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Tips on What to Expect If You Are Getting a Bunny Rabbit as a Pet: What You Should Know

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Having a bunny rabbit as a pet is a real joy and you're in for a great adventure.

Before you decide to adopt a bunny rabbit, there are some things you need to know about them.

Before you decide to adopt a bunny rabbit, there are some things you need to know about them.

Bunny Rabbits as Pets

Anyone who has ever owned a bunny rabbit will tell you that they are a wonderful pet. A bunny rabbit is a great pet for adults as well as for children. Owning a rabbit as a pet isn't that expensive overall. However just like dogs and cats, they need to visit the veterinarian every year for their vaccinations.

Bunny rabbits are sociable creatures and love getting your attention. They are also smart, intelligent and extremely adorable little pets who have an amazing personality.

Each rabbit will have its own personality and you can enjoy getting hours of entertainment from watching them play and run around.

I've personally found being the owner of a bunny rabbit a very enjoyable experience.

There are four things you need to think about before you get a bunny rabbit. They are your location, number of children in your household, the risk of predators and the weather in the area you live in.

Things to Consider Before Getting a Rabbit

If you are thinking of getting a bunny rabbit for your family here are a list of things you need to think of prior to getting one.

  1. Location (where will it be homed)
  2. Age ( how old are the children in the household)
  3. Predators (are there dogs or foxes in your area)
  4. Weather (rabbits cannot be outside in all kinds of weather)

Location

Housing your rabbit indoors is probably the better option compared to housing them outside. You can get a variety of indoor hutches to suit the space you have. Housing rabbits indoors stops them being harmed by any weather changes. Also it is much safer to have your rabbit indoors compared to outdoors as they are in a climate controlled environment.

Children

Young children who are around rabbits need to be supervised. Most often if they are shown the correct way to interact with the rabbit in the beginning, they will be cautious in the future. However, rabbits have very thin bones and if they are dropped or land on the ground in a dangerous way, they could danger themselves and break something like their leg or spine which is deadly.

Predators

Rabbits who are housed outside are in danger from dogs and other wild animals that could break into the garden and harm or kill them. It is safer to house rabbits indoors or if possible in a hutch set up in a garage or shed which cannot be accessed by predators when you are not at home.

Weather

Rabbits like many other animals can become ill from changes in temperature. In the summer rabbits can get heat stroke if they are not kept in the shade. Similarly when it is cold outside, rabbits need to be kept in a warm area to ensure that they don't get hypothermia. Don't be careless with your pet’s health.

Why Owning a Bunny Rabbit is Different

I have had cats as well as rabbits and I find that cats like to be independent and do whatever they want. On the other hand, the rabbits are always in the house or confined to the back garden and like hanging out with you.

If your rabbit has their hutch and play area, they can spend all day playing in this safe environment. Once you arrive home from work or school, you should let the rabbits out of their hutch immediately so they can run around.

Usually cat and dog are given the run of the house during the day, and other pets like guinea pigs, snakes, rabbits and newts will be homed in a confined area for their own safety.

As an owner, it is your job to supervise your rabbit when it is allowed out of its hutch. Never leave your rabbit unattended in a room by themselves.

If your rabbit is kept indoors there is a higher chance that they will become more integrated within the family. Rabbits just like dogs and cats will enjoy sitting on the couch with you.

They will often just go for a snooze or explore the headrest of the couch or armchair.

Owning a rabbit is so much different to a cat. Rabbit loves hanging out with you and are very affectionate.

Owning a rabbit is so much different to a cat. Rabbit loves hanging out with you and are very affectionate.

What to Expect When You Own a Rabbit

Unlike cats and dogs who love to run around and play fetch, rabbits are quite often able to entertain themselves.

Rabbits are similar to cats in that they also like exploring new places and hiding under blankets and beds.

That is why it is important to close doors to rooms that you don't want your rabbit to enter otherwise they will head in there to investigate it.

While cats limit the amount of interaction they want with you, and dogs love interacting with you, rabbits are different in that they have set times where they become extremely active.

Early morning and late at night is when rabbits become playful. They will come up to you and nudge your shoe or if they are on the couch, they will jump onto your lap and run around the couch and jump from armchair to armchair.

Rabbits when they are awake are playful creatures and love social interaction. While it is possible to train your rabbit to play games like a dog, it can be challenging. But give them a blanket, a kitchen towel roll or a wooden chew toy and they will be entertained for hours.

No matter what type of pet you have, you need to spend some time each day interacting with them. All pets will get bored if they are left alone without any interaction from their owners.

