I remember walking into my now-wife’s apartment and being surprised to find her “Monkey” – an indoor pet rabbit. A little confused, I quickly fell in love with this “house” rabbit and her playful antics. As a house rabbit parent, here are some common questions about house rabbit care.
Why a rabbit?
Rabbits tend to be shy as they are prey animals by nature. They require a comfortable and safe setting in order to relax and play with things like baby keys or an empty role of cardboard. As with all pets, the best way of obtaining a pet rabbit is to adopt one (or more) from a shelter or rescue group.
But aren’t rabbits kept in hutches?
No, rabbits should not be kept in wire-bottom hutches outdoors. Hutches have a wire bottom cage which actually can hurt bunnies. Rabbits do not have padding on the bottom of their feet. Without padding, the wire bottom cage will cause sores to develop on a rabbit’s feet. Rabbits also do not tolerate extreme weather very well – particularly temperatures over 70 degrees F. Because of this bunny rescues do not adopt bunnies for outdoor living conditions.
How do you care for a “house” rabbit?
House” rabbits are bunnies that are spayed / neutered and litter trained. Rabbits are not kid’s toys and must be cared under the supervision of an adult. Most importantly, rabbits must be able to get exercise and be stimulated in order to become a friendly pet. Some of the basics:
Living space: Bunnies should have a cage or fenced in area large enough for them to move around easily, meeting these guidelines:
– The surface of the area should be flat and easily cleanable
– The cage / fence should be large enough for the bunny not to hop over it
– All electrical wires and loose carpet strands should be covered (rabbits will chew them)
Diet: A rabbit’s main dietary substance is Timothy Hay. Hay provides bunnies with all of their necessary vitamins and minerals. Pellets, lettuce, and other vegetables can be used to supplement to hay. As with all pets, water should be available at all times.
Litter Box: Litter training of rabbits may be easier than puppies. Most rabbits adopted from shelters or rescues are already litter trained and just need to have a place in their living space for a litter box. Wood pellets make a good litter absorbent and need to be changed periodically.
Following these guidelines will start any family in providing a loving home for their house rabbit. For more information, check out the House Rabbit Society and House Rabbit Network websites. For adoptable bunnies in your area, check out petfinder.org.