10 things you didn’t know about pet rabbits

There’s no joy quite like that of parenting a bunny. Rabbits are fantastic pets for the right family. Unfortunately there’s not a lot of good information out there on bunny health and care.

I shared my life with two bunnies, Hazel and Strawberry, for 13 years- that’s right, 13 years! (In case you’re wondering, my rabbits were, in fact, named after characters in the classic novel by Richard Adams, Watership Down.)

I started off like many people do- I bought a cute bunny and a cage from the pet store. I even picked up a few books on bunny care at the bookstore.

Not too much later I bought a second bunny. I knew what I was doing, right? Yeah… not so much. I had a lot of good intentions and a lot of misinformation.

It wasn’t until I started volunteering at Colorado House Rabbit Society that I learned what bunnies are all about. Fortunately my bunnies were young enough to benefit from everything I learned at Colorado House Rabbit Society and it’s parent organization, House Rabbit Society. Hazel and Strawberry lived a long and healthy life!

10 things I learned about rabbits

01. Rabbits need love and attention.

Rabbits are social animals that require daily attention and play. Not only do bunnies enjoy human companionship- bunnies are happy in bonded pairs.

Hazel loved to play interactive games with me- tossing, rolling, and pushing a plastic cat toy with a bell back and forth.

Hazel and Strawberry were a bonded pair that loved to play with each other. They enjoyed a variety of bunny games.

My bunnies also enjoyed human and rabbit snuggling and love, and softly clicked their teeth in contentment.

02. Rabbits require as much care as cats and dogs.

Rabbits need regular nail trims and regular veterinary check-ups from a qualified veterinarian. Many veterinarians do not treat rabbits, rats, and other exotic animals and some that do have only basic knowledge of rabbit health.

03. Rabbits live 10+ years.

A domesticated rabbit lives 7-10 years- even up to 13 years! Hazel lived 13 happy years, and Strawberry lived 11 years.

04. Rabbits should be spayed/neutered.

Just like cats and dogs, unaltered bunnies can display undesirable behavior such as marking and aggression.

My bunny, Strawberry, had aggressive tendencies before we had her spayed. She would lunge and bite at anyone coming near her. And trust me when I tell you bunny teeth can hurt! After being spayed the undesirable behavior stopped.

05. Domesticated rabbits are house pets.

Rabbits do not thrive living outdoors. Bunnies kept outside year-round are at risk from predators and inclement weather. Predators such as foxes and coyotes can easily gain access to rabbit hutches. Extreme hot or cold outdoor temperatures can cause serious illness and even death.

I have heard many stories from people that had rabbits kept outdoors with tragically short lives.

Strawberry Baby Mini Lop

Little baby Strawberry

06. Wire-bottom cages aren’t the best choice for rabbits.

Rabbits can develop painful sores from wire-bottom cages. Solid bottom cages are recommended and often less expensive.

After learning more about proper rabbit care I moved my bunnies from an expensive wire “rabbit” cage to a less-expensive plastic bottom dog kennel. Score!

07. Rabbits can be house-trained.

Most rabbits will use a litterbox if one is provided.

Don’t spend your money on those corner “rabbit” litter boxes- a small cat litter box works just fine. I used a small rectangular cat litter box filled with Carefresh bedding, topped with timothy hay. The bunnies loved it!

08. Rabbits like to chew!

Boy, howdy, do rabbits like to chew, chew, chew! They’ll chew on furniture, carpet, electrical cords, and more.

I gave my bunnies plenty of safe and healthy options to chew such as compressed alfalfa cubes, cardboard tubes filled with hay and treats, and small animal safe wood blocks.

09. Rabbits are energetic and acrobatic!

Rabbits are full of energy and quite playful. When you let them out of a cage they will entertain you for hours!

One of the most hilarious bunny behaviors happens when bunnies get a burst of energy- sprinting across the room, flipping in the air, and sprinting  back.

10. There are many homeless rabbits waiting for loving homes at animal shelters!

I purchased both of my bunnies at pet stores, not knowing there are many adoptable rabbits available at animal shelters and through animal rescues like House Rabbit Society. Please don’t follow my example. If you decide a bunny is right for your family, adopt today! There are many great benefits to adoption, including bringing home a pet that is already spayed/neutered.

Just look at the adorable adoptable rabbits available at Larimer Humane Society, Longmont Humane Society, and Colorado House Rabbit Society!

Hazel Netherland Dwarf extreme bunny close up

Extreme Hazel close up

If you’re ready to become a responsible bunny parent, please visit the House Rabbit Society website to learn more about these sweet and wonderful animals.

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