10 TIPS FOR BEGINNERS

Have you just got your first ever rabbit? Or maybe you are thinking about getting one?

COMPANIONSHIP

Tip 1: Keep them in pairs/groups

Rabbits that are kept on their own are more likely to become bored or even depressed. They are very sociable animals, and thrive with company of their own kind! 

 

Some reasons why a companion is essential:

  • For security and to feel safe

  • They groom one another

  • Interaction

  • Playing together

  • Cuddling each other

  • Better quality of life

  • Happiness & well being

rabbit

This page covers the basics of caring for rabbits, and what you should know about them

ACCOMMODATION

Tip 2: Give them lots of space

I highly recommend avoiding pet shop cages and hutches as they are generally very limited in terms of space and are not very aesthetically pleasing. They only really have enough space for necessities, such as a water bottle, food bowl, hide house etc, but there is no space for enrichment or for the rabbits to run, hop, binky etc. There are so many better options these days for housing rabbits, read more for ideas.

rabbit cage

ENRICHMENT

Tip 3: Provide lots of enrichment

Having a large accommodation is great, but to make that even better, you can provide enrichment for them to stimulate their brains. Giving them activities to do will prevent boredom and it is great fun to watch them display natural behaviours; you should take into consideration some their natural instincts to encourage this.

 

rabbit cage

NUTRITION

Tip 4: Feed them a natural diet 

Their digestive systems work the same way as the wild form of our domestic rabbits. They have a thin stomach and a long intestine. 

 

They consume countless small meals each day (including hay, grass, vegetables, forage, herbs...) as their digestive systems are designed for this. A good variety of grasses and meadow plants contain almost all the vitamins and minerals required. 

rabbits

HEALTH CARE

Tip 5: Make sure they are healthy

The best way to monitor your rabbits health is to get to know them very well by spending lots of time with them. This way it will be easier to detect illness if they are acting out of character and not being themselves.

 

Some health care tips:

  • Weigh them regularly

  • Trim their nails as needed

  • Annual vaccines at the vets

TAMING

Tip 6: Be patient with taming

 

It is important that we remember that rabbits are not cuddly toys. Despite their cuddly and cute appearance, we have to respect that they are not teddy bears and don't enjoy being picked up and cuddled. Rabbits should only ever be picked up if required for health checks, nail trimming, vet trips and syringe feeding. Approaching rabbits from above is a bad idea as they associate this with a predator, therefore their instinct is to run away or hide, so you should always keep that in mind. It is definitely possible to bond with your rabbits and for them to gain your trust, but this takes time and patience.

CLEANING

Tip 7: Clean their home regularly

In general rabbits are quite clean animals and can be litter trained. It is best to spot clean their home once a day. This involves spot cleaning the urine and faeces from their litter tray and replacing with fresh bedding. Also sweep up any faeces from the floor. If they pee outside of the litter tray, simply spray with water & vinegar solution. Once in a while you should use the same solution to disinfect their litter trays.

 

bedding

Tip 8: Choose a suitable bedding

Low dust options are preferable.

Horse supplier stockists often have lots to choose from e.g.

  • Megazorb

  • Wood pellets

  • Aubiose

  • Hemp

  • Lay-soft

RABBITS & GUINEA PIGS?

Tip 9: Don't get a guinea pig as a companion

It is important that we remember that the best companion for a rabbit is another rabbit, and the best companion for a guinea pig is another guinea pig. I know some people who house a guinea pig and rabbit together - so what is my opinion on this? I know there are some cases where just one rabbit and guinea pig living together cannot be separated as they develop a strong bond - this is not unheard of, and separating the two animals can potentially cause welfare issues if they are very close to one another. But in most cases, rabbits and guinea pigs can't communicate or understand each other as well as they would with a companion of their own kind.

rabbit and guinea pig

medical kit

Tip 10: Be prepared for emergencies

 

Having a reliable vet nearby that has lots of experience with rabbits is great! Unfortunately not everyone has this in their local area, therefore you should be prepared in case they suddenly become unwell and you can't get to the vets for whatever reason. I highly recommend setting up a medical kit with the basics (such as pain relief, recovery feed etc).