Rabbit Care Guide
Revised November 2021
House rabbits are intelligent, playful, easily litter-trained, and make wonderful companions. When you properly understand rabbit behavior, veterinary care and environment, your pet rabbit will provide years of love and companionship for you and your family. Being a bunny owner requires patience, innovation and a willingness to understand a rabbit’s wants and needs. For people ready to make this commitment to a house rabbit, the reward is years of companionship with these clever, loving, and intelligent creatures.
- Rabbits are categorized within the scientific order Lagomorpha (lag-o-morph-ah) which also contains hares and pikas (pike-ahs). Despite some similarities to rodents (order Rodentia), lagomorphs have some major differences that set them apart. For example, lagomorphs have four incisors in the upper jaw, while rodents have only two. Also, lagomorphs are strictly herbivores, unlike some rodents, many of which are omnivores that will eat both meat and vegetable matter.
- While they belong to the same scientific family, hares and rabbits are separate species. Among other differences, rabbits are born hairless and blind, and take weeks to develop, while hares are born with fur and are able to see upon birth. This is in-part due to rabbits having 22 chromosomes and hares having 24.
- Rabbits have distinct and different personalities based on their breeds, environment and interactions with humans and other animals. Regular interactions with your rabbit will help socialize them with humans and will help them feel more at-ease.
- It's a common misconception that rabbits are low-maintenance pets with a short lifespan. In reality, rabbits require specialized veterinary care and on average can live 8-12 years, and even up to 15 for larger breeds. They also require specific high-fiber dietary needs to help maintain their gut flow. Since rabbits are prey animals it's essential to understand their behaviors. Changes in behavior and eating/pooping habits tend to have a direct correlation to changes and issues with their health.
- Rabbits are not starter pets for children. Rabbits by nature are prey animals, which is why rabbits are fragile and nervous in uncertain situations. In the wild, rabbits typically associate being picked up to being carried off by a predator which is why it is recommended that they be handled as infrequently as possible. Rabbits feel most comfortable and safe on the ground so they can escape when they feel threatened. Handling a rabbit incorrectly or while it is in distress can lead to a rabbit falling and injuring itself.
Spay and Neutering
Did you know that rabbits are the third most abandoned animal behind cats and dogs? Due to natural breeding cycles of rabbits, it is easy for rabbits to become overpopulated. While most cats and dogs abandoned outside of a shelter can typically fend for themselves for an extended period of time, house rabbits are prey animals reliant on humans and their lifespan in the wild averages no more than 48 hours. Unlike cats and dogs who have ovulation cycles, rabbits have what is known as an “estrus (oestrus) cycle”. Rather than shed their endometrium, rabbits reabsorb theirs, making them highly fertile. The gestation period of a rabbit is approximately 30 days and can become pregnant within a few days of birth. This is why spaying/neutering rabbits are essential.
Rabbits mature anywhere between 3–6 months. During this time they can become territorial and aggressive. Aggressive behaviors during this time can include territorial spraying (from males), grunting, lunging and biting, while sexual behaviors include excessive mounting of anything available.
Most importantly—it is recommended that all female rabbits be spayed due to their extremely high probability of contracting uterine cancer. Studies have found that 50–80% of unspayed female rabbits develop mammary tumors by the age of five.
Most male rabbits can be neutered between the age of 3–6 months, while females need a little longer to mature (approximately 6 months) or until they hit the safe weight requirements over 3 lbs.
Every rabbit within our network is spayed/neutered, microchipped and vaccinated before becoming available for adoption to help ensure that our community is as healthy and safe as possible.
Questions to Ask Your Vet Before/After Surgery
Q: How many spay/neuters has the vet done?
A: Your veterinarian should be seeing rabbits on a regular basis and the clinic should regularly have an exotics team available.
Q: Should rabbits be fasted prior to surgery?
Absolutely not. While this is necessary for cats and dogs, malnourishment is fatal to rabbits and it is not required prior to any surgeries. If a vet tech advises this, please be aware they are inexperienced with rabbits and talk to your vet about this miscommunication.
Q: When spaying females are the ovaries AND uterus removed?
A: The answer should always be YES.
