by Dr. Misha Neumann, Humane Veterinary Hospitals Lancaster
Rabbits are growing in popularity as pets due to their compact size and social natures. While they may seem to be the perfect pet for an apartment or tight city living, rabbits can need some big time care. Here are some basic dos and don’ts when considering taking a bunny into your home.
Room to Roam
Pet stores will sell rabbits as an all in one package including a cage, water bottle and food. While this is a good starting point, rabbits do best with some space to roam around in. This can be easily done by buying or building an exercise pen. You can also litter train your bunny, so they can have free access to roam.
If you are doing this, however, be sure to go through your living space very carefully to make sure there are no exposed wires, foreign objects to chew on, or places to get stuck in. If you are going to stick with a cage, make sure it has a solid surface as grated cages can cause damage to a bunny’s feet. Also, please keep your rabbit indoors as they are not suited to the extreme temperature changes.
In terms of diet, rabbits are strict herbivores with constantly growing teeth. Their diet should consist of primarily hay (Timothy or Orchard Grass are best, NOT Alfalfa). Hay is THE BEST food to wear down constantly growing teeth. Next, your rabbit should be fed a wide assortment of fresh veggies and dark leafy greens. Lastly, they can get a small amount of pellets per day (usually no more than 1/8 of a cup).
When choosing pellets, stay away from the party mixes that have brightly colored treats in them. These are just junk food!
Rabbits are relatively clean creatures and do not need bathing. They can often benefit from regular nail trims and occasional brushing to remove excess fur, especially during season changes. If you notice soft stools in the cage or stuck to your bunny’s bottom, call your veterinarian as this may be a sign of a potentially life threatening condition!
Hopefully, this has provided you with some basic information on rabbits. If you would like to continue your research, www.rabbit.org is a good place to start, as well as contacting your veterinarian.