Rabbits make fantastic pets, and they’re one of the most popular pets of choice in the UK. Before you rush to rescue or buy your new fluffy friend, you need to make sure you have everything a rabbit needs to be happy, as they require more care than most people realize.
Even though rabbits are one of the UK’s most popular pets, they are also one of the most neglected, which is why it’s vital to make sure you understand what they need before you bring one home. Once you have everything ready, it’ll be time to enjoy the boundless energy and personality they can add to your family.
Rabbits do better in pairs than alone, and owning two doesn’t require much more work in caring for them. To keep your rabbit at their happiest, they need a companion rabbit, someone they can groom, cuddle and cause mischief with. In the wild, rabbits live in large groups, and having a solitary rabbit can leave them stressed and bored, no matter how much you play with them.
Related: 500+ Bunny Names For Your Pet Rabbit
Ensure your rabbits are old enough to have been weaned before you take them home; rabbits that are taken from their mothers too young develop severe stress, growth problems, and it can even cause death. The appropriate age for weaning is between 5 to 8 weeks old; if your rabbits are younger than this, then it’s best to wait before bringing them home.
Pet insurance isn’t just for cats, dogs or larger animals; it’s important that all pet owners have the protection of insurance to cover any unexpected vet costs their pet may have. Finding the right protection for you and your rabbits can be confusing, but there are plenty of comparison sites to help you find the policy that suits your needs and budget.
Food & Drink
Rabbits need a continuous supply of freshwater throughout the day, and it needs to be checked daily. In winter, ensure that the water doesn’t freeze if your rabbits live outdoors in a hutch, as being without water can cause rabbits serious health issues.
A rabbit’s diet should mainly consist of high-quality grass or hay, avoiding muesli as it can be extremely unhealthy for a rabbit to eat. You can give rabbits grass pellets, but fresh grass and hay are better; be careful not to give your rabbit any crass cutting as this can cause digestive illnesses that can lead to death. Add leafy green vegetables, herbs or weeds to their daily diet to add variety; if adding weeds, take care not to include any toxic ones. Root vegetables such as carrots and fruit are excellent treats for rabbits to have once in a while.
Rabbit teeth constantly grow, and with the proper diet, they should wear down naturally. Check your rabbit’s teeth on a regular basis and get advice from your vet to make sure they are the right length. If the teeth look uneven, there could be a problem in your rabbit’s diet, causing them to wear down incorrectly. Misaligned teeth are easy to spot, but it can cause your rabbit difficulty eating and eventually lead to death if left untreated.
Rabbits have a habit of eating their bedding, even if it’s not edible. Use a dust-free edible straw to line the floor of your rabbit’s hutch; this will avoid any unscheduled trips to the vets because they’ve eaten something they shouldn’t have done.
Hutches & Space
Rabbits require more space than people realise, with most hutches and runs sold in stores being too small for their needs; a rabbit should have enough space to stand on their hind legs to full height and hop three times in both directions. Time For Paws has a fantastic selection of hutches and runs that offer the most amount of space for your rabbits; some of the hutches even have built-in runs, so your rabbits can be let out in the mornings for playtime without having to wait for you to set things up.
Rabbits love to play; some would say they love it more than puppies and kittens. Rabbits are intelligent and can get bored very easily, and when they get bored, they can get destructive. Buy tunnels they can race through, tube-like systems to mimic their natural warrens or anything they can toss that jingles; they also love anything they can chew, too, so cardboard boxes filled with food is an excellent addition to their runs.
When you see a rabbit, you want to cuddle it; they’re adorable and have beautifully soft coats, which makes it almost impossible not to pick them up. However, rabbits don’t actually like to be cuddled; some may tolerate it, but it can cause them stress to have their feet off the floor as a prey animal. Instead, get down to their level and let them boop you with their noses; you can even lie down and cuddle them as they sit next to you.