Keeping Rabbits as Pets: Everything You Need to Know
Rabbits are some of the most popular and interesting rodents in the world. These little animals make great first pets for children, and will teach them about respect for animals, and what it truly means to own a pet. While rabbits don’t need constant attention like other animals, they do require a great deal of time and care, as well as plenty of space for them to run around. In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about keeping rabbits.
Rabbits are playful, energetic, and sweet-natured creatures. Though many people don’t realize it, they are actually fairly easy to tame and handle. However, they do require a high standard of care, especially in regards to their hygiene, diet and exercise.
Why choose a rabbit?
While cats and dogs continue to be the most popular pets, those looking for a loyal companion don’t need to limit themselves to our canine and feline friends. There is an infinite variety of fun and exotic pets out there, each of which will fill your home with joy.
Keeping rabbits as pets: advantages
Sweet-natured and playful
These little animals are much more than just long ears and twitching noses. They’re full of character, always ready to run, jump, explore and discover new things. Their sweet, playful nature makes them great pets for kids who want to learn about the responsibilities of owning a pet.
Contrary to what you might think, rabbits can develop great relationships with their owners. They like spending quality time with their humans, constantly asking for cuddles and treats.
Easy to train
Rabbits are very intelligent animals and fairly easy to train. With a little time and patience, you can teach them tricks, just like with a cat or dog. They’ll even come when they’re called and follow you around the house.
Many domestic rabbits learn to use a litter tray, can memorize and perform tricks on command and much more!
There’s a huge variety of breeds to choose from
When we talk about domestic rabbits, you probably immediately think of those little white bunnies with pink eyes. However, there are actually many different breeds of rabbit, each with a different character and appearance.
Before you decide to adopt a rabbit, take the time to do some research into the different breeds so you can find the one that best suits you and your lifestyle.
How to take care of a pet rabbit
As we’ve already mentioned, rabbits need a great deal of time and care on a daily basis to keep them happy and healthy. In this section, we’ll discuss some of the most important things you have to do to care for your pet rabbit.
Space and time
While they still need plenty of room, rabbits generally need far less space than a cat or dog. Every rabbit needs a large hutch and pen (preferably outdoors), where they can run around and play. You can also let them explore your house (as long as you keep a close eye on them, that is!)
Rabbits must always live in pairs or small groups, and should never be kept alone. While they are fairly independent animals and don’t need constant attention from their owners, it’s important to make sure they are well-handled, and to check up on them several times a day to ensure they’re in good health.
Keeping rabbits: choosing and setting up your hutch
Rabbits spend large amounts of time in their hutch, so it’s important to choose the right one and make sure it has everything they need. Like with all animals, proper housing is essential for health and well-being.
Your choice of hutch will largely depend on how big your rabbits are. Even if they have an additional outdoor pen, your rabbits should have enough space in their hutch to ensure they can move around comfortably. As a general rule, outdoor rabbits should have 24-hour access to a minimum of 60 sq feet of space (hutch and pen combined), while indoor rabbits will need a minimum of around 12 square feet of space.
Needless to say, your rabbits’ hutch should also include a sleeping area or bed, as well as food and water bowls.
Rabbits are extremely clean animals, so it’s important to keep their hutch in good condition. Litter trays should be cleaned on a daily basis, while the hutch should be properly cleaned at least once a week.
A balanced diet
Rabbits require a balanced and varied diet comprised of seeds, fruit, veg and feed. They should always have free access to plenty of hay or grass, which are essential for healthy teeth and guts.
Hay is an ideal source of fiber and protein, but you can also enrich their diet with fruit and veg. The following lists will give you a good idea of what you can and can’t feed your pet rabbit:
- Do feed your rabbits: apple, pear, strawberry, cherry, peach, kiwi, pumpkin, carrot, broccoli, pak choi and kale.
- Avoid: Avocado, fruit pips, chocolate and junk food.
Keeping rabbits: dental care
Feeding your rabbit a healthy, balanced diet is the best way to prevent dental issues. You can also find a number of natural chews on the market, which will help keep teeth healthy. If you’re ever in any doubt, consult with a vet for further advice and information.