten a litterbox in the corner of the cage that your rabbit chooses for a “bathroom.” As soon as your rabbit uses the box consistently, you can give him some freedom. Place one or more large litterboxes in corners of the running area outside the cage. Always use positive reinforcement and never punish your rabbit.

Rabbits tend to get along well with cats and dogs

House rabbits and indoor cats can get along fine, as do rabbits and well-mannered dogs. Dogs should be trained to respond to commands before being trusted with a free-running rabbit, and supervision is needed to control a dog’s playful impulses (this is especially true for puppies). If you want to add another rabbit to your family, rabbits that are neutered adults of opposite sexes work best and they should be introduced for short periods in an area unfamiliar to both rabbits.

Health problems that are common in rabbits:

Intestinal blockages

Because rabbits groom themselves constantly, they can get furballs just as cats do. Unlike cats, however, rabbits cannot vomit, and excessive swallowed hair may cause a fatal blockage. Rabbits can also develop a serious condition known as GI stasis which has many of the same symptoms.

If your rabbit shows a decrease in appetite and in the size of droppings, get advice from a rabbit veterinarian.

If you keep your bunny brushed (less hair is swallowed) and give them a handful of hay daily, this should help with blockages.

Bacterial issues

A rabbit’s digestive tract is inhabited by healthful bacteria. If the good bacteria balance is upset by stale food or a sudden change in diet, harmful bacteria can take over the digestive track and kill the rabbit.

If you keep all rabbit food in a cool dry place and make dietary changes slowly, giving a new food in small amounts, this should help. If no abdominal gurgling or loose stool results in 24 hours, the food may be offered again. If your rabbit goes outside, check for pesticides and toxic plants.

Infectious bacteria

Many rabbit diseases are caused by bacteria, not viruses, and can be treated with antibiotics. If your rabbit shows symptoms of a “cold,” take him to a veterinarian familiar with antibiotics that can be safely used in rabbits. Oral drugs of the Penicillin family, such as Amoxicillin, should NOT be given to a rabbit, since there is risk of destroying good intestinal bacteria.

Find an experienced veterinarian before a problem develops. If your rabbit has been harassed by a predator, take him to a veterinarian even if no injuries are apparent. When it is over, keep your rabbit cool with nearby wet towels or ice.

Regularly check your rabbit’s eyes, nose, ears, teeth, weight, appetite, and droppings, as you would in any cat or dog.

If you make sure to give your new rabbit plenty of exercise, a healthy diet and proper grooming, your rabbit will thrive and become an integral part of the family.

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