As a rabbit owner I always like to try and educate people on proper rabbit care.
1. They are prey animals
This does mean that they will take some time to get used to you and trust you. They don’t like to be picked up as this makes them think they are going to die so don’t expect your new pet rabbit to be okay with getting picked up.
Just because some rabbits can get used to being picked up doesn’t mean that you should.
One more thing to mention is that you absolutely shouldn’t put your rabbit on its back. Your cute little bunny might look comfortable in that position but he’s actually in shock and this can kill your rabbit.
2. They are better to live in pairs or groups
Rabbits are very sociable animals so I’d always recommend getting two rabbits. It’s also easiest to bond a male and female pair, however you’ll need to keep them separated until you have them fixed. A male and male pair can be possible too. Two females can also be bonded but they are the most difficult to bond as female rabbits tend to… try and fight to the death.
Bonding is a slow and steady process but it’s so worth it to see your bunnies cuddling, grooming each other and playing together.
3. They aren't supposed to live in cages or hutches
Contrary to popular belief, bunnies aren’t supposed to be kept in cages. They are also supposed to be kept in your house because bunnies can’t regulate their body temperature. In addition to threats from the changing weather keeping your pet rabbit outside leaves them at risk from predators such as dogs and foxes.
My rabbits are free roaming rabbits and even when I first got my first rabbit I kept her in an X-pen until she was more comfortable around me.
If you can’t keep your rabbit free roaming in your house then the bigger enclosure the better. Perhaps you can give them free roam of a spare bedroom, it’s a good way to keep them properly exercised while also containing the mess they might make to one room.
4. You aren't supposed to bathe them
Rabbits are infamously known for being “vermin” but rabbits are actually just as cleanly as cats if not more. They spend most of their day grooming themselves and they don’t have a scent. If your rabbit smells at all it’s possible that your rabbit is unwell, or even that you just need to clean out their living space.
Calling back to my last point, rabbits can’t control their body temperature so submerging them in water isn’t good for them. Rabbits will scream when they are in danger and a rabbit screaming isn’t a good thing. When a rabbit screams it thinks it’s going to die.
Let your rabbit clean itself or let your bonded pair/group do the grooming. However, if you have a long haired rabbit you will need to brush them to help with the shedding.
5. Make sure you understand the noises they make and the actions they do
Rabbits make loads of noises, I know… I know…. you wouldn’t think it. They make loads of different noises and screaming is just one of them. They make happy noises, sad noises, angry noises and scared noises.
A very common noise that you will hear from your rabbit is the sound of them chewing. While this is another point that I need to mention later in this article the sound of your rabbit chewing (whether this be on cardboard, hay, or their toys) means that you rabbit is very content. Another way that your rabbit will show you that they are content is that they will dig. This could be a way of getting themselves comfortable. My rabbits dig on me inbetween licking my clothing when they are on my lap. Another way to know that your rabbit is happy and content is that they are eating as normal. If your rabbit is laying down, loafing or sleeping in front of you then your bunny is very comfortable around you and trusts you.
If you rabbit is begging you for treats or jumping up onto your leg then you have a very happy rabbit. Another sign that your rabbit is very happy is if they do a little happy jump! This is called a binky and it’s super cute to see it happen. A binky is where your rabbit is so happy that they can’t contain their excitement so they do a little run and jump to express how happy they are.
If your bunny does a flop in front of you I hope you are prepared to swoon. A flop is the most adorable thing about rabbits and they do it when they are super comfortable. They basically just throw themselves onto their side and it is so cute! Male rabbits will make a honking noise when they want to mate but this honking noise is also a sign of happiness in other rabbits. They will typically do this when they are getting stroked or eating. My favourite noise that a happy bunny makes is when you are giving them some head stokes and they start to purr their teeth. It kind of sounds and feels like they are chewing something in their mouth.
When your rabbit is scared you will hear a few noises but it's mostly in the way they act that you will be able to tell that something is unnerving them. This could be them sitting with their ears fully pointed forward, if their ears are uneven, if they are tilting their head or if they are bobbing their head while slowly creeping forward. A noise they will make is panting when they are in a scary circumstance, if you pick up your rabbit they will most likely start to breathe heavier. If your bunny is screaming they think they are going to die. The noise is very rare to hear but it's very shrill and most people in the community say it sounds similar to a child screaming. Another way that is quite common however is to hear you rabbit thumping when they are scared or angry. They will also grunt at you when they are very irritated, this could be during grooming for example.
6. Your rabbit always needs to have something to chew on
They will need a constant supply of fresh hay that gets swapped out or replaced every single day. Hay is 80% of a rabbits diet as it maintains their tooth health and helps to keep their teeth at the correct length. Rabbits can digest cardboard so you can keep cardboard boxes as a sort of toy for them. You should also get a large variety of toys for them to play with as rabbits are very playful creatures. I recommend willow branches or woven balls as they can also help to maintain tooth health.