A little guide for you to help you care for your rabbit and provide them with what they need 🙂 .
Please select from the drop down menu if you are trying to find out about a specific aspect of bunny care.
I have written (and still writing) an extensive guide to owning rabbits which I have compilled from my own experience and many hours of research. I hope you will read this guide, to prepare you for looking after a bunny/bunnies and to ensure that you get the most out of your bunny. This guide can also help people who are already owned by rabbits. I still learn lots from how other people care for their bunnies and get lots of inspiration and ideas to imporve the lives of my buns.
Caring for your Bunny
Please see my article on suitable housing for buns Ideal Bunny Homes.
so, what do you need to feed your bunnies? It is not just as simple as buying rabbit pellets, bunnies have complicated digestive systems and they cannot continually process high amounts of carbohydrates (this is sugary foods like carrots, human treats, bread, chocolate etc) please see my article here to find out hwat your bunny dietary needs are.
In my experience I have found that my bunnies prefer certain foods.I have compilled an extensive list of favourite bunny foods which are healthy and will ensure your bunnies teeth stay nice and short, see here.
Rabbit’s teeth continually grow (similarly to our nails and hair). This is also another reason why a bunnies diet is soooo important and giving your bunny enough fibre will save you a lot of money in vets bills. Only a vet can trim bunnies teeth, which could even require an operation. Bunnies have two sets of teeth, the ones at the front and the teeth at the back which they use to chew up their food.
None of my bunnies have ever had trouble with their teeth. They also have no history of ‘wolf teeth’. This is where bunnies teeth do not align properly and so they are not worn down naturally by eating a high fibre diet. If your pet has wolf teeth they are going to cost you a lot of money! You can tell if a rabbit has wolf teeth as a baby and they should never ever be sold as pets. I check babies teeth are correctly aligned before they are put up for reservation (not that I have ever had a baby with this problem but it s always safer to check). However, you may find yourself with a buny who has teeth problems and it is always important to seek vet advice.
You should check your bunnies teeth regularly to make sure they are nice and short. This includes checking their back teeth as well as their front teeth. Here is a nice pic for an example of what lovely teeth look like…
Over grown teeth will only be visible (without prising open buns mouth) from looking at buns face, at the very late and serious stages. By then rabbits will have suffered much pain and discomfort. Rabbits are quiet animals by nature they wont whimper or cry when in pain (due to their trying to be clear of predators). Because of this, keeping a check on your bunnies’ poops, eating habbits, physical daily checks of bunnies body and bottom and noticing any change in behavour is the only way we can ensure that they are healthy.
If your bunny has changed their eating habbits, isn’t eating as much, their poo’s look very small and not round, or has stopped pooing and eating for 24hours then your bunnies teeth could be the problem. You need to check them right away. Also, if your bunny has not pooped in 24 hours you need to get your bun to a vet asap as this in itself is a life threatening condition.
There shouldn’t be any need for a vet to cut bunnies teeth if their diet is high in fibre as it should be. A good brand of pellets, plenty of hay and/or grass and leafy greens and weeds will keep your bunnies teeth short and lovely. See Rabbit Scran! for more bunny foo and diet advise.
Due to how bunnies are kept as pets, on soft floors (woodshavings, grass etc), there is often the need to cut your bunnies claws often. Otherwise, bunnies could give you or your child a bit of a nasty scratch without meaning to when they jump off from your lap or kick with their legs if you are not supporting them enough for example. So, it is important to be able to do this yourself (you could of course ask me to do this for you, or your vet or I’m sure a local breeder who lives near to you will show you how to do this. Your vet can do it too but they will charge you).
Hold your bunny, supporting their head and back end, lean forward gently turning your bunny so that it is on it’s back. Bunny wont struggle this way allowing you to cut bunnies nails. If you’re new to cutting pets nails then it may take you some time to cut all the nails so you might want to do it in sections. It can be nerve racking the first time because you worry baout hurtin bunny. Some people refer to bunnies being in a “Trance” when they are on their back. It isn’t a trance, the bunnies are terrified and still with fear as it is a very unnatural position, the bunny may be playing dead even. So, of course, they shouldn’t be left like this for very long. They also wont react to pain while they are on their backs.
