How to Care for a New Pet Rabbit

Thứ bảy - 27/04/2024 01:14
Getting a new pet rabbit can be fun, but it's important to understand that a rabbit needs time to adjust to its new home. It's your job to make sure that your rabbit has everything it needs to make that adjustment as smooth as possible....
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Getting a new pet rabbit can be fun, but it's important to understand that a rabbit needs time to adjust to its new home. It's your job to make sure that your rabbit has everything it needs to make that adjustment as smooth as possible. The decisions you make at this early stage in your lives together can set the tone for the future relationship you have with your rabbit.

Method 1
Method 1 of 5:

Housing Your Rabbit

  1. Step 1 Decide whether your rabbit will live inside or outside.
    Before bringing your new pet home you need to decide if you intend the bunny to be a house rabbit or live outdoors in a run in the yard. House rabbits are popular pets but there are a few factors to consider. While you will have to do more cleaning and training for a rabbit that lives indoors with you, you will not have as much social contact with a rabbit that lives outside.
    • If you decide to keep your rabbit inside, you will need to rabbit-proof your house. Rabbits chew anything and everything, including electrical cables and the legs of your antique furniture. Make sure you are able to 'rabbit proof' your home so that cables are all tidied away out of reach of the rabbit, and there is no item that you would be upset if it got damaged by gnawing.
    • If you decide to keep your rabbit inside you will also need to litter box train it. It is not hygienic to have the rabbit ranging around the house, pooping and peeing wherever they please. The solution is to litter train the rabbit to use a litter box. However, most rabbits poop mostly in one particular spot, so you can use this to your advantage by placing a litter tray in whichever spot they usually poop. If you have a male rabbit who is spraying urine everywhere, you may need to get him desexed.
    • If you decide to keep your rabbit outside you will need to commit to spending time socializing it every day. Make it a part of your schedule, otherwise the rabbit may become anxious and fearful in your company.
  2. Step 2 Get a rabbit hutch.
    The hutch (or rabbit house) should be at least 2 feet (0.61 m) wide and 4 feet long, and tall enough to let the rabbit stand up to its full height. The bottom of the cage should not be made of wire, but the sides can be.
    • Outdoor hutches are most commonly made of wood with a door fitted at the front made of chicken wire. This allows for good ventilation and for the rabbit to see out. The wood offers a degree of thermal protection to insulate the rabbit from the elements, and is sturdy, protecting the rabbit from predators.
    • An outdoor hutch will need to have a run attached to it, so that your rabbit can exercise. The run should be a minimum of 4 feet (1.2 m) by 8 ft by 2ft tall, for a rabbit under 2kg.[1]
    • Many indoor hutches are made of plastic with a wire roof. This has the advantage of being lightweight, so you can move it around the house easily.
    • If you can't find a hutch you like, make your own! It isn't as simple as buying one, but it can be much better for your rabbit.
  3. Step 3 Cover the bottom of the hutch with bedding.
    You must provide bedding that is soft, warm and absorbent. Cover the entire base to a minimum depth of 3–4 inches (7.6–10 cm). This cushions the backs of the rabbit's hind legs, which are prone to pressure sores if not enough padding is provided.
    • Commonly used substrates for bedding include wood chips, hay, or straw. Of these, straw is the warmest and softest and makes the best bedding material, hay is second best (and is more expensive than straw), and sawdust it third best.[2]
  4. Step 4 Get a litter tray.
    You will need to litter train your rabbit if you are keeping it inside. The litter tray will need to fit inside the hutch and not take up more than a third of the floor space.
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Method 2
Method 2 of 5:

Settling Your New Rabbit In

  1. Step 1 Transfer your rabbit carefully from its carrier to its hutch.
    Rabbits are a prey species, which means when they are stressed they want to hide. Moving home is a big deal for a bunny, and so when you bring them home leave them in the quiet to settle in.
  2. Step 2 Leave the rabbit undisturbed for 24 hours.
    This will help it grow accustomed to the new sights, sounds, and smells of their new home without the added challenge of strange people staring at them.
  3. Step 3 Start interacting with your rabbit after 24 hours.
    Take it slowly. Spend as long as time allows each day sitting beside the hutch talking to the rabbit. If the rabbit is already tame, then open the hutch door and stroke along the rabbit's back.
    • Avoid hovering your hand over the rabbit's head as this is what a predator would do.
  4. Step 4 Try picking up the rabbit carefully.
    If the rabbit doesn't run away when you gently pet it, then sit on the ground and gently lift rabbit out and onto your lap. Sitting on the ground is less frightening to bunny, because they are ground dwelling and being high in the air is unnerving for them.[3]
    • To pick up your rabbit, place a hand on its chest and another on its bottom, and carefully lift it so that its side is parallel to your chest, and it is sitting on one of your arms while the other forms a barrier so it can't fall off. Then place it on your lap.
    • If the rabbit is not used to being picked up and runs away, do not forcibly remove the rabbit. Instead, take your time and tempt the rabbit out with an extra tasty treat. Once the rabbit gets used to your voice, and realises you are no threat, it will eventually go for the treat. Once bunny is regularly staying out to receive the treat, you can start to stroke their back. Once they accept this, at that stage you can try to pick bunny up.
    • Remember, rabbits are prey animals. Unlike dogs or cats, their mothers do not carry them, so the only situation in the wild in which they would be picked up would be when a predator was carrying them. Some rabbits just don't like being picked up, so if your rabbit won't let you pick it up, leave it be.
  5. Step 5 Groom your rabbit.
    Grooming your rabbit is another great way to bond. Use a comb and a soft brush, and once bunny is happy being stroked, use the brush to groom it.
    • This is another good way to teach rabbit your company is a good thing, and perhaps try this first if the rabbit is still skittish about being picked up.
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Method 3
Method 3 of 5:

