Rabbits need to be housed indoors only. They are members of your family and rely on you for social interaction, care and love. Rabbits housed outdoors are susceptible to diseases, predator attacks and environmental concerns. Besides, they cannot receive the needed emotional and physical support they require housed outside. Outside bunnies are terribly lonely when they are not with their family (that's you!). They may become isolated and depressed. Rabbits are highly social animals. They need you! Did you know the rabbit housed indoors lives twice as long as the outdoor rabbit? Rabbits who are cared for properly can live 10 years or more.
Indoor Housing space needs to be at least six times the size of the adult rabbit. An 8 panel x pen is the ideal basic set up for an indoor rabbit. This pen can be set up in many configurations. You will need to allow the rabbit room to live and to move about freely. Rabbits can sleep in a Marchioro or use the Marchioro as a retreat room; however they truly require space to exercise. Rabbits need plenty of playtimes each day in an open area.
Rabbits cannot be housed in a cage with a wire bottom. This will damage their feet and cause pain and injury. Consider creating a special Neat Idea Cube (NIC) housing unit (condo), which is a vertical housing. You will cover the cube bottoms. Or you can purchase a large condo cage that is appropriate for your rabbit. We use x pens and also allow the rabbit to run in the house for exercise. Make sure to bunny proof your home so bunny is safe. Cover cords and remove items that bunny may disturb or pull on. It is much the same as toddler proofing your home. There are many creative ways to house your rabbit indoors with you.
Rabbit housing includes a litter box, as rabbits can be box trained. Use a plant or paper-based litter, like Critter Country or Yesterday's News. You will need just a few cups of litter with added hay on top and your bunny will be happy to use that bathroom. Never use a clumping litter or clay based litter. Other items you will need will be a crockery food and water bowl that is appropriate to your rabbit's size. You want the bowl to be stable so that it will not tip over and spill food or water onto their floor. We use plastic or wicker plates for veggies at The Haven. Hay must be available at all times. Use a no-waste hayrack or wicker baskets or other hay containers.
Provide a variety of fun toys! Rabbits love toys. Wicker toys, hard plastic toys, hard wooden toys, Cotton Tail Cottages, ramps and play tunnels, bunny fun runs or wicker tents. They have active minds and require play time and a variety of toys for positive stimulation. They love to adventure and to dig, so give them a healthy outlet for their normal behavior.
Hay is the most important part of the rabbit's diet. We recommend that you feed free choice hays such as timothy, brome and orchard grass; or in very young bunnies, alfalfa hay. In addition, high fiber, high quality pellets may be offered in limited quantities. In addition the rabbit needs 1-2 cups of fresh, dark leafy greens daily. Avoid treat foods, high sugar carrots, apples or other fruits. Do not feed so-called gourmet pellets. Rabbits cannot digest those materials and they can cause medical problems. Offer your rabbit high quality food for optimal health.
Rabbits need to have an experienced rabbit veterinarian. When you first obtain your rabbit, they will need to see a vet for a well bunny check. After this, the rabbit will see a vet as needed for medical care. When a rabbit is 5 and over, they need to see a vet annually. Learn to spot signs of illness. Common health issues include: fleas, ear mites, intestinal parasites, ear infections, tooth problems, urinary tract infections, upper respiratory infections, GI slowdown "stasis". A rabbit vet will need to be consulted for these medical concerns. A few signs of emergency illness include: lack of eating or normal elimination (even over a 5 hours period), diarrhea, limpness, not eating during normal eating times, labored breathing/difficulty in breathing, excessive water consumption, bleeding from the mouth (or body), open wound, cold temperature (combined with lethargy). In addition, watch for head tilt, balance issues or the inability to hop normally. Specialized vet care is essential when you have a rabbit. Learn where your nearest rabbit vet is located and make sure you locate your nearest emergency vet, as well. Ask your Rabbit Haven representative for a vet list. Be prepared. You can save your rabbit's life by your quick action when illness or injury occurs. Note: Rabbits do not need vaccinations.
Grooming for optimal health:
Brushing your rabbit's fur is a good experience for you and your rabbit. It is a great time to bond with your rabbit. Keep you rabbit's fur groomed, brush regularly to prevent ingestion of excess fur which may lead to serious illness. Ask us about special grooming tools. Nail trims are needed to prevent nail tears and injury to the nail areas and paws. Rabbit Haven offers free nail trims at every adoption show, three times each month.
Rabbit Home Health checkups:
Ask our staff for a Home Health Check handout sheet and ask that they go over it this with you. Pointers in this handout will help you to catch any signs of illness quickly so that you can assist your rabbit. Rabbit Haven staff will show you how to monitor your rabbit's physical condition on an ongoing basis.
We hope that you will enjoy your new rabbit friend and that you will learn what your rabbit is trying to tell you. If you watch your rabbits, you will quickly learn so much about them. We hope that you will take the time to realize the many wonders of the rabbit. To learn more go to this fun web site: www.language.rabbitspeak.com