A Chapter Of The House Rabbit Society
CARE AND FEEDING
Alabama Rabbit Rescue follows the guidelines of the House Rabbit Society. The Society's website is a very comprehensive resource: rabbit.org.
An exercise pen is perfect for housing your rabbit. A 30 inch tall pen works well for most rabbits and it can be shaped as a 48 inch square, a rectangle, or a circle. It provides enough space for the rabbit when it is not out for exercise time. A water and food crock, litter box, and a hidey box should all fit inside with room leaving room to hop and explore - typically about 16 -20 square feet per rabbit.
Hay: unlimited, fresh, high-quality hay is critically important for your rabbit's health. In fact, should make up about 80% of its daily diet. Young rabbits up to six months of age need a mixture of alfalfa and timothy hay and after six months of age, timothy hay or orchard grass. There are different grades of hay (first, second and third cuttings). High-quality second cut timothy is usually best since it gives enough roughage for teeth and gut while not being too soft or too hard.
Pellets: high-quality, alfalfa-based pellets are important young rabbits up to 6 months. After that, you can transition your bunny to timothy-based pellets but, try to limit pellets to about 1 tablespoon per pound per day as a treat (and not as a meal). Rabbits love to eat and too many pellets will result in a fat and unhealth rabbit. We also suggest using a heavy small crock or bowl for the pellets.
Water: because rabbits depend on hay, they need a daily supply of fresh, clean water. Keep in mind that bunnies love to flip their bowls. So use a heavy, low crock that can't be flipped easily.
Salads: rabbits enjoy a daily salad with parsley, cilantro, lettuces like Romain (no Iceberg lettuce because its too high in water content), kale, and other leafy veggies. You can find the list of safe veggies on rabbit.org. Please note that carrots and iceberg lettuce are not typical rabbit foods! So try to avoid them.
Fruits/treats: bunnies have a sweet tooth and really enjoy an occasional treat. Berries, like blueberries and strawberries, or apples are great in very limited amounts (about teaspoon per 2 lbs of body weight) in a day. Please avoid sugary fruits like bananas, dried fruits with sugar added or give only in very limited amounts once a week - if at all.
Foods to avoid: there are many rabbit treats on the market that contain foods that are most definitely not good for rabbits. You can find a list of these foods here: https://www.oxbowanimalhealth.com/blog/foods-rabbits-should-never-eat/. So, before you buy, read the label carefully and if the treat contains any of these foods (like yogurt, grains - including corn, and seeds), leave it on the shelf.
Rabbits are easy to litter box train once spayed or neutered! The litter box should be large enough for the rabbit to sit comfortably and munch on hay while going to the potty. Most rabbits like their litter boxes in a corner and they will let you know where they like it best - typically by pooping or urinating in their favorite spots! We use newspaper to line the bottom of a litter box, put a layer of Care Fresh or pelleted pine bedding (available at Tractor Supply, Chewy or Oxbow) and then add a layer of hay on top. Please do not use cat litter since rabbits like to eat litter and it can damage their digestive systems. Rabbits do not like a dirty litter box, so it should be changed at least twice a week.
Toys and Hidey Boxes
Just about every bunny loves a good hidey box to “remodel” and jump on. A cardboard box is perfect and it needs two openings. (Rabbits are prey animals and will rarely use a box with only one opening.) Don't be surprise to find your bunny munching on the cardboard. It's a favorite treat! Rabbits’ teeth constantly grow, so provide wood toys and untreated apple or willow tree twigs for them to chew. This also helps to eliminate the destruction of baseboards and facings! And, don't be surprised when you bunny rearranges his or her "apartment" to it's own liking. They like what they like!
Because rabbits are prey animals, they are experts at hiding illness. The important thing is to know your rabbit and quickly pick up on any unusual behavior. Bunnies are such creatures of habit, so it is easy to see when they are not acting as they normally do. Gas pain can cause your rabbit to stop eating and sit in an uncomfortable position. Molar spurs are also a cause of pain and can cause a rabbit to stop or change their eating habits. The rabbit should be seen immediately by a veterinarian if it is not eating. A rabbit can spiral down quickly so it is important to act quickly and immediately to a vet if it stops eating. For more information on rabbit health, go to Rabbit.org. Click here to see our list of recommended vets in Alabama, click.