Q: Will the rabbit need to stay overnight after surgery?
Typically with a standard spay/neuter the rabbit will be allowed to go home the same day. However, if complications arise during surgery the vet may advise an overnight stay to ensure a safe recovery.
Pain management post surgery is an essential part of recovery. While some vets include the cost of medication in their surgery, others may require an additional payment for these treatments. Pain in rabbits can cause them to avoid eating and could result in gastro-intestinal issues that can lead to life-threatening GI status.
Meloxicam (Metacam) is the common medication prescribed to rabbits post surgery. Typically veterinarians will administer the drugs prior to discharge with additional dosage given by the owner for roughly 2-3 days.
Be sure to advise the technical staff about what to be aware of post-surgery. It's important to ensure their stitches remain intact and clean during the healing process.
It's important to monitor your rabbit's poop/excrement habits for the 24 hours following surgery. Be sure your rabbit is eating, pooping and peeing to ensure their gut is moving. It's encouraged to clean your rabbit's litter prior to their return from the vet to monitor their gut activity.
If your rabbit does not have gut movement in the next 16–20 hours after its return from the vet, contact them as soon as possible.
A rabbit's environment is an extremely important part of their lifestyle. It's where they feel most comfortable, safe and protected. While commercially it's common for pet stores and retailers to advertise cages for rabbits, Bunny Buddies highly discourages cages as these products tend to deceive unfamiliar pet owners that a cage is an acceptable amount of space for a rabbit. While some rabbit owners do use open cages as a "safe haven" for their bunnies, it's important to educate the general population that a cage IS NOT a sufficient amount of space for a rabbit.
It is very important to note that wild rabbits have largely adapted to the temperature of their natural environment. Domestic rabbits are very sensitive to high heat - temperatures above 77° degrees Fahrenheit can lead to heatstroke. Domestic rabbits should never live outdoors, and if playing outdoors should be closely supervised. A comfortable temperature for your rabbit typically corresponds to most home climates: between 55° and 77° degrees Fahrenheit.
When crafting a rabbit's habitat consider your own personal living space. Usually our bedroom is our sanctuary. We use it to sleep, relax and hide ourselves from the rest of the world. We then go out into our living area where we eat and handle our day-to-day activities. The same applies to rabbits. A hutch, cage, teepee or even cardboard box functions as a rabbit's room, a place where they can hide and feel safe. A rabbit's play area (typically made of x-pens) functions as their living space.
Bunny Buddies recommends a minimum area of 4 by 4 feet - or approximately 16 square feet - for a single rabbit. You should increase this space - if not double it - for each additional rabbit. If your home has hardwood floors a low-pile rug is a good option to help ensure that your rabbit has traction. Unlike dogs and cats, rabbits do not have paw pads and mobility on hardwood or tiles may be difficult. It's important to note that the bunny must be able to fully extend their bodies, both vertically and horizontally.
In the past rabbit owners that lack floor space have resorted to creating "condos", which are several organized grids secure together, built up to provide their rabbits additional space. While this option is viable—it's very important to note that this should only be used when floor space is limited.
Within your rabbit's habitat it's important that they have an infinite supply of water and hay. A tip-proof water bowl or dispenser is recommended. Water bottles are discouraged, as it causes extra work for the rabbit. Water bottles should only be used sparing, typically only when traveling long distances. Since hay is the staple of every rabbit's diet, it's important that it's easily and readily available for consumption. The most commonly used storage for hay is bag or bale, but other ordinary storages such as small cardboard boxes or trash bag holders (like the IKEA VARIERA model) also work very efficiently.
Another necessary item for your bun's dwelling is their litter boxes. Rabbits are typically clean, and can be fairly easily litterbox trained. While frequency depends on the number of the rabbits in the space (and their size), their litter should be changed regularly to reduce odor and monitor their poop. When housing a bonded pair, it’s generally best to have more than one litter box available for them. Paper-pulp (sometimes labeled as bedding) or recycled paper pellets are preferred for rabbits. Clay-based litters or wood-shavings, especially pine, should not be used; they can cause long-term damage to a rabbit’s sensitive digestive and respiratory tracts.
