Rabbits really do make great pets, but you need to do your homework before bringing a rabbit home. Here is a list of 10 things you need to know before owning a rabbit.
Rabbits need the company of their own kind
It doesn’t matter how much time you spend with your bunny, you cannot speak rabbit! They need someone to understand what they are trying to say, they need a buddy to cuddle up, groom, and cause mischief with. Owning two rabbits doesn’t really require much more work than a single bunny, and when you have two and see them interact, you couldn’t imagine life with just one on their own. If you think of rabbits in the wild, they live in large groups, so to live on their own is very unnatural for them. Some owners worry that their rabbits won’t like them as much if they have a friend, but in reality, it just means you have two adorable bunnies begging for food and attention instead of just one. It just makes sense as part of your rabbit care plan.
They poo. A lot.
Rabbits are very different from dogs and cats – they have a different digestive system which means they need food flowing food at all times or their guts will actually stop working. Of course, all the food they eat has to go somewhere! Luckily, rabbits can be litter tray trained, and most will take to it naturally, meaning easy clean-outs for you.
A Gross Rabbit Care Guide Fact: They eat their poop!
Gross, right? But it’s actually vital your rabbit does this. They produce two types of poop; the hard, round type and a softer type – the latter is the one they eat. They are called cecotropes and are filled with nutrients that your rabbit needs to re-ingest to absorb all those nutrients – it isn’t always glamourous when having a rabbit!
House rabbits can be destructive.
Yes – it’s lovely when owning a rabbit to have threm living inside with you. It means you can interact with them at all times, and they really do become part of the family. However, before you decide to have house rabbits, you must take into consideration that bunnies do chew – it comes naturally to them. If you are keeping rabbits inside, you will need to rabbit-proof your house for their safety (not to mention the safety of your belongings!). It’s also a good idea to get them lots of toys to keep them entertained. Rabbits love toys they can throw, chew and eat, just make sure they are bunny friendly.
I usually recommend having a base room for your rabbits, which has been completely rabbit-proofed, and then allowing them into other areas of the house under supervision. You will need to move all wires up high, or they will be chewed. If you cannot move them, they need to be hidden and protected – You can get covers for wires, which will stop them from getting nibbled. House plants are another potential danger, so it’s worth moving them out of your rabbit’s reach. If you are keeping your bunnies outside, make sure you adapt their accommodation to keep them warm over winter.
They need lots of space.
Rabbits are incredibly active animals, who need room to move, binky (a high hop that rabbits do when they’re happy) and run! Most hutches and runs sold in pet shops really aren’t big enough and not a lot of people realise how much they move and how much living space they really need. The more space you can give your rabbits, the happier they will be. As a general rule of thumb, a rabbit should have enough space to stand on their hind legs, and also to be able to hop three times from one end to the other. Make sure you consider how much space you can give them before owning a rabbit – The more, the better!
They aren’t cheap pets.
Unfortunately, like any pet, there are a lot of things that can go wrong medically with a rabbit, and with this comes vet bills. While you’re researching rabbit care, find a vet who is savvy with the species. Most vets are brilliant with dogs and cats, but rabbits are classed as an exotic species and require different treatment to dogs and cats. Find a vet other rabbit owners use that comes recommended. You may want to think about getting your rabbit insured so any big vet bills will be covered by the insurance company – No one likes to be surprised by a surprise vet bill!
Top tip: It’s a good idea to keep a first aid kit to hand in case of emergencies.
They like to play.
Rabbits are intelligent and get bored easily, so a busy bunny is a happy bunny. I find the best toys for rabbits are tunnels (link for USA readers) – they absolutely love charging through them! You can even get tunnel systems (USA link) which are tubes that can be connected together and mimic a warren, or ones with multiple entrances.
Anything light they can throw is a hit too – most pet shops sell Jingle Balls (USA link), which can be tossed and rolled. Willow toys are always popular with bunnies – they come in all sorts of shapes, from sticks, balls and even tunnels.
Egg boxes filled with food will make your rabbit work for their meal as they have to chew it and throw it to open it, which is quite funny to watch. Cardboard tubes stuffed with hay and food will mean they have to work a bit harder to get to their dinner as they will have to destroy it to get inside. Treat balls (link for USA) are another good way to make rabbit mealtimes more interesting for them, as they will have to nudge it and roll it. You can also give them cardboard tubes (USA link) to throw, and cardboard boxes to sit in, on and again, and tear up (do you see a pattern here? Bunnies love to make a mess!). Another good enrichment toy is to get a litter box (USA link) and fill it with soil. Digging is a natural instinct to rabbits, and they will enjoy sitting in the box and digging – Give it a try!
As with any toy, watch for signs of wear and tear and remove them if your rabbit damages them. Check out this page for more toy ideas.
Most rabbits don’t like being cuddled.
I hear this a lot – people want a rabbit they can sit and cuddle. Whilst some rabbits don’t mind this, and perhaps enjoy it, most rabbits prefer all four feet firmly on the floor. Rabbits are a prey species, so being elevated in the air is very scary for them. You will need to carry your rabbit at times, of course, but I find the best way to interact with your rabbits is to sit on the floor at their level. They can then nose boop you and use you as a climbing frame.
Rabbits need to be neutered.
Even if you are keeping two rabbits of the same sex, they still need to be neutered. Uterine cancer is so common in female rabbits and can kill them – Spaying takes away any risk of this. In addition, female rabbits can also become very territorial and even aggressive when left entire, while entire boys will spray urine and constantly hump each other, which is very stressful for both rabbits. Neutered rabbits are happy and healthy rabbits and this simple procedure is an important aspect of rabbit care. Read this blog to learn how to care for your rabbit after they have been neutered.
There are so many rabbits at your local rescue.
Up and down the country, rabbits are sitting in rescue centres waiting for homes. Babies, dwarf lops, Netherland dwarfs – every breed of rabbit can find itself in rescue and are awaiting homes. The nice thing about adopting is they will have been assessed so you know what temperament your new friend has. Also, they should have been neutered and vaccinated so you won’t have to worry about getting an operation done. Don’t forget, rabbits need yearly vaccinations which you will need to keep up to date (amongst other things).
The best bit about adopting is you are potentially saving four lives! The two you adopt, and the extra space you’re creating at the rescue, meaning they can save more bunnies. Most rescues love hearing updates and seeing photos (I know I do) and it’s always nice to have someone going gooey over your beloved bunnies. Pet shops aren’t happy places for rabbits, so adoption is a superb option, that can really make a difference in the life of an animal.
Owning a rabbit is one of the best things I have ever done
Well, as you know by now, rabbits should have a friend of their own kind. Rabbits are great animals to have as long as you think carefully and ensure you can commit to them and ensure there is a proper rabbit care plan in place. Rabbits are the type of animals that really can give back as much as give them. I adore bunnies and I hope this blog has helped you love them too – Let me know all about your bunnies in the comments!
If you are interested in becoming a rabbit owner, learn how to give them a health check.
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