When you decide to own or adopt a rabbit, it’s natural to want the best for your new furry friend. As noted in a Veterinary Nurse article, ensuring their health and well-being is paramount, as rabbits are prey animals and more vulnerable than other pets such as dogs or cats.
Extra care and effort are needed. Although they are low-maintenance pets, it is crucial to handle them carefully. Whether you plan to cage them or live inside the house, providing a safe space and diet is essential.
In addition, rabbits have a sensitive digestive system, so the required diet for them is mostly fiber-rich food. Providing your rabbit with an unbalanced diet can lead to unhealthy digestion, which could ultimately put their life at risk.
If you’re a new rabbit owner or simply looking to improve your furry friend’s care routine, this article covers you. By following this guide, you can ensure that your rabbit stays healthy and happy. So if you want to learn more about keeping your pet rabbit thriving, keep scrolling for all the expert advice you need.
Caring For Rabbit Food
One of the most important parts of caring for rabbits is knowing what food suits them. Rabbits have a special diet. Unlike other animals that can eat meat and veggies, rabbits are not. As noted by the NiDirect Government Services, rabbits are classified as herbivores. Hence, they are grass feeders.
As herbivores, rabbits have a unique digestive system that requires a diet that is high in fiber. A balanced diet is essential to ensure that rabbits develop and maintain a healthy body while also preventing boredom and other negative behaviors.
So, what does a balanced diet for rabbits entail?
According to the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund, a proper rabbit diet should include a variety of foods, including grass, fruits, vegetables, and water.
For additional guidance, please refer to the table below:
|Grass or Feeding Hay||85%|
Ensuring that your rabbit is well-hydrated is just as important as providing them with a balanced diet. According to Michigan State University, about two-thirds of a rabbit’s body is liquid, making water an essential element of their diet. Failure to drink enough water can result in various health risks, including malnutrition and dehydration.
It’s worth noting that not all foods are suitable for rabbits, and some may even be harmful. To help you provide your pet with the best possible diet, here are some recommended foods for rabbits:
Rabbit pellets are manufactured food specifically intended for rabbits. If your pet has grown tired of their regular meals, such as hay, introducing pellets into their diet can offer some variety and new flavors for them to enjoy. Pellets come in various flavors, providing your pet with a diverse selection of tastes to explore.
While pellets can be a great addition to your pet’s diet, it’s important not to overfeed them. Since pellets are manufactured food, their nutritional value is lower than the natural grass and hays, making them tastier for rabbits. However, too much of a good thing can harm pets, and overfeeding pellets can cause digestive issues. It’s best to introduce pellets gradually, in small amounts, to ensure your rabbit can enjoy them without any adverse effects.
Vegetables are one kind of food your rabbit can enjoy while gaining health benefits. Most veggies contain nutrients such as minerals, vitamins, and fiber. But remember that too many veggies are not ideal for your pet’s diet.
Hays and grass should still make up most of the rabbit’s nourishment. Veggies are just an alternative to giving more nutrients to your pet’s body. Refer to the table below to see which vegetables are safe and unsafe for your rabbit.
|Veggies Rabbit Can Eat||Veggies Rabbit Cannot Eat|
Another healthy food you can occasionally offer to rabbits are fruits. Fruits are also packed with various nutrients, making them ideal rabbit treats. But unlike veggies, you should limit the number of fruits you give to your pet. Most fruits have natural sweetness, which can disrupt your pet’s body and lead to digestive-related diseases like diarrhea.
|Fruits Rabbit Can Eat||Fruits Rabbit Cannot Eat|
|Oranges||Fruit Pits, or Seeds|
Caring For Rabbit Teeth
Rabbits have six teeth on each side of their upper jaws and five on each side of their lower jaws, plus four incisors and two peg teeth. The cheek teeth function like human teeth, responsible for grinding and breaking down food. Their large incisor teeth are sharper and stronger than cheek teeth. These teeth cut and slice food into smaller, bite-sized chunks.
A rabbit’s teeth are open-rooted, meaning they will grow throughout its life and must be kept in check to avoid abnormal growth. Maintaining good dental health is crucial for rabbits, as their teeth are vital in digesting food. Overgrown or decayed teeth can lead to various digestive problems, ultimately affecting their overall health. It can also cause pain and discomfort, making it difficult for them to eat properly.
