How to Care for Pet Rabbits

A beginners' guide to caring for pet rabbits

Rabbits are indeed cute and fluffy, but aren't quite as independent as Peter Rabbit from Beatrix Potter's classic tales. They require a certain amount of care to ensure good health. The following tips will teach you how to properly take care of your rabbits so they can live long and healthy lives.

How to Care for Pet Rabbits

Happy bunnies have a roomy purpose-made hutch with a wire-mesh door, in a sheltered spot, and access to a secure pen for exercise. These are social animals that crave social interaction; their hutch should not be secluded from the rest of the family.

1. Feeding your pets

  • Feed rabbits two meals a day, at regular times, in a heavy earthenware dish that won't move as they eat. Use a second dish for fresh water.
  • Good-quality hay and grass should make up most of your rabbits' diet. Feed them at least their own bodyweight in hay every day. The only treat you should give is a root vegetable like carrot, or fruit, in small amounts.
  • Don't give rabbits rhubarb, potato shoots, mown grass (unless newly cut), buttercups, daisies or any weeds or wild flowers sprayed with pesticide.

2. Safe housing

  • Line the hutch floor with newspaper or clean wood shavings, with soft hay or straw on top. Clean the hutch every day by removing any shavings or bedding that are wet and dirty, remove any uneaten fresh food and cleaning the foot and water containers before refilling them
  • A hutch must have separate areas for eating, sleeping and toilet, and be large enough for a rabbit to stand on its hind legs without the ears touching the top. Ensure a hutch has safe places where rabbits can hide when afraid.

3. Handling rabbits

  • Lift a rabbit with one hand under its abdomen then support it under the rump with the other hand. Hold it to your chest, supporting the head and ears. Keep movements slow and gentle; don't startle your pet.
  • Never lift a rabbit by its ears as this causes unnecessary suffering. With correct and frequent handling from a young age you can build a relationship of affection and trust.
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