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Rabbit care involves the same attention and responsibility you bestow on any beloved pet - including a few things specific to rabbits. The first order of business is where to keep your pet rabbit. They are better off kept indoors where they are safe from predators and extreme weather, and also where they can be socially involved with their family. They need a rather large cage with room to move around easily and to fully stretch. Some people let their bunnies have free range in the home, but be advised that rabbits like to chew so your home would need to be rabbit-proofed and lots of chew toys provided. If you take your rabbit outdoors, be sure the visits are structured and supervised. Being domesticated means house rabbits do not have the skills necessary to survive outdoors alone. Know the area your rabbit is visiting and make sure there are no pesticides or weed killers in gardens, which can harm or kill your bunny. Also, watch out for predators such as dogs, birds, raccoons and other creatures. Even though these animals may not attack your pet rabbit, the mere stress of being frightened by them could kill your bunny. Rabbits should not be kept in an extreme hot environment, such as a closed up garage because they do not tolerate heat well and could end up with a heat stroke. Some suggestions for letting your pet have some safe, quality time outdoors is to install a rabbit run or exercise pen. Walking jacket and harnesses are also available for rabbits. Walking your rabbit basically means following wherever your bunny hops.

Rabbits like to chew, so lots of safe chew toys should be provided (more information on the type of toys is provided under “Rabbit Supplies.” A good diet is vital for your pet rabbit. Just like people, bunny rabbits enjoy a mix of foods, including hay, pellets and fresh vegetables. Some of the vegetables your house rabbit will like include carrot tops (actual carrots are high in calcium and should only be given sparingly,) dandelion leaves, romaine and dark leaf lettuce, kale, collard greens, parsley, mustard greens, dill and bok choy. (Do not feed rabbits leaves from house plants are many are poisonous to them.) Also avoid giving your rabbit foods high in carbohydrates, like bread and cereals. Pellets should be high in fiber and low in protein and fresh (bunnies do not like stale pellets!) Bunny rabbits prefer timothy hay, but oat hay and alfalfa are other options. Fresh water should be available at all times for your pet rabbit. A hanging water bottle can be placed in the cage, or some rabbits will also drink from a water dish. They will also enjoy an ice cube in their water dish on very hot days.

Rabbits can be litter box trained, just like cats. Place a litter box in the cage to get the bunny used to this behavior. If your rabbit runs free in your home, it’s a good idea to have litter boxes in several places. For bedding, or litter, use organic litters made of paper, wood pulp or citrus. Avoid clumping and dusty kitty litters and wood shavings of cedar and pine, as these may cause liver damage in your bunny. Newspaper can also be used, but it is not very absorbent. It’s a good idea to put a little fresh hay in the litter box because rabbits like to have a snack while using their litter box. Rabbit urine can have a strong odor, so it is recommended you change the litter box frequently. Pet rabbits will also require some veterinary care just like other pets. It is recommended that you have your rabbit spayed or neutered and they may require some vaccinations (depending on where you live.) Bunny rabbits are social animals and so will be most happy if they are in a pair or trio rather than on their own. Again, it is stressed that rabbits are not appropriate pets for very young children because they do not like to be held or cuddled and prefer a quiet, calm environment. Rabbits are fragile animals and must be handled with great care and picked up gently. Never pick a rabbit up by its ears or its stomach and never let a rabbit‘s body hang free.



 


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