Is a Rabbit the Right Pet?

First and foremost, a bunny is not a cat or a dog. They are cute and fluffy and can be very loving and loyal, but they are quirky in their own ways and can’t compare to either animal.  Rabbits are best suited for school aged or older children along with adults.  That is not to say a young child can not be a great companion for a bunny, but they are naturally shy and curious and startled at loud noises and rambunctious antics from younger kids. I always advise families to take that into consideration.  Due to a Holland Lops size, they are also easily injured if children are not careful. (My son with ADHD wouldn’t have been good with a rabbit at age 5, but now at 10 is calm enough to handle them with care.)

Rabbits require cleaning of their cages every few days, daily feeding and watering, and exercise for a healthy lifestyle. Depending on the age of the caretaker, parents may need to assist with this. They are easily litter trained and many find it fun and enjoyable to let them hop around the house provided their are no pets that could injure them.

Bunnies require the following items for their basic care:

Items you will need:

  • Rabbit Pellet Food
  • Hay (Pet stores carry Oxbow Hay if you want smaller quantities)
  • Water crock or Bottle (mine are used to a bottle). Do not use plastic bowls, they will chew on them or knock them over. Dollar store carries ceramic ones.
  • Rabbit cage/house/home (min size recommended is 24×24 but bigger is better for exercise and play)
  • Litter box if planning to litter train (do not use wood shavings, this can cause respiratory issues.
  • Only aspen shavings, paper, fresh towels or straw is recommended for bedding

For their enjoyment:

  • Toys (tunnels, boxes to hop on, hay in a toilet roll, etc.)
  • Treats (Recommend “BOSS” black oil sunflower seeds or greens over commercial treats) Until 6 months old, keep treats to one or two a day max…junior rabbits are still adjusting their stomach flora and should have a limited diet.

First Day Home:

Remember that this is a big transition for them. They had to say goodbye to their siblings, their home, and everything they have known.  Your bunny may be shy, quiet, and hesitant the first few days.  Try to keep noise and disturbances down until they get accustomed to their new surroundings. Pet them and calm them with a treat or a place to hid and relax.  I recommend families with small children limit the interaction to a minimum for a day or two until the bunny feels safe. Soon they will be eating, drinking, and exploring their new digs and start interacting with their new family.

Feeding:

Holland lops eat around 1 oz of feed per pound of weight a day. I find they like it best to get some in the morning and some at night so they don’t pig out at once and get hungry later.  Since they are still growing you may find they eat more.  Try to keep in mind that hay needs to be available at all times and pellets are not to be the sole source of food. Hay keeps their teeth healthy and their gut functioning. Water must also be available at all times to help them digest. Please make sure they always have hay available as rabbits can get sick and easily go downhill if left for a day without food or water.

 

Handling:

Always pick up your bunny with two hands. One around the mid-section and one under its back end.  Rabbits are not a fan of heights if they don’t feel secure.  Never pick up by the ears or skin of the neck.

Housing:

Rabbits do decent in the cold, but easily overheated in the hot sun. If your rabbit will be kept outside he/she will need to be in a shady location, have some protection from wind, protection from rain and snow, and most importantly from predators. It’s rare, but rabbits can die from fright, so a safe place is important. If they are inside, you will want a cage with a litter tray or litter box.  If a solid bottom cage, I recommend litter training to keep their fur and feet clean so they are not constantly sitting in their waste.  Clean litter box as needed. (I find 1-2 times a week for one rabbit is reasonable.)

Grooming:

Rabbits require toenails to be clipped and an occasional brushing. I find it easiest to wrap them in a towel with a paw out and carefully clip the toenails this way.  Just like any animal with nails, take care not to cut to the quick.  I use a rabbit/slicker style brush to help groom them for show or just to clean up.  They molt 2 times a year and during this time this will help them ingest less hair into their system.

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