Pet Rabbit Care
Pet rabbit care: Rabbits make great pets. They are quiet and can be house-trained. Proper care and feeding are important but not difficult.
Rabbits in the wild live in large groups and usually only range as far as one or two acres. They explore and get to know their territory very well. They need to know this because rabbits are prey for other animals, and their only defense is their speed in running away. Rabbits are also territorial animals; they take ownership of their turf and they know it well.
A house rabbit needs its own place in your home. By nature, as prey, rabbits need a place that is theirs where they can feel safe from harm. Some people keep a large cage that’s open so that their pet can come and go as it pleases.
Cedar shavings should never be used, as they are harmful to rabbits. Rabbits can be easily housetrained to go in a specific area. They will use a litterbox or two if provided. They don’t go in the box just because it’s there, so it’s up to the owner to put the litterbox where the rabbit likes to go. Newspapers are good as litter. It helps to have a light portable vacuum like a Dustbuster to pick up the odd stray poop pellet.
Your home needs to be rabbit proofed unless you want to supervise it all day. Rabbits will chew on wood and wires if not discouraged. Rabbits are from the rodent family; so, as their teeth grow, they need to gnaw on wood to wear down their teeth a bit. Keep houseplants away from them. Rabbits are vegetarians and will love chewing on your plants.
Although rabbits are vegetarians, they tend to eat anything they like (crackers, for example). Rabbits eat constantly and need a lot of fiber. Good hay is important. Don’t buy inferior quality stuff; your rabbit won’t eat it.
Rabbits love carrot tops, spinach, broccoli, and other green vegetables. They’ll eat all the lettuce you can give them, but it’s important not to rely too heavily on lettuce as it has little nutritional value. Some enjoy fruit, but be very careful with anything new in the diet. Rabbits' small digestive systems can’t handle a lot of change, and rabbits will get diarrhea from a large serving of fruit like plums or peaches. Lots of fresh water is essential for a rabbit’s health. Rabbits need access to fresh water all day.
With a good variety of fresh food; fresh water; and a clean, cool environment, rabbits should live for seven to ten years. They don’t get colds or viral infections, but they can get bacterial infections. When your rabbit appears ill, it’s important to see an exotic animal veterinarian. Regular vets don’t have the training to know your rabbit very well.
Part of the rabbit’s defense mechanism is its eyes. Rabbits are capable of seeing in every direction to spy possible predators or other threats. The ears are sensitive, too. When at attention, rabbits' ears will stand up; when relaxed, their ears will lie down along their backs. Never pick up a rabbit by the ears; instead, do it by placing one hand under the chest between the front feet and the other under the rump. The nose should never be touched either.