General Bunny Care - Let's Do It Right
Plus A BUnny Behavior guide
How Do I Train my Bunny to be Social? To insure that you have a good relationship with your bunny and that it is well-socialized rabbit who enjoys human interaction, you must take this rabbit out of its enclosure and have regular playtime. These little rabbits may look adorable and fun, but they have a natural disposition to be a little on the shy side and will jump right out of your hand if s/he is not handled enough. The more often they are outdoors being held, petted and simply being around humans, they more likely you will have a rabbit who enjoys your presence and who actually wants to be with you. With lots of playtime and patience, the your new bunny will easily befriend you. If you are sweet and gentle and patient with a baby animal they will do the same and make a terrific pet!
Coat Care: Your bunny has a Very Easy coat to maintain. It is short, plush soft, and does not need much grooming to keep it in shape. Should you find that your rabbit is shedding more than usual, this may be due to the time of the year (shedding season 2x a year). If you wish to brush your rabbit during this time so there is less fur in the house, use a bristled brush and stroke in the natural direction of its fur. Remember that rabbits should never be bathed, as this causes them great stress and may cause cardiac problems. If your rabbit’s fur is dirty, simply clean it with a damp cloth. Check their “bottoms” daily to make sure they are clean and free from poop. Proper Housing:Your bunny can be housed in cages or be left to run freely in the home SUPERVISED. Bunnies are fun and playful. As a result, they require space to romp around. Their cages should have many toys to play with and places to climb. They should be let out of the cage a lot to play with you and run and do flips for you! In general, small breeds do NOT do well living outdoors, they are more sensative to changes in temperature. It is also safer to keep your bunny indoors, away from day time and especially night time predators and the elements. Cages should be made of wire and have a plastic bottom in order to line it with bedding. WIRE FLOORED CAGES WITH A PULL OUT PAN THAT CATCHES THE POOP & URINE ARE EASIER TO CLEAN & KEEPS THE BUNNY CLEANER. Bedding should be spot-cleaned every day to rid it of feces and urine as needs. At the end of every week, dump out the bedding, wash out the pan, and replace the fluffy bedding. The urine is the only thing that smells – so keeping the cage dry will keep everyone happy.
Your bunny has a higher level of intelligence. The high intelligence makes it easy to litter train them. They can also recognize simple commands. Because of the possibility of litter training them, most people prefer letting them roam freely in the home. Many rabbit owners have found success by placing several rabbit litter boxes around the house so they don’t have to hop all the way to their cage in order to do the deed.
Again, Small breeds should not live outside on a permanent basis. Their need their environmental temperature to be as comfortable as your living environment. So if you feel comfortable with the ambient temperature they will too. In general bunnies perfer cool over hot. If you take the indoor cage outside in the spring, summer or fall in nice weather, the cage should ALWAYS be shaded AWAY from direct sunlight. Heat strokes can kill ALL bunnies.
Never Leave Your Bunny Unattended Outside:Bunnies are a preyed upon animal. Cats, dogs, racoons, opossum, rats, hawks, eagles, etc. will be watching and waiting for the right moment to strike. Bunnies should NEVER be allowed to randomly hop around a back yard - they can escape, eat grass that had weed killer (poison) put on it, or be killed by another animal.Always keep your bunny in a cool, shaded area. Bunnies prefer cool over heat.Please make sure that your grass has not been fertilized or had weed chemicals put on it, that would make the grass your bunny is nibbling on poisonous to your rabbit. If you have this issue put the bunny on a shaded concrete or wooden deck outside in this x-pen. Do not feed bunnies weeds - they may be poisonous to your bunny. Remember bunnies dig and will dig under this if put on the grass - so constant supervision is needed.
