Going to adopt pet bunnies soon! How should I properly care for them?

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My boyfriend and I have been wanting to adopt rabbits ever since we met. We have not been able to as we are living at home, and both have big dogs that would be dangerous around rabbits. We are going to be getting our own townhome in the Summer, and I plan on adopting 2 rabbits. I am curious what advice you could offer for me to properly care for them…

I plan on building them a pen they can stay in instead of cages. I plan on it being about 4 x 3 feet, with garden fence (about 2 feet tall) on 2 sides. (it will be in the corner of the room) I want it to be as nice as possible for the bunnies, and I plan on having indoor/outdoor carpet under the pen. On top of that, I plan on putting down some kind of foam like yoga mats are made from. Is this a good idea? I also want them have have beds instead of cages, and a playplace. I want them to feel they have freedom to move around as I will be gone for the majority of the day. Is a pen with no cages a good idea?

I will be gone from about 6:30 in the morning, to 6:30 at night Monday – Friday. I am worried that leaving the bunnies alone and in a pen for too long would not be healthy for them. I plan on letting them out at night, but my boyfriend is an audiophile and will have MANY cables throughout the house. Is there a way to keep the bunnies away from cables, or to protect cables from bunnies?

My boyfriend has a very strange schedule, and he will probably be gone a lot as well. Though he is home a lot during the day whether it’s in the morning, afternoon, or evening for a few hours, his schedule varies as he works a part time job and goes to college. There may be some days though, where the bunnies would be alone for 12 hours at a time (not often, maybe once every 2 weeks or so) is this OK if I supply enough food and water? Are there special toys or playplaces to keep them occupied? I do not want them to get bored!

I also plan on either making or buying small harnesses for the bunnies so I can take them into the back yard, or take them to a park. Is this healthy for bunnies? Is it OK to walk a bunny like a dog? I just want my bunnies to be safe! 🙂

I have read that there are a few essential tips to keeping bunnies. A few of them are: Do not use wood shavings in their litterbox, as it could be harmful to their health, and that if a bunny ever vocalizes, or thumps to take them to the vet immediately. Are there any other crucial things I should know about rabbits? I plan on purchasing rabbit care books… Are there any you would recommend? I want to learn as much about rabbits as I can before I adopt, so that they are as safe and happy as possible. I also want to be able to foster bunnies that are in danger of being put to sleep, or not finding a home.

Any and all help is very much appreciated!
On weekdays, I would get home around 6:30 and go to bed at 10:00. I don’t think I would be able to spend as much time on weekdays, but I plan on spending most of my weekend with them! As of right now, my boyfriend is home either until noon, or home AT noon every weekday (except Friday) and I know that he loves bunnies just as much as I do.

I would be very willing to rabbit proof a home, and litter box train. I am just not sure how to do either of these things 100%. I would also definitely go to a rescue! I am also not sure about the hutch… I have heard a lot of people say they are cruel and not to do it, but since I am gone for so long, would they rather be outside than inside? I am just worried that they would become too exposed to the elements or that hooligans that may live in the apartment complex may bother them when I am not home.

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8 Responses to “Going to adopt pet bunnies soon! How should I properly care for them?”

  1. Cheyann says:

    A pen is a great idea for a cage. Here are some rabbit x-pens
    http://www.sandiegorabbits.org/adoption/pen_living.html

    They will be fine in the cage all day a long as they get out for at least 5 hours a day at night.
    There are several ways you can protect cords. I got this for my cords about a year ago and its only been chewed a little and no cords have been chewed
    http://www.willasark.com/crittercords.cfm
    Here are other ideas
    http://www.rabbit.org/faq/sections/rabbit-proofing.html
    You can also just try to put the up out of reach. When I had my rabbit downstairs I taped the cords up on the wall so they were out of her reach.

    They will be fine if you leave them alone for 12 hours. They will keep each other company. Just refill their hay and water before you leave. Here are some toys you can give them to keep them busy
    http://www.rabbit.org/faq/sections/toys.html
    http://www.binkybunny.com/BUNNYINFO/ToyTest/tabid/65/Default.aspx

    You cant really take a rabbit for a walk. You follow them. You cant tell them where to go. Do not take them to park. The grass could be treated with something or there could be dogs or people that would scare them and possible hurt them. They can go in your yard as long as the grass is not treated with anything.

