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Rabbit ownership increasing? Hop on the trend with these top tips

Written by C Wolsey

Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, the level of pet ownership has risen over the last 18 months. One of the most popular furry friends to adopt has been the rabbit. If you are considering a pet for you and your family, a rabbit may be a good choice. Rabbits can be very social and may enjoy spending time with you and your family. It can be helpful to understand the ways to take care of a rabbit and do some research into rabbit ownership.  

It can also help to understand a rabbit’s diet, how much space they may need, and other things that can often be important to an animal’s quality of life. Here are some of our top tips for anyone considering rabbit ownership.  

Ensure You Have Space 

Some people may think that a hutch is enough space for a rabbit. In fact, rabbits may require a large area to move around, depending on their size and age. The PDSA recommends a minimum of 3 x 2 x 1 m for a rabbit’s living space. This can allow a rabbit the freedom to roam, jump and play.  

Consider More Than One Rabbit 

Rabbits can be social creatures. Often a rabbit alone may show behavioural problems, as they can become bored and lonely without company. It may help to consider getting more than one rabbit so that they might keep one another company.  

Be Cautious Introducing Rabbits To Other Animals 

Rabbits are prey animals, meaning they might become stressed and anxious when introduced to predator animals such as cats and dogs. You might be able to introduce other pets to your rabbit, but it can help to be cautious.  

It may help to supervise any interactions between your rabbit and other pets. If you introduce your rabbit to other pets early in their life, this may provide the greatest chance of them getting along. If you notice any signs of stress in your rabbit during introductions, it can be best to keep them separate from your other pets.  

Have Them Neutered 

Neutering your rabbits may help them get along with each other better and reduce the risk of accidental breeding. Neutering is a standard procedure and should not cause your rabbit any long-term pain or stress.  

Handle Them Early And Gently 

It can be helpful to handle your rabbit early. This may help them get used to human contact, ease their stress in your presence and encourage them to be playful and sociable with you and your family. It can help to go slowly when handling a young or newly adopted rabbit. You might consider letting them get used to your presence in their enclosure first. You could sit in their pen to give them the opportunity to learn your scent.  

It can help to move slowly when handling a rabbit. Often, it can be best to avoid picking your rabbit up unless necessary. If you do need to pick your rabbit up, it may help to cover their eyes and hold them gently but securely. If you have children, it can be helpful to supervise them at all times when they are handling your rabbit.  

Give Them Plenty Of Hiding Spaces 

As prey animals, rabbits like to have spaces to hide if they feel threatened. It can help to give your rabbits lots of small hiding spots, in addition to their hutch or enclosure where they sleep. You could consider putting in raised platforms as well that will allow your rabbit to survey their living area. Rabbits often may like to observe their surroundings as it is an instinct they have as wild rabbits, watching an area for predators.  

Look Into Local Vets 

It can help to choose a local vet that is close to your home. This is because travelling might be a stressful experience for your rabbit, so it may help to reduce the amount of time your rabbit spent in a carrier. It can help to know a local, dependable vet that you can contact should your rabbit need care.  

You could consider looking into rabbit insurance. Insurance may help cover the cost of treatment should your rabbit require it. For more information, Everypaw has a range of coverage levels of lifetime insurance that may suit you and your rabbit.  

Practice Good Dental Hygiene 

A rabbit’s teeth never stop growing. This is why providing your rabbit with a healthy, high-fibre diet can be beneficial. High-fibre foods can help to wear your rabbit’s teeth down over time. It may also help to provide your rabbit with plenty of things to chew on, such as rabbit chew toys.  

It can help to be careful that anything in your rabbit’s enclosure is safe for them to chew or eat. It can also help to check your rabbit’s teeth. This may cause them stress, so you could do this carefully and gently.  

Spend Time Bonding With Your Bunny 

The more time you spend with your rabbit, the better chance they will bond with you. It can help to spend time with them, speaking quietly and calmly and avoiding any sudden movements. You could also consider giving your bunny treats when you first enter their enclosure so that they might come to associate you with positive experiences.  

Provide Constant Access To Clean Water 

Rabbits can need constant access to water. This can help them stay hydrated and healthy. It may help to provide them with a bowl of water that you fill and clean regularly. Some experts recommend using water bowls over bottles, as the spouts of water bottles may get clogged or freeze over the winter if your rabbit is an outdoor pet.  

Understand A Rabbit’s Life Expectancy 

Rabbits are longer-lived than you may expect. The typical life expectancy for a rabbit is between eight to twelve years. Different breeds of rabbits may live longer than others. It may help to consider if you are ready for such a long commitment.  

Ensure Their Enclosure Is Safe 

Rabbits are natural prey to a number of common animals, such as foxes. If your rabbit lives outdoors, it can help to build a secure, predator-proof enclosure. Solid wood may be a good choice for building rabbit enclosures, and you could use strong wire mesh to enclose the structure, keeping any predators out. It may also help to put a floor into your enclosure to prevent foxes from digging under the fencing.  

Groom Your Rabbit 

The amount you need to groom your rabbit can depend on their coat. Short-haired rabbits could be brushed once a week, while long-haired rabbits could benefit from brushing daily. It can also depend on whether your rabbit is shedding. Grooming may also be an excellent opportunity to examine your rabbit for any signs of illness or injury.  

It can help to groom your rabbit with a special rabbit brush. This means that the brush will be designed for a bunny’s sensitive skin and coat. It may be best to brush gently but firmly in the direction of the coat.  

Final Thoughts 

A rabbit maybe a friendly, cute addition to the household. Before you hop onto the trend, it may be helpful to consider how much space, time, and attention you would have to provide a rabbit. If you have a busy life, it may be best to get more than one rabbit. You could also consider researching the best ways to keep and raise a rabbit and decide if they will fit well with your lifestyle.