If you are looking for information on how to show rabbits, how to breed rabbits, or about rabbit genetics check out our Links page.
1. Cage or Rabbit Hutch
These are sold at Petsmart, Petco, Drs. Foster and Smith, Wal-Mart, and many other stores. We purchased our stackable cages online from Bass Equipment and we LOVE them.
2. Water Bottle
You will want to use a 32 oz. bottle (rabbits drink a lot!).
3. Food dish
You can use heavy crock bowls which work well and do not tip over easily or you could try out - EZ Crocks. They hook onto the wire of your cage so the rabbit cannot tip it over! They are available online at many different stores. They're great to use on carriers!
4. Rabbit Pellet Feed
We recommend Rabbit Star Commercial Pellets by Lone Star®, it is what we feed all of our rabbits. We've tried other brands, but they seem to like this one the best. Check with your local feed store for this brand.
5. Timothy Hay
You can buy timothy hay at most pet stores or from local farmers. Do not use alfalfa hay, as it is too high in calcium. Timothy hay is the best for rabbits, but you can also use other brands such as Bahia or Alicia.
6. Wood or Paper Bedding
Bedding must be non-aromatic, such as Aspen or CareFresh. Do not use Cedar! Some rabbits are also sensitive to pine.
7. Litter Pan
Rabbits can easily be litter trained just like a cat! This is optional, but a good idea if you are planning to keep your rabbit indoors.
8. White Vinegar, Vanodine, and/or Other Pet Safe Cage Cleaners
White vinegar is the only cleaner we have found that removes the white calcium build-up on trays, litter pans, etc. Very useful for rabbit owners. Vanodine is a pet-safe disinfectant and works very well to kill bacteria and germs. We use a combination of vinegar and Vanodine solutions for cleaning.
9. Slicker Brush for Grooming
10. Pet Nail Clippers
Water: Give your rabbit access to fresh, clean water at all times. Plastic bottles are best for water. Be sure the nipple is low enough for the smallest rabbit to reach.
Food: Rabbits are herbivores, meaning they eat only grasses, vegetables and fruit. Their diet should contain a protein content of between 12 and 16%. This can be provided with commercial pellet feed (specific to rabbits). Pellets must be stored in moisture-proof containers and used within 60 days. Hay is also important for your rabbit, adding fiber to their diet. Hay should be fed at least 1-2 times per week. Compressed bales of hay can be purchased at pet stores or purchased directly from farmers or from your local feed store. If you keep the hay protected from direct sunlight and moisture, it'll last months.
Growing Bunnies up to 4 months old: Feed an unlimited quantity of good quality rabbit feed and timothy hay. We feed our rabbits Rabbit Star by Lone Star® along with a large handful of hay each day. Avoid giving young rabbits any fruit or vegetables until they 6 months or older, since their digestive systems are still developing and can be quite sensitive.
Rabbits 4 months and older: Limit the amount of feed they receive per day so they do not become overweight. Smaller breeds like Netherland Dwarfs may only require 1/4 cup feed. The breeds that we raise will need 1/2 or 2/3 cup per day depending on their weight. The guideline is 1 ounce of feed per 1 pound of rabbit. We still recommend Rabbit Star pellets and continue to provide plenty of hay. Once the rabbit is 6 months old you can gradually start adding in a vegetable or fruit treat once or twice a week -- a slice of carrot or apple is a good place to start. Some other safe treats include celery, parsley, cucumber, green pepper, peach, pear, strawberry, zucchini, cantaloupe, cilantro, and nibbling on pesticide-free grass if you let them out on the lawn.
If you choose not to use Rabbit Star then you should mix some of the feed that we use to transition them over to your brand of pellets. You must mix 1/2 of the feed that we use with 1/2 of the brand of your choice to use permanently. A rabbits stomach cannot handle an instant switch to food therefore anytime you change brands you must mix it 1/2 and 1/2 or you could cause diarrhea and/or death. When changing feed: Gradually increase new feed & decrease original feed. Stop giving the new feed completely if there are any signs of diarrhea and replace with only Old Fashioned Quaker Oats Oatmeal, hay and water until droppings return to normal. Adding Pedialyte in their water will help keep them hydrated. If your bunny gets diarrhea this is very serious and could kill your bunny quickly so please watch closely! Once your bunny's droppings have turned back to normal you can then reintroduce the mixed feed very gradually.
Food and water should be changed daily and containers cleaned and disinfected once a week.
