If you’ve recently gotten a new pet rabbit, you may be wondering how to best care for him. One of the most important things to do before you bring your rabbit home is to find a qualified veterinarian for who rabbits and their health are an area of special interest. Here is a brief guide to caring for your new pet rabbit.
Keep Your Rabbit Indoors
Pet rabbits should ideally be housed indoors, not outside. This is because when outdoors rabbits are vulnerable to attacks by cats, dogs, coyotes, birds of prey, and other wild animals. Rabbits housed outdoors are also subject to various weather and environmental stressors. Rabbits are nervous creatures, and can become easily startled by loud noises and other animals, and this extra stress can cause health problems and severe anxiety. Exposure to extreme temperatures can necessitate a trip to an emergency vet, so your rabbit should live indoors in moderate temperatures.
Give Him Lots of Room to Roam
Rabbits need a lot of room to roam around, and won’t be happy if kept in a small cage. Unfortunately, rabbits also tend to chew on everything, so you need to make your home completely rabbit safe before you bring your new pet home. All electrical cords should be out of reach, electrical outlets should be covered, and any toxic food items or plants should be kept far away from your rabbit.
Housetrain your Rabbit
Turns out spayed and neutered rabbits can be housetrained! We suggest that new rabbit owners invest in a litterbox and use Yesterday’s News as a litter substrate. A great little primer on rabbit house training can be found here.
Ensure That He Maintains a Healthy Diet
Diet is probably the single most important aspect of pet rabbit care. You need to make sure that you feed your rabbit a balanced diet to keep him happy and healthy.
We recommend Timothy grass hay as the foundation of all pet rabbit diets. In fact, in our experience, rabbits will do fine for long periods on nothing but hay. Your rabbit should have constant access to Timothy grass hay, as it provides the necessary fiber to aid in his digestion and prevent health problems. Timothy grass hay is preferred over alfalfa grass and Bermuda grass hay for rabbits.
Pet rabbits will also benefit from limited quantities of certain fruits and vegetables. We like these things: Apple, Bean or alfalfa sprouts, Blueberries, Blackberries, Cactus fruit
Carrots, Cranberries, Bell peppers, Kiwi, Melons, Papaya, Peaches, Pears, Raspberries &
Squash. Think of these as treats and keep the amounts down to a total of 1 tablespoon per 2 pounds of body weight per day.
Commercial pellets are also a common part of the diet of many pet rabbits. Commercial rabbit pellets should make up only a small portion of a pet rabbit’s diet. Select a top quality brand and limit the amounts to approximately ¼ cup of pellets per 4 lbs. of body weight daily.
Water should always be available, and in most cases will need to be changed out every day. A dirty water container can be a wonderful breeding ground for bacteria.
At Chastain Veterinary Medical Group, our animal hospital veterinarians are experienced in exotic animal care for the Dallas and McKinney areas. We happily and expertly treat pet rabbits, as well as other non-traditional house pets. To learn more about our veterinary hospital services and emergency vet services, call us today at (972) 239-1309 (north Dallas) or (972) 529-5033 (McKinney / Frisco).
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