Raising Rabbits | Living the Country Life
More
Close

Raising Rabbits

A floppy-eared, cotton-tailed pet can be a wonderful addition to the family.
  • Perfect Pets

    Mention the perfect family pet and a rabbit might not be the first animal that comes to mind. But these big-eared, bushy-tailed balls of fur can make wonderful companions. "Bunnies can be very endearing and engaging pets," says Jason Dickman, rabbit manager at Best Friends Animal Society, a no-kill animal shelter in Kanab, Utah. Rabbits are smart and playful, and they can even be trained to do tricks and use a litter box. However, Dickman warns that bunnies can also be little tricksters who sometimes show their naughty sides.

    Each rabbit has its own distinct personality, which can range from friendly and affectionate to aloof and sometimes grumpy. Here's what you need to know before bringing a rabbit home. 

    Date Published: October 4, 2017
    Date Updated: October 6, 2017
  • Finding a Rabbit

    Rabbits can be adopted through shelters and rescue groups or puchased through breeders. Like dogs, rabbits come in a range of breeds, colors, and sizes; their ears might stick straight up or flop over, and their fur can be short and sleek or long and woolly. Popular pet breeds include the Mini Rex, Holland Lop, and Netherland Dwarf. Keep in mind that long-haired breeds such as Angora rabbits and American Fuzzy Lop rabbits need daily grooming. 

    Look for animals with bright eyes, dry noses, clean ears and soft, plush fur. Nasal discharge, crusty ears, and bare spots or missing fur are red flags that a rabbit may be ill. 

    Rabbits tend to prefer quiet, calm environments. A noisy, active home may overwhelm these prey animals and cause them to feel fearful. If you have children in the house, make sure they know how to properly pick up and handle their pets. (You want to place one hand under a rabbit's body behind the front legs and the other hand near the hind end, then lift and hold the rabbit securely next to your body.)

    Before purchasing a rabbit, make sure a nearby vet can help care for your rabbit if needed. "Rabbits are considered exotic animals, so not every veterinarian knows about or is willing to see rabbits," Dickman says. Your rabbit won't need vaccinations, but it will need regular nail trimmings, groomings, and a go-to vet in case of illness or emergencies. 

    Rabbits usually live up to 10 years, so making one a pet should be considered a long-term commitment.  

    Date Published: October 4, 2017
    Date Updated: October 6, 2017
  • Caring for Your Rabbit

    To keep your pet healthy, a nutritious diet and regular exercise are essential. Offer commercial pellet feed and hay along with limited quantities of whole oats, black oil sunflower seeds, vegetables, and fruit as occasional treats. Help your rabbit work off those calories by providing a safe space to hop around in the house or an outdoor exercise pen. 

    Provide your rabbit with its own home, such as a hutch, cage, or rabbit-proofed room. Its house should include a comfortable place to sleep (a small dog bed or sheepskin rug is ideal), a litter box, food, and water. The House Rabbit Society recommends the enclosure be at least four times the size of your rabbit when it's stretched out. 

    When you do let your rabbit out of its hutch, be aware that rabbits love to chew anything and everything. "Their teeth grow like fingernails," Dickman says. To keep their teeth filed down, offer your rabbit apple branches, pinecones, and even cardboard. 

    Regular supervised playtime keeps rabbits from getting bored and decreases problems with chewing. Spending time with your rabbits also helps you build a stronger bond with them. "The more time you put into your bunny, the more you will get out of your bunny," Dickman says. 

    Date Published: October 4, 2017
    Date Updated: October 6, 2017
  • Housing Rabbits Outdoors

    Housing is a major consideration when you buy a rabbit. If you plan to keep it outdoors, follow these tips:

    Watch the temperature: In the hot days of summer, shade is essential. When temperatures go above 80°F, bring rabbits inside to nap in dog crates during the heat of the day. In the winter, stuff the hutch with straw so rabbits can create a burrow for additional warmth. 

     

    Date Published: October 4, 2017
    Date Updated: October 6, 2017
  • Housing Rabbits Outdoors

    Protect against predators: Rabbits are prey animals, so be sure to provide secure, predator-proof housing. Use small-guage wire, like hardware cloth, to secure the enclosure, and bury the wire underground to prevent predaturs from digging their way in. Secure the hutch with latches or locks. An electric fence around the hutch is also a good idea. 

    Date Published: October 4, 2017
    Date Updated: October 6, 2017
  • Housing Rabbits Outdoors

    Clean hutches regularly: It's important to remove bedding covered in feces and urine. If ammonia builds up in enclosed housing, your rabbit could get sick. You must also provide fresh water and ample food for your rabbit. 

     

    Date Published: October 4, 2017
    Date Updated: October 6, 2017
  • Housing Rabbits Outdoors

    Visit often: In the wild, rabbits live in colonies and thrive on companionship. Spend time with your outdoor rabbit, taking it out of its hutch to pet and interact with it. This will increase your bond. 

    Date Published: October 4, 2017
    Date Updated: October 6, 2017

Latest Blogs

Betsy's Backyard |
5/25/18 | 11:05 AM
My daughter, Caroline, said she missed my blog, so I'm going to download a few ...read more
Betsy's Backyard |
3/12/18 | 1:18 PM
The Living the Country Life Spring/Summer 2018 issue comes out this month. I loved the...read more

Add Your Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Login