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Rabbit Care Guide

Rabbit Care Guide

This compiled rabbit care guide will give you information on all you need to know on how to raise a rabbit, and what pointers need to be addressed when caring for one...
Naomi Sarah
Last Updated: Jul 16, 2017
Taking care of a rabbit requires that you first make a commitment to yourself, and your pet, that before anything, comes patience, and lots of it. When I first got my bunny, it all seemed so easy - buy the small fuzzball, saw how cute it looked at just three months, ultimately bringing it home proudly. Then a week into it, you question your move; was I right in buying this rabbit without doing proper research first? Am I stuck with something that will drive me nuts eventually? Can my will to control my temper and harness my patience burn out? It's a cavalcade of questions that will tumble upon you as the days progress with your bunny. The thing is, a rabbit is not easy to train especially if you've put it in a place that it's comfortably accustomed to. My sister couldn't get enough of it, so the sofa was its play pen for a whole day and more. That only led the rabbit in the following days, to get used to that space, and litter ceaselessly on it.

Later we got a home for the rabbit, thinking that it may get used to its new surroundings post the cardboard box it was holed up in for over a month. Sadly, she still litters on the sofa, but now only in a fit of impatience or rage. We will get to know how you can decipher different moves of your rabbit, and how to read its body language when learning how to understand what it is trying to convey. This rabbit care guide will cover everything from potty training your rabbit, to how its home should be when preparing for instance, a rabbit hutch. Find out here on how to get started on your bunny pet care.

Rabbit Care Information

When it comes to taking care of a rabbit, this is also helpful and resourceful as a guide for kids. For those interested in a Lionhead rabbit care, this guide should serve that purpose as well.

How Do I Handle a Rabbit?
When picking up a rabbit, one must never lift it by its ears. Think of how it would feel if someone were to pick you up using only your ears as his/her means of lifting you up. What you must do is to slide your hands behind its hind legs, and then lift him/her up. Another way is to quickly lift it using its underbelly for support. Never make a rabbit dangle midair, since it can crack its spine or other bones, being violent in its jerks.

How Do I Hold My Rabbit?
This is not hard to do, although some rabbits tend to squirm and want to jump free. Make sure that your rabbit doesn't have a high distance from the ground to jump from, since this can injure its limbs. I remember when I dropped my rabbit from a low height, that too above my sofa, and it kind of went into this fit of head jerking, giving off loud audible gruffs. It wasn't a pleasant sight, and trust me, it was frightful. She then calmed down and was fine again. The problem with rabbits is that, dropping them from a height can cause their systems to go awry from the sudden and unexpected drop. He/she can jump on its own from heights, which you will later notice. It can be scary to witness, but slowly he/she will stop these antics and resort to a more safe way of prancing about.

How Do I Read My Rabbit's Moves?
There are certain ways on how you can read what your rabbit is trying to communicate forward to you, by being more observant when it comes to its behavior. Here's how you can tell if your rabbit is feeling a certain emotion.
  • Thumping: A rabbit thumps its hind leg when it's either frustrated or upset about something you did. It could be that you didn't allow it to do something, or refused to offer it a treat or stopped it from performing an act he/she is habituated to. Sometimes when I pick up the rabbit, and place it back down it thumps its foot in an attempt to say 'I didn't want to be picked up.' There are times when it doesn't mind the carrying, like say when it senses the presence of a foreign environment. Rabbits if not familiar with a surrounding, will cower in your arms.
  • Rabbit Noises: When we first got the rabbit, my sister showed obvious concerns about how we wouldn't know where the rabbit was hiding, since she doesn't make a sound. A few months down the line you'll notice little grunts coming from your rabbit, but these will be either in protest, or fear. They're hilarious at first, sounding more like little pig grunts than normal ones you'd hear from a rabbit.
  • Sideways Hop: While running at full speed, rabbits will jump midair, and slightly kick their legs out sideways. This means that he/she is extremely pleased or happy about something.
  • Fur in Mouth: This is not a happy sight, to see your rabbit sitting in its home, with a mouthful of fur. Nothing to worry about. Usually females do this when they're in heat, randomly pulling out fur around their body. Shedding is another characteristic that rabbits undergo, which is also normal.
  • Humping and Nipping: This is a very annoying trait of a rabbit - when it's in heat. A rabbit when ready to mate, will start humping more than its toys - its owners (by the way, rabbit owners are known as 'staff'). It can be quite an aggressive animal, since it humps and bites down hard at the same time. Please ensure that you have him/her vaccinated and de-wormed from time to time.
  • Urine Spraying: This is a common behavioral trait when rabbits run past their 'staff' and spray them with pee. It's all a part of the heat process, so try and tolerate this behavior before you have them mated.
  • Licking: Rabbits will lick and very gently nip your skin, when being affectionate. It will bow down and lay flat while you caress it, signaling to rabbit owners that this is something they like.
  • Circling: Rabbits will circle their owners while they either sit or stand, in an act of wanting to perform a humping session. It is their way of circling a mate with affection (not so affectionate when humping), before they engage in a sexual act.
  • Ears Perked Up: This means that the rabbit senses something unusual, or a noise that has altered it.
How do I Clean My Rabbit?
Rabbits shouldn't be given baths, since this can make them weak, leading to death. A rabbit, if you notice, is constantly grooming itself, since these little bunnies are pretty hygienic that way. Just make sure you constantly change either hay, newspaper or cloth laid down for it in its home. This will avoid infections, and germs from spreading.