Along with a rabbit's necessities — enrichment toys are highly encouraged. (Since a majority of rabbit toys are chew toys you can read more about rabbit-safe toys in the dietary section.)
Rabbits can be fairly territorial so be respectful and cautious when in their space.
Rabbit-Proofing Your Home
Similarly to rodents, rabbit's teeth are "open-rooted" meaning they continuously grow throughout their lives. Because of this rabbits are known to be notorious chewers. Even with ample chew toys and hay it's extremely important that when rabbits are exploring the rest of your home during play time that your home is properly "rabbit-proofed."
One of the main household objects that tend to be subject to a rabbit's growing teeth are electrical cords. These can range from something as small as a phone charger, to something much larger like a power strip or appliance cord. It's extremely important that these cords be kept out of reach from rabbits. Not only is an electrical shock possibly fatal to your rabbit, it's no fun when your rabbit chews through your internet router right before the provider's office hours close. Cords can be hidden by bookcases and shelves, or 3M'ed to the side of dresser or entertainment center out of reach. Cord organizers can also be found at most electronic stores.
Always be sure to keep any remote controls or buttons up off the ground and out of rabbit reach. Bunnies tend to like the texture of rubber, but this can be extremely bad for their digestive tract.
It's also common for rabbits to dig at carpets, especially if they are high pile. This is extremely bad for their stomachs and can lead to intestinal blockage. If you find your rabbit enjoys a particular part of your rug or carpet, try placing a grass mat, cardboard boxes or additional chew toys as a diversion. Rabbits are also fond of baseboards. To discourage bunnies from chewing on baseboards you can wipe them with a ¼ vinegar and ¾ water solution. This concoction is rabbit safe and typically the flavor deters them from chewing.
Even after bunny proofing your home you may find your rabbit is still a bit rambunctious and mischievous. A safe deterrent for this is a spray bottle. When you find your rabbit chewing on a baseboard, furniture leg or something within reach typically an unpleasant spritz will associate this act as unpleasant.
Also consider any plants in your home. Review their toxicity to rabbits online and make sure that all plants are kept on high shelves not accessible to rabbits.
It's a fairly standard practice to litter-train house rabbits. It requires a little bit of time and patience but will definitely be worth the effort.
The first step is to ensure your rabbit is spayed/neutered. Unaltered rabbits are highly territorial and frequently spray large amounts of urine to mark their territory, especially adolescent males. Once altered, your rabbit's territorial mannerisms will decrease significantly. The time it takes for a rabbit to litter box trains varies from rabbit to rabbit.
The Setup and Training
When beginning the process of litter training, it's good to start with several litter boxes. Fill the boxes with the recommended paper-pulp or recycled paper pellets. Pine or cedar shavings are strictly discouraged as these shavings can cause respiratory and liver damage. Also note that cat litter should never be used for rabbits as ingestion can cause severe gut blockage.
Rabbits tend to urinate in one spot so it's best practice to place the litter box where the rabbit has already begun to urinate. Place additional litter boxes outside of their designated space to be used when they exercise and explore.
If you find your rabbit pooping/peeing in a different area be sure to move the litter box in that area to see if they will adjust. It's also recommended that you rotate the litter box and shake up (unofficial term: whooshing) its contents every day since rabbits tend to frequently use one corner of the box. If you find a rabbit pooping outside the litter box you can scoop up those poops with a dust pan and place them in the box so they can catch on.
To encourage them to use their litter box, place fresh hay in the litter box for them to munch on while they do their business. Unlike humans, rabbits like to poop where they eat.
Urination outside of the litter box while training is common. When this occurs Bunny Buddies recommends using basic white vinegar to clean the area along with a damp cloth. Never use harmful chemicals and cleaners on any of your rabbit's belongings. Additional information about harmful chemicals can be found on the House Rabbit Society website.
Safe Paper-Based Litters:
Some common paper-based litters are Yesterday's News, Nature Fresh, CareFresh, EcoFresh and Bio Flush. Do not use any wood-based litters that have the aromatic oils removed since these ingredients can cause respiratory issues. Alternatively shredded newspaper and crosscut paper (with no staples) can be used.