Territorial Does & Bucks, & Breeding:DO NOT keep a male and female together - any breed of Bunny!. Does (Females are territorial and will fight with other bunnies for their cage space). 2 Males in a Cage will also beat each other up as they get older, even if you got 2 babies at the same time. 1 bunny per cage unless they are both females and you have them from 6 weeks old together. Never let a female & male bunny romp around together - breeding literally takes seconds. Death can easily occur with new born bunnies, ESPECIALLY with an unexperienced person attending to them - it is never "cute" to have a litter. You will have heartbreak and an immense amount of work on your hands. You will want to have your pet spayed or neutered by a vet for many health reasons when it is over 6 months of age. ONLY go to vet that specializes in "SMALL and Exotoc animals", not just a Dog and Cat vet. Bunnies can be very sensative to anesthesia in surgery, so a watchful eye has to be taken by the surgeon. Spayed/neutered rabbits tend to live longer than those who are not fixed. Breeding of rabbits is a complicated affair. To successfully breed them requires extensive research, knowledge, nerves of steel, planning, Lots of space, patience, and discipline. Keep the breeding to the experts. It is tricky and complicated and will give you heartache and dead babies.
Parasite control and deworming:Like all other pets, bunnies need protection against mites, tick, and fleas. Internal worms also affect the health of these bunnies. Deworming them will aid in keeping them healthy. We recommend you see or call your vet for directions, product recommendation and how often it should be done. If you put your bunny on the ground outside, it can easily gert parasites.
This question often comes up - Should I get 2 bunnies to keep each other company? or I have 2 kids, SO I need 2 bunnies RIGHT? Here is OUR professional opinion.1. Males & females CANNOT be in the same cage - the female will get injured. 2 Males will fight all the time and become territorial. If you purchase 1 bunny - it will be happy, calm, friendly and focus on YOU. YOUR FAMILY and BOND with YOU. That is what you are looking for in a bunny. If you do get 2 bunnies, the easiest way to socialize them with each other is to get 2 AT THE SAME TIME, when they are babies themselves so they can Quickly Bond to each other. You would need to get 2 females or neuter the male(s) as early as your vet says it's OK to do so to lessen aggression between them and prevent breeding, they will not have aggression towards you though. If you already own a bunny, get your present bunny Spayed or Neutered BEFORE bringing home a new bunny & keep them in different cages. Slowly let them bond, STARTING WITH nose to nose in separate cages, so there is no fighting. Read bunny books to see how to slowly socialize them with each other. This is Not a guarantee that they will get along with each other, it takes time and they will chase each other to decide which one will be dominent. Usually they calm down after 1- 2- weeks but you need to keep them seperate during this processes and slowly let them be together WITH SUPERVISION so they Don't Hurt each other. I'm just being honest with you. A FACEBOOK PAGE you can join is "RABBIT BONDING ADVICE". 2. Each rabbit cage or hutch is designed to house just ONE bunny. Even a large cage is usually too small to house 2 bunnies, unless they are free roaming in your home. 3. Bunnies need to hop around OUTSIDE their cage, don't limit your bunny's life to its cage. It needs Supervised exercise at all times. Never leave a bunny alone in a room - wires, scooting under furniture , other pets, or small unsupervised children can chase and really frighten and hurt your bunny. An x-pen (exercise pen) is a great way to let the bunny hop around "free" in an enclosed area - a person can sit in the enclosure with it as well!! 4. There are MAJOR problems in getting a male and female bunny - even if you put them in separate cages. The female will growl, bite and lung at the male AND AT YOU, because the male is agitating her and will be trying to mount her and breed with her constantly!!!! It takes literally a minute for them to breed. The male will try doing this 24/7 which will exhaust himself to the point of not wanting to eat. The female can get Severely Hurt by a male bunny's advances. And yes, baby bunnies die Very easily if you are not a professional breeder. You and your kids don't want to see that, or need that heartbreak in your family's life. If you have a male & female, get the MALE neutered asap to keep things calm, happy & safe!! 5. I cannot state this enough. You DO NOT WANT BABY BUNNIES BORN. It is a 24/7 job and is NOT at all like taking care of"ONE sweet pet bunny you will buy from us. Our female rabbits are very docile, but when they are bred, pregnant, and then nursing mothers of their kits (baby bunnies), their hormones and natural protective nature kicks in & they go into "Normal Fierce Protection Mode". They become super aggressive and can be dangerous to a non professional breeder. Newborns & the Mom needs a Specialized diet, special heating, & very specific human care throughout the day & and night. It is a fact of life that not all newborns survive, so this is not for the faint of heart.
