Rabbits have subtle personalities and are intelligent and have a highly developed social order. If their personalities are not stunted by boredom or abuse, they commonly display affection, anger, jealousy, delight, annoyance, fear, submissiveness, grief, dominance, contentment, mischievousness, curiosity, sadness, and joy. Pairs will affectionately snuggle and groom each other. They commonly enjoy playing with toys, especially those that can be chewed, tossed, pushed, or hidden under.
They don’t fetch like dogs or play like cats but they play too in their own way. You have to remember that they are prey animals, not predators. So much of the ways you play with your dog or cat would not how you would play with your rabbit so you must keep this in mind when interacting with your rabbit. For example, Picking up a rabbit can frighten them because it’s much like how a predator would attack them and they will scratch and struggle in fear. Better yet, to let your bunny approach you on her own terms to gain her trust. Loud noises and fast motions will frighten a bunny, a quiet household with gentle people are the best.
SPAY AND NEUTER
All pets should be spayed and neutered and rabbits are no exception. Even if your bunny is never around other rabbits you will have a happier, friendlier, cleaner, healthier bunny if they are spayed and neutered. But not all veterinarians know rabbit anatomy and you’ll have to seek out one that specializes in “exotics”. See Rabbit Resources for a list of local rabbit vets.
A PLACE OF THEIR OWN
Rabbits feel most comfortable when they have a place to call their own. A rabbit needs a large area or extra large cage where you can put their litter box, food, water and toys. It must be big enough for them to be able to hop around, stand up on their hind legs and stretch out for a nap. A good idea is to section off a corner of a room with a wire dog corral SEE PHOTO . You can cover the floor with an old sheet and give your bunny a cardboard box with doors and windows cut out of it to hide under. Place a litter box in a corner and add some toys and your bunny will feel right at home. A rabbit needs a place to retreat to where he can feel safe. You should always have something your rabbit can get underneath. This gives them a feeling of security and place to hide. A place to keep your bunny when you are not at home is a must, as rabbits can get into trouble and cause damage to your home if left unattended. Let your bunny have his space for his own well-being, and you'll be rewarded with a well-adjusted, happy rabbit.
RABBITS NEED ATTENTION AND EXERCISE
A lone bunny in a hutch is a very sad and bored. They need interaction with other living beings. A constantly caged rabbit becomes withdrawn and aggressive, resulting in symptoms such as lethargy, unresponsiveness, obesity, or neurotic behaviors. Within a few years, most rabbits confined in such a setting become ill and die. That’s not a normal life span. With proper care, domestic rabbits can live 8-12 years or longer.
They get along well with cats and well behaved dogs, and crave a caring relationship with people. Out of cage time is very important for rabbits, they need time and space to hop around explore , satisfy their curiosity and have enjoyable lives. You must supervise them in a “bunny proof” room to keep them from getting into things like house plants and electrical cords. They are fun to watch and often you’ll be doubly rewarded with their very amusing antics and “happy dances”. They love to chew apart a cardboard box, paper towel tube, or throw around unbreakable plastic or wooden toys. Plastic baby keys, pine cones, an old towel to push around an dig on all make good toys.
FRESH FOOD AND CLEAN WATER
Rabbits love carrots, and romaine lettuce, cilantro, parsley, kale, dandelion leaves and flowers, bok choy and more! Refer to rabbit.org or the house rabbit handbook for a complete list. They need fresh food daily for healthy nutrition. Just remember NOT TO FEED THEM ICEBERG LETTUCE OR CABBAGE as it can give them diarrhea. A crock bowl is best for daily water. It’s easy to clean and a crock bowl can’t be easily tipped over. A rabbits teeth grow all their lives and need access to hay and things to chew, like sticks and wood to keep their teeth in good shape —WARNING a rabbit Will chew your baseboard and electric wires. Prevent this by ”Bunny Proofing’ the areas bunny will be hopping.
An unlimited supply of fresh hay is the single most important part of a healthful rabbit diet. Fresh grass hay needs to be provided in unlimited amounts to your bunny everyday. Feed orchard or meadow grass, rye grass, timothy hay, bermuda grass or oat hay for best results. Avoid alfalfa because it’s too rich and does not contain enough fiber to produce the desired large, light-colored droppings that indicate optimum digestive health. In fact your rabbit can live a healthy life on hay and fresh veggies alone.
In fact rabbit pellet food can cause obesity and health problems in rabbits and hay is the best and healthiest thing to feed your rabbits. Rabbit pellets were formulated by rabbit breeders as an efficient, economical, and easy-to-use method to promote rapid growth and weight gain in rabbits raised for meat or fur - rabbits not meant to live very long. This is not the goal we want for our companion house rabbits, who are expected to live out their full life potential of 8-10 years. The House Rabbit Society recommends a diet of unlimited fresh grass or Timothy hay, a variety of vegetables, and limited pellets (depending on your rabbits age and other factors).
If you are supplementing a hay diet with pellets, avoid packaged pellets that contain dried bananas, nuts and seeds. These products are too high in sugar and carbohydrates, and can cause obesity, diarrhea and other serious digestive upsets. Limit your rabbit to plain, fresh-looking, dark green rabbit pellets, giving approximately 1/4 cup per 5 lbs. of ideal body weight per day. Buy pellets with a fiber content of no less than 18% and only in a quantity that you will use within one month. Store pellets in air-tight containers and keep away from moisture. Discard pellets that are old, moist, or bug-infested.
There is a healthier alternative to alfalfa pellets: Timothy Pellets. They are available through a couple different sources, including Oxbow Hay Company's Bunny Basics/T (for "Timothy"). House Rabbit Societies recommend Oxbow Hay Company and that is what I buy for my bunnies.
If you decide to switch to timothy-based pellets remember to make the change gradually. Mix a few Timothy in with your current pellets, increasing the percentage of Timothy pellets over a period of several days until that is all you give.
For easier rabbit clean up nothing beats using a litter box, and rabbits love them too! They will naturally use a litter box if you place it in the corner they usually go. You will see them hop in to use a corner of the box and munch on some hay while their at it. All you need is a regular cat litter box, put a layer or organic mulch pellets or pellet stove pellets on the bottom and top it off with a couple of handfuls of grass or timothy hay. But remember DO NOT USE KITTY LITTER it can make a rabbit sick if they happen to eat it. Top off the litter box with a handful of fresh hay every day and change the whole box as needed or every 2 or 3 days.
The House Rabbit Hand Book and rabbit.org are excellent sources for rabbit info. Please refer to these resources often.