Paper-Based and Other Safe Litters
Some common paper-based litters are: Yesterday’s News, Nature Fresh, PaPurr, Cat Country, CareFresh, EcoFresh and Bio-Flush. Woody Pet and Feline Pine are wood based litters that have had the aromatic oils removed that otherwise would cause respiratory problems. If these are unavailable, you can use plain newspaper, crosscut shredded paper (no staples) and/or hay (this will need more frequent cleaning).
Litter Box 101
- Spaying/neuter your rabbit
- Start with multiple boxes; reduce the number as habits improve
- Try adding hay in the litter box to encourage time in the box
- Box locations should be placed where the rabbits tend to already defecate.
- The more spacious the box the more comfortable the rabbit will be.
- If your bunny tends to dig, place less litter in the box to avoid excess spillage. This may require more frequent changing but will reduce mess.
- Use recycled paper and pulp-based litters only.
- Do use wood-based, non-aromatic, dust-free litters or stove pellets.
General Dietary Care
A rabbit’s diet should consist of approximately 80% hay, 10% vegetables, 5% fortified pellets, with the additional 5% being daily treats. The staple of every rabbit's diet is hay. Young rabbits under the age of six months should be alfalfa hay since this type of hay contains large amounts of calcium and protein which is essential for growing babies. After six months the bunnies should be weaned off to standard hay. The most widely-accepted hay for adult rabbits is Western Timothy hay, which offers balanced nutrition and high fiber content for a healthy diet. Hay provides large quantities of fiber without unneeded calories and helps prevent intestinal problems such as trichobezoars (hairballs) and GI stasis.
Freshwater should always be available to your rabbit. Bunny Buddies recommends either a tip-proof ceramic dish or a gravity water dispenser. Be sure to change the water frequently and wash with mild dish detergent. Water bottles are not recommended for day-to-day use and only recommended when traveling for an extended time.
Pellets should be offered in limited amounts to rabbits over 6 months. Pellets should be a high quality with high fiber (18%), low fat (1-2%), low calcium and low protein. Pellets that contain nuts, seeds and dried vegetables are strongly discouraged. These ingredients are harder for rabbits to digest and often lead to GI stasis. Plain, high quality pellets such as Oxbow, Sherwood, or American Pet Diner brands are the best thing for your rabbit.
Vegetables should make up a decent amount of your rabbit's diet. Try to introduce a variety of vegetables into their rotation and feed at least 3 types per day. Leafy greens are standard in a rabbit's menu; these might include romaine or green leaf lettuce, red leaf lettuce, cilantro, basil, mint, parsley, dandelion greens and arugula. Tops of certain root vegetables are also acceptable, such as carrot, celery, and fennel. Kale, spinach and broccoli can be fed in very limited amounts but because they are gaseous foods we tend to only provide them on rare occasions. Introduce new vegetables gradually (and singularly). This way you can gauge if your rabbit has particular issues with the greens. If your rabbit has diarrhea or intestinal issues be sure to discontinue that vegetable. Be sure that your vegetables are washed thoroughly before feeding them to your rabbit. Additional information about safe fruits and vegetables can be found on the House Rabbit Society website.
Sweet treats are exactly that — treats — and should be fed sparingly. The House Rabbit Society recommends no more than 1 teaspoon per 2 pounds of rabbit each day. These treats can include fruits such as bananas, pears, apples (avoid seeds), raisins, or papaya. The same principle and measurements apply to grains such as rolled oats and barley.
Optional food supplements for your rabbit might include fresh papaya or papaya enzyme tablets (papayin). Probiotics like Acidophilus/lactobacillus may also be beneficial and are thought to help maintain a good balance of microorganisms in the intestinal tract.