    You can use wood shavings. Aspen is safe. Pine and cedar are not. They thump when they are scared. You would not need to take them to a vet if the thump. Vocalizing doesn’t mean they are sick either. Here are some great rabbit websites
    http://www.rabbit.org/
    http://www.binkybunny.com/

    Here is how to litter train
    http://www.rabbit.org/faq/sections/litter.html

    Do not house them outside. When they are outside they are exposed to weather, bugs and predators. Rabbits are happier, healthier and live longer when housed indoors.

    And thank you for adopting and wanting to foster to save bunnies and thank you for doing research and being responsible.

  2. Colleen says:

    I have two pet bunnies that I keep in a pen. If they have each other I wouldn’t worry about being gone 12 hours a day, just be sure to bunny proof your home so they can run around outside the pen when you get home. I would look up a shelter or rescue group near where you live. Odds are you can find a pair that are already bonded and then you don’t have to try and bond them which can be difficult for first time bunny owners. Also the rescue group will probably have them letterbox trained prior to adoption. I wouldn’t put yoga mats in their cage because they may chew them and ingest pieces of it. If you go to petco or petsmart they sell little pet beds designed for rabbits, ferret, etc. As far as the wood chips go pine and cedar are an absolute no no, the fumes can cause respiratory problems in rabbits and other small animals. However aspen wood chips are safe. If you are still unsure on wood chips you can always buy paper bedding for them.
    As for walking them outside they will love that you Just need to watch them constantly outside. A lot of lawns are treated with chemicals and pesticides that are harmful to your rabbits and they are going tow ant to eat the grass so becareful. There are a ton of toys on the market for rabbits. They love tunnels, little houses and chewing on wood and you can find plenty of that at petco or petsmart. Drsfosterandsmith.com is also a website with a ton of rabbit safe toys.
    As far as vocalizing and thumping, typically bunnies do not vocalize so this could be a sign of stress, including health concerns. However my bunny thumps when he is mad so pay attention to your bunnies typical behaviors because thumping isn’t necessarily a bad sign.
    Bunny diets are very delicate. They should have fresh timothy hay at all times. I would buy a hay rack and have it hanging over their litterbox….this will reduce accidents. They also need to eb given fresh veggies everyday. As far as pellets they do need them daily but not a lot, too many pellets is unhealthy. 1/3 of a cup a day should be plenty.

    http://www.rabbit.org/faq/sections/diet.html#basics

    That site will probably be very helpful to you. Goodluck with your bunnies they are lots of work but lots of fun 🙂

  3. Rose. says:

    Hi, Im sooooo happy that your being a responsible Soon to be pet owner and taking the time to ask questions. I own a rabbit, He’s a netherland Dwarf, and is Awesome. I dont really have that much time with him everyday, but it really hasnt effected his behavior. A pen would be fine as long as its safe, durable, and they cant get out. I use pine chips for my bunny, I have his whole life, it works fine and it keeps them warm. Carpet or mats would get chewed and wasted, and possibly injested, thats no fun. So I would stick to Pine chips or a cotton like bedding that can be found at the pet store (They even have fun different colors of it) But It gets pricey. You can also buy a bunny play pen at the pet store, like if you want to put them in the living room while your watching TV, it will keep them restricted from finding trouble. As for the cables, They do have cable covers, but rabbits REALLY love chewing cables, So I dont know if those would keep the bunny or the cords 100% safe. Bunnies love being with their owners but they also can get tired of being picked up, so they will enjoy some quiet time with their bunny friend. Of course Females and males should be kept separate unless they are spayed and neutuered, or unless your planning on breeding. I keep my bunny inside, and I actually find it cruel to put them outside. My rabbit spends a lot of time running around in my room. hes sooo cute, and when he wants to play he will come up to the front of his cage and put his paws on the bars. adorable!. Owning a rabbit is really actually not hard. they dont need shots. Nuetering and spaying will actually increase your bunnies life span. From 5 years to 10. Its totally worth it! I take my bunny outside in the spring and fall, I dont want him to get to cold or hot so i avoid summer and winter. I would take him out on a leash because otherwise he might get startled and take off running. And trust me they are fast. Another thing make sure hes wearing a kitten flea collar if you take him outside, that way he wont get fleas. They dont walk on a leash like a dog, you mostly just follow where they hop 😀 They should eat a high quality Pellet, along with fresh vegetables (Avoid Lettuce and celery- Much too watery and will give them the runs) Dark greens are good. And depending how big their pen is one or two water bottles with fresh water. They love Timothy hay And will even nest in it. As for a bed., Make sure they have a area in their pen or Cage and have plenty of bedding and hay and they will make it home. 🙂 GOOD LUCK! I hope I helped 🙂 I’m sure you will be a great fellow bunny owner

