Bunny Basics: A Primer on Bunny-Ownership
Somebunny to Love - Is a Bunny Right for Me?
Are you ready to bring a bunny into your life? Bunnies live for 8-10 years on average and need plenty of daily attention, including cage cleaning, food and water changes, free ranging time, fresh hay and fresh greens. They can fit into a variety of homes, but need large habitats that have plenty of room for them to stretch out and fit all of their accessories. Many bunnies get along wonderfully with cats and dogs that don't regard them as dinner, and can integrate well with existing pets when carefully introduced.
Bunnies Belong Indoors - No Hutches Please!
While it's ok for your bunny to have an outdoor play area (that has been made secure against predators and bunny digging) it's best to have them live indoors, and only have supervised time out of the house. Why? It's been proven that indoor bunnies live significantly longer then bunnies exposed to the elements.
Even if you have an outdoor hutch that is secured against predators, a bunny can have a heart attack if they are too frightened by a predator trying to get in. Heat stroke and exposure can also cut a bunny's lifespan down.
Choosing Your Bunny
Bunny personalities range from cuddly lap bunnies to independent bossy bunnies, but there are a few important factors to consider before bringing your bunny home.
Do you have a lot of space or a little space? A small breed dwarf bunny will actually need just as much space as a large bunny, and may need extra time out of the cage to exercise each day.
Do you have a lot of time or a little time? Long haired breeds of bunnies will take a more dedicated grooming routine to be sure that they don't develop hairballs.
One bunny or two? Bunnies are social animals and do wonderfully in pairs. If you don't consistantly have time to spend socializing with your bunny, it may be a good idea to get a pair of bunnies that will keep each other company while you are not at home.
Spend time getting to know your bunny before bringing them home, you will be spending a lot of time together!
Spay or Neuter?
Yes! Hormonal bunnies can be temperamental and are more likely to show destructive behaviors around the house, including urine spraying. If you are adopting a bunny who has not already been spayed or neutered, you should make an appointment as soon as possible to have this procedure done by an experienced veterinarian. Spaying and neutering a bunny helps them live longer, happier lives and can save you from health conditions like uterine cancer or testicular cancer later on during their life.
Essential Bunny Accessories
You will need the following items for your bunny: A Suitable Habitat, A Litter Box, Litter Material, A Hay Rack, A Food Bowl, A Water Bowl, Nail Clippers, A Brush, A Toy, Bunny Pellets, Hay and Fresh Greens.
Your Bunny's habitat should minimally have enough space for their litter box, food bowl, water bottle, toys, bed and still provide enough room for your bunny to lay completely stretched out. An exercise pen made for containing puppies can provide a great pen for a bunny to live in.
Your Bunny's Litter Box should be shallow enough for them to hop in and out of easily, and large enough for them to sit in and still have some extra space.
Your Bunny's Litter should be made of a safe material. We recommend using recycled cardboard bedding like Carefresh. You can also use compressed wood pellets such as stove pellets, or Critter Country bedding. Never use Cedar or Pine bedding, as these have been linked to bunny health problems.
A Hay Rack can be any simple container to hold your bunny's hay. Some bunnies enjoy having their hay placed on one side of their litter box so they can munch while doing their bunny business.
Your Food and Water Bowl should be made out of a heavy enough material that your bunny will not tip them, and large enough that your bunny can comfortably fit their heads while eating or drinking.
You will need nail clippers to keep your bunny trimmed and in good shape. Round nail clippers for cats or dogs can work great for bunnies. If you aren't comfortable trimming your bunny's nails, many rescues or veterinary offices can do this for you.
A brush will keep your bunny's coat in good shape, and help prevent hairballs. There are a variety of brushes on the market from wire brushes or shedding combs to soft bristled brushes. Find the one that works best for your bunny's coat type.
Bunnies have different tastes in toys. Some bunnies prefer chew toys, while others like toys that rattle to toss around. Buy a few toys for your bunny and see what type they prefer.
Pellets are part of your bunny's diet, but they should not be allowed to eat as much as they want...this will quickly lead to a chubby bunny! Find a good quality Bunny Pellet, such as Oxbow's Bunny Basics, to feed to your bunny. Bunny Kibble with other items mixed in is basicly bunny junk food, stick to healthy plain pellets.
There is a variety of hay that is safe for bunnies, including: timothy hay, orchard hay, grass hay, oat hay, alfalfa hay and more. Timothy Hay is a safe bet for adult bunnies. Alfalfa shouldn't be fed to adult bunnies as it has a lot of calcium and can cause bladder stones.
Your bunny will need fresh greens daily. Safe greens include: Romaine Lettuce, Parsley, Cilantro and Dandelion Greens. Avoid feeding Iceburg Lettuce as it can cause diarrhea. Your bunny will also enjoy a small piece of carrot or apple as a treat.
Bunny Care: The Basic Routine
Your bunny should have some time out of the cage to stretch their legs and run daily. It is best to have a bunny proofed area indoors for your bunny to get their daily exercise in.
Depending on your bunny's coat type, you may need to brush them daily or weekly to be sure that they are not grooming off too much loose fur, which can cause hairballs.
Every day, to every other day (depending on your bunny and if you do a partial cleaning) your bunny will need their litter box changed, rinsed, and refilled with new bedding. This will keep your bunny happy in a clean environment.
Every day, your bunny should have their water bowl rinsed and refilled. Your bunny should get their daily ration of pellets, fresh greens, and have their hay rack freshened up.