What Is My Rabbit Trying to Tell Me?
Grunts or growling. When your bunny growls at you it means that he is angry. It will often be followed by him either biting or turning his back on you. Leave the bunny alone to calm down. This only happens if something is threatening or harming a bunny.
Oinking. Your rabbit may make this sound when he or she is content, they sometimes do it as they are eating or being pet.
Biting or nibbling. It can be a sign of affection, but more often it is your bunny gently telling you that it wants you to stop whatever you are doing at the moment. Pixie will usually start nibbling at me or my clothes, when she doesn't want to to sit on my lap anymore.
Squealing. The rabbit is very scared. If you are causing the squealing by something you are doing, you should stop immediately. Bunnies can die if they are stressed out too much.
Running in figure-eights or circles around you. If your bunny is doing this, it means he is trying to court you. LOL, he is in love!
Chinning. Rabbits have scent glands under their chins. If your bunny is rubbing its chin against you, then it means he is marking you as his. Congratulations, you now belong to your rabbit.
Tooth grinding. As mentioned above, a low grinding sound means your bunny is happy and is the equivalent of a cat purring; louder grinding might be cause for worry. The rabbit can be agitated, in Pain, ill, or have misaligned teeth.
Licking. Your bunny is grooming you. This is a great honor to receive from a rabbit, as in nature lower bunnies groom the ones ranking higher in the hierarchy. If your bunny is licking you, then it either means that he accepts you as a superior, or he likes you so much that hierarchy doesn't matter. Ronja will usually groom me when I am petting him.
Nose poking. The rabbit is showing affection and it wants you to pet him.
Ears forward. Some sound has the rabbit's full attention. Your bunny is ready to run if the sound should turn out to be danger coming his way.
One ear forward. Partly paying attention to something, but not 100% interested.
Ears flat. This can mean two things. If the bunny is generally happy, it means that he is relaxed. If he is angry, it could be a sign that he is ready to attack and bite.
Sitting upright on hind legs. The rabbit will do this when it is curious about its surroundings, often when it hears a strange sound that doesn't seem immediately threatening. It is basically just the bunny trying to get a better overview of the room.
Thumping. Bunnies are pack animals and if your rabbit likes you, then you are automatically part of the pack. If your bunny is thumping its hind leg, then it is most likely trying to warn you (the pack) so you can escape from the danger it is sensing. When our fire alarm went off accidentally, went crazy with thumping until we got it turned off.
Digging. Rabbits dig instinctively; they were born to do it. However, sometimes they will dig as a way of communicating. If you are holding your bunny on your lap and he starts digging, then he may be saying that he needs the toilet, or that he just doesn't want to sit with you anymore.
Lying flat on the side with eyes half closed and hind legs stretched out.This is the ultimate sign of trust. Your bunny is super relaxed, happy and feels so safe with you that he doesn't feel the need to be ready to run. Bunnies will do this from time to time when I am watching a movie and he is on the couch with me.
Eating it’s Poo? Coprophagy (poo eating): not a disease, but a natural function - rabbits produce two kinds of poo, the black round hard pellets which you will see in the hutch that you clean up - that is their real poo, and a soft, mucusy, moist pellet that looks something like a small blackberry. This is NOT poo but a protein rich food the rabbit actually produces and eats for health benefits – G-D is amazing in His design of animals!
Doing a "binky" (jumping and twisting in the air). If your bunny does this it is a sign that he is a really happy rabbit.