Rabbits can make a delightful companion. Rabbits purr when they are content. Rabbits prefer to sit next to you rather than be held. Of course, there will be exceptions to this generalization. Rabbits can be litter box trained. Rabbits are inquisitive, enjoy interaction with you, and enjoy playing with toys. Plan to spend plenty of time playing with your rabbit, at their level, on the floor.
I raised blue satins long ago. I enjoyed showing them in different rabbit shows. They were affectionate but in a different sort of way than cats and many other animals. They are smarter than many people give them credit. I found them to be truly amazing little animals. Nothing much beats the feeling of a wiggly nose in the neckshoulder. This is a body part you develop only when you have had a baby or when you have a pet rabbit.
Rabbits live to be 7 to 10 years of age. Rabbits are crepuscular, meaning they are active at dawn and twilight and sleep during the day and at night. The oldest rabbit on record was 19.
rabbit pictures and pictures of rabbits.
Purchasing your Rabbit
Rabbits are often given as curiosity pets or bought on impulse. Many pet rabbits are given to shelters and because of over population are put to death. Many “Easter” exotic pet rabbits that are given as gifts often end up at the local shelter. Consider adopting a rabbit from the local animal shelter. Adult rabbits are often easier to train than young bunnies. Other places where a rabbit can be purchased are from the local pet store, the local feed store, or even the local 4-H club.
Purchasing a Healthy Rabbit
Make sure the rabbit has bright shiny fur. The rabbit’s fur will reflect the health of the rabbit. Check the ears to makes sure they are not dirty. Usually a residue in the ears is a sign of ear mites. Look in the nose and around the nose for matted fur and discharge. Check the rabbit’s teeth. The teeth should be clean and even. There is a genetic condition in rabbits called malocclusion where the teeth do not grow properly. If a tooth is only broken, do not be overly concerned because a rabbit’s teeth grow continuously.
A rabbit cages should be good sized, the bigger the better! A rabbit cage should have room for the rabbit’s food dishes, litter box, toys, and plenty of room for exercise. Rabbits should have freedom to run in at least a small area of your house. Leave his or her cage open so he can come and go as he pleases.
A cage should be the rabbit’s special place. A rabbit will mark their cage with a few pellets to mark their territory. This is not a breakdown in rabbit litter training. Respect his territory. Clean his cage while he is out of the cage. Allow him to enter and exit on his own free will. Gently guide him into the cage. Do not grab him to take him out of his cage.
Cages with only wire floors are not good for rabbits. Rabbits do not have pads on their feet and the wire floor will injure their feet. If you do have a cage with a wire floor provide a board for him to sit on. Keep the cage floor clean and dry. Keep the board clean and dry. Rabbits love the rabbit condominiums. These cages have two levels; the floors are connected with a ramp.
Allowing Free Run of the House
Rabbits can have free run of the house once they are trained. The house must be rabbit proofed. If the house is not completely safe, the rabbit should have constant supervision the entire time he is out of his cage. The rabbit should be introduced to free run of the house gradually. Once he is litter boxed trained, more area can be added.
Toys and Teeth
Rabbits need toys for mental stimulation and physical exercise. Rabbits love and need toys to chew on. Rabbits must have a means to keep their constantly growing teeth worn down. Specifically, the four front teeth top and bottom. Purchase rabbit chew toys to lend an assist. Chewing hay and such also helps keep the teeth worn down. You will find rabbit supplies toward the bottom of the article.
Rabbit toys should be safe. Rabbits can ingest plastic. Cardboard boxes are great to climb into, play, and chew. Old telephone books are fun to play with and shred. Parrot toys make equally good rabbit toys. Rabbits love baby toys like sturdy plastic keys. Cat cubbies and condominiums with ramps and lookouts are great for rabbits. Save the large tops off laundry detergent and laundry softener bottles. Wash these tops well. The tops are wonderful to hold on to and haul around. Rolling large balls is fun. Rotate the toys often to keep the rabbit’s interest.