How to Handle a Bunny Rabbit

Adults as well as children need to be careful when picking up a rabbit. Unlike cats and dogs they are more prone to getting harmed if they are dropped in an awkward manner.

The bones of a rabbit are very thin, similar to a matchstick and if they are dropped on the ground from a height, they might not land correctly and end up breaking a leg or their spine.

They are very fragile creatures and cannot be handled carelessly.

Getting a Rabbit for Children

Children should be taught the dangers of incorrectly handling a rabbit. It is the job of the parent or guardian to ensure that the child does not do the following things.

  1. Handle the rabbit in a careless manner.
  2. Never leave a child unattended with a rabbit.
  3. Educate them on what can happen if they behave in an inappropriately manner regarding the safety of the rabbit.

Other Factors to Take Account of When Deciding on a Rabbit

  1. The lifespan of rabbits can vary from country to country and there are circumstance that can impact their lifespan like where they are homed, how they are treated and how responsible their owner is. Outdoor rabbits can live up to six years while indoor rabbits can live up to eight years.
  2. Having two rabbits allows them to keep each other company especially if you are away from home a lot during the day. If you decide on getting only one rabbit, then a key issue you need to address is attention. Rabbits are a pet and need to be treated so accordingly and you need to interact and play with them and not leave them in a hutch for the rest of their life.
  3. Getting a hutch with two levels or one with a big open play area will allow the rabbit plenty of space to exercise and play.
  4. Once you arrive home, the rabbit should be allowed out of the hutch and brought into the home. They should be integrated into the family and get as much social integration as possible.
  5. Rabbits like cats and dogs enjoy hanging out and playing with their owners.

Different Bunny Rabbit Breeds

Netherland Dwarf Bunny Rabbit

Netherland Dwarf Bunny Rabbit

Choosing a Bunny Rabbit

There are many breeds of rabbit and some are specific to certain countries. While you can be limited on the breed of rabbit you get depending on where you live and what breeders are in your area, with some research, you can find one that matches your needs.

If the rabbit you are getting is for a child then getting a dwarf rabbit might be a good idea. They are smaller than the normal breeds and don't require a lot of grooming unlike an angora rabbit.

But if an adult is getting a rabbit then they can get whatever breed they want as they will be a lot more responsible on the needs or that breed of rabbit.

Owning a bunny rabbit requires patience and some of your time because you need to build up trust between the rabbit and yourself.

Just like with cats and dogs, you need to set time out to train your pet to not be naughty.

Some well know breeds are:

  • Netherland Dwarf rabbit
  • Mini Rex rabbit
  • Holland Lop rabbit
  • Dutch rabbit
  • Lionhead rabbit
  • Angora rabbit

While these lists highlight many of the common breeds of rabbits available, the number of breeds varies and many people like mixed breeds or more specific breeds compared to those listed. There is also cross over breeds that are more geared toward a particular country.

Once you have decided on the type of rabbit you want to get, you need to identify a legitimate breeder with a good reputation to get them from.

If you are unsure of where to get a rabbit, check forums online and also check out animal sanctuaries as they might have taken in abandoned rabbits they are looking to re-home them.

A sleepy mini rex bunny rabbit lying down and relaxing.

A sleepy mini rex bunny rabbit lying down and relaxing.

Caring For Your Bunny Rabbit

Each year depending on where you live, you will need to get your rabbit vaccinated. There are two diseases that rabbits need to be vaccinated against, Myxomatois and Viral Haemorrhagic Disease. Both these diseases can one spread to other rabbits very quickly and if a rabbit is infected they can suffer a very painful death.

In Ireland the Myxomatois vaccine is widely used by vets but rabbit are not given the Viral Haemorrhagic Disease vaccine unless they show signs of having it. This vaccine is very dangerous and the person who is administering it can be at risk when giving it.

If you have more than one rabbit, you need to be aware that they can get ear mites and ringworm and that this can spread among the pack.

Rabbits are not prone to getting sick very often. In fact you might never have an issue with your rabbit which will require veterinarian attention.

Rabbits do not make noise, so if they are ill or in pain, there is no way for them to alert you to this. So you will need to be alert and take note of any behavioural changes. If your rabbits behaviour changes, you need to investigate this and see if there is an underlying issue that need to be addressed.


