1. Rabbits aren’t the best starter pets for young children
Rabbits are quite delicate and frighten easily. If a rabbit isn’t handled correctly, the rabbit may kick, bite or scratch out of fear. When being picked up, rabbits need full support on their front and hindquarters, otherwise they can seriously injure their spine. Never pick up a rabbit by their ears as this is very painful and cruel.
2. Not all rabbits get along
Before getting a second rabbit, it’s important that the two rabbits meet on neutral ground to make sure they get along. Most shelters have an area where you can introduce the two animals. Rabbits that are housed in the same cage need to be spayed/neutered to reduce aggressive behaviour and mating.
3. Rabbits love to chew
Rabbits don’t know the difference between good and bad things to chew. That’s why any area in the house that your rabbit can access needs to be rabbit proof (i.e., no access to things that can harm them, like electrical cords, books or furniture). Give your rabbit something good to chew on, like cardboard boxes, chewing toys or rabbit-safe chew sticks.
4. Rabbits need regular exercise
Rabbits need space to run, jump and exercise, ideally in a playpen, outdoor area or rabbit-proofed room. Rabbits with an outdoor play area should be supervised at all times, since they’re vulnerable to predators. For ideas on keeping your rabbit active, check out our tips on giving your pet a mental workout. It’s recommended that rabbits be given several hours for exercise per day.
5. Rabbits require a well balanced diet
In addition to rabbit pellets, an important part of a rabbit’s diet is grass hay, such as timothy or brome, to keep their intestinal tract healthy. Rabbits need unlimited access to hay at all times. Rabbits also need leafy greens, such as dark leaf lettuces, collard greens, turnip greens and carrot tops.
6. Rabbits need their habitat cleaned regularly
Rabbits need their cages cleaned once or twice a week to keep their habitat sanitary and odour free. Remember not to use cedar or pine shavings to line their cage, since the fumes can make them sick, and avoid clay cat litters. Choose wood shavings made from aspen.
7. Rabbits are indoor pets
Rabbits are too vulnerable to predators and too social to be isolated outside. Since rabbits need to be kept indoors, keep in mind that they frighten easily and shouldn’t be placed somewhere too noisy.
8. Rabbits have special health concerns
Make sure you’re familiar with the health conditions that afflict rabbits as well as the warning signs that require emergency veterinary attention (e.g., diarrhea or anorexia). Like any other pet, rabbits need regular health exams from a veterinarian, ideally one that specializes in small mammals.
9. Grooming and coat care
Rabbits need routine brushing to keep their coat clean and free from mats. Use a soft bristle brush to brush their entire coat. Stay away from brushing around their face and belly.Bunnies may pluck their own hair occasionally. Make sure to remove this plucked hair promptly to prevent the rabbit from eating it.
If you are interested in adopting a bunny, check out your local Ontario SPCA Community to see what pets they have available.
Rabbits provide great company and make great pets. With access to a healthy diet, a clean cage, fresh water, plenty of exercise, and mental stimulation, your pet rabbit can be a loving companion for up to seven to ten years!