House Rabbit Society reminds pet owners that oral health is as important as the other functions of your pet’s body. Keeping it clean and well ensures a healthy rabbit. Here are some guides to keep your rabbit teeth healthy;
1. Provide Nutritious Food
Several foods can maintain the healthy structure of your rabbit’s teeth. You also need to avoid letting them eat hard-to-chew and sweet foods. Surprisingly, carrots are one of those. Although it is okay for your pet to eat carrots in moderate amounts, excessive eating can lead to tooth decay.
2. Provide a Chew Toy
One way to keep your rabbit teeth strong is by giving them something to chew. There are many chew toys that you can buy in the market. Some of them are specifically developed to suit the grinding activity of rabbits.
But be careful when choosing what toy you will give your pet. Some of it is made from plastic, which is bad for rabbits. One solution you can do is make a Do-It-Yourself Chew. It is an advantage because you will be doing it by yourself, and that will ensure that all the materials will not harm your rabbit.
Caring for Rabbit Ear
To ensure the well-being of your rabbit, it’s important to include cleaning its ears in your grooming routine. Hearing is vital to rabbits, and clean ears can help maintain their sense of hearing.
Furthermore, rabbits have eyes on both sides of their head, which limits their front vision. As a result, hearing plays a crucial role in helping rabbits grasp what’s happening in their environment. The primary role of hearing in rabbits is to detect and avoid threats, particularly predators, although their other senses also contribute to their survival in the wild. For instance, rabbits use their sense of smell to locate food and their sense of touch to navigate their environment.
In addition, cleaning the rabbit ears also avoids parasite infestation and infection. One of the common problems that occur in pets is ear mites. They are small arthropods or mites that live inside the ears of animals. These mites fodder on the layer of the skin and sometimes suck the blood of the host body.
Here are the tips you can do when caring for the rabbit ear:
1. Clean the rabbit ear regularly
Clean your pet’s ear once a week to remove the dirt and excess wax. You can use pet cotton buds and solutions. To do this, ensure that your pet is in a calm state. Rabbits do not like the feeling of something poking inside their ears. It might even risk the hearing of your pet if you suddenly poke the wrong spot of your pet’s ear.
2. Check for possible infestation
It is also important that you check the ear of your pet now and then for infestation. Early treatment of parasites is beneficial because it can reduce the risk of health complications for your rabbit. You can also visit a veterinarian to ensure your rabbit’s parasite-free and receive any necessary treatment. A veterinarian can also guide preventing future infestations and keeping your rabbit healthy.
Caring for Rabbit Toenail
Broken toenail is common in rabbits. This can happen, especially if the owner is not regularly cutting their pet’s nails.
RWAF noted that rabbit nails could get long, and as it grows, it changes angle. Therefore, if it is not cut, your pet will struggle to balance while walking or jumping. A long nail can also cause a wound cut on your pet if they scratch themselves.
When grooming rabbits’ toenails, knowing the right way is ideal. Rabbits’ nails consist of nerve ends, so you only need to cut the upper part of their nail. If you accidentally hit and cut their nerve, it will bleed, sometimes resulting in infection. It can also be quite painful for your pet.
If you want to know more about how to cut your rabbit toenail, click and watch this video: How To Trim a Rabbit’s Nails
Caring for Rabbit Paws
Part of the cleaning routine for rabbits should include caring for their paws, as these can get dirty from outdoor play. Rabbits love to play outside, and it’s important to let them roam for at least an hour each day to release energy and enjoy themselves.
However, their paws can collect dirt and debris, leading to infection if they have an open wound. To prevent this, it’s essential to develop a habit of regular paw cleaning. After each playtime, brush and check your rabbit’s feet and wipe them with a wet towel to remove any dirt. It’s also a good idea to do this before returning your rabbit to its cage to prevent germs from being spread inside.
Caring for Rabbit Bathing
Rabbits are naturally clean animals. According to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), rabbits groom themself. This is why bathing them is an optional responsibility of pet owners. However, your rabbit will occasionally get dirty by playing in the mud or ground. So, bathing them is also essential at times.
When you are planning to bathe your rabbit, there are some considerations that you need to remember. As per RWAF, rabbits dislike being vulnerable as prey animals. Water can easily distress your pet, especially during bath time. They also shiver, which can lead to slight health issues.
Here are the two types of bathing you can do for your rabbit;
1. Wet Bath
To give your rabbit a wet bath, you’ll need warm water and a safe shampoo. Remember that rabbits are scared of bathing, so do not immediately force your pet into the water. To do this, prepare a tub with lukewarm water.
Slowly introduce your pet to the feeling of water in its body. Sprinkle a little water on its head first, and gradually pour it into its body if you think it is calm enough. Then apply the shampoo. Ensure that the shampoo you use is pet friendly and medicated to avoid irritation in your pet. After covering all the fur with shampoo, rinse your pet with lukewarm water and pat dry.
You can also blow dry your rabbit to prevent it from shivering when drying itself naturally. However, gradually introduce the sound of the blow dryer, as it can stress your pet.
2. Dry Bath
You can also ensure the cleanliness of your pet by giving it a dry bath. This method is more comfortable for pets because they don’t have to endure the stress of water pouring. Many dry bath shampoos are available for pets, so be sure to choose one that is pet-friendly and has appropriate ingredients. Avoid strong-smelling shampoos that can upset your pet’s nose. You can give your rabbit a dry bath once a week to help it maintain clean fur and avoid foul odors.
However, it’s important to note that pets often groom themselves by licking their fur. If your pet is housed with other rabbits, they will also groom each other, such as removing eye boogers by licking each other’s faces. This is a natural behavior for animals. While bathing your pet is one way to ensure its cleanliness, it’s important to remember that grooming is a natural habit for pets and should not be discouraged. Ultimately, maintaining your pet’s cleanliness is important regardless of whether you bathe it.
Caring for Picking Up a Rabbit
When caring for rabbits, it’s easy for pet owners to get overwhelmed by their cuteness and want to pick them up. However, it’s important to know that rabbits don’t actually like being picked up. They are sensitive animals who can get distressed when in high positions and have limited control over their bodies.
If you want to interact and play with your rabbit, it’s best to do so on the floor where they feel more comfortable. Rabbits enjoy socializing and playing, so they will surely enjoy your company. However, there may be times when you need to pick up your pet, so here are some tips on proper handling and picking-up techniques.
1. Ensure your rabbit is in a calm state.
One of the important things you need to consider when picking up a rabbit is its emotional state. You don’t want to distress your pet by suddenly picking them up inside their cage. A stressed rabbit can cause several issues for your pet. They can lose their appetite, wound themself, and suddenly become lethargic.
Before touching your pet, you can slowly come to them in your calmest state. Do not shout at them. Instead, pet your rabbit and call their name. If they voluntarily go to you, it is a sign that your pet is in a good mood.
2. Support your rabbit with both of your hands.
After successfully picking up your rabbit, support its body with both hands. Rabbits are prone to jumping, so securing your pet is important to avoid accidents. Be careful not to press your rabbit too hard, which can cause suffocation. Hold your rabbit gently, ensuring it can breathe and see its surroundings.
Caring For Rabbit Health
Just like with humans, maintaining the health of rabbits is crucial. While their bodies are naturally equipped to help them survive, taking necessary precautions and measures is still important. For instance, rabbits have fur that helps regulate their body temperature. However, hairless rabbits may struggle with this, and wearing clothes can be helpful in such cases.
According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), rabbits are susceptible to diseases and illnesses. That is why monitoring your pet’s health status is crucial to ensure it will live long.
Moreover, rabbits are good at hiding that they are in pain. That is why sometimes pet owners overlook the possibility that their pet is already sick. To help you, here are some common signs you can keep an eye on for your pet to know they are sick.
- Head tilt
- Loss of Appetite
- Rapid Breathing
If you notice your pet having the symptoms above, go to your trusted veterinarian immediately. You need to ask for assistance from expert people in diagnosing your pet correctly. It is not advisable to self-treat your pet because it can only lead to further complications.
Tips on Taking Care of Rabbit Health
1. Balanced Diet
A balanced diet is crucial for maintaining good health in rabbits. Food is a primary source of nutrients and energy for humans and animals, but since rabbits have a different digestive functions, certain foods may not be suitable for their metabolism. Therefore, planning a rabbit’s diet is essential to ensure they receive the appropriate nourishment regularly.
2. Clean Shelter
One of the things you also need to consider in keeping your pet healthy is its environment. A clean and sanitized cage can prevent common parasitic infestation in rabbits. Some bacteria grow in the dirty spaces inside your house, including your pet’s cage.
Since the rabbit will spend most of its time inside their cage, regular sanitization helps your pet avoid acquiring these germs and bacteria. You should also focus on its litter box and bedding because flies and other insects are attracted to smelly poop, which can be a potential carrier of deadly diseases.
There are many available brands that you can use to clean your pet’s cage. Just ensure they do not contain toxic compounds that can harm rabbits. You can also use natural cleaning agents like vinegar and baking soda. Pour them into the area where your rabbit spends most of its time and leave them for about ten minutes. Then rinse with warm water to kill the bacteria.
3. Veterinary Check-Up
Even if your rabbit appears healthy, you should take it to the vet for regular check-ups. The check-up should include physical, mental, and internal examinations. Most illnesses in rabbits occur and show symptoms only when the rabbit is already in a severe condition. To avoid this risk, regular check-ups promote a healthy pet monitoring routine. They can also help you understand the dos and don’ts of caring for your rabbit and whether its current lifestyle suits it.
4. Updated Vaccination
Updating your rabbit’s vaccination can increase its protection against deadly diseases. According to the World Health Organization, species’ bodies have a natural defense against common germs. This is why the immune system functions in the body, as it kills and fights unknown cells inside the body.
However, over time, germs develop into stronger pathogens that affect the body’s function. That is why vaccines are necessary. To ensure your pet’s health, you should follow the vaccination plan that the vet provides for your rabbit. Annual boosters are also recommended to increase protection in your rabbit’s body.
Caring For Rabbit Sleep
Most species require an average amount of sleep to rest their bodies and gain energy for another day. According to the National Library of Medicine (NIH), sleep duration affects the lifestyle of any species and its ability to work actively during the day. This also applies to rabbits.
One of the common misconceptions among pet owners is that rabbits sleep most of their lives. However, rabbits are social animals and like being active during the day. Playing and exercising help keep your rabbit fit and healthy, but they cannot do this if they are deprived of sleep.
Rabbits typically sleep an average of 8-9 hours daily, which helps them rest their eyes and collect the energy they need for the next day. NIH also states that infant rabbits need more sleep than adult rabbits. This is why after giving birth, most baby rabbits sleep all day.
1. Choosing A Rabbit Beddings
When caring for a rabbit, you must pay attention to its bedding. You can use cedar shaving as an option. Although there have been claims that cedar is similar to pine shavings, that can cause risks to your pet’s health due to phenol exposure. If you are unsure, you can always ask experts to guide you on the best bedding you can use for your pet.
2. Rabbits Sleep With Eyes Open
Rabbits can sleep with their eyes open. This is commonly seen in wild rabbits. They develop this habit because of the environment in which they live. As prey animals, they need to be vigilant about predators, so they may sleep with their eyes open to ensure their safety.
If you notice your pet rabbit sleeping with its eyes open, it’s important to make sure that it’s not a habit. Certain conditions can affect a rabbit’s eyes, making it difficult for them to close them. Several infections are common causes of this problem in pets.
For your peace of mind and your rabbit’s safety, it’s best to take them to a veterinarian to examine the root cause of their inability to close their eyes.
3. Is It Okay To Sleep With A Rabbit?
If you love your rabbit too much, you might think of sleeping with them in your bed. However, the question is, is it okay to sleep with rabbits?
Sleeping with pets is actually quite normal. It is common for pet dogs and cats to sleep beside their owner. Rabbits, however, are seldom seen sleeping with humans. Rabbits will love to sleep in their safe space, which is their bedding. They consider it their territory, so sleeping next to you might be foreign to them. However, you can train your pet to sleep in the bed while they are young.
Companionship and trust are advantages you can build by sleeping beside the rabbit. Rabbit shows affection to other species through physical contact, so if they consider you their safe place, they willingly sleep beside you.
If you plan to let your rabbit sleep beside you, take note of the tips below:
- Having a litter box in the bedroom can be a helpful precautionary measure. If your rabbit is not yet trained not to poop inside your bedroom, make sure to bring their litter box inside the room.
- Shut the door when sleeping. Keeping the bedroom door closed while sleeping is recommended to avoid accidents and prevent your rabbit from wandering off. Rabbits are active at night and may go for a midnight stroll, which could lead to potential dangers such as getting into a crisis, escaping the house, interacting with other animals, or chewing on something hazardous.
- Guarantee your rabbit is litter raised. Practicing your pet to litter in the proper space can help avoid poop everywhere, especially on your pillow and mattress. Although rabbit poop is naturally odorless, they still have wasted materials that are dirty to sleep on.
- To create a comfortable sleeping area for your pet rabbit, consider placing mats or blankets on the floor around your mattress. This will provide a soft and cozy surface for your pet to rest on. Additionally, having your mattress on the floor can help prevent accidental falls that could result in head injuries or other types of fractures for your pet.
- To create a safe and healthy sleeping environment for your rabbit, remove any potential sources of contagion from your bedroom, such as houseplants. Avoid using room deodorizers or other strong scents, as these can irritate your pet’s sensitive nose. Additionally, it’s important to refrain from smoking in your room, as rabbits can be particularly sensitive to tobacco smoke.
- Wrap up everything in the bedroom that might be bitten or broken.
- To ensure your rabbit’s comfort while sleeping in the bedroom, it’s essential to maintain a cozy temperature. Rabbits prefer cooler temperatures, so make sure the room is not too warm. Sleeping with the heating system on could cause your pet to overheat and feel uncomfortable.
- Provide your rabbit with adequate bedding to snuggle in. Rabbits like to burrow and mimic the feeling of resting underground. By giving them extra bedding, you’re providing a comfortable sleeping environment and allowing them to exhibit natural behaviors.
Caring for Fighting Rabbits
Even though rabbits are generally known to be friendly, there are instances when they may engage in fights. As a pet owner, it’s your responsibility to guide your pet and prevent them from fighting as it can result in injuries.
Rabbits are territorial animals and use this behavior to avoid conflicts with other animals and protect their herd in the wild. However, even captive rabbits can exhibit territorial aggression and engage in fights with each other. There are several reasons why rabbits may fight, including:
- Rabbits are unfamiliar with the new rabbit member
- Rabbits are aggressive in nature
- Rabbits are not spayed/neutered
- Rabbit has a hormonal change
Early intervention is crucial when it comes to correcting your rabbit’s behavior. It’s important to address any problematic behavior as soon as possible to prevent it from escalating as your pet ages. This will also make caring for your rabbit easier, as a well-behaved pet is generally easier to manage.
However, it’s important to note that correcting your rabbit’s behavior does not mean neglecting them when they exhibit aggressive tendencies. It’s crucial to provide proper care and attention to your pet, even when they display negative behavior.
If you are struggling to tame your rabbit or correct their aggressive behavior, seeking the help of an expert can be beneficial. A veterinarian or animal behaviorist can provide advice and guidance on effectively managing your pet’s behavior and improving their overall well-being.
Caring For Scared Rabbits
Rabbits can react differently to their environment. Like humans, when something is new, they start to feel scared. This is also the same with rabbits. You must know when your rabbit is scared to decrease the chance of stress levels in them. The signs that your pet is scared are ear held back, shaking their body, and averting eye contact.
In addition, distressed rabbits can lead to aggression. Observe your pet first before you calm them. There is a possibility that they will bite you if you suddenly go near them.
Caring For Rabbit’s Safety
Rabbits are curious animals, so part of rabbit care is ensuring they are safe from common hazards. Unlike humans, your pet won’t know what is safe and unsafe for them.
If they are playing outside, they will explore anything they encounter. That is why you need to know how to keep your rabbit safe. One of them is getting an electric shock. It is fatal for rabbits, just like how it is fatal to humans. It can lead to early death if not prevented.
Best Supplies For Rabbits
Aside from personal care, it’s important to provide rabbits with pet supplies for their daily lifestyle, and that entails choosing the best quality supplies for rabbits.
But if you are having difficulty, you can always ask for assistance from expert rabbit owners where to buy quality supplies for pets. To guide you better, here are some of the mush-have pet supplies.
- Water Bowl
- Litter Box
- First Aid Kit Box