An unbelievable amount of people were excited when I said I was going to be doing a 'bunny care' series on my blog, you all see cute photos of them on my social media sites and I have even made them an instagram account solely to post HD photos of them on, they are my life basically, my day revolves around them and I wouldn't have it any other way!
In this first part of the series I will be talking about basic bunny needs and the correct way to care for them, also a few disclaimers about rabbits in general. I have had rabbits since I was eight years old so I think I'm quite clued up with their complicated personalities although saying that I am still learning things about them everyday so I am not the 'bunny expert' a few people assume I am.
Before even thinking of getting a rabbit watch this video.
Are they low maintenance pets?
A lot of people think rabbits are low maintenance pets, and let me tell you, they are one of the most high maintenance pets you can get. They take a huge amount of commitment and looking after, they can live for 10+ years if cared for properly. They need 'cleaned out' (faeces removed from their house) almost every day. You can litter train them as rabbits are naturally prone to go to the toilet in one corner but this isn't always the case as Poppy goes all over her house. Litter training makes it an easier job for you to clean their hutches and makes it a little bit less smelly. Learn more about how to litter train here.
They need at the very least 4 hours of exercise daily, this is basically 4 hours at least out of their hutches, I bring them in the house for a run around in my room or in the dining room. This lets them stretch their legs and have interaction with their 'slave' (me). If it is a nice day outside I will put them in their runs in the garden for some fresh air and a nibble of grass. With 4 bunnies this can take up a lot of time in my day but since they are bonded in pairs they can be out together and this kind of saves time. (How I bonded my bunnies will be in a future post).
Rabbits are a big commitment so if you get one say goodbye to long holidays. I went on holiday last year and Poppy became very ill as she hadn't seen me for two weeks. Rabbits get very attached to their owners and become very distressed when they haven't seen you for awhile. They went on their holidays to a family friends house who rescues guinea pigs so they were in capable hands but just this change of scenery and no contact with me and their usual routine made them very stressed.
Are they suitable pets for children?
Again, this is a big misconception about rabbits, rabbits are complicated creatures and need mature adults who know what they are doing to care for them. I got my first rabbit Dusty for my 8th birthday and having him was a big learning curve for me, luckily for Dusty my mum was his main carer, she cleaned him out and fed him in the beginning until I was old enough and mature enough to care for him by myself. There have been horrific stories when parents have left children with rabbits and these horrible children cut the rabbits ears off with scissors!!! Arghh this still makes me so angry that parents would not even supervise their children when around them! Obviously not all children are cruel but it has happened a few times and it is disgusting. Learn more about children and rabbits here.
Rabbits are cute and cuddly?
Rabbits rarely like cuddles and hate being picked up as they don't feel safe when their feet are not on the ground. They are to busy exploring, running, jumping and nibbling things to be cuddled. Although all rabbits are different some are more willing to strokes and kisses. Poppy and Pepper love getting strokes but Peaches and Salt don't so much.
What is Spaying and Neutering?
Spaying is an operation performed on female rabbits by a vet to remove her womb so she can not have babies, Neutering is the same(ish) operation on males. Spaying and Neutering is highly recommended as it can calm the hormones of rabbits and make them more relaxed, in females this is most important as it prevents them developing cervical cancer or cancer of the womb in their older years. As their hormones are reduced it will reduce the amount of territory marking they do, which is spraying their wee all over your carpets and belongings as they think it is theirs. Learn more about spaying/neutering here.
What do they eat?
A rabbits diet should be made up of mostly hay, and a few veggies and pellets. You should not feed a rabbit mixed muesli type food as it is high in sugar which can cause obesity and dental problems. Here is a great rabbit diet pyramid, which shows what they should eat. Here is a list of safe fruit and vegetables they can eat. Learn more about their diet here.
My rabbits live in a shed in the garden each with their own hutches inside, in a shed they are protected from the wind, rain and snow and any predators around like foxes. When it comes to rabbit houses I think the bigger the better. A rabbits hutch should be wide enough for three hops and tall enough for them to stand up on their back legs and not touch the roof. I have huge hutches for my rabbits (which you will see in my next post) I have two story hutches from Pets at Home, the girls have a hutch from there which I thought was discontinued but theirs are extremely similar to this one. It is very similar to the Rose Cottage which Salt lives in. For housing insperation look here, I have so many ideas of what to improve next for my bunnies! Important housing tips here.
I think that is all the information I will throw at you at the moment, there is still so much I could tell you but if you are seriously considering getting a rabbit I suggest you have a thorough read of my favourite bunny websites;
Thank you so much for reading if you managed to get this far! I hope it helped you and has taught you a bit about rabbits. In my next post I will be taking about my rabbits, how I got them, their breeds, my daily routine with them etc, so look out for that. If you have any other questions or anything you want me to go over in a future post just let me know in the comments or email me firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be more than happy to help!