Test your knowledge on Rabbits

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. How many diseases is a rabbit prone to getting?
    • 4
    • 1
    • 2
  2. What breed of rabbit is good for children?
    • Angora rabbit
    • Holland lop rabbit
    • Dwarf rabbit
  3. What is the lifespan of an outdoor rabbit?
    • 10 years
    • 4 years
    • 6 years
  4. Can you get your rabbit fixed?
    • Yes
    • No
    • Don't know
  5. What food does a rabbit need a plentiful supply of in his diet?
    • Hay
    • Pellets
    • Grass
  6. Do rabbits make any type of noise?
    • Yes
    • Never
    • No, only if they are extremely frightened

Answer Key

  1. 2
  2. Dwarf rabbit
  3. 6 years
  4. Yes
  5. Hay
  6. No, only if they are extremely frightened

Interpreting Your Score

If you got between 0 and 1 correct answer: Good try

If you got between 2 and 3 correct answers: Looking good

If you got 4 correct answers: Nearly there

If you got 5 correct answers: You're a winner

Clipping the Rabbits Claws

  • If you have an indoor rabbit, you will need to clip their claws about once a month.
  • This is easier than you might think but it is a lot easier if there are two of you doing it.
  • If you do not feel confident enough to perform this task, consult your veterinarian and he/she will clip them. It is important that you don't let them get long because this could cause your bunny rabbit to have problems later on with their feet.

Neutering and Spaying Your Rabbit

Your vet might advise you to get your rabbit neutered or spayed. I got my rabbit neutered when he was over a year old because he had an issue where he would spray urine on your leg when he was running around each day. The veterinarian who performed the procedure was also the breeder so I knew I could trust him. The rabbit was given gas not an anaesthesia. The reason you might get your rabbit fixed is because:

  1. If you have male or female rabbits in the same hutch, you should get both fixed unless you want a litter of rabbits.
  2. If you have a male rabbit, getting them neutered can help reduce aggressive behaviour
  3. Getting a female rabbit fixed can reduce the change of her developing uterine cancer.
  4. If you have two male rabbits together it is good to get them neutered because otherwise they will become aggressive towards each other and get into fights.
When bunny rabbits are exhausted and feel safe in their surrounding, you will often see them sleep this way. They fall over on their side like they have collapsed.

When bunny rabbits are exhausted and feel safe in their surrounding, you will often see them sleep this way. They fall over on their side like they have collapsed.

Bunny rabbit often lay their head down flat on the ground when they are tired or just want to rest themselves.

Bunny rabbit often lay their head down flat on the ground when they are tired or just want to rest themselves.

Understanding Your Rabbits Behaviour

After you have had your rabbit for a few months, they will learn how to identify you by your voice and the outline of your body. Rabbits are always excited to see you in the morning, when you get up and in the evening when you get home. They will climb up on the wire of their hutch waiting to be let out.

Rabbit love to have their cheeks and nose rubbed as well as between their ears. Once you have earned your rabbits trust they will allow you to pet their tummy.

When you first get your rabbit, they will ignore you and not answer to their name. It took my rabbit a few months to learn his name and to come to me when I called him.

It will take time for your rabbit to learn how to behave. Just like puppies and kittens, baby rabbits learn as they grow. Rabbits behave a little differently to cats and dogs.

When you first get your rabbit they will run around all over the house. This is why when the rabbit is inside, that you need to be careful that you don't walk into them.

Rabbits will let you know when they are hungry as they will bang their empty bowl if you are not feeding them fast enough.

Watch the body language of a rabbit to see how they feel. The way that the rabbit positions his/her body will tell you what mood your rabbit is in. If their head and body is flat on the ground, it means they are happy and enjoying themselves. If they are jumping up in the air and kicking their legs out to the side doing binkies, then they are happy and excited to play.

If the rabbit is scared or stressed, they will thump their back legs on the ground. This is their way of giving a signal that they are scared or there is something dangerous around. Loud noises will frighten a rabbit and since their hearing is better than humans, you might not be aware what is happening. So always be alert.

You need to build up trust between yourself and your rabbit. Once you have formed a bond you will have a fantastic relationship with your rabbits and you will see a side to their personality that you never expected.


Types Of Hutches For Your Bunny Rabbit

Large rabbit hutch for your bunny rabbit if they are kept outside.

Large rabbit hutch for your bunny rabbit if they are kept outside.

One story hutch for your rabbits if they live outside.

One story hutch for your rabbits if they live outside.

If you have decided to home your bunny rabbit inside, you can get indoor pens to house them.

If you have decided to home your bunny rabbit inside, you can get indoor pens to house them.

Environment: Should You Keep A Bunny Rabbit Inside or Outdoors

If you decide to home your rabbit outside in a hutch, then you need to make sure that you make their environment as safe as possible for them. These are some of the threats they could face:

- Predators

- Overexposure to sun, heat, wind and rain

- Theft

· Diseases

· Shock (which will result in death)

It is the responsibility of the rabbit owner to have a safe hutch enclosure for the rabbit. Rabbits need an enclosure that has plenty of space for them to run around in to get exercise and to play. Keeping your rabbit inside is a much safer option and gives you more time to bond with your pet.

