With long ears, a twitchy nose, and a puff ball tail, rabbits have long been a popular pet. Caring for your pet rabbit can be time consuming, but, if done right, it will give you the affections of a beloved member of your family.
Choosing the right hutch: indoors or outdoors
In the past, rabbits were largely kept outdoors. Provided with a sturdy hutch, they can be kept safe and clean outdoors. They can also be given an enclosed area of grass for a run.
However, many now prefer to keep their rabbits indoors. Inside, they can be kept in a hutch or allowed to roam free as house rabbits. In either case, they should be given plenty of time to exercise.
Exercise for your rabbit
A rabbit’s main exercise will be running, or hopping around. The larger the area, the more they will be able to do, but any exercise area should give them enough space to do several fully stretched hops. It is also possible to train a rabbit to walk on a lead, but many rabbits do not enjoy having a harness or lead on.
Another way of giving your rabbit exercise is to make them search for their food. Rabbits will naturally graze on plants throughout the day, looking for hidden treats. Your pet rabbit should have plenty of good quality hay and free access to water throughout the day. Rabbit pellets and fresh fruit and vegetables can supplement the hay. Each rabbit will have its own preferred food, but there are some that can cause problems for any rabbit.
What to feed your rabbit and understanding them
Keeping your rabbit away from dangerous foods, such as the leaves and stems of tomatoes, iceberg lettuce, cucumbers, and too many processed treats, can do a lot for their health. The biggest health concerns for rabbits are related to their digestion, including gut stasis and bloating.
It’s important to understand the signals your rabbit gives. In nature, they are a prey animal and much of the prey behaviours are present in pet rabbits. Most notably, they do not do anything to express their illness or pain. As a rabbit owner, you must be able to notice small changes in your pet’s behaviour or eating habits and be ready to get them medical treatment as soon as possible.
Are rabbits right for you and your children?
The need to carefully monitor rabbits is part of why they are often not suitable pets for children. While children can enjoy playing with a rabbit, they may not have the ability to give it the veterinary care needed. Depending on training and socialization, rabbits may also bite or not tolerate being handled, something many children simply don’t understand.
Like any pet, a rabbit is not a small commitment. Whether you opt for a smaller breed, such as a Netherland Dwarf, or a bigger breed, such as a Flemish Giant, your pet rabbit will require food, healthcare, and lots of attention. You may also need to prepare your home for a rabbit by ensuring that there are no exposed wires that they could chew through. However, a rabbit can also be an excellent pet, bringing a lot of love and joy to a family.