Hippity Hoppity: Rabbit Care Basics
Rabbits can make great pets. Not only are they adorable, but they’re also full of personality and are quite trainable. Sadly, though, many people take on a rabbit without fully understanding their needs. Many health problems that our bunny friends suffer are related to improper care. Androscoggin Animal Hospital knows the importance of rabbit care and is happy to help our fellow lagomorph lovers take better care of them.
Feeding Your Bunny
Nutrition is the foundation of care for any pet, but especially for exotics.
Good rabbit care starts with good nutrition. Rabbits need the following:
Water – All living things need water. Be sure your rabbit has fresh water available at all times. Provide a hanging water bottle or bowl, as well as some freshly washed veggies for some added moisture.
Hay – Hay is the cornerstone of any rabbit’s diet. As soon as they’re able to eat on their own, rabbits should be offered unlimited grass or timothy hay. Alfalfa, although a nice treat, is typically far too rich and calcium dense for routine feeding. Pelleted hay is a reasonable option if fresh hay is not available.
Fruits and veggies – Eating all your veggies is not just for humans. Vegetables are a great source of nutrients, water, and fiber. For every four pounds of body weight, you should offer your bunny about one cup of vegetables each day. Also try mixing it up. Most vegetables are fair game, but avoid iceberg lettuce, corn, peas, potatoes, and pennyroyal mint. Limit celery and spinach. Fruits are great as well, but limit these sugary treats to about a tablespoon or two daily. Try to offer a good source of vitamin A each day (beet tops, broccoli, collard greens, kale, lettuce, pea pods). Introduce new fruits and veggies slowly in order to assess for digestive upset.
Pelleted rabbit feed is often unnecessary and may provide too many calories. Exercise caution with commercial rabbit treats as well. Some fruit is often a great treat that won’t upset the digestive tract or contribute to obesity.
Housing a Rabbit Properly
Rabbits need a happy home to rest in, as well as exercise and interaction. Most rabbits are active at dawn and dusk, making these ideal times to encourage activity.
Be sure your rabbit’s housing has good airflow and a solid floor. It should be tall enough for your rabbit to stretch out and large enough for your pet to play, especially if he or she will be confined most of the day. Keep your rabbit out of direct sunlight and cold drafts.
Chew toys and other stimulating objects are appreciated. If your pet spends time outside the enclosure, be sure to keep dangerous objects (e.g., electrical cords, houseplants) out of reach.
Rabbit Care From a Veterinary Perspective
Many times, pet owners don’t bring pocket pets in to see us until there’s a problem. Good wellness care is very important. By conducting annual wellness exams, we can discuss good husbandry with you and address any questions or concerns you may have. We can also examine your rabbit for:
- Signs of dental issues
- Proper grooming
- Parasitic infection
- Overall body condition
Spaying or neutering your pet and routine dental care are essential components of good rabbit care.
If you’re considering getting a bunny as a pet, please let us know so we can help you prepare for your new addition. We’re always here to answer your questions. Remember, a little information goes a long way toward making your experience as a bunny owner a great one.