5 Key Things to Know When Adopting A Rabbit
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Rabbits are some of the most adorable animals on the planet. Their large ears, soft fur and fluffy tales are hard to compete with as far as cuteness is concerned, and watching them hop around and wiggle their noses can soften even the hardest of hearts.
Bunnies can make terrific pets because they don’t require a lot of space, they don’t need to go outside, they’re fastidious groomers, and are typically very quiet. Also, rabbits can respond to their owners by sight and sound, making it easy for owners to bond with them.
However, rabbits are categorized as exotic animals, and it can often be challenging for new owners to understand their needs and behavioral patterns. Simply put, rabbits can be complicated and mysterious creatures at times, so it’s important to know what to expect and what to prepare for when considering bringing one home.
Many people are quick to adopt rabbits simply because they think they’re cute and cuddly. But, they don’t consider the long-term commitments, cost, happiness, health and well-being of the rabbits themselves.
So, in this article, we’ll give you some helpful tips for how to properly adopt and care for a rabbit.
At a Glance: Things to Consider Before Adopting a Rabbit
- Supplies- Rabbits require a lot of things to keep them happy and healthy. In addition to a hutch or habitat, they will also need a hay feeder, water bottle, food bowl, litter box, and toys to play with.
- Grooming- Even though rabbits are generally very clean animals and groom themselves often, they still need to be brushed a few times a week to keep their coats healthy. Also, you’ll have to clip their nails every so often depending on the size and breed of the rabbit.
- Longevity- Like all animals, adopting a rabbit is a commitment, and bunnies can be a very long-term commitment. When properly cared for, they can often live for 8-12 years and sometimes even longer, which is definitely something to keep in mind.
- Companionship- Rabbits enjoy their privacy now and then, but they can also be very social, and definitely thrive with the companionship of other rabbits. So, if you’re considering adopting one, it would be a much better situation if you adopted two.
- Behavior- Even though rabbits look incredibly cuddly, they don’t typically enjoy being picked up or held. Gently stroking them on their head and back is something most rabbits enjoy, but many of them will get defensive if you try to touch their chin, tail, paws or belly.
- Medical Care- Sometimes it can be difficult to find a veterinarian who knows how to properly treat rabbits, so research your local community and find an experienced exotic pet vet before you adopt. Just like all animals, rabbits need their occasional check-ups, and you definitely want to have a qualified doctor available in case of an emergency.
Things to Keep in Mind When Adopting a Rabbit
In this article, we’ll expand on some of these important things to consider when adopting rabbits. And, remember, all rabbits have their own unique personalities, so you may have to do some experimenting to discover what works best for your bunny, and what works best for you. Still, rabbits can enhance almost anyone’s life, and you can definitely enhance the lives of the bunnies that you adopt.
1. Rabbits Need a Habitat
Even if your rabbits are free-roaming, they really enjoy having a space to call their own. (Like a home within your home.) It doesn’t need to be too elaborate, but a simple hutch or habitat will give them a feeling of safety, security and general comfort. Also, having a place where they recognize their own scent and get a little privacy will help to keep them calm, relaxed and content.
2. A Rabbit’s Diet is Important
You’ll have to pay close attention to your rabbit’s diet. Hay should constitute approximately 80% of their food intake, so it’s very important that you always have a steady supply of fresh, quality hay on hand.
In addition to hay, providing your bunnies with a helping of fresh, leafy greens once or twice a day gives them extra nutrients to help them thrive. And, carefully measured helpings of commercial pellets can be another source of nutrients, and they can also contribute to good oral health.
Also Read: What Do Rabbits Eat?
Speaking of food, you’ll need to get a hay feeder, a food bowl for pellets, plates for leafy greens, and a water dispenser.
Hay feeders, food bowls, plates and water bottles come in all shapes and sizes, so it’s not difficult to find what you need to suit your bunny’s habitat. Still, they are essential items that cannot be overlooked.
Keep in mind that your rabbit will need to eat and drink simply to stay alive, let alone be happy and healthy. So, make sure that whatever feeding items you buy for them are well-made and that your rabbit is comfortable using them.
3. A Litter Box is Essential for Rabbits
A litter box is another must-have for any potential rabbit owner. We previously mentioned that rabbits are generally very clean animals and spend a lot of time grooming themselves.
But, like all creatures, they still have to go to the bathroom from time to time. So, providing them with a litter box with quality litter or bedding is extremely important. Also, keep in mind that you’ll have to clean their litter box frequently to promote cleanliness and prevent odors.
4. Rabbits Need Toys to Play With
Toys are another important part of a rabbit’s well-being. They promote physical activity as well as mental stimulation, and some toys reward bunnies with treats, which give them an extra feeling of happiness.
Also, rabbit toys can encourage natural behaviors such as chewing, digging, pawing and chin rubbing, and they can also help to prevent your rabbit from chewing or shredding your furniture. Plus, rabbits just like to have a little fun once in a while.
5. Pay Attention to Grooming and Oral Health
Rabbits spend a lot of time grooming themselves, but they still need a little help once in a while. Regardless of the length of their fur, they all require a good brushing a few times a week to help prevent mats and to remove excess hair.
Mats can be very uncomfortable and even painful for bunnies, and they can be difficult to remove once they develop. Also, the more excess fur your rabbits have, the more prone they are to inhale it, which can lead to respiratory and digestive problems over time.
Your rabbit’s claws are another important grooming matter, and one that cannot be overlooked. If a rabbit’s claws get too long they can be uncomfortable and potentially snag on things in your home or their habitat.
Going to a groomer or veterinarian in your area that offers this service is an option. Otherwise, it’s something that you will have to undertake every so often.
As for their oral health, rabbits’ teeth grow continuously, so it’s important to provide them with proper foods and toys to help keep their teeth worn down. If their teeth become overgrown or unhealthy, it can not only be very uncomfortable for them, but it can also lead to dental disease and expensive veterinary visits.
Rabbits can be very different from other domestic pets, such as dogs and cats, which is a common misunderstanding that many new rabbit owners face when adopting.
Bunnies can be wonderful pets and great companions, but not being properly prepared for them can lead to unhappy bunnies and unhappy owners, which is why so many rabbits are often surrendered to shelters shortly after their initial adoption.
There are a lot of things to consider when adopting bunnies, so potential owners need to be aware of the commitment. But, with the right supplies, food and general care, you can provide your rabbits with a happy and healthy life, and create several fond memories with them throughout the years.