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My Bunnies and I: Things I Have Learned From Owning Rabbits

by H.M Eckl 4 years ago in rabbit
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Little Bits of Wisdom for New Rabbit Owners

Bunnies, with their adorable faces, soft ears, fluffy fur...they are too cute for words. There are around fifty different breeds out there. It can be hard to pick one. Some are big, some small, some have big ears, others floppy ears. There are kinds with fluffy, long, wool fur, while others have short, smooth fur. They are intelligent, curious, affectionate bundles of fur. They can be obstinate and sometimes stubborn, but that just adds to their little individual personality.

It can be overwhelming just looking at all the breeds. Before choosing, it's important to do your research on each breed to figure out which one is right for you. Look around, ask your vet about animal shelters, or find a rabbit breeder. You want to make sure your rabbit is coming from some place clean and safe.

What most people don't realize: There is work involved with owning rabbits. In a healthy, safe home, a rabbit can live up into their teens. The healthiest bunnies are the ones that live indoors. They are a commitment. Unfortunately, many new rabbit owners don't realize this when they decide to own a rabbit, and as a result, animal shelters are often overrun with discarded rabbit pets. They need large cages, vet care, and proper food and nourishment. They are not disposable pets, and are just as important as cats or dogs.

Adopt. Research. Don't shop. Don't buy on impulse.

Social Animals

Rabbits are social animals. They come from large families and are used to companionship with each other. A single pet rabbit can become lonely and depressed. It's better to have at least two. If possible, two from the same family. Two sisters will get along well. However, two males will fight, even if they are siblings. Two females from different families will quickly fight. While they are cute animals, rabbits can do serious harm to each other, sometimes even killing one another.

A male and female get along well, but they do breed quickly and in abundance. It is healthy to spay and neuter your rabbits if you do not want to breed them. Fixing them gives them less risks of diseases and sickness.

As with any animal living with another, even when they live well together, don't be surprised if they fight every now and then. The fighting is not aggressive, just a few nips and chasing. It's play fighting.

I already had a single male rabbit, Olaf, when we rescued an abused female rabbit, Snowbelle. We had to keep them separated until we could neuter Olaf. We did not want any babies, of course, and Snowbelle was in bad shape. Thankfully though, we took her to a vet who looks after rabbits and got her all the care she needed. Today she is happy, healthy, and safe.

I still had to wait a few weeks after his operation before putting them together. Even when they were together, Olaf still would mount Snowbelle, and she him. They still have the instincts to mate even when fixed. Even after we spayed Snowbelle. The instincts will always be there.

Olaf and Snowbelle live contently with each other and are inseparable little buddies.

Bigger is Better

The bigger the cage the better. Even if you have a single rabbit, a big cage is the best. A cage, or a hutch, can be divided into a living space and a sleeping place. When you purchase or build your rabbit's home, make sure your rabbit has a hideaway area. Rabbits are shy, and they like having a spot they can hide in.

They can live indoors or outdoors, though it's healthier for them to live indoors. During the spring and summer is the best time for them to be outdoors. You don't want your rabbits be living outside in below 50 degrees. They have fur, but they still get cold and experience frostbite and hypothermia.

You can have more than one cage for your rabbits. For my rabbits, I have one big, two story cage for Olaf and Snowbelle, and have a smaller cage for them to be outside in nice weather. It has no bottom for them to feed on grass, but they are safely secured on the sides and top.

Litter and Bedding

You can easily litter train a young rabbit. At pet stores, they have several kinds of litter and bedding for rabbits. For litter, paper bedding is ideal. There are litter sprays you can use to encourage your rabbit to use its litter. Rabbits are tidy animals when it comes to their droppings. They usually have a corner they select to do their business. Watch your rabbit to figure out where they go. You can place extra bedding there, or there are small plastic litter boxes you can buy to use.

Pine bedding is my favorite bedding to line their cages. It's clean, and you can buy it in bulk and it's not expensive. It's soft for the bunnies, and helps with odors. Rabbits love a clean cage, and it needs to be cleaned daily, every day at least, or every other day. Especially if the bunny cage is indoors.

My rabbits have their cage in my room, so I clean it every day. Rabbits have strong ammonia in their urine, and the odors only grow stronger the longer you wait. It is a chore, but it is worth it when they nuzzle and cuddle with you afterwards.