What Do I Feed My Rabbit?
Pet rabbit breeds can be given leafy greens, but go easy on iceberg lettuce. Serving size of this particular lettuce shouldn't be more than a tablespoon and a half. Hay is important for rabbits to constantly munch on. Alfalfa hay can be given to rabbits that are less than a year old, and then one can switch to grass hay once they turn into adult rabbits. Alfalfa hay is good for those rabbits that have just gotten over a disease, are nursing or undergoing a pregnancy. Red leaf lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, bib, coriander, romaine and carrots, make for apt food choices for rabbits. Do not feed your rabbit French beans, chocolate, spicy foods, sugary items or pastries. It's okay to let it munch on human food once in a while, like say rice, spaghetti and biscuits. Don't make this a habit though, and avoid feeding it non vegetarian items. If you feed him/her anything and experience loose stools that aren't in small hard ball form, then immediately withdraw that food item from its diet.

What is the Deal with Rabbit Pellets?
Using these is an expensive way of making sure your rabbit gets its everyday vitamins and minerals. It is an important dietary component, but if you feed it its healthy greens and veggies, it should do just fine. They say to feed bunnies younger than four months only hay and pellet food, but you can slowly incorporate the above mentioned foods and see how he/she reacts to it.

How do I Take Care of Extremely Furry Rabbits?
It is advisable to have the fur shaved off when it becomes extremely long, or you could just brush it often, to avoid what is known as a 'wool block'. This is when they shed their fur, and then ingest this. Eating hay will help stimulate its digestive system to avoid the problem of a wool block.

What Kind of Home Do Rabbits Have?
Rabbits have homes that usually consist of a lot of hay, which when soiled only, should be replaced. Newspaper too is a fine alternative, and them shredding it is a normal act of munching. Rabbits need to constantly gnaw on items, because of their teeth. Hard toys or those that are rubbery in nature, will do. Provide ample space for it to stretch out, and make sure that when it stands it doesn't have an obstruction above it. We at home use a big dog cage which is apt when housing a rabbit. Rabbit hutches are a great way to have them kept in as well.

Is it Okay to Let My Rabbit Out?
It is fine to let your rabbit out since it is important for it to keep its legs functioning. You can let it loose in your home, provided that you are sure there is nothing it can bite off and destroy (keep electrical wires away from it). An outdoor garden will do good, although you need to be careful that it is an enclosed space, free from other pets like dogs and cats.

What is Spaying/Neutering My Rabbit?
A male rabbit is easy to handle, since the testicles have to be removed in a non evasive procedure that doesn't involve pain or healing time. A female rabbit on the other hand is not easy to handle, but is a possible procedure. The advantages of doing this to rabbits is aplenty. First, their behavior will improve greatly, and they won't pose as an aggressive pet. Secondly it will be easier to handle, like say when clipping its nails, or when handling it otherwise. It will also avoid future illnesses of the reproductive system. Best of all, these animals tend to live longer than the given lifespan of a rabbit, than those who weren't neutered. You can get him/her mated, but taking responsibility of a pregnant female rabbit is not advisable, unless you know what you're doing.

Rabbits as pets can be a little hard at first, since this rabbit care guide gives you all you need to know on what to expect when you buy one. With time you'll know exactly what you're dealing with, and will grow familiar to your rabbit's traits.
Ginger rabbit baby
Rabbit Pellets
Freshly Cut
Little rabbit standing on hind legs
Girl with a rabbit