You’ve asked and asked the guardian to the rabbit hiding place and your wish has been granted so congratulations! Now you are the proud owner of your very own fluffy long-eared companion. Before you go all out buying things like litter boxes for rabbits, we got you covered with 5 things to do once you get your first bunny.
What to know beforehand
Rabbits are extremely sensitive and gentle creatures yet they can also develop a very strong personality. As a proud rabbit owner, you have a duty not only to the pet but to yourself to be educated on all-things rabbits so you can better take care of your new best friend.
Always keep in mind that rabbits need a lot of attention. And we mean a lot! Being rather intelligent creatures, toys will not keep them occupied for very long at which point they will find something to explore or chew around the house. Like your grandmother’s favorite antique furniture. Be that as it may, indoor bunnies outlive the ones living outside by many years.
When it comes to their lifespan, it’s worth knowing that domesticated bunnies tend to outlive their wild cousins by more than a few years. Some 30 years ago, when humankind started recognizing it can’t very well live without fluffy ears and bottoms and treating them better, the life expectancy shot up from 3-4 years to today’s 8 to 12 years.
Before even wishing for one, remember that bunnies are not as low-maintenance as they seem to be. Much of their happiness and longevity is directly related to the way their owner interacts with them. And yes, with their superior senses they will most definitely recognize you as the one who cares for them.
If for different reasons you cannot be the kind of owner your new best pal will need, as in a hands-on owner who enjoys playing with them every day and giving them space to run around the house for a few hours, you may very well have to pick a different pet, like a fish.
Diet and taking care of them
Food is obviously a very important aspect of everybody’s life, so your bunny should be no different. Loose hay should make up for a wide majority of its diet, as it contains the high-quality fibers that are quintessential in their lives. In the past, people used to give them commercial pellets but those have proven to not be very effective. Go for leafy greens like kale.
When it comes to housing, as we said, interior living is always advisable and safer. If for whatever reason that is not possible, at least get them a large comfortable pen with plenty of space. If you keep the bunny inside, cover all the wires, clear out the books from those dusty bottom shelves and pay attention to any kind of wooden furniture or objects you might miss.
No matter if he/she lives in a pen or in a house, the rabbit still needs a lot of active time outside every day. Happiness will be assured by a solid three to four hours of outside-the-restricted-area running which, as we warned you, is no easy task.
When it comes to veterinary care, we advise always asking how many rabbits does he treat every month. Due to their sensitive nature, you really need an experienced professional with a lot of rabbits under his belt (Figure of speech, obviously). Your first trip together as a duo should always be to your friendly vet for a checkup.
As for keeping their mind occupied, as we said, that’s a daunting task sometimes. The lovely thing about the fluffy ones is that you can always improvise and they will love it. For instance, take a cardboard toilet paper tube and stuff it to the brim with hay. You may think it’s rather simple but your bunny will have a new source of endless fun.
Facing any health issues
Even though in some countries people use rabbits to exemplify fear, the truth is rather different. Bunnies tend to actually hide their illnesses and suffer without letting you know what is going on, so you need to be prepared.
Contrary to popular belief, rabbits are very well insulated so they likely won’t freeze in the winter, but they can definitely have a heart attack due to the summer heat. They also need a stress-free environment, since too much of it can actually cause them to have a heat stroke. Also, watch out for poisoning as well as warding off any possible predators.
Ear mites are a disease that may appear no matter how much time you keep devote to your bunny’s hygiene. They are annoying things which like to camp out in the rabbit’s ears and get them brown-looking and crusty. As long as you constantly check them you should be fine but, if the need should arise, a few drops of vegetable oil twice a day for seven days should work just fine.
Do’s and don’ts of feeding them
So a high-fiber diet is crucial and hay should be you two’s best friend. Is that all? Not even close. Rabbits have a specialized digestive system which, while making them adaptable to many different environments, also compels you to be very careful about your food selection for your pair of long ears.
Don’t always follow what others advise you to do. This should be a lesson in life as well as in bunny-caring. While many people feed them yogurt drops, studies have shown that it can cause the rabbit to develop a case of enterotoxemia, which in plain English is a bad bacteria in its intestinal tract. When you want to offer a treat, offer Brussel sprouts or green peppers.
Avoid things like bread, pasta, cookies, crackers and so on as high-carb foods are not really on their should-eat list. Any kind of starchy, oily, sugary food is a big no-no if you want to keep the bunny happy and healthy.
One thing that may surprise you is the fact that you should never feed them iceberg lettuce. Is it a vegetable you say? You are extremely right, but it is a vegetable that can contain lactucarium which will be really harmful to your pet. Besides, this kind of lettuce is mostly made up of water anyway so the bunny is really not missing out on anything.
Are you a good owner for him?
Since most of the guide so far has been about keeping the rabbit safe, sane and happy, let’s talk about you for a second. Remember that pets generally require a great deal of upkeep and bunnies are really up there at the top of the list.
If what you are looking for is a pet who can be as interactive as a dog but maybe not so loud, you may just be in luck! Rabbits develop great personalities, always recognize their owner and, of course, are mostly noiseless.
If you can be dedicated, gentle and carve out and little “me-and-the-bunny” time every day, you will get a loyal companion who can even be taught to come when you call out his name. And if you are a really lucky and careful owner, you might just break the record for the oldest domesticated bunny in the world, who lived an astounding 17 years and 10 months. Good luck!