Congratulations, it's a bunny! We know the joy of adding a new member to the family, just like we know learning the ins and outs of caring for them can be a little daunting. But don't worry, we're here to walk you through it all, from proper handling and hygiene to diet and exercise.
1. These Fuzzy Friends Are a Long-Term Commitment
We already know you’re going to be an exceptional bunny caretaker, which means you can expect your new friend to be by your side for quite a while. Domestic rabbits are social and intelligent creatures that can live more than six to twelve years, depending on the breed, so it is vital to be ready for a commitment. Though bunnies are small, they require consistent care and attention. While a rabbit's personal needs change over time as they age and develop their unique personalities, there are a few basics to know and follow. Both your pet’s emotional and physical health benefit when you establish a stable routine. Daily interaction and playtime outside of the cage, routine health checks, and a regulated diet will strengthen the bond between you and ensure your bunny has a long and extraordinary life.
2. Take Things Slow & Handle with Care
We know their tiny faces and fluffy coats are hard to resist, but rabbits don't like to be rushed. Too much interaction too soon can make your pet anxious and moody. After picking up your new bunny, it's best to bring them straight home to an already equipped habitat and leave them alone for the first 48 hours, only reaching inside to replenish food and water. This gives them time to explore their new accommodations and acclimate to your home's environment at a tranquil pace.
Tip: Leave any soiled bedding or droppings alone during this period. This helps your rabbit understand that this unfamiliar space is now theirs.
Once your bunny has had a couple of days to adjust and is ready for interaction, it's crucial to hold and handle them safely and securely. Bunnies are sensitive animals with fragile bodies and a tendency to get spooked in unknown territory. Because they are prey animals, their instinct is often to run and hide when fearful, so if your bunny does allow you to pick them up, stay on the floor and keep their spines always supported.
3. Create a Clean & Cozy Space for Your Rabbit
Nobody likes being in a messy house with nothing to eat, and your bunny is no exception. When it comes to choosing a place for your rabbit to reside, there are plenty of options. Whether you opt for a two-story bunny condo, a roomy pen setup, or a wire cage (with a front latch to allow your rabbit to hop out on its own), the requirements for keeping it comfortable are the same. At the very least, a bunny's home should be no less than five times larger than the animal and allow enough room for them to move freely and stretch without hitting the top or sides of the enclosure.
The enclosure should be kept in a draft-free spot, sitting at least three feet off the ground or in a closed-off room to avoid mishaps with other animals or children. If you choose to place your bunny’s home behind closed doors, keep in mind rabbits are social beings and can fall victim to loneliness, just like humans, so visit them often!
Cleaning and maintenance are imperative to keeping your rabbit cozy, so scoop any soiled materials and droppings daily. Most rabbits can even learn to use a litter box, which makes cleanup quick and easy. To avoid hot, stuffy air and odors, replace bedding with a fresh supply about once a week and choose a habitat that allows air circulation.
Tip: Wire crates are great for airflow, but a bunny's feet will get sore standing on wire if there is no cushion. Some cardboard and a few inches of bedding should do the trick.
Now that you know which housing methods to use and how to keep clean, you'll need to stock your rabbit's home with the essentials:
- Rabbit-friendly bedding
- Litter box
- Fresh water in a bowl or bottle
- Food dish
- Toys for chewing
- Bunny hideout
- More Hay
4. Timothy Hay to Tasty Treats: Understanding Your Bunny’s Dietary Needs
Bunnies may be little, but they have big appetites. Caring for your new pet and ensuring a sound diet may seem complicated, but it doesn't have to be. In fact, a simple menu is most effective when it comes to rabbit care. The nutrients in your bunny’s food play a large part in their overall health, including digestion, fur condition, oral hygiene, disease prevention, and even mood. So, you want to get it right.
A constant supply of pure, fresh hay makes all the difference when it comes to your rabbit's well-being. Andy is dedicated to producing the finest forage possible, harvesting from family-owned fields in the Pacific Northwest, and delivering all-natural and organic Timothy hay for your new friend to munch on. Andy's cardboard feeder boxes also offer less mess while providing something extra for your bunny to chew on!
Alfalfa or Timothy Hay... Which Should You Choose?
Before the age of six months, while your bunny is still growing, they should consume mainly alfalfa hay because of its high concentration of fiber and calcium. However, after your rabbit matures a bit, Timothy hay is the more suitable option as its well-balanced levels of fats, and other nutrients, are better sustainable for adults. A small number of pellets and leafy greens (such as romaine, kale, parsley or cilantro) are important additions and should be fed each day too.
Tip: Rabbits have sensitive tummies, so when introducing new foods, do so one at a time and in small quantities.
Wondering which type of hay to get for your bunny? Take our quiz!
Taking care of a bunny and forming a close bond with your new tiny companion is a special opportunity, and Andy is inspired to join you on the journey.