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What You Need To Know About Rabbits

If you’re envisioning having a lap-pet, a rabbit might not be right for you. In general, rabbits don’t like being held, and they may think a predator has grabbed them if you pick them up. And rabbits should not be thought of as “children’s pets.” Families with children can enjoy the companionship of a rabbit, but the primary caregiver for a rabbit should always be an adult. The HSUS strongly advises that parents or guardians wait until kids are older before the family adopts a rabbit. 

Things To Consider

  • Owning a pet rabbit comes with added financial responsibility. Costs include an adoption fee, vet bills for spay/neuter surgery, annual checkups, occasional illness, housing, bunny proofing supplies, and food. After ten or more years, these costs can add up. You’ll want to do the math. 
  • Your rabbit needs safe housing, preferably within your home, so that they can get much-needed social interaction and protection from predators and severe weather. A great place is in a central area of your home. You can use a puppy pen to block off a corner of a living room or family room. The pen provides ample space for a litter box, food/water bowls, a hay box, and a cardboard castle, and the rabbit still has plenty of room to hop around in. A puppy pen is a better option than a cage because it provides more space, and it can be easily adjusted if you want to gradually increase the area to eventually give your rabbit free reign in a rabbit-proofed room (or rooms). And because puppy pens have doors, it’s easy to let your rabbit out of the pen for daily exercise
  • To keep your rabbit happy, healthy, and too busy to chew up your household, you must provide entertainment. Rabbits require daily exercise, so keeping them confined to a small space all the time will not suffice. Along with the puppy pen and eventual freedom in a rabbit-proofed room, create a cardboard castle by cutting doorways and windows in a large cardboard box. Chew toys can include seagrass mats, woven grass play balls, and rope activity centers. Rabbits like being with other rabbits. They are social animals, and since rabbits only speak rabbit, it helps them feel safer if there's another rabbit around. (Spaying and neutering is a good call.)
  • You’ll have to train your new rabbit to use the litter box. (A medium-sized cat litter box with no top.) Cat litter is unsafe for rabbits since they like to chew. It can cause swelling and illness, so be sure to use litter specifically designed for rabbits.
  • Rabbits can live more than ten years, so if you want to adopt, make sure you can keep the commitment to give your rabbit a “forever home” even after the kids leave for college.
  • Rabbits need veterinary preventative care and check-ups.
  • Rabbits need to chew, and it’ll be your job to provide them something safe and healthy.

Keeping A Rabbit Healthy


Proper nutrition in the correct amounts is vital for a rabbit’s well-being. The staple of a rabbit’s diet is fiber. As grazing animals, rabbits need to have an unlimited supply of fresh hay daily. It should make up to 80 to 90 percent of a rabbit’s diet. These should be grass hays. Good types of grass hay for rabbits are timothy, orchard grass, brome, and oat hay. You can feed your rabbits either one type or a mixture of different grass hays.

Alfalfa hay is not a good choice for an adult rabbit, since it’s a legume, not a grass, and is too rich to be fed daily. Alfalfa can be given to rabbits once in a while as a treat. Rabbits under one year of age can be fed alfalfa hay, but as they get older, they should be switched to grass hay, especially if they are also fed alfalfa pellets. Timothy hay pellets can be given to bunnies in small quantities. Look for pellets with a high ?ber content—the higher, the better. Do not buy the rabbit pellets with dried corn, nuts, and seeds added, because those foods can potentially be very harmful to rabbits.


Buy the freshest hay possible and check for the presence of mold or dust, which could make your rabbit sick.

What else should rabbits eat? Depending on what she was eating before you adopted her, keep in mind that rabbits have very sensitive digestive tracts. The transition to hay or pellets, or the introduction of new fruits and vegetables, must be done gradually to allow her system to adjust.

Rabbits count vegetables and herbs among their favorite foods. Most greens found in a supermarket are safe for rabbits, with a few limitations and exceptions. No more than two cups daily of fresh vegetables should be given to adult rabbits. Dwarf breeds and rabbits under five pounds should get just one cup of fresh veggies per day. A variety of two or three vegetables is ideal. Add one new vegetable at a time, and watch for signs of loose stool or diarrhea. Certain vegetables can be given every day, while others should be fed sparingly, one or two times a week. Do not feed your rabbit potatoes, corn, beans, seeds, or nuts. These foods are dif?cult for rabbits to digest and can cause serious digestive problems.

Vegetables like carrot tops, cucumbers, lettuce, and brussels sprouts can be fed daily to your rabbit. Only give vegetables like carrots, spinach, chard, and kale one or two times a week. Fruit should be introduced slowly, one at a time, and only given once or twice a week. Some fruit rabbits can eat oranges, bananas, plums, and grapes.

Foods to avoid giving your rabbit are all human treats, iceberg lettuce, nuts, and beans.


These food lists are not exhaustive. Before feeding your rabbit any new food, make sure the food is a healthy and wise choice.

Fresh Water

Fresh water should be given in an unlimited supply to your pet rabbit, and it should be changed daily. It should be in a container that is cleaned with soap and water every few days. Water bottles aren’t easy to clean and can be difficult for rabbits to use, so bowls are better (a heavy, ceramic bowl that doesn’t tip easily is ideal).


If your rabbit runs in circles, lays in your lap, or hops up onto you, there’s a very good chance they loves you. A rabbit’s ideal owner is one who understands everything it takes to provide them a healthy and happy home, including the time and space to dedicate to an active pet that enjoys cuddling. As long as you know what to expect from a pet rabbit, they have the potential to be a wonderful addition to the family.



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