Top Ten Tips for New Bunny Owners

We asked and you answered! Here are the top ten tips for new (or even experienced) bunny owners.

  1. A rabbit savvy vet is your new best friend.  Rabbits are considered exotic pets and have different needs than dogs or cats, so make sure your vet has experience with bunnies. Even the best dog or cat vet may not know about your bunny’s needs. Check out OHRR’s list of rabbit vets in Ohio.
  2. Get them fixed!  All rabbits from Ohio House Rabbit Rescue are spayed/neutered before being adopted.  Spaying/neutering not only prevents unwanted litters, but it also helps cut back on bad behavior such as aggression and marking territory.  Older, unaltered rabbits are also at a higher risk for certain cancers, which can be prevented by spay/neuter.
  3. Think outside the hutch, and inside the house. Rabbits that live outdoors are susceptible to disease, insects and predators such as coyotes and hawks, not to mention extreme weather.  Most importantly, bunnies are very social pets and you’re much less likely to get to know your bunny’s unique personality if he/she is always outside.
  4. Make sure you choose appropriate housing. Rabbits should be kept in a minimum of a 4×4 space on the floor without a wire bottom.  OHRR recommends using a 4×4 exercise pen, which can be purchased at the Hop Shop. Many rabbit parents give their bunny full ownership of an entire bedroom or even the house.
  5. Make sure your house is “bunny proofed”. Protecting all loose cords, covering baseboards and ensuring houseplants, remote controls, and even your favorite snacks are out of reach is a good start.
  6. Bunnies will use a litter box. Rabbits prefer to do their business in one place, so they are easily litter box trained.  Use a paper based litter in the box, such as Yesterday’s News, CareFresh or even shredded newspaper. Alternatively, you can use pelleted horse bedding (kiln dried pine or aspen) or wood stove pellet. Never use non-kiln dried pine- or cedar-based litter.  It can damage the bunny’s respiratory system.
  7. Don’t forget to play! Bunnies need exercise and stimulation.  Giving your bunny at least an hour outside of their space to run and play is essential. Also, make sure your bun has a variety of safe toys to toss, chew or dig!
  8. A bunny’s diet is essential.  Rabbits should be fed a diet of limited pellets, unlimited hay and a daily salad.  Treats should be given on a limited basis such as a teaspoon of carrots, banana’s or raisins per 2 pounds of body weight. Giving a daily treat can be a good indicator of your bunny’s health- if she doesn’t come out begging for treats then you know something isn’t right! Be careful when purchasing store bought “rabbit treats” as many are not actually good for rabbits. Our article on bunny diet has more information.
  9. Do your research.  Make sure you know about common rabbit illnesses such as GI Stasis and Bloat. Have a plan for emergencies and potentially assemble a rabbit first aid kit.  Talk to your veterinarian and check out binkybunny.com and rabbit.org for information.
  10. Remember, a bunny is a commitment, so enjoy it!  Rabbits can live from 8-12 years.  Spend time with your bunny and show your love through kisses and pets.  Who knows, your bunny might just return the favor!