Dietary Guidelines Summary
- Timothy hay (alfalfa hay for rabbits 6 months and under): Unlimited
- Timothy-based pellets: 1/8 cup per 4 lbs of rabbit's weight, can defer to packaging on bags
- Leafy greens: 1 cup per 2 lbs of rabbit's weight
- Occasional sweets: No more 1 one teaspoon per 2 lbs of rabbit’s weight
Bunnies love to play and require mental stimulation to keep active and healthy. Rabbits tend to chew, dig, push, jump and throw when active. Giving them dedicated toys can help prevent unwanted behaviors such as baseboard chewing, carpet digging and furniture destruction. Store-bought toys are always an option, but common household objects can provide just as much excitement:
- Toilet paper and paper towel tubes
- Cardboard boxes and tunnels
- Wicker or willow baskets or balls
- Clean paper shredding, packing paper
- Shelving to climb and explore
- Cardboard boxes, tunnels or doll beds
- Plastic balls
- Stacking cups
- Old towels
- Grass mats
- Plastic baby toys
Handling and Grooming
In nature, rabbits typically are only lifted off the ground when they are being poached and attacked by a predator. Though wild and domestic rabbits have different inclinations, this instinct runs through all rabbits, so it's important to understand your rabbit's point-of-view when handling them.
Bunnies have exceptionally delicate skeletal structure and can be injured very easily if improperly handled or dropped. Please note that a rabbit must never be picked up by their ears. They are not designed to support the weight of their body and picking them up like that can be terribly painful and cause damage to multiple parts of their body. The same principles apply to lifting a rabbit by its scruff. It is strictly prohibited.
The safest way to pick up a rabbit (for them and yourself) is to slide one hand under their chest and place the other hand firmly on their backside and scoop toward the body. Be sure to hold them with a firm grasp, but not tight. Some rabbits are a bit unruly and may attempt to escape. To calm the rabbit, place your free hand over their eyes. In the event that the rabbit is too turbulent be sure to lean/squat down and release the bunny at the lowest possible height gently to the floor.
Similar to cats, rabbits are self-groomers and typically maintain their hygiene well. However there are some things that will require an assistant to help your rabbit stay well-groomed and healthy.
Bunnies with long coats such as angoras, fuzzy lops and Jersey woolies need constant, daily brushing to keep them from matting and tangling. Once mats are formed it can take hours to remove. Regular brushing prevents these issues. A wire slicker brush commonly sold for cats can easily remove large amounts of loose hair and wool.
Short-haired rabbits will require brushing as well, just not as frequently. Rabbits shed seasonally with two of these periods including heavy molting. Ingesting loose hair can easily lead to dangerous hairballs. It's wise to brush your rabbits frequently to prevent these issues.
Rabbit's nails will also need to periodically clipped from growing too long. Overgrown nails can cause problems, such as sore hocks. Trimming a rabbit's nails can be a bit of a chore if you're going about it solo. This task can be more easily done by your vet but can be done by yourself with practice and technique. A common technique is wrapping the bun in a towel or "bunny burrito", and stick one paw out at a time. Many rabbits can be “tranced” by gently placing them on their backs in your lap and stroking the top of the head. Once the bunny is quiet and still, you may be able to clip their nails. Always be on alert when having to trace your rabbit. Be sure to have a firm grasp to be sure they aren't injured.
If your rabbit has light-colored toenails, you will be able to see a pink vein inside. This is known as the quick. If your rabbit has dark nails, you will need to backlight the nails with a flashlight to identify it. Using cat nail clippers is the best tool for trimming. A great resource for nail trimming advice is the Howcast video How To Trim Your Rabbit's Nails featuring Amy Sedaris. If by mistake you cut through the quick it will bleed. This can be stopped by dipping the nail styptic powder, corn starch, or regular flour to clot the bleeding. Keep an eye on the nail for a few days to be sure it does not become infected.
Rabbits are highly-social animals. Domestic rabbits are descended from European rabbits who live in large groups. Rabbits breed quickly and can often overrun areas, however— spayed and neutered domestic rabbits can enjoy each other's company without this concern. All rabbits adopted through Bunny Buddies are spayed/neutered, vaccinated and microchipped before becoming available for adoption. This service ensures that our alumni of rabbits do not overpopulate and can be identified if lost or abandoned.
Bonded rabbits are lifelong friends and often share living space, groom one another and relax together. Often when one rabbit falls ill the pair is left together to prevent separation anxiety and stress. Unless their illness is contagious do not separate your rabbits. When a pair dies the others may mourn the loss and may not eat or behave normally for some time. Be sure you monitor your grieving rabbit to ensure their health does not diminish.