Rabbits are very sociable creatures and they enjoy being around people and other pets. So in the evening bring them inside the house and let them hang out with you in whatever room you are in.

If one of the reasons you do not want a rabbit in the house is because of them pooping and peeing everywhere, then don't despair. Rabbits can be litter trained just like cats to go to the bathroom in a litter tray. This will take time and patience and some persistence on your part to ensure they know where to go to do their business.

Start by filling a litter tray with some hay or newspaper. Entice your rabbit to go in the litter tray while eating as many rabbits like to eat hay while pooping. Eventually after a while the rabbit will learn that this is where they go to do their business.

Bunny Proof Your Home

  • If you are keeping your rabbit inside or you are bring them into the house in the evening, and then you need to bunny proof your house.
  • You need to cover wires and be aware that bunnies like to chew wood so keep an eye on them when they are around your doors or table legs.
  • To ensure that your rabbit doesn't chew these areas, give the rabbit a wood stick or toy designed for rabbits to chew on.
  • Never ever leave a bunny rabbit unattended in a room because they will find something to eat in there.

Never Starve Your Rabbit

When feeding your bunny rabbit, give them plenty of hay and water. Give them enough pellets each day to help keep their digestive system in good working order.

When feeding your bunny rabbit, give them plenty of hay and water. Give them enough pellets each day to help keep their digestive system in good working order.

Feeding Your Rabbit

Rabbits need to be fed the correct type of food. Never give a rabbit human food as this could kill them.

Rabbits need roughage every day to ensure that their digestive system stays in good order. That is why rabbits need a supply of

  • Pellets
  • Hay
  • Fresh vegetables/fruit
  • Water

Pellets: When you are buying pellets you need to make sure that they contain a high content of fibre. Rabbits need a lot of fibre from hay and pellets to ensure that they don't get any blockage in their intestines. Give your rabbit the correct serving of pellets according to his/her weight.

A lot of the pellet brands on the market are made up of dried vegetables and fruit which are tasty for rabbits but the downside is they are loaded with sugar. These are not good for the rabbit’s teeth or their digestive system.

Hay: When giving them hay make sure you give them an unlimited supply of hay each day and that it is the appropriate hay for their age. Rabbits can be fussy eaters, so while timothy is one hay that you can give them, some might prefer oat or orchard hay. Hay is good roughage which helps to prevent any hairballs developing in the digestive system.

Vegetables: When giving fresh veggies and fruit to rabbits these are a few that they love cabbage, carrots, apple, basil, brussel sprouts, celery, cilantro, kale, mint, and parsley and wheat grass. Make sure not to overfeed your rabbit either, give him/her the correct weight of pellets according to his/her weight.

Water: Each day change the water in their water bottle and ensure that it is filled every day. Never leave a rabbit without water and this is something every animal needs to survive. Many rabbits will also drink water from a bowel, so if you have an indoor rabbit, you can leave a bowel of water beside their pellets.

Final Tip

Rabbits like to chew and nibble on wood. So make sure you buy the wood sticks available in all good pet stores. As rabbit’s teeth are constantly growing you need to give them wood sticks to chew on. This also keeps them away from your wooden furniture.

Find out more on Understanding the Behaviour of a Rabbit

Conclusion

Rabbits are just like any other animal; they are intelligent, loving and sweet. Just like any other pets they are a joy to own. The more time you spend with them, the more their personality will develop.

If you keep your rabbit indoors, this gives you more of an opportunity to spend time with them. Plus just like cats and dogs, they will greet you in the morning.

© 2011 Sp Greaney

Comments

Sp Greaney (author) from Ireland on October 09, 2020:

@Elaine Byers, ha ha. They are just so cute and adorable.

Elaine Byers on October 08, 2020:

Thank you for these helpful tips, such a well written article! Think I'm gonna hop to it and get myself a bunny !!

Sp Greaney (author) from Ireland on August 17, 2020:

@Mona Sabalones Gonzalez. Thank you. Yes, there are so many to choose from and the prices really vary a lot. Rabbits are quite smart and pick up training quite easily.

Mona Sabalones Gonzalez from Philippines on August 16, 2020:

We had a few rabbits when our child was little. Your information is very helpful, especially the part about teaching them where to poop and pee. The big rabbit cage is also useful information. Your photos of the cage is very helpful.