To clean their cage, I remove soiled bedding, I use a cat litter scoop, and spray a mist of white vinegar at the bottom of the cage, then place clean, fresh bedding on top. Every once in a while, it's always good to completely clean their cage. You can do this by removing all of the bedding and let white vinegar set on top, then wipe off and place clean, fresh bedding down. You can also spray down the bottoms of the cage with a hose or wash out in the tub, using vinegar or blue dawn soap to clean and scrub.

Rabbit urine stains. Soaking the stains in White Vinegar helps remove them.

Food

Rabbits love their food. Hay is the best thing for them. I feed my rabbits Timothy hay. 90 percent of a rabbits diet needs to be hay, and you want good hay. The best kinds for them are Timothy and Oat. Alfalfa hay is high in proteins and calories and is best for very young rabbits, then switch as they grow older.

You can give fruits and veggies to rabbits, but not too much. Rabbits have a huge sweet tooth and love the sugar in fruits and should be given sparingly. Make sure seeds are removed from apples and other seeded fruits.

Green, leafy veggies are the best for rabbits. Even though everyone thinks of carrots for rabbits, they are high in sugars, so carrots are to be given in small portions sparingly. The best parts of carrots are the leafy greens at the top.

Rabbits also love pellets—they're like candy to them. At the pet store, you can find pellets for them. Be careful of dyed vegetables mixed in. Plain pellets are best, but you can also give them ones with dried veggies.

Toys and Entertainment

A rabbit that stays in its cage all day is easily bored. It's important to have lots of toys to play with. There are several kinds of toys they can play with that you can find at the pet store. Even some cat or dog, even bird toys can be used. Be careful of dyes, and small parts. Cat tunnels are lots of fun for rabbits. Even baby toys, rattles, keys. You can also use old dish towels and socks. Rabbits love to chew and there are lots of safe chew toys for rabbits; wooden blocks, woven balls. You can also use cardboard boxes, paper towel tubes, and plain newspaper for entertainment. Change up the toys often to keep them entertained.

Rabbits also need exercise. Even though it's best to have them run around the house, it's not always realistic. You can set up a small section in the house with gates they can run around in. Another thing I do is have them on a leash and harness when my rabbits are out.

Bunnies need undivided attention when out. They love to chew, and will gnaw on cords, dig in plants, and pull up carpets. They can also go to the bathroom around your house. Rabbits are opportunists, and even well-behaved bunnies can be naughty.

Some ways you can rabbit-proof your home are:

  • Bar soap on your cords. The soap will deter them from chewing. A bar of soap in easily rubbed on cords.
  • White vinegar. It can be sprayed on areas they will most likely pee at. They hate the strong odor of vinegar and it can keep them away.
  • Gates. Baby gates around your home can keep them from exploring areas of the home you don't want.
  • My family is big, and I have lots of people and animals running around, so my rabbits are only allowed to run around my room. I use spray vinegar to keep them from peeing and chewing cords.
  • Rabbits can be naughty. Don't hit or yell at them. Instead, if they are chewing or doing something they are not supposed to, gently pick them up and give a firm "No."
  • They also can bite or nibble you. Gentle bites or nibbles are one way they show affection. But sometimes it hurts. When they bite you, give a loud squeal. This is how bunnies communicate. A loud squeal helps them understand you are hurt.

The Vet and Personal Care

Rabbits, like any other pet, need to be routinely checked up to keep them safe and healthy. However, you can't just take them to any vet. Rabbits are considered exotic pets, and not every vet will see them. You need to be able to find a veterinarian that sees rabbits.

You need to groom your rabbit regularly. They shed up to every three months. They lick their fur just as cats do, so brushing often is important. Rabbits have 28 teeth. The four incisors you see are constantly growing, so they need lots of safe things to chew and gnaw to keep them from overgrowing. They also need their nails trimmed regularly.

If you don't feel comfortable clipping their nails, your vet can do them, or you can even seek out a pet groomer to do it for you.

I hope this all has been helpful. It has been a pleasure sharing a few things I have learned from my little bunnies. I am always learning new things in caring for them and I am eager to share them with all of you.

Despite the work owning rabbits, it is all worth it in the end. Having a rabbit trust in you and look up to you for love and care melts your heart. Have fun, play, and love them. They will do the same for you. <3

H.M Eckl

rabbit

About the author

H.M Eckl

Amature writer that loves to paint pictures with words. Animal lover, coffee addict, and quiet observer with incredibly loud thoughts.

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