  4. Mia says:

    Can You….
    – spend 4 hours a day playing with them? (this is not made up; I have a book and it says without this much, they will be sad and lonely, even with a bunny companion)
    – clean their cage as needed (often more than once a week?)
    – rabbit proff my ENTIRE home? (takes hours and is very hard)
    – able to pay thousands at the vet, if needed?
    – keep them away from other pets, drafts, dangerous items?
    – litter train them?
    – find a bunny rescue (please rescue. don’t support rodent mills because they are just like puppy mills)

    I’m osrry to hound you like this, but I wanted (still do) I bunny but I couldn’t get one because of how much work they require…. They are not easy

  5. Lucy says:

    I have a rabbit. And I would recommend keeping them in a cage. They won’t get bored if they have each other. If they meet when the rabbit is young, they should be fine with dogs. My rabbit and dog love each other. But they do chew wires, a lot. There’s no way to prevent it so instead of baby proofing, rabbit proof it. Keep it away from anything you don’t want chewed up or peed on. My rabbit even chewed up my couch and blinds (and my homework). Get a litter box for them. Surprisingly they will use it. This is a website I found to be really good -> http://www.pet-rabbit-care-information.com/ Rabbits also have very strong personalities. So get them when you have the most time. If you handle them often when they are young, they’ll be sweeter animals. If you can you should probably try to get them outside pretty often too, they’ll nibble the grass. I don’t think your set up sounds very good. The carpet and mats would be peed on and the entire house would smell of urine. Not a good thing (trust me). Get a cage big enough to fit them both. Maybe you could get a hutch and keep them outside? I hope this helps. And good luck with your new rabbits!

  6. Caz says:

    I’m not sure about the mat. It may chew it.

  7. 5550866 says:

    Making your new Pet Rabbit comfortable
    When you get your new pet rabbit home, you must decide as to where the cage will be placed. Make sure it is placed where it will not obstruct your movement. The place should be well ventilated with a free flow of fresh air. Place the cage as close to the ground as possible. Place bedding made of straw in the cage so that the rabbit feels comfortable. Remember that the cage is not a place to confine your rabbit. It is more of a place where the rabbit will retire for the night or whenever it is tired, or hungry. As far as possible do not keep the door of the cage shut, always leave it open.

    Problems that your pet could face if confined to the cage will include a poor muscle tone because of no exercise, inflammation of the feet due to sitting in one place constantly, could become very lethargic, can be very aggressive at times, will become obese due to lack of any exercise. Most of all it will not turn out to be the happy, jumping about rabbit that you thought it would be.

    A rabbit requires to be constantly active. Rabbits love jumping and running around. This helps keep their bodies in shape, keep their minds active and alert, and will help in eliminating a lot of sickness that will be present if they are confined to the cage.

    Proper diet for your Pet Rabbit
    Proper care should be taken that you feed your pet rabbit the correct diet. A little care taken by you in feeding your pet will go a long way. It can ensure that your rabbit remains disease free, healthy, active, and enjoys a lifespan of between 10 to 15 years.

    Thanks to what we see on television (Bunny Rabbit etc.) we presume that all rabbits enjoy are carrots. Not so. Rabbits are basically wild animals, so carrots are very much non-existent in their natural diet. Rabbits are herbivores and their primary diet consists of a variety of grass and leaves. Wild rabbits also enjoy the seasonal flower or fruit.

