Rabbits are known to be active and playful as animals to have as a pet. Their social skills make it easier for them to adjust in a domesticated environment. Hence they tend to develop a close bond with their owners within a short span of time. That being said, they need to be understood and taken good care of. Be it spoiling them rotten with abundant treats, medical assistance, poop stories to providing an open area for them to frolic about!
Here is a list of things you would want to know before bringing home a pet rabbit:
There are many breeds of rabbits which include Lionhead, a Dutch, a Mini Lop, a Mini Rex, a Rex, a Lop, and a Hotot. They have a life span between eight to ten years and are mostly found in the wild. However, rabbits can live both indoors and outdoors. If they are indoors, one needs to ensure your home is “bunny proofed”. Even if there is an allocated room for the rabbit the above is applicable. Here one needs to keep aside sharp, small, and valuable objects from the reach of the bunny. Aside from obvious toxins like insecticides, rodenticides, and cleaning supplies, there are common house plants such as Aloe, Azalea, Calla Lily, Lily of the Valley, Philodendron, and assorted plant bulbs that can be detrimental to the rabbit’s health. Rabbits are extremely smart and agile hence they won’t have a hard time opening unlocked cabinets – so be vary of your belongings! Before you know it, you can find a plant knocked over in your balcony or a missing shoe!
Know Their Fears
Sudden loud sounds scare them. Rabbits are prone to heart attacks which often occur when they hear something they weren’t expecting. Avoid keeping them in noisy places like an open balcony facing a busy road, a loud TV or even your house radio or stereo system. Some rabbits fear dogs, especially when they haven’t been used to being around them. So if you are a dog parent let your furry four-legged family member bond with your pet rabbit too!
How to Bathe Them?
Similar to our feline friends, rabbits tend to constantly clean themselves. So funnily enough – they do not require a bath! Bathing causes fever and other health conditions. If required, from time to time, a wet sponge bath would work. However, one needs to keep in mind that the water doesn’t enter their ears and eyes and its insides. “I gave a bath to my rabbit for the first time, after I got her and the consequences were not that great. She had fever and also diarrhoea”, said Movita Lewis, a pet parent.
Hygiene is Key
Rabbit nails tend to grow long and if not groomed regularly, can be painful. Just like dogs nails, rabbit nails need to be trimmed regularly. Nails left to grow too long can also deform the rabbits’ feet.
Food and Water are the Mains
Before feeding a rabbit any new treat/green/food it is imperative to consult your vet. Initially, according to the dietary requirements, feed your rabbits in small portions. The portion size can be equivalent to the size of your fingernails. Gradually increase the quantity based on the growth of your rabbit.
“I personally have fed my rabbits carrots and carrot tops, cauliflower and its leaves, parsley, cilantro, strawberry (little of the fruit, mostly the green top, apple leaves/branches (not apple seeds), dandelion leaves, yellow flower, and its root. On the other hand, there is a list of poisonous plants and fruits which I never fed my rabbit, i.e. apple seeds as they are highly toxic. Morning Glory and Iceberg Lettuce which causes severe diarrhoea and can also lead to death”, says Movita Lewis.
It’s an absolute must to provide the rabbit with fresh water regularly. Especially during the hot summer months. The rabbit needs to stay hydrated. In extremely cold conditions, one would need to constantly change out their water to prevent it from freezing, if the rabbit lives outdoors.
They Eat Their Poop!?
Hold your breath (and nose while you’re at it), rabbits eat their poop after digesting a meal. Yes, it is an extremely repulsive image, but their faeces play an essential part of a rabbit’s diet. They produce a special type of poop called ‘cecotropes’ which are often softer than normal pellets and they are supposedly meant to be eaten. Having a quick digestive system, they’re able to absorb nutrients. It is advisable to not prevent them from doing so.
Spaying or neutering is done to ameliorate the health and behaviour traits of the rabbit. Aside from preventing unwanted litters, a pair of rabbits can often be less aggressive towards each other, compared to rabbits that are not fixed. Neutering males can remove the risk of testicular cancer and reduce aggression and territory-marking behaviours. Spaying females can eliminate the risk of reproductive cancers as they get older.
Do not Cage Them
Lastly, rabbits require exercise, just like a pet dog. It needs plenty of room to run and play. The bigger, the better. A rabbit hutch should be no smaller than 2 feet tall, by 4 feet wide, by 2 feet deep. The cages shouldn’t be wired. Rabbits don’t have protective padding on their foot, like cats and dogs. So constantly walking on wire can cause rabbits to develop sore hocks which can lead to death. Make sure the cage is cleaned at least once a day.