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Keeping Your Rabbit Happy: A Step-by-Step Guide to Looking After

Rabbits can make great indoor pets. These cute creatures are full of energy and personality, but like any pet, a bunny needs time, money, and dedication to be correctly cared for. So before you go to the shelter and start picking up a snuggly, playful bunny, it’s important to consider what you’re going to need to look after your new bunny.

Money

The first rule when it comes to adopting any pet is to consider whether you can afford to care for them. Rabbits are considered exotic pets in many locations, which makes caring for them sometimes more expensive. First, you will need to pay the adoption fee up front, as well as buying any necessary supplies that your bunny is going to need to make themselves at home. You will need to factor in ongoing costs for litter, food, enclosure updates, toys, and chews, and vet bills. On average, you can expect to spend about $20USD per month on your bunny, unless you need to make a vet visit.

Housing

Your bunny needs a space inside your home that they can call their own. Whether you decide to let them run free-reign in a bunny-proof room or be contained in a cage or puppy pen, your bunny home is essential for creating a happy home for your rabbit. Your rabbit’s space should be large enough so they can hop around and should also be kept near people. The location of your bunny home is vital because rabbits are social animals who want to be around people. You want to put your bunny home in a place that allows them a place to relax by themselves but also not is isolated. You should make sure that you let your bunny out of its house at least once a day so that it can get some exercise. Bunnies need lots of exercise and interaction to stay happy.

Bunny Proofing 

Bunny-proofing is an essential part of making your home safe for your rabbit. Rabbits are chewers. Similar to how our toenails and fingernails constantly grow, rabbits teeth never stop growing. If rabbits don’t have the right things to chew on, then they will chew on everything. They’ll chew on everything even if they have the right things to chew on. To make your home safe for your you and your furry friend, you’ll have to learn to bunny-proof the house to prevent your bunny from chewing on dangerous things (and from destroying things in your home).

To bunny-proof your home, you’ll want to start with any exposed cords or electrical wires. Encase them in split-loom tubing or plastic wire channels and block outlets with furniture or baby-proofing outlet covers. Furniture legs can also be tempting for bunnies, so cover these with cardboard or PVC tubing and provide your bunny with an alternative, bunny-safe chew. Rabbits also love to burrow and sometimes will get into the underside of soft furniture, like mattresses or couches. You can create a barrier by using canvas cloth or plywood.

You can deter your rabbit by chewing new items it discovers by using a gentle spray of plain water, or by clapping your hands and loudly saying “NO.”

Enrichment

Rabbits need lots of stimulation and get bored quickly. To be a happy bunny, they need lots of space to exercise and lots of mental stimulation. Cardboard castles for your bunny give them a great place to run in and out of, and something they can chew that isn’t your doorways.

Toys are also great stimulants for your rabbit and logic toys will provide a way for your natural curious and intelligent bunny to use its brain. You should also regularly play with your pet bunny. You can play a version of “fetch” with them that involves your rabbit throwing items and you retrieving them, or you can set up a game of “bunny bowling,” which appeals to their mischievous nature.

Food

Bunnies are grazing animals, which means they need access to an unlimited supply of fresh bunny hay on a daily basis. Hay makes up 80-to-90% of a rabbit’s diet, so you’ll want to have plenty on hand. Timothy, orchard grass, and oat hay are all popular choices for indoor bunnies. Buy the freshest hay possible and check for the presence of any dust or mold, which could make your rabbit sick.

Timothy hay pellets can also be given to your bunny in small quantities. Because pellets are not a crucial part of a rabbit’s diet, even a larger rabbit will never need more than a quarter cup daily. If your rabbit weighs under five pounds, feed them no more than one-eighth of a cup per day.

Veggies and herbs are some of the rabbits’ favorite food (and a big reason wild rabbits are unwelcome visitors to gardens). Almost any greens found in a supermarket are safe for rabbits (minus a few limitations), and they should not be fed more than two cups of fresh veggies per day.

Any time you’re adding a new veggie to your bunny’s diet, watch their stool carefully over the next few days for signs of digestive upset. Bunnies’ stomachs are very sensitive.

You may be surprised to learn that bunnies have a sweet tooth. Some healthy treats to satisfy this sugar craving include free-dried fruits and Oxbow brand rabbit treats.

Finally, your rabbit needs to stay hydrated, so make sure they have an unlimited source of fresh water that is changed daily. Their water bowl should be cleaned with soap and water every few days. Use a heavy ceramic bowl that doesn’t tip easily.

Vets

Because your pet bunny is a prey animal, it will try to hide any symptoms of illness or distress. For this reason, you need to monitor your bunny’s food and water intake, as well as their stool. You should also use a vet that is comfortable and familiar with rabbits and can recognize signs of illness or discomfort in a pet rabbit. This means calling ahead before you get your rabbit or getting reviews from fellow rabbit owners so that you know you’re going to the right vet.

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