Introducing a rabbit to another bunny to bond is a tricky situation, but once you have successfully bonded a pair it can be a rewarding achievement. The easiest pair of rabbits to introduce are a neutered male and spayed female, especially if the male is already established in the home. Female rabbits are more territorial and may resent any new rabbit of either gender. Two female rabbits can also be bonded but it may be a more difficult task depending on their demeanors. The most difficult pairs to bond are two male rabbits. It is not impossible but will require at least one very mellow male.
When bringing a rabbit into the home, be sure to quarantine the rabbit in a separate area of the house if they've been rescued from outside or an unknown location. Once the rabbit has been cleared for health (or is adopted through our amazing adoption program) you may begin the process of bonding. Introduce the buns in a neutral area of the house. The new area may make your rabbits slightly nervous and can bond your rabbits to explore the new surroundings together. It is also suggested to switch around their belongings to help them get adjusted to their smells. Litter boxes are always the best options for adjusting them to each other's smells. If introductions are positive after a few days you can expand their run time and designated living spaces. Once the rabbits have become accustomed to each other in their living spaces you can begin letting them interact full time.
During bonding, it's common for rabbits to fight or fuss (especially males) so it's important to be on alert for these spats and how to prevent them from turning into long-term grudges. If you find your rabbits fussing or circling, attempt to separate them with an object or yourself. Be prepared to receive a scratch or two. Some useful objects for separation can be a broom or a spray bottle to spritz the buns out of fighting. If you find the rabbits still fuss, reduce their space and keep their interactions short each day. Always attempt to leave their interactions on a positive note each time.
If bonding doesn't seem to be working after excessive effort you may have to keep the rabbits separate. When bringing home a rabbit always consider this issue or work with your adoption organization about a trial period to attempt the bonding process. Just like humans, rabbits can be very choosy with their mates and friendships. Some rabbits tend to only seek love and affection from their owners, while others can bond well to animals of other species such as guinea pigs, cats, and some calm and timid-natured dogs. Since dogs and cats are predatory animals it is important to supervise these animals in the beginning stages of bonding. Some cats have hunting tendencies and may attack smaller rabbits. It's important that you understand the demeanor of your other animals before attempting a friendship with your rabbit.
Additional rabbit bonding information can be found in the House Rabbit Handbook (Drollery Press, 2017) or consider joining a Facebook rabbit bonding group for peer assistance.
It's important that you become well-versed in the habits and mannerisms of your house rabbit. Knowing when your rabbit is acting abnormally can be a sign of distress and illness. If your rabbit is not eating, urinating, defecating or interested in their food you should consult a rabbit-savvy veterinarian as soon as possible. Due to the nature of rabbit's digestive tracts, not eating or defecating on a regular schedule can lead to GI stasis which can be fatal. While Bunny Buddies cannot provide medical advice we highly recommend scheduling an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible to diagnose any issues.
It's common for specific rabbit breeds to have issues related to their features. Netherland Dwarfs and other rabbit breeds with round-shaped heads often experience maloccluded teeth. This is a condition where rabbit's teeth do not line up properly and overgrown into "tusks". This can occur in both their front teeth or rear molars. Rabbits with this issue will need to have their teeth clipped or filed periodically. In severe cases they may require them to be extracted all together.
Another common issue with rabbits is sore hocks. Sore hocks is a condition in which the fur on the bottom of the feet is worn away. This exposes the skin and subjects it to cracking, ulcertations and infections. Sometimes this issue can occur when a rabbit is confined in a smaller space without a regular cleaning schedule. Be sure that if a rabbit develops sore hocks to have them in a soft, dry resting place at all times and change their litter boxes frequently.
Just like with most common pets; fleas, flies, mites and other pests may infest your rabbits if exposed outdoors or if they are brought in the home by you or other animals. If you notice any small specks and your rabbit starts to develop abnormally dry skin, contact your vet for the proper treatment.