Sp Greaney (author) from Ireland on July 26, 2020:

@ Devika Primic, yes, you are so right. They can also be expensive and a handful. I think getting any kind of pet should never be a spur of the moment decision.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on July 26, 2020:

It was an idea to have a rabbit but knowing the many valuable tips you share here it makes me wonder if I should get one. A responsibility as any pet can be but time is of the essence for me.

Sp Greaney (author) from Ireland on February 17, 2018:

I did not know that. :) Thank you for passing that on. I have heard about diapers for dogs. It's amazing what you can find today on Amazon.

Mona Sabalones Gonzalez from Philippines on February 17, 2018:

We used to have lovely rabbits as pets. As babies they were adorable, but as they grew older, their pee and pellets increased as well. Now I understand that Amazon sells rabbit diapers online. I have two dogs but if I didn't have them, I would be fine with a rabbit with two weeks worth of diapers:)

Sp Greaney (author) from Ireland on February 21, 2014:

Hi grand old lady, thank you so much for your comment. As you know having a bunny rabbit as a pet is fantastic. Our guys is such a cutie.

Having our guy litter trained is a lot easier than having to clean up after him. It's amazing how he quickly learned by routine what he had to do. We started from day one with the training.

Getting them vaccinated especially if you live in the countryside is important, who knows what could wander into your garden spreading germs.

Mona Sabalones Gonzalez from Philippines on February 19, 2014:

I used to have a rabbit, it very cute and lived long. However, it's only now through your hub that I realize that the rabbit should have had injections and could have been toilet trained. My rabbit also was fed fresh cabbage and carrots. This hub is very helpful. I will pass it on to a friend of mine who has a rabbit.

Sp Greaney (author) from Ireland on April 07, 2013:

@ bethh, thank you so much for your kind words. Good luck with the new bunny. :)

I'm sure you will have such fun when he/she arrives. I know my guy keeps me entertained on a daily basis.

bethh on April 06, 2013:

I'm getting a rabbit either in the summer or next week. Your hubs have really helped me a lot! I know what too expect and it's been really useful! This is my first bunny and I want too make sure its healthy and happy :D thank you very much!

Sp Greaney (author) from Ireland on June 14, 2012:

@purnimamoh1982, I'll check that out. I think they don't get enough credit for being smart and adorable. :-)

purnimamoh1982 on June 13, 2012:

Very true. Rabbits as pets are so satisfying and watching their activities is quite refreshing. Some of my experience of having rabbits at home. https://discover.hubpages.com/animals/On-Pets-An-A...

Sp Greaney (author) from Ireland on February 22, 2012:

@ Lilly, I agree with your words. Cutest pets out there.

Lilly on February 21, 2012:

Bunnies are soo cute

Sp Greaney (author) from Ireland on February 16, 2012:

@ sgbrown, thanks for your comment. My little fellow spends most of his evening indoors. Having the shoebox as litter tray was a smart idea. They do get use it, most of the time. I love most animals, but I think rabbits now have my devotion. They can be funny little fellows.

Sheila Brown from Southern Oklahoma on February 16, 2012:

Wonderful hub! My daughter had a pet rabbit when she was in 3rd grade. Her name was Duchess, she lived for about 7 years. We had a hutch simular to the outdoor hutch you showed here, but she spent a lot of time indoors. She was actually hous broken. She would at least pee, in a large shoebox we placed by the back door. Now the other was a different story. Little pellets everywhere! The only really bad thing was that she would chew up any electrical cord she could find. Rabbits can make great pets if you know what to expect. Very nice hub here! Voted up and interesting! Have a great day! :)

Sp Greaney (author) from Ireland on May 18, 2011:

@ R Talloni, glad you found it helpful.

RTalloni on May 17, 2011:

Bunnies are amazing pets. So glad you posted good guidelines for owning them.

sangre on March 13, 2011:

Me too, they are friend for life..

trackio1 on March 12, 2011:

love rabbits XD

Sangre on March 12, 2011:

I don't see why not, a lot of people I know keep guinea pigs and rabbits together. It really depends on the nature of your rabbit.

If you see signs of aggression from either one of them I would separate them straight away.

Start introducing them to each other gradually. Maybe have one inside the hutch and one outside. Let them get to know each other. Make sure each one has his own space in the hutch to chill out, so they can get away from the other one if need be.

If they dont' get on maybe just put a divide between the hutch to keep them separate.

Hope that helps.

ps: thanks for comment..

Real Life Stories from UK on March 12, 2011:

Hey there,

Nice work - I tell you, the french angora is one funny looking little rabbit!

Just a quick question, is it okay to keep degus and rabbits together in the same hutch?

Anyway, thanks very much.

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