Every time we bring a new animal home, it’s the beginning of a new chapter in our lives. We will now share a relationship with a new small creature. We think of all the possibility of owning and befriending our new pet rabbit. Our hearts soar at all the prospects of play time, binkies (if we know what they are!), and cuddles.
It was such a great day on December 10th, 2011. This day my daughter Abi and I brought Alice and Michelle home. We couldn’t have been more happy about welcoming our new bunny friends into the family.
It was two days before my birthday and our family was visiting a rabbit show for the first time ever. Abi had joined 4H’s rabbit project that year and she was in need of a show rabbit. I was looking to buy a fiber rabbit and a little companion. My husband Todd was so awesome to help us both find our sweet friends.
While it felt like our new little fur balls were all we would need, we made sure to pick up a few necessary things to make our new rabbits comfortable. This list is a compilation of some of the items we brought home, and some we picked up along the way.
Top 10 Things to Bring Home with Your New Pet Rabbit
Cage or Hutch
Your bunny’s new house will protect her from the elements, provide her privacy, and basically be your bunny’s ‘bedroom’. Depending upon your climate, you will want to choose a hutch with sides, or a cage.
If you live in a windy or cold area and you plan to house your new rabbit outdoors, you may want to choose a hutch with solid sides. If you live in an area that has really hot summers or you plan to house your pet rabbit indoors, a cage will likely be a better choice.
Feeding your new rabbit properly will start your relationship and rabbit care regimen off on the right foot. Knowing what your rabbit needs for good nutrition will help you know when there is something wrong (like when she stops pooping), or when it’s okay to leave her alone (like when she is eating her cecotropes).
Pellets, vegetables and timothy hay are great choices to stock up on for your new rabbit. Foods high in fiber and low in protein are recommended. This is especially important for an older rabbit, as high protein can contribute to obesity.
Lettuce, broccoli leaves, and collard greens, amongst other vegetables, can be given regularly to your rabbit. However, make sure that your rabbit hasn’t had any adverse reaction to it by only offering one at a time.
Most feeding bowls fasten to the side of the cage. However, you can use a crock, or even a continuous feeder. I don’t recommend giving rabbits more than what they need each day because they will often overeat and become obese. However, if you need to go on vacation or can’t be there to feed your bunny, a gravity feeder will work just fine.
At our house, we use both the bowls that fasten to the cage and crocks. Crocks give more flexibility in that we can move them around if one area of the hutch gets soiled. They are also lower to the ground which makes the food more accessible for smaller rabbits.
A source for water is a must for every rabbit, as they need a constant supply of fresh water. Water aids their system in converting feed into health-giving nutrients. Without water, a rabbit’s appetite may decrease, which can mean GI issues for your bunny.
A water bottle will supply your rabbit with clean water on a daily basis without your help. Using a water bottle makes it much easier to add apple cider vinegar and a garlic clove to your rabbits water, if you are into a more natural care regimen. Adding these is said to boost your pet rabbit’s immune system.
A water crock can be used instead, but will need to be dumped and refilled with fresh water daily. Of course, it’s probably not a great idea to add a garlic clove to this water, but apple cider vinegar would be fine in the correction proportions.
Hay produces dry roughage for your rabbit. It comes in many types: alfalfa, bluegrass, lespedeza, oat hay, peanut hay, timothy, and common vetch, amongst others. Which one you choose will depend upon how much protein your rabbit needs at any given time.
If you are planning on feeding your rabbit a 16% protein feed, it is fine to give your new rabbit timothy hay regularly.
Bedding/Something to Rest On
Most rabbit owners seem to use their timothy hay as a bedding as well as a diet supplement. In the winter, hay is great for your bunny to snuggle into to keep warm.
When we had outdoor bunnies, we often used old towels in the winter. They served to provide relief for their feet as well as give our bunnies a warm place to lay.
For outdoor bunnies, you can use fleece liners in your hutch or cage, but you will need to change them out when they get soiled. In the summer we placed cool tiles in the hutch for them to stretch out on.
Bunnies love to chew, so apple wood sticks, cardboard boxes filled with hay, and toys provide a break from the boredom your bunny might feel. Boredom sometimes results in them chewing their bowls or the wood in their hutches.
Nail clippers are a must for rabbits. Their nails can get very long, crack or get caught in the wiring of their cage/hutch floor causing them pain or injury. Long nails can also injure you, if your rabbit happens to get spooked and kick you with her back feet.
A hair brush is good for short-haired rabbits. However, it is an imperative tool for long haired rabbits, such as Jersey Woolies or Angora breeds.
First Aid Items
You will want to have a kit of items to use should your new rabbit get hurt. VetRX is an effective relief for snuffles, pneumonia, ear mites, or ear canker. Vetericyn is effective against infection of skin wounds and eye infections. Both of these items are worth having on hand.
You will also need styptic powder. This stops bleeding in the event that you accidentally cut a vein while trimming nails.
Having a syringe on hand will help you as well. You will need this for administering liquids, medication, or foods that have been liquefied in the event bunny stops eating.
A wire brush is used for dry-scrubbing any feces off the wire floor of the hutch or cage.
This is not an exhaustive list of everything you will need for your new pet rabbit. Take some time to collect these things for your rabbit before you need them. If you do, you will find that you will be quite equipped to care for your rabbit in most any way, and in most situations.