Having a pet is a great responsibility and takes a lot of work – almost like having a child – depending on the animal. Having owned a Yorkshire Terrier and now an American Tan rabbit, I now realize there are significant differences in caring for pets. If you are considering adopting a rabbit, there are many factors to take into consideration. Adopting a rabbit can bring you and your family joy. Today I’m sharing with you my journey to adopting a rabbit as a pet and what it takes to care for them.
Is Adopting A Rabbit The Right Choice For Your Family
As with all animals, there are some pros and cons to consider before adopting a rabbit. Rabbits are very hygienic animals! They do not need baths as they regularly clean themselves throughout the day. You will need to check their ears in case of buildup. Their feces do not create odor and are easy to clean as they are small, solid balls mostly consisting of fibers from hay. Rabbits don’t need to go on walks, and you can train them to use a litter box. They are also very social, tame, and great companions.
Rabbits are crepuscular, which means they sleep during the day and night, and are most active during dawn and dusk. A rabbit can live for seven to ten years, so they are going to be your companion for a long time. They are also very quiet animals, so you don’t need to worry about them waking you up with loud noises.
Rabbits are natural chewers. When adopting a rabbit, you must rabbit-proof your home by protecting visible wires, wooden furniture, and making your carpet or rug inaccessible. Rabbits are not recommended as pets for small children because of how delicate they are and their dislike towards being held. A rabbit should only be examined by an exotic pet veterinarian, which can be costly. You should consider neutering or spaying your rabbit; this makes litter box training easier and calms territorial behaviors. Rabbits need a relatively large cage, or exercise pen, and require at least 4 hours of play time during the day, which is essential for bonding.
Adopting A Rabbit 101
When I decided to get a pet, I knew adopting a rabbit was the way to go. Adopting a rabbit, he was a rescue, gave me a good feeling knowing I would be able to provide him a loving home. I searched Petfinder.com and found several rabbits available for adoption in my area. Lebron was an adorable brown rabbit who stuck out the most to me. Lebron was a Valentine’s Day gift. As with many animals gift, eventually, he proved to be too much work for his owner. Fortunately, he was rescued and sent to Orlando Rabbit Care and Adoptions.
Orlando Rabbit Care rescues and fosters rabbits for adoption. Lebron’s foster human Mama allowed me to spend time with Lebron to ensure we were a good fit for each other. The organization required a fee for adopting a rabbit, which I happily paid and Lebron and I were on our way home.
Rabbit Habitat Essentials
Before the rescue organization allows you to pick up your rabbit, you are required to purchase the rabbit’s habitat essentials. Here is a list of items I bought based on their recommendations. Making a purchase using one of the affiliate links below may earn me a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Metal exercise pen – Normally advertised for dogs, rabbits also need ample space to sleep and play. This space gives them a safe area to play in at night or when they are home alone. Rabbits can not live comfortably in small crates. Taller exercise pens are better because some rabbits may want to jump out to spend time with you.
Playpen mat – If your home has carpet you’ll want to prevent the rabbit from chewing it up. An indoor/outdoor rug or a pet playpen mat does the job! I use a pet playpen mat for Lebron because liquids do not soak through it and he is not able to grab any threads to chew through it. If your rabbit does happen to chew the mat, place cardboard under the holes to prevent the rabbit from chewing on the carpet. You can also set one on top of the exercise pen to prevent your rabbit from jumping out.
Two ceramic bowls – Ceramic bowls for food and water are ideal because they are harder for rabbits to pick up and toss around. Rabbits like to pick things up and throw them around. Water bottles advertised for rabbits aren’t a good idea since bacteria can grow in them. Rabbits love to drink water, and water bottles do not hold enough water for their necessary intake.
Plastic storage box – Buying a litter box for a rabbit can be a hit or miss because the size of the litter box depends on the size of the rabbit. Your rabbit should be able to turn 360 degrees in the litter box. Avoid buying a litter box advertised for a large bunny because it will likely still be too small. Instead, purchase a plastic storage box which is more practical to use. Set up your litter box by placing a wee-wee pad in it, then spread litter throughout the box, filling one side of the box with hay.
Rabbits, like other animals, can be picky when it comes to food, litter, and toys. Here are Lebron’s recommendations.
Food – Rabbits have a green filled diet, consisting of hay, vegetables, pellets, and treats.
– Hay is the essential part of their diet, and Lebron eats hay day and night. Lebron likes Kaytee Timothy Hay, two 96 oz. bags last about a month. Hay is important because it helps keep their digestive tracts moving.
– Green leafy vegetables such as green or red leaf lettuce, kale, cilantro, and spring greens are Lebron’s favorites. Here is a complete list of what a rabbit can eat and how much.
– Pellets make up less of a rabbit’s diet when they get older. Bunnies ages seven weeks to seven months should have unlimited pellets. After seven months of age, the number of pellets you feed should be cut down to half a cup per six pounds of the rabbit’s body weight. Lebron eats half a cup of pellets with his veggies for breakfast and then only eats vegetables for dinner. Seven-week to seven-month-old bunnies should eat alfalfa-based pellets. If your rabbit is older than seven months, he should be eating timothy-based pellets. There are many brands of pellets such as Oxbow, Kaytee, and Mazuri. Lebron prefers Mazuri Timothy Pellets. Check out this detailed article of a rabbit’s diet throughout its lifespan.
Treats should only be fed once or twice a week because of sugar intake. Lebrons favorites are a slice of apple, banana, carrot, a piece of watermelon, or blueberry.
Rabbit Litter, Toys and Extras
Litter – After trying several brands, Lebron prefers CareFresh Pet Bedding. It is soft, very absorbent and controls any odor that comes from his urine. I change Lebron’s litter box at least once a week, and his litter box doesn’t smell. A 6- liter bag of litter lasts about a month.
Toys – Rabbits enjoy chewing items, and if it tastes good to them they will want to continue. This is why your rabbit will need plenty of toys to keep them entertained. I provide Lebron with pieces of cardboard, empty toilet paper and paper towel rolls, wooden blocks, apple wood sticks, willow balls, and timothy hay mats. The cardboard makes for a more affordable option because your rabbit will chew through his toys rather quickly. There are lots of rabbit-friendly chewable options you can find at Petco, Petsmart, Chewy.com, and Amazon.com.
Extra items – Rabbits like to have a place to hide, such as under the bed or the couch. I used a large cardboard box and cut a hole on both ends for Lebron to relax in. Inside I put a fleece blanket for him to lay on and dig. Fleece is safe for rabbits in case they try to eat a piece of it. Lebron also enjoys playing in his retractable plastic tunnel.
A lot goes into taking care of your fur baby; they are very high maintenance. Even with all the work it takes, I found that adopting Lebron was one of the best decisions I have made. I hope that if you decide that adopting a rabbit is for you that you will feel the same as I do.