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What do rabbits need to stay happy?

Rabbit science, not rocket science

What really makes rabbits happy? The answer is simple — just think about the rabbit’s natural life in the wild and the rest will follow.

What really makes rabbits happy? The answer is simple — just think about the rabbit’s natural life in the wild and the rest will follow.

Rabbits are designed to. eat grass

In the wild, rabbits eat ONLY grass — no pellets, no vegetables, no fancy salads — and are perfectly healthy. In fact, their teeth are specifically designed for a pure grass diet as they continue to grow over the rabbit’s lifetime and need to be worn down by regular chewing on a fibrous material such as grass or, for domestic rabbits, hay.

By far the most common problem seen in domestic rabbits today is dental disease. Overgrown or misaligned teeth lead to a variety of problems including abscesses, eye problems and, of course, lack of appetite and the resultant digestive problems. For the lucky ones, it can be treated by regular trimming of the teeth; for the unlucky ones, it is a death sentence.

Feeding your rabbit a hay based diet (80% hay, 10% pellets, 10% veg) is the single most important thing you can do to keep your rabbit healthy and happy.

Rabbits are designed to. breed

And they do it very well! The gestation period is only four weeks meaning rabbits can have several litters in a year. While this may be necessary in the wild due to the high loss of life to predators, domestic rabbits should only be bred by experienced breeders. The urge remains, however, and both males and females suffer from a range of health and behavioural issues if not de-sexed.

The risk of uterine cancer in unspayed does is up to 80% by the age of 5. In the wild, this may be nature’s way of keeping the population down but happily we can avoid this fate for our domestic rabbits by spaying them at the earliest opportunity (around 5 or 6 months old).

Unneutered males also have a risk of testicular cancer although this is much lower. The main issue with males is the incessant courtship behaviour, such as spraying urine, which is distressing for both you and the rabbit. A simple operation at around 3 or 4 months old eliminates the problem.

De-sexing your rabbit will make it healther and happier and also enable you to keep a pair or group of rabbits instead of just one.

Rabbits are designed to. live in large communities

In the wild, rabbits live very closely with each other in a large network of burrows called a warren. They are highly social, reliant on each other — for example, rabbits will keep look-out and warn each other of approaching danger — and strongly hierarchical.

Domestic rabbits crave companionship as much as their wild cousins. A lone rabbit will seek this out in humans or other animals and can form deep bonds which meet its needs. In fact, some rabbits are so attached to their human owners that they may be jealous of or reject another rabbit when introduced.

In general, it is fair to say that most rabbits will be happiest in the company of another rabbit. The best bonding is always neutered male, spayed female and a pair of bonded rabbits is a joy to behold — grooming each other, copying behaviour, competing for your attention and, most of all, snuggling up together for that most important rabbit activity. snoozing.

Rabbits are designed to. run around

In the wild, rabbits need to be able to run very fast in short bursts to escape predators — hence the powerful back legs. Rabbits are designed to sprint, twist and turn and in fact need to do this to develop a healthy bone structure. You will sometimes see wild rabbits, especially young ones, «practicing» this behaviour.

In domestic rabbits, this racing around, leaping and twisting is often called «binkying» and the rabbit is simply playing and letting off energy. The best thing you can do is provide your rabbit with plenty of space, sit back and enjoy the show.

Rabbits are crepuscular, meaning they are most active at dawn and dusk. In the wild, these are the safest times to emerge from the burrow and graze. Domestic rabbits also follow this pattern to some extent and when they are active, they are very active! Rabbits need a bolt hole (a ‘burrow’) to retreat to and plenty of room to run around, to play and explore. in a nutshell, to live as natural a life as possible.

Do Rabbits Make Good Pets?

Well, that depends. Bunnies may be irresistibly cute with their floppy ears and fuzzy coats, but they aren’t exac tly «beginner’s pets» and are more complex than you might guess. However, bunnies can bring a lot of joy to your home and make great additions to the family under the right conditions. So how do you know if a pet rabbit is a good fit for you? Here are six things to consider before hopping over to your local rescue.

young child with bunny

Children Shouldn’t Be Left in Charge

Despite their tiny stature, rabbits are relatively high-maintenance animals. They require just as much care and attention as larger household pets and should be taken as seriously as a dog or cat. While kids can be great helpers and faithful friends to a new pet bunny, they are typically not equipped to be full-time caregivers. Therefore, we don’t recommend bringing home a rabbit as a gift or a lesson in responsibility for a young child. These delicate animals require consistent routines, especially when it comes to mealtimes and hygiene, so it is best to leave these duties to the grown-ups in the house. However, if your child shows interest in helping or socializing with your new bunny, assign them a simple daily task like setting down extra hay or freshening up water bowls and supervise all interactions to ensure both your pet and child’s safety.

long-haired rabbit

Not All Breeds Are the Same

The breed of rabbit you adopt plays a considerable role in the type of pet you’ll have. While certain bunny breeds, such as the Holland Lop, Mini Rex, and Harlequin Rabbit, have been generally deemed more suitable pets than others, the type of bunny you bring home should be heavily influenced by your home’s environment. For instance, it might be best to go with a larger, less fragile rabbit if you have children. Or, if your living space is limited, breeds like the Mini Satin don’t demand much room and might be a better fit for you than others. Many traits, including weight, grooming needs, and temperament, are influenced by the breed type of your rabbit, so be sure to do your research before picking out your new companion.

baby bunny being held

Bunnies Have Boundaries

It’s necessary to identify what you’re looking for in a pet before bringing one home. While some people are okay with bunnies’ physical boundaries, we also know hugs and cuddles are important for many pet owners! Despite rabbits’ adorably cozy appearance, bunnies do not generally like being picked up or held for extended periods. Because rabbits are prey animals, they are prone to skittish behavior and like to have both their feet planted on the ground to run or hide if frightened. Forcing a rabbit to be carried can lead to injury, stress, and even aggression, so it is crucial to pay attention to your rabbit’s body language and be mindful of what your pet is and isn’t comfortable with. Of course, there will be times when you must pick up your rabbit, like during cage cleanings and vet visits, so learn to hold them properly with one hand supporting their rear end and the other securely wrapped around their midsection.

house rabbit in cage

Rabbits Need Room to Roam

Is your home suitable for a bunny’s needs? Rabbits are active animals, which means they need plenty of space to hop and play. In addition to a spacious cage, bunnies should have ample time outside of their enclosure to exercise and explore within your home. Whether you dedicate one big room for your pet to wander around or give them free rein of the house, it’s vital to note all the potential hazards and risks. Bunnies like to chew, so keep any wires or important items out of their reach and pay notice to what they are doing at all times. Just like any pet, there is some training involved as they get used to a new environment. Keep an eye on your furniture, baseboards, and other surfaces, and redirect your bunny to a suitable chew toy if they begin nibbling on something they shouldn’t. Also, keep in mind that while rabbits can be litter box trained, they poop frequently and will likely leave droppings on the floor while playing outside their cage. Fortunately, bunny droppings are not typically messy and are fairly easy to clean up — just be sure to grab a broom or vacuum after returning them to their enclosure!

young rabbit at veterinarian

Bunny Maintenance & Monthly Costs

If you are considering adopting a bunny, be aware that these little critters tend to stick around for quite a long time. Bunnies can live up to 10+ years if given the proper care, which means 10+ years of maintenance and costs. Though the adoption fee for a bunny