Respiratory diseases are very common in rabbits. If you notice your bunny has a runny nose or eye, has excessive sneezing or coughing please consult your veterinarian about scheduling an exam to review the symptoms.
Keeping an eye out for symptoms early on can greatly benefit your house rabbit. Undiagnosed illness can lead to larger issues later on and could diminish the lifespan and quality of life for your rabbit. Remember to stay alert and understand your rabbit's habits and traits.
Other physical symptoms and signs to watch for are:
- Lack of urine or feces in the litter box
- Inactivity—hunched up and not sociable
- Tilted head, loss of balance or coordination
- Loss of consciousness/convulsions
- Loss of movement in hind legs
- Apparent broken bones
- Serious cut/injury
- Runny nose or eyes (respiratory concerns)
- Diarrhea, Mucousy or soft droppings in excess.
- Bulging Eyes coupled
- Loud grinding of the teeth
- Drooling (Possible maloccluded molars)
- Excessive gurgling digestive sounds
- Lack of interest in food or water
- Bloated or distended abdomen
- Open sores, abscesses, lumps, or tumors
Finding a Vet
Rabbits require specialized veterinarian care. Before adopting a rabbit it's important that you have a regular rabbit-savvy vet in mind for your bunny's health needs. If your rabbit develops and illness it's imperative that you have them checked right away. You can find a list of Houston-area rabbit vets here.
Having a rabbit in your home can be very fulfilling, however it's very important that you consider the way you bring a rabbit into your home.
Purchasing from a pet store or breeder perpetuates the issues that house rabbits face which include overbreeding, improper care and lack of space or an unhealthy environment. When bringing a rabbit home it's always best to adopt a rabbit from an educated shelter or rescue. Adopting from these facilities ensure your rabbit is well taken care of and proper education can be provided to the adopter.
Additional benefits of adopting (especially from Bunny Buddies) is that all rabbits through the organization have been spay/neutered, microchipped and vaccinated before they become available for adoption. Not only is this cost-effective to the adopter but it helps ensure overpopulation and medical issues that are associated with unaltered rabbits. Bunny Buddies can assist you in locating a Houston-area rabbit who would appreciate a second chance on life. See Bunny Buddies adoptable rabbits.
Finding/Surrendering A Rabbit
All too often, rabbits are abandoned in local parks due to ill-informed humans not understanding the needs of a rabbit before purchasing or adopting one.The lack of education about rabbits misinforms individuals that house rabbits can survive in the wild due to their “natural instincts' '. However, over the course of 500+ years of breeding, house rabbits have adapted to being reliant on humans, so the narrative of “survival instincts” is far from accurate. If you find yourself rescuing a rabbit from abandonment here are some steps to help you through the process.
- Bring the rabbit inside and provide it a comfortable amount of space to move around and relax, keeping it away from other animals in the household.
- Provide your rabbit with a litter box and all the proper dietary necessities as well as much enrichment and socialization as possible.
- Contact your local shelters to check the availability they have in their shelters and if they have the capability to take in rabbits.
- If the shelters are unavailable, contact Bunny Buddies to check the availability of their foster network. If a foster is unavailable consider the foster-in-place program. With this program you become a temporary foster until a more permanent foster opens up. During this time Bunny Buddies will assist with medical care, scheduling appointments and adoption. As a foster-in-place Bunny Buddies maintains ownership and approvals for its adoption process. You will foster the rabbit either until a more permanent foster becomes available or the rabbit is adopted out.
It’s not uncommon for individuals to realize that a rabbit will not work in their home or current professional and personal life. Bunny Buddies heavily advises that you take all aspects of your living situation into account when planning to bring a rabbit into your home to avoid the risk of having to return or surrender a rabbit. In these instances the same steps, as above, will apply. If a rabbit is already spayed/neutered and evaluated for good health it will be a much faster process to prepare the rabbit for adoption.
- The House Rabbit Society • www.rabbit.org
- House Rabbit Handbook (Fifth Edition) by Marinell Harriman. 2017
- A House Rabbit Primer by Lucile Moore. 2005, Santa Monica Press.
- Rabbit Health in the 21st Century by Kathryn R. Smith.
- Why Does My Rabbit…? by Anne McBride.