For a fun chew toy, try stuffing some hay into empty toilet paper rolls or boxes.
If your rabbit ever stops eating or experiences diarrhea, call a vet immediately!
Most rabbits are kept in cages at least part of the time. We highly recommend cages with wire-grid floors and plastic pull-out pans. They are very easy to keep clean. If you are looking to buy from a pet store then Petsmart or Petco has a good selection, but our favorite cages are from Bass Equipment Company located in Missouri and California (we order them online). Their cages are well-built, easy to put together, stackable, come in many different sizes, and have urine guards on all 4 sides. We like everything about them.
If you house your rabbits outside or you just don't like the stackable cages there are also wooden hutches which you can attach rabbit runs to. These are very nice if you do not have a barn to house your rabbits in. Make sure to place your hutch in the shade away from direct sun and wind so that your rabbit does not get over-heated.
A cage measuring 24" x 24" is typically big enough for any of the rabbits we breed. Of course, bigger is always better. If you decide to use a cage with a wire floor you will need to provide your rabbit with a resting board or grass mat for him to sit on.
If the cage you buy doesn't come with urine guards, consider investing in them... you'll be glad you did (your floor will be too)! Urine guards can be purchased online and in some pet stores.
Baby bunnies usually get along very well with each other. It is adorable to watch them snuggle, groom each other, and hang out together. However, we do not recommend housing two (or more) rabbits together over the age of 3 or 4 months unless you have both rabbits altered (spayed or neutered). Despite their cute, friendly personalities around humans, mature rabbits are territorial and prefer to have their own space when it comes to other rabbits. If you want to try bonding two bunnies, it is best if they are in the same age-range and they will most likely need to be altered when they reach sexual maturity in order to live peacefully with each other. Ask your local small animal veterinarian if they offer alteration services for rabbits.
>>> More information on Spaying & Neutering. -very good website!
Cleaning your rabbit cage is really not as big of a deal as you might think, especially if you use a litter pan and/or a cage with a pull-out tray underneath for catching droppings.
If you have a cage that has slide-out trays, just pull out the tray, dump the old bedding into a trash bag, hose the tray off, scrub it with some vinegar and vanodine solutions, rinse, and then spread some fresh bedding over it. Also spray and scrub the cage with the same vinegar and vanodine solutions and hose it off to cleanse and disinfect. The whole process takes less than 30 minutes (depending on how many cages you have) and it only needs to be done about once or twice a week.
Alternatively, you can litter train your rabbit. This is usually very easy to do and we highly recommend it for indoor bunnies. Simply take a litter pan specially designed for rabbits and add a little bit of bedding, add a small scoop of your rabbit's old waste for scent, and place it in the corner of the cage your rabbit has designated as its "bathroom corner." You might also add a little hay surrounding the litter pan to encourage your bunny to "go." Your rabbit will gradually grow accustomed to using the litter box faithfully. This is especially true of rabbits 5-6 months or older. Rabbits can be house-trained by placing at least one litter box in each room and helping them learn to use it.
We prefer it if all of our pet bunnies would live indoors. Keeping rabbits indoors means that they will have year-round climate control and will typically receive more attention than outdoor rabbits. However, sometimes it is more convenient and less messy to keep them outside. As long as you house them in a proper location and give them plenty of attention, the choice is yours whether to house them indoors or out.
As a general rule, you should avoid keeping rabbits in temperatures below 40 degrees (F) or above 85 degrees (F). On the coldest days in the winter - drape some landscape fabric, a tarp, or a blanket over part of the cage, a heating pad designed for rabbits, a nest box with hay so they can huddle in, or hang a heat lamp near the cage.
With their thick coats rabbits overheat much easier than they freeze. If you are keeping your rabbit outdoors, pay special attention to keeping them cool in the summertime or better yet, just bring them inside during the summer!
If A Heat Stroke Occurs:
Put a few inches of cool (not cold) water in a small tub or sink. Gently place your bunny in the water. Cup the water in your hand and gently pour it over the rabbits coat. Pour the water especially over the rabbits ears (but be careful not to get water inside the ears) - this will help them cool down the fastest. Another way is to mist the rabbits ears and wipe down his body with a cool, damp towel.
Prevention is of course the best course of action. Simple things like providing your rabbit with adequate shade, shelter, and ventilation can mean the difference between life and death.
