A Guide to Taking Care of Your Pet Rabbit
Wed, April 21, 2021

A Guide to Taking Care of Your Pet Rabbit

Rabbits are perfect companions for patient and intelligent owners. / Photo by: Dora Zett via Shutterstock

 

Rabbits are loving and social animals, and they require you to spend ample time with them, according to Indiana House Rabbits Society, an all-volunteer organization. If you don’t interact with them, they’ll get bored and even become lonely and depressed. Toys can help but nothing beats human attention and interaction, although rabbits also enjoy the company of other rabbits.

Rabbits are perfect companions for patient and intelligent owners. Depending o on the breed, they can weigh between 2 to 20 pounds, said Lianne McLeod of pet news site The Spruce Pets. A rabbit’s lifespan depends on their breed, and they can live from 5 to 15 years.  Like humans, each rabbit has its own personality. You will need to get used to how rabbits behave and express their love for you so that you can maximize the bond you will create with them.

Cost 

It depends on where you will get your rabbit and what breed you want, stated Adrienne Kruzer of The Spruce Pets. If you go to a pet store or a rescue center, a normal “breed” or a mix will cost less than a pure breed like a Flemish Giant or a Jersey Wooly that you can get from a breeder. On average, expect to pay $20 to $40 per rabbit from a pet store. Rabbits from a rescue center, fair, or 4-H club will set you back $5 to $20. 

Rabbits from breeders vary in cost, depending on their breed. Some breeders are cheaper than pet stores, while some with rare breeds will charge you about $100. Show rabbits and breeding rabbits with champion bloodlines are understandably more expensive, akin to purebred dogs or cats.  

If you plan to neuter or spay your rabbit, it will cost an initial $125 to $250 worth of veterinary care. It’s costly but consider it as an important measure to prevent your rabbit from suffering from health complications. Moreover, you should also get them a regular annual exam with an exotics vet. Depending on the vet, regular checkups cost $35 to $60. If your rabbit is sick, the cost will also depend on its illness and the vet, although it is not unusual to spend “a couple of hundred dollars.”

Behavior

If handled gently, rabbits are playful, tame, and entertaining to watch. Since they forge strong bonds with their owners, many people spend watching TV with their rabbits beside them or by interacting with them. Rabbits respond well to litter-training and can be taught to perform tricks. You can do this by using a clicker. 

These qualities show that rabbits need a “great deal of interaction” with their owners as well as with other rabbits. Daily playtime or exercise outside the enclosure is expected.  Don’t forget to provide chew toys for your rabbit. Keep in mind, though, that rabbits are not suitable for active young children who may not exercise enough caution when handling or playing with them, which can lead to injuries for your pet.

 

Rabbits need a “great deal of interaction” with their owners as well as with other rabbits. / Photo by: Elizaveta Galitckaia via Shutterstock

 

Housing

Rabbits are prey animals. Hence, it’s not a good idea to keep them outdoors. They should be housed in a crate or cage “at least three to four feet long.” Rabbits do poorly in wired cages because they have tender feet. So, it’s best to opt for a plastic dog crate. Rabbit hutches are great alternatives too but they cost more than cages, amounting to $150 to $200, so some owners build their own hutches. For indoor cages, you can spend around $50 to $100 on a nice rabbit cage.  

Make sure that your bunny enclosure has lots of toys such as cardboard boxes and chewy plastic toys, a shelf, and ceramic food and water dishes. The litterbox should be lined with newspaper and filled with timothy or orchard grass and pelleted sawdust litter. Change your rabbit’s litter box frequently because rabbit urine can have a strong odor. It is also high in calcium, leaving a chalky residue when dried up. 

You can let your rabbit roam around the house but be sure it’s rabbit-proof. Rabbits love to chew, and electrical wires and extensions may be within their reach. Alternatively, you can also provide your pet with an exercise pen to prevent it from exploring potentially dangerous areas. 

 

Rabbits should be housed in a crate or cage “at least three to four feet long.” / Photo by: IamRateR via Shutterstock

 

Diet 

Feed your pet with timothy, oat hay, or orchard grass. Avoid giving it alfalfa hay. It also needs green leafy vegetables such as herbs, watercress, carrot tops, cucumbers, lettuce (except iceberg), and sprouts. Your rabbit also needs a “tablespoon of commercial nuggets/pellets” once or twice a day. You can provide high fat and sugar foods like other root vegetables, carrots, and fruit to your pet, but it should be in small amounts. 

Do not feed it with muesli as it can cause nutritional deficiencies and dental issues. Potatoes, peas, onions, corn, beans, nuts, chocolate, rhubarb leaves, and oxalis clover should also be avoided. Fresh, cool water must be available at all times. 

Rabbits are adorable and intelligent furry friends. They need your constant love and attention. Thus, you need to be prepared to spend time interacting with your pet rabbit. Given a rabbit’s lifespan, you’re going to make tons of fun memories together.