    One part of what their natural diet consists of could be very repulsive to some. All rabbits will eat grass etc. Part of this goes into an intestinal tract known as the cecum. Here this grass is converted into small pellets that are soft and filled with nutrients. These soft pellets are known as cecotropes and are eaten by the rabbit as they are being excreted. This is easily digested and contain fatty acids, vitamins and amino acids, which are all very important for the well being of the rabbit.

    Your pet rabbits diet should consist primarily of hay. Always make sure that there is enough hay in the rabbits cage. There are two types of hay – grass and legume. Make sure that the hay you give your pet is the grass variety. Meadow grass which is naturally sun dried is the best. Find out where you can have easy access to such grass/hay. It will be required throughout the life of the rabbit. Always make sure that the hay that you feed your rabbit is dry and fresh. The hay should never be damp and of dull color.

    Do not worry about the rabbit spoiling its teeth with the constant chewing and munching of this hay. Rabbit teeth grow constantly, eliminating the possibility of teeth destruction.

  8. em says:

    You don’t need to take them to the vet if they vocalize or thump! Rabbits make a lot of sounds that are just the way they express themselves, and you’ll hear them a lot, so don’t panic! The key is volume. If they are making loud squealing sounds or loudly grinding their teeth, you should take them to the vet. But they do grunt, grumble, snort, and grind their teeth softly just as a means of communication. And thumping is never something you need to worry about, it just means your rabbit is alarmed or pissed off. My rabbit grumbles and thumps her feet every time I clip her nails, she also does this when the dog downstairs barks. It’s not a symptom of illness, it’s just how she lets me know that she’s not happy about something.

    If you get two, it would probably be best to get two rabbits that are already pair-bonded unless you have the time to properly introduce them (which would mean, at least at the beginning, you would need to have two separate spaces for each rabbit) because they will fight otherwise. It’s the same as if some stranger walked into your house and just started living there – you would kick them out or call the police! Rabbits are very particular about their space and introducing rabbits can be a time-consuming project. It’s also important to get your animals spayed or neutered as this will reduce territorial aggression somewhat and will keep them from spraying, it also tends to make them healthier bunnies and of course will keep you from accidentally acquiring a whole litter of rabbits.

    If you aren’t planning on giving the rabbits the run of the entire house, you don’t need to bunny-proof the WHOLE house. However, any rooms where the rabbits will be allowed to run (even with parental supervision ;D) should definitely be rabbit-proofed. My rabbit climbs all over the furniture in rooms where she’s allowed, she runs under things and tries to get into really surprising places (my bunny somehow squeezed under my dresser once, which I didn’t think she could because I can hardly get my arm under it, so be thorough). You should also make sure all electric cords are out of their reach in the rooms they’re allowed in, because they see them as roots and instinctively try to chew through them.

    And when it comes to keeping your bunny from being bored, that’s something you might have to find out on your own. My rabbit has ignored lots of toys that I’ve given her, but through playing with her I discovered that her favorite games are to play underneath a blanket, to pick things up and throw them (I gave her a bunch of cardboard squares after I found this out, she loves them) and to knock over bottles (plastic bottles filled with water, she will charge them and then push them with her feet). It’s easy to find inexpensive entertainment for your bunnies if you know how they like to play. Keep in mind that some rabbits (like mine) also really love to dig, so if you don’t want them digging up your carpets you should provide them something else, like a box with sand or litter in it, or a blanket that they can dig their toes into.

    My biggest advice to a new bunny owner is that you can’t rush your bunny into friendship with you. I got my rabbit after bunnysitting for a friend, and I had no idea how to care for a rabbit before I had her, so I inadvertently did the right thing by leaving her basically to herself at first, letting her out of the cage for short periods of time and just letting her run on her own. When she realized I wasn’t dangerous she became curious about me and started interacting with me more, and as I let her out for longer periods and we spent more time together, we really bonded. You can’t force a relationship on the rabbit and you need to let them choose when to initiate interactions or they can get scared and defensive, just let them choose their own pace!

    Good luck, rabbits are great pets and have big personalities. I’m sure you’ll learn all you need to know as you go along and get to know your bunnies 😀

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