Rabbits insist on being clean and will lick themselves like cats. They can get hairballs if they ingest too much hair. Unlike cats however, rabbits cannot vomit. If hairballs are allowed to form they can become masses of tangled hair and food and will block the stomach exit. Brushing (and access to hay) helps remove the hair and most rabbits love the attention! It's very easy to do and doesn't take long at all. Just use a slicker brush designed for small animals and rabbits, available at any pet store. Brush them gently 1-2 times per week or as needed. Holland Lops and Mini Rex typically only require weekly brushings unless they are molting.
You will need to trim your rabbit's nails (with a small animal nail clipper) about once every month or two. Just be careful to only cut the tip of the nail and avoid the quick. If you do accidentally hit the quick, apply a little bit of Styptic Powder (available at any pet shop) with a moistened Q-tip or cotton ball to the area and apply moderate pressure for 5 to 10 seconds to stop the bleeding. You can also use a flashlight under the rabbits nails to find the quick.
Finally, it is important to keep your bunny's scent glands clean to prevent odor and infection. Using a Q-tip that has been dipped in warm water or mineral oil, gently swipe out any residue that might be present in the scent glands surrounding the anus and vent. This should be done at least once a month.
Rabbits do not require "baths" and should never be entirely submersed in water unless it is an emergency (it may stress them to the point of shock or heart failure). If necessary, you can spot clean their fur with waterless rabbit shampoo spray.
Rabbits require careful handling! They can easily experience spinal injuries so it is very important to always support your rabbit's back and hind quarters when handling. Never pick up a rabbit by its ears. A child struggling to hold a wiggly bunny could be badly scratched and the rabbit injured so for this reason and others, children should always be supervised with rabbits.
Rabbits are ground-dwelling animals and usually become frightened when lifted into the air. If your bunny doesn't like to be held, desensitize him or her slowly and carefully. With time and gentle handling, he may come to trust his human companion and relax more readily when being held. It is always best to sit on the floor at your rabbit's level and pet him or let him hop into your lap.
We suggest that during the first few days home with your new bunny to keep it low key. This is a very stressful time for your bunny because he is in a new place, with new smells, & around new people. We recommend leaving your bunny alone for the first few days to allow him to adjust to his new surroundings. After a few days then you can hold & play with your bunny to get him used to you. Never leave children or other animals unsupervised with a bunny as they are are very fragile and a disaster can happen quickly. We also recommend that smaller children only hold bunnies on the ground and not carry them around because one accidental drop could really injure your new bunny so please use caution.
Ideally, rabbits should be let out of their cage to exercise daily for at least fifteen minutes. If you do this in your home, be sure the room or house is bunny-proofed (they may chew on cords or try to get underneath furniture). It is also helpful if your rabbit is properly litter-trained to avoid unnecessary messes. If you have a yard outside that your bunny can play in (with pesticide-free grass), consider purchasing a small animal pen or rabbit run so your bunny can get outdoor exercise and nibble at the grass. Be sure to always place the pen in a shaded area. You can also take your bunny for a walk -- just make sure he or she is securely fastened to a leash specifically designed for rabbits (available at pet stores or online).
Never leave your rabbit unsupervised when it is out of its cage.
Never let your rabbit roam free outside -- it will run away!
Your rabbit needs safe activities to keep his mind and body in shape. He needs things to climb on, crawl under, hop on, dig into, and chew on. Rabbits love to chew on things, bump things around with their noses, and carry things from place to place. If you give your bunny attention, safe things to chew on, and toys, he will be less likely to chew on things he shouldn't. Watching a rabbit toss, shake, flip, fling, roll, and retrieve his toys is very entertaining! Make sure your rabbit has at least one or two toys in their cage at all times. Some great toy ideas include paper shopping bags, cardboard boxes full of shredded paper, toilet paper rolls, magazines, parrot toys that can be tossed or hung from the top of the cage, empty soda cans, untreated wicker or willow baskets, a hand towel for bunching and scooting, tennis balls, unwaxed paper cups, hard plastic cat toys, wooden blocks and boiled/baked branches (healthy woods include untreated willow, apple, pine).
There is a great selection of healthy rabbit toys that you can find online at PetcoPetsmartDrs. Foster & Smith
Did you know?
We have also put together a few websites on rabbits and their care in our "Links" page. Please enjoy and use these sites to further your knowledge about rabbits!
Credits: All photos used on this page were either photos taken by us or were found on Google and numerous pet store websites such as Petsmart, Dr.'s Foster & Smith, PetCo, and many more.