Bunnies may be super cute, but like any pet, they come along with a lot of responsibility. When you get your bunny, you’ll hold their little furry lives in your hands, so you want to be properly prepared. Keep in mind that rabbits can get stressed pretty easily, so it’s always a good idea to get everything ready beforehand so that when you finally bring your new friend home, she’ll feel comfortable right away. To help make your furball as comfy as possible, we’ve compiled this list of everything you will need before you get your first rabbit.
This one should be fairly obvious, as your bunny will chew on your possessions if allowed to roam your house freely (including electrical wires — yikes!). Usually, the cage should be about four times the size of your rabbit, though the bigger the better. Don’t worry — your rabbit doesn’t have to spend all her time in the cage. In fact, it’s best for you to let your friend out occasionally so that she can expend some energy and hang out with you.
Wherever you’re going to let your rabbit roam free, however, should be rabbit-proofed. This means putting anything that would be harmful if chewed far out of reach, as well as anything else you don’t want to be chewed. Be especially careful of paper or cardboard products as these are a rabbit’s favorite chewing material — perhaps you could intentionally put down some toilet paper rolls to keep your bun occupied.
Some cages have wire mesh over a tray as the bottom, which makes it easy to clean out your bunny’s business, but can be irritating to their feet and legs. Solid bottoms are usually the way to go — some cages come with them, but if you’ve already bought one with a mesh bottom, you can cover it with a piece of wood or grass mat, which can be good for traction too.
You could also choose to keep your rabbit outside in a hutch. There are several risks that go along with this, including weather, herbicides, pesticides, and predators, especially at night. Because of this, and because your bunny with likely miss your company, keeping your furball completely outside might not be the best idea, but if you still want to do so, make sure that their shelter is completely enclosed and impenetrable by those who would want to do your rabbit harm. If you just want to take your house rabbit out occasionally, the best idea would be to keep them in a completely enclosed wire cage with a wooden bottom that would allow them to enjoy with fresh breeze without burrowing away from you.
Litter Box and Litter
You may be surprised to hear that rabbits, like cats, are quite easily litter trained, which can make it a lot easier to keep their enclosure clean, especially if it has a solid bottom as suggested previously. For this reason you’ll definitely want to pick up a cat litter box or some other large plastic container. Not all litters are rabbit-safe, so make sure that you get a product specifically labeled as safe for rabbits. Usually, those made from recycled-paper are a good bet.
Before you even think about purchasing your rabbit’s food, you should look around for some durable containers for both food and water. These might be ceramic bowls, or you might go for a hanging water bottle — some of them have cute plastic fish inside that will alert you when the water level becomes too low. Just make sure that whatever you purchase will stand the test of time and will not be chewing fodder.
Hay should make up the bulk of your rabbit’s diet since it contains dietary fiber that your rabbit requires to remain healthy, as well as keeping the length of their teeth in check. When it comes to this stuff, young rabbits should be fed alfalfa, but adult rabbits aren’t all that picky. They’ll eat timothy, grass, and oat hays, all of which should be relatively easy to obtain. The best place to get fresh hays for your bun is a local farm as long as you make sure that the farmer doesn’t spray it with pesticides. You can also find this food at any pet store, or even on Amazon.
Veggies are also important for rabbits and should be a daily fixture in their diet. Wash them thoroughly to make sure that they’re pesticide-free, then feed them to your rabbit bit by bit to make sure that she doesn’t have a negative reaction. If not, then you’re good to go with the vegetable, but bunnies like lots of different veggies, so make sure you switch it up sometimes.
For protein, bunnies eat pellets, and all you have to worry about here is making sure that the pellets are fresh — otherwise, your furball might refuse to eat them. You should also restrict your rabbit’s pellet intake as she ages to ensure that she doesn’t develop diabetes.
It’s fun for both you and your bunny to give her a treat, but you have to be careful here — most human food that we would think to give bunnies is too high in carbohydrates, and a lot of rabbit treats are actually far too high in fats and sugars. Also, much like dogs, bunnies should never be given chocolate. The best treat is actually fruit! However, even this should only be given occasionally, as its sugar content is quite high.
Yes, you will need to clip your rabbit’s nails. Most cat nail clippers will work for this, and it’s quite an easy and infrequent process — usually, you only need to do it once a month. It’s always good to be prepared, though, so purchase the nail clippers ahead of time to ensure that your rabbit’s nails are never uncomfortably long.
Like cats, rabbits groom themselves, but too much hair in their system can lead to complications such as blockages of their GI tracts. Brushing can pick up some of the hair to prevent this, as well as working out any matted spots that might eventually lead to skin irritation and rashes. All rabbits should be brushed at least once every three days, but long-haired breeds may require more frequent grooming.
All rabbits also have a heavy shed cycle about three times a year which can last from a few days to a couple days, and during which they will need multiple brushing session a day. This may seem like a lot, but brushing your bunny shouldn’t be a chore — think of it as a bonding time, and make it special both for you and your fluffy friend. Always be gentle, and always take your time.
Now it’s time for the fun part! Bunnies, in addition to being adorable, can be very entertaining pets and are able to have fun with almost anything you give them. However, there are some toys we specifically recommend that will let your fluffball have the time of her life.
As mentioned earlier, bunnies love some good, old-fashioned cardboard, whether that be a toilet paper roll or a torn up box. This will also help keep their teeth in check, as well as being a great distraction from anything you might not want them to chew up.
Wild bunnies burrow all the time, but your friend will probably never have the opportunity to have an authentic burrowing experience. Fortunately, you can bring the burrowing experience to them by filling a container with bunny-friendly substance — the most common is a pot filled with soil, though this has the tendency to be a little messy, as one might imagine. You can try to minimize the mess, but this is an inherently messy experience, so you should just relax and watch your rabbit have fun.
Rabbits like to stretch out to their full length, and having a high fixture can allow them to do that. Their enclosure should have at least three feet in height to allow your rabbit to rear up, which can prevent a painful spine deformity in the future. This can be achieved by giving them a stretching post, or just making sure that they have a stable corner of the cage to stretch up against. If you’re getting a structure for them to stretch upon, it could serve double-duty as platform they could climb onto to survey the area for predators.
There are so, so many toys at your local pet store, or on Amazon. Your bun will love anything they can chew upon, burrow inside, or roll around — or all three. While you can switch up their toys pretty often to keep them entertained, you should keep at least some of their environment the same to give them that stable home base.
There you have it — all you need to make your new friend comfortable, and to keep her happy and healthy for a long time. If you prepare all this for your bunny, you should be able to sit back, relax, and enjoy having such a cute, soft animal as a pet.