The primary diet of the rabbit usually is commercial rabbit pellets. I would recommend limiting or avoiding these pellets. Pellets were developed for the rabbit industry, basically with fast growth and weight gain in mind. The pet rabbit, which should be spayed or neutered, will gain too much weight on pellets. Provide the rabbit with fresh water daily.
Offer your rabbit fresh vegetables. Those that are especially healthy are dark leafy vegetables and root vegetables. Make sure there are a variety of vegetables offered each day for nutritional balance. Rabbits (almost always (love carrots but also the tops of carrots. Parsley is a goldmine of nutrition. Some leafy vegetables have oxalates such as parsley, spinach, and Swiss chard and should be given in moderation. Iceberg lettuce has no nutritional value.
The rabbit must have roughage/fiber for good health. Offer the rabbit Timothy Hay. Hay will eliminate hairballs and other blockages and aids the natural digestive process of rabbits. Timothy Hay reduces the likelihood of urinary tract problems. Small amount of alfalfa hay can be offered. Unlimited amounts of timothy hay, oat hay and grass hay should be available throughout the day. Rabbits need access to food 24/7. Remove the soiled hay daily. Rabbits do not need any animal protein nor is it good for them.
Litter training is easy. Simply place the box in the corner that the rabbit has chosen. It takes time and patience. In the early stages of training place several boxes around the area the rabbit occupies. As the rabbit catches on remove the boxes one by one, so only a few remain. Rabbits learn much easier as they get older. Be patient with the youngun; he will get it when he is ready!
Be careful what type of litter you use. Rabbits are different from cats in that they tend to ingest some of the litter. Clay litter is dusty and can cause pneumonia. Clumping litter is ingested and clumps in the digestive track. Corncob litter can also be ingested and can cause a lethal blockage. Paper pulp litters work good. Litters made from aspen bark works well. Citrus-based litters work great but are hard to find and can be expensive. Straw can be a safe, inexpensive litter but needs to be changed often.
Rabbit manure is an excellent fertilizer so choose a litter than can be composted. Since rabbit pellets can be used straight on the garden without worries of burning the plants, the litter can be mulched right into the garden.
Accidents outside of the litter box should be cleaned with vinegar to eliminate the odor so the rabbit does not return to eliminate again. If the rabbit urinates over the edge of the litter box, try a covered litter box. The covered litter box also works when the rabbit kicks litter outside of the litter box.
One thing that turns people off on exotic mammals as pets is the odor of their waste. This is a safe and a solution that works. Great odor control for small mammals Marshall Bi-Odor Internal Waste & Urine Deodorizer (8 fl. oz.) Bi-Odor Waste & Urine Deodorizer for Rabbits, Guinea Pigs, and Small Animals.100% natural supplement deodorizes your pet's stool, urine, and body odors. Just add to your pet's food or water daily.Recommended by top breeders and veterinarians. Available in most any pet supply.
Spaying and neutering
Pet rabbits should be spayed and neutered. Altered pets are healthier and make better companions. The act of sex stimulates ovulation in the female rabbit. Many rabbits are put to death in animal shelters – be responsible and spay or neuter. You won’t have a hormone induced emotional rabbit if you do spay or neuter. Rabbits are social animals but cannot be with a member of the same sex unless they are altered. Rabbits, unless altered can become quite aggressive, because of hormones.
Female rabbits should be spayed at 6 months of age. Males should be neutered at 5 months of age. The surgery is safe but makes sure a veterinarian with experience in operating on rabbits does the surgery. The female should have both her ovaries and uterus removed. Removing the testicles through the scrotum is a safer surgery in males rather than entering through the abdomen. I have seen a few vets recommend this approach and the only thing I can think of, is longer surgeries equal more money. Please correct me if there is good reason for this approach to neutering.
Please consider purchasing a rabbit from a local animal shelter. You will have saved a life. Above all, enjoy your pet rabbit.
>The Rabbit Handbook (Barron's Pet Handbooks
My book Ferrets: A Complete Guide available in paperback, Kindle, and PDF. You can also find it at Barnes and Noble. Request to order at any bookstore. FERRETS: A Complete Guide
Kindle Version of Ferrets: A Complete Guide Find the Kindle version in the little box on the same link.
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