Bunny Care Basics
Before you adopt, did you know?
- Rabbits are individuals, just like people, cats and dogs. They can be shy, nervous, outgoing, playful, bright, ornery, inquisitive and opinionated.
- Most do not like to be picked up and held. Most will not sit in your lap. They like you to interact with them on the ground at their level.
- Rabbits are very intelligent and need bunny toys and other mental stimulation.
- Remember that rabbits are "prey" animals, unlike cats or dogs and need to feel safe and secure. Let them approach you.
- Most enjoy social interaction with people.
- Many enjoy the companionship of another spayed or neutered rabbit. Let your rabbit pick his/her own friend. How would you like an arranged marriage?
- Introduce rabbits slowly in neutral territory, with each rabbit having his/her own housing during this time or consult an expert. Rabbits can fight viciously.
- Many rabbits can get along well with cats and well-behaved dogs. Slow, supervised introductions are a must.
- Rabbits do not make good pets for young children or as classroom pets. Rabbits prefer a quiet, stable environment and can be easily injured by exuberant children.
- Both male and female rabbits need to be spayed or neutered for both health and behavioral reasons even if they are a solitary rabbit. Discuss with your vet because anesthesia is much riskier in rabbits than in dogs or cats.
- Spay/ neuter tends to reduce or prevent territorial behavior, spraying, moodiness, aggressiveness, and some destructive behaviors, like digging.
- Unspayed female rabbits run an exceptionally high risk (80%+) of getting uterine cancer by age four.
- Indoor, spayed/neutered rabbits with proper diet and vet care can often live to be 10+ years old.
- Locate a veterinarian who is educated about rabbits and experienced with their special medical issues before an emergency arises. Please see the SaveABunny recommended local vets or for other national and international locations, please see the national House Rabbit Society vet list.
- Contact your vet immediately if your rabbit has stopped eating, drinking or eliminating. This is an emergency. Closely monitor any changes in your rabbit's behavior and daily habits for signs of illness. Don't wait. Rabbits hide signs of illness and can die quickly.
- Rabbits need to be brushed regularly to avoid hairballs. Unlike cats, rabbits cannot vomit up hairballs and they can become severely ill or die from intestinal blockage. Longhaired rabbits should be brushed daily. Shorthaired rabbits several times a week.
- Nail trims are needed once a month. Do it yourself or pay a vet to do it.
- Rabbits’’teeth grow constantly and they require hard items, greens with stems, and toys to chew on to help the teeth wear properly. Have your vet check your rabbit's teeth.
- Indoor only---rabbits are companions and part of the family.
- Outdoor rabbits are often frightened and lonely, and are vulnerable to predators including: feral cats, hawks, dogs, raccoons, and people. Your rabbit will be safest and happiest inside with you.
- The bigger the enclosure the better. Make sure that the cage is at least 6 times the size of your rabbit stretched out in addition to room for hopping around, lounging, a litterbox and some toys. We use large dog pens.
- Rabbits should never be on wire, because their feet can become sore and infected. Try sea grass mats, rags, and carpet; just make sure they do not eat the carpet. The sea grass can be chewed up and eaten.
- Use plant-based litters, such as Cat Country Organic and Yesterday’s News. DO NOT use either wood shavings or clay-based litters, such as Johnny Cat. Both types can cause very serious illnesses in rabbits.
- You may need more than one litterbox if your rabbit has run of the house. Set your rabbit up for success. Your rabbit will tend to pick a corner or two.
- Provide plenty of toys, such as untreated willow baskets to chew, hard plastic baby toys to toss around, wire cat balls to throw, mason jar lids to flip, and cardboard boxes for hiding and digging.
- Allow AT LEAST 4 hours supervised out of cage time per day. Rabbits need lots of attention, playtime and exercise to stay happy and healthy.
- Provide plenty of toys.
- Make sure to bunny proof your home by covering electrical wires and removing other hazards, such as plants. Protect any furniture or items you don't want chewed or damaged. Think of it as having a perpetual 2 year- old in your house.
- Introduce new toys regularly.
- In addition to any adoption fees, initial setup costs usually run between $75 to $125.00.
- On-going expenses will range from $20+ per month.
- Rabbit vet care can be expensive. Check-ups average $50- $90 per visit. In general, plan on a yearly check-up for healthy rabbits under 5 years old. Ask your vet about rabbits 5+ years old. Emergency vet care can easily run in the hundreds of dollars.
- Private spay or neuter expenses typically range from $90 to $250 dollars. Adopting a rabbit who is already spayed or neutered from a shelter or rescue group is MUCH easier and MUCH less expensive.