Feeding Your Rabbit

  1. Step 1 Ask the previous owner what the rabbit ate.
    In the short term, offer the rabbit that same food. Too many changes at once are likely to upset the rabbit and food is one thing you can keep constant (at least for a few days).
    • As the rabbit gets more confident, if its diet is not ideal, start to change its food.
  2. Step 2 Know what to feed your rabbit.
    Rabbits are herbivorous and their ideal food is growing grass. Grass provides the correct balance of nutrients and fiber, which grinds down their teeth and gets their gut to work. However, it's not possible to provide good quality growing grass all year round, especially for an indoor rabbit, so a compromise always has to be reached.
    • The best food for your rabbit is growing grass but you will most likely need to supplement the grass with other foods. Fresh green hay is the best alternative to grass. If feeding pellets, only offer small amounts, the rest of the diet should be hay.
  3. Step 3 Know what foods to avoid giving your rabbit.
    Just because rabbits are herbivores, doesn't mean that they should be eating any plant-based diet.
    • Try to avoid muesli type feeds. These are far from ideal, and avoid using if at all possible. A muesli food has identifiable ingredients such as squashed peas, corn, wheat, nuts, and biscuit. The problem is the rabbit will eat the tasty bits and leave the nutritious parts. This leads to weak bones and overgrown teeth, and the rabbits also tend to become overweight.
    • It is an old wives tale that rabbit's under 6 months of age should not get fresh greens and vegetables. The trick is to give in moderation as a daily treat. Small pieces of fruit may be given on occasion, but should be strictly limited due to their high sugar content. All new foods should be introduced slowly over time.
    • If any digestive upset is noticed, offer the rabbit unlimited water, unlimited hay and some old-fashioned (long cooking) oats. Remove all other types of food and restrict the rabbit to this diet for three days. If the digestion has returned to normal, you may reintroduce other foods again slowly, one at a time.
    • Also, any food can potentially cause problems if eaten to excess. Carrots contain a lot of oxalate, and if given everyday can predispose the rabbit to bladder stones.
    • A safe way to feed vegetables is to never give the same thing two days in a row - thus you may give cucumber / Monday, red pepper / Tuesday, carrot / Wednesday, broccoli / Thursday and so on.[4]
  4. Step 4 Don't overfeed your rabbit.
    Find out how much food your rabbit needs based on its weight and breed. You must feed them every day, but do not feed too much based on their weight.
    • If you have a big or standard size rabbit, and you are feeding them grass, you have to feed them a lot, making sure they get enough calories every day, which means they are eating almost constantly. If you are feeding your rabbit pellets, they will get enough calories much faster, in as little as 20 minutes.
    • Try to be consistent with the times of day you feed them.
  5. Step 5 Provide fresh drinking water at all times.
    Use a clean, algae free container. Mix up water with Apple Cider Vinegar (the cloudy type is best) for your rabbit. Add two capfuls of vinegar to one gallon and use that to fill your rabbit's water container. The Apple Cider Vinegar provides many health benefits for the rabbit such as shiny coat, boosts the immune system and helps to maintain healthy intestinal bacteria.
    • Rabbit sipper bottles are a good idea because the water is held in a reservoir attached to the hutch, and does not get contaminated by bedding, food, or pellets that may get kicked into a bowl of water. Likewise bowls of water are prone to being tipped over, which could be disastrous on a hot day if the rabbit is left with nothing to drink.
    • If your rabbit prefers drinking from a bowl, get a heavy one that they cannot tip.
    • If your rabbit lives outside in the winter, you should get a heated water bottle, so their water supply does not freeze.
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Method 4
Method 4 of 5:

Exercising, Training, and Playing With Your Rabbit

  1. Step 1 Let your rabbit out while you are home, if you have an indoor rabbit.
    A house rabbit gets a good dose of both exercise and mental stimulation, especially if it is allowed out when you are home. Let the rabbit be free to follow you around and even watch TV with you!
  2. Step 2 Take your rabbit outside.
    If you have an indoor rabbit, take it outside but be sure it cannot escape. If you have an outdoor rabbit, let it out into the yard once in a while.
    • Your outdoor hutch should have a run attached to it, so your rabbit can exercise when it wants, but you will get more interaction with it if you let the rabbit out in the yard to play with you and to get some training.
    • Never leave your rabbit alone outside. Birds could snatch away your precious bunny.
    • You can even purchase a rabbit harness and leash, so you can take your rabbit for a hop around the block.
  3. Step 3 Spend time with the rabbit.
    Do activities such as grooming or training or just spend time playing with it. Rabbits are slow learners but you can teach them simple tricks and they can be clicker trained.
  4. Step 4 Provide your rabbit with toys.
    They love to be playful. Rabbits are also active and curious, and need a good or wide variety of toys to keep them occupied and out of mischief!.You can use cardboard boxes of all shapes and sizes as toys.
    • A great free toy is a toilet paper roll stuffed with hay (after the toilet paper has been used up, of course). Most rabbits love this toy. It gives them something to toss around, gnaw and a snack! It's also a great way to recycle!
    • Cat toys often make good rabbit toys. A small plastic ball with a bell inside is usually fun for them to push around. Another idea is the type of baby rattle made like a keyring. Rabbits love to toss them around and shake them.
    • Remember that rabbits will gnaw anything they can reach. Check toys every day and remove anything that seems like it might become unsafe. Most (unpainted, unvarnished) wood is safe for rabbits to chew, as are paper products, such as cardboard, but always use common sense. Check items for things which might cause problems, such as staples, glue, paint, varnish, glossy labels, etc and remove any plastic toys the rabbit has managed to gnaw small pieces from.
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Method 5
Method 5 of 5:

Maintaining Your Rabbit's Health

  1. Step 1 Clean and change the bedding in the litter box frequently.
    Rabbit droppings are very dry and round, so they aren't hard to clean up. Try to put a little bit of hay into the litter box, because rabbits like to eat while they use the bathroom. This encourages them to keep going to the litter box.
    • Don't wait too long to clean the cage. It will get disgusting, smelly, and is not good for your rabbit's health.
  2. Step 2 Get your rabbit neutered.
    Neutered rabbits make better pets as they are less territorial and less prone to aggression. Rabbits can be desexed from around 12 weeks of age. If you have more than one rabbit (of either sex), then this young age is strongly advised or you may have a rabbit population explosion on your hands.[5]
  3. Step 3 Get your rabbit vaccinated.
    From 12 weeks of age rabbit's can be vaccinated against myxomatosis and viral hemorrhagic diarrhea. Both diseases are fatal to rabbits. One annual injection is all it takes to keep the rabbit protected.[6]
    • Also speak to your vet about a course of fenbendazole against a common rabbit parasite called Encephalitozoon Cuniculi. A high percentage of rabbits carry this parasite, which can cause neurological problems, kidney failure, or blindness in later life. A single course once a year is advisable to keep your pet safe.
  4. Step 4 Do not bathe your rabbit.
    There is no need to give a rabbit a bath as they clean themselves frequently and the oil on their bodies is natural, not harmful. Water can get in their ears and their ears can get infected. Also, the stress of a bath can be very bad for your rabbit's health.
    • Rabbits are very clean animals and should never NEED a bath. If your rabbit gets a messy bottom, this is often the result of a problem.
      • Watery poop is fatal to rabbits. If your rabbit has watery poop, you must seek emergency medical treatment immediately.
      • Clumpy poo on the bunny's bottom may be the sign of too rich a diet, or a rabbit who has become too chunky to properly clean itself. In this case, it is fine (and important) to give a bunny 'butt bath'. This should be done very gently with just a few inches of lukewarm water. Set the bunny's bottom (only!) in the water and use your hand to gently loosen and clean the clumpy mess. Once clean, remove and thoroughly dry the bunny.
      • It is extremely important to address whatever caused the clumpy poo. Restrict food to unlimited hay and some oats for three days. In the case of a very chunky rabbit, make sure the rabbit is getting plenty of exercise. Rabbits were not designed to sit around!
    • If the outdoor hutch your rabbits are in does not protect from thunderstorms, snow, or rain, you need to offer protection to keep your rabbit healthy.
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  • Research which foods your rabbit should have, as some unexpected foods are poisonous.
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  • If your rabbit doesn't have access to fresh grass, don't feed it grass clippings. They can ferment and cause the rabbit to bloat.
    Helpful 14 Not Helpful 1
  • Consider if you have the time and money to care for a rabbit; they are time-consuming animals.
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