Here is a great picture of the angle you should cut your bunnies nails at. Its easier than trying to explain. You should be cutting the nails in the natural way that they would be worn down when on the floor. Hopefully this pic makes more sense…
Be careful not to cut the kwick as this is the blood supply to the nail and the nail will bleed. Don’t worry too much if you do, it’s just a mistake, just take your time and do it in sections if you are taking a long time.
A great idea (if I do say so myself), is letting your bunny have access to concrete slabs in their play time. This wears down their nails VERY well! The difference is amazing! You could even let them have a few hours in a run on the slabs a few times a week and then it is unlikely you would have to trim nails.
Rabbits are inteligent and so providing toys for them is essential and it can be very amusing! Also, dont forget that wild rabbits will spend the majority of their awake time foraging for food so this makes it easier for us to occupy rabbits time… with yummy foods! Please see the following articles that I have created on this subject (more and more are being added regularly as I build the site);
Before Buying Your Bunny
Please remember the following (regardless of if you buy a bun from me or not);
- NEVER buy or put a deposit on a rabbit (or any animal!) you have never been to visit in person. Just because a breeders website and pictures look appealing, this does not mean the breeder will be right for you. Trust me, I know this from personal experience and have ended up with a bunny in an absolute state. You will pay for it in the long run.
- Do not buy a bunny (or any animal) from a breeder because you feel sorry for it. You will be encouraging the breeder to carry on breeding and another bunny and litter will replace the one you ‘saved’.
- If you are tempted to buy a bunny from a pet shop because they are cheaper and/or one is available/cute, please remember and ask about;
- the bunnies age. You dont want to be buying an adult rabbit, do you? The rabbit will not have been handled much, not picked up daily, it could be much harder work to tame the rabbit.
- If you dont mind buying an adult rabbit, why not go to a rabbit rescue and rescue one, it will already be health checked, vaccinated and neutered!
- What breed is the rabbit? Mini lops are popular because they are very friendly and a good compact size. If you are buying a cross bred rabbit, you can not count on these qualities to be present in your rabbit and could end up with a huge rabbit, like the french lop? Also, people breeding crosses signiges to me that they breeding bunnies indescriminately and without restrictions i.e. are they just throwing any rabbit together to make money?
- Make sure you know what food the rabbit has been eating (changing food suddenly and moving a bunny from its litter and home, combined, can be fatal for a young rabbit).
- Can the staff answer your questions? Make sure you research about rabbits as, in my exerience, the staff are very young, often students and do not really have much experience with that animal in particular.
- Do you have a dog? how is the rabbit going to react to the dog and vice versa?
- The pet shop should advise you on a suitable hutch for your rabbit. if they stock small hutches and say this is fine to keep your rabbit in, be very cautious, as it is not fine! It is cruel and irresponsible of them. Hutches need to be at least 6ftx2ftx2ft for two rabbits. Not much smaller for one rabbit. This is a minimum and the bigger the better, depending on your budget.
- If you’re thinking of buying two rabbits because the pet shop has an offer for two, please think about this carefully as it is double the responsibility and cost and could possibly end up in you needing to buy another hutch if the bunnies fall out. Never put two uneutered males together it wont work in the long run.
- you MUST ask to meet your pet in the store. It is your right. You need to know how you and your pet will get a long and you need to get an idea of the bunnies temperament. If your bunny is painfully shy or aggressive, then this will be the bunny you are taking home! Think about this. There is no reason why a pet shop shouldnt be bredding friendly, outgoing bunnies. Of course, a bunny will be run away if you stomp over and stick your hand above its head, its natural, but the bunny should come back and check you out. Bunnies are naturally inquisitive. Bunny should be ok with humans and generally think, “oooh whats that hoomin got for me!?”. Do not accept it from the sales person that the bunny is just shy because they dont know you. Again, why not buy a rescue bunny if a shy bunny doesnt bother you? If you like a challenge then you could be the perfect hoomin for a rescue bunny.
Here is some more information (which really is excellent) from the RSPCA…
My Favouite Rabbity Websites:
The Rabbit House – A brilliant Rabbit blog
RSPCA – Rabbit Advice
Thank You very much for reading and I hope this has been helpful for you and your bunny.
If you have any suggestions or requests etc please contact me on my email firstname.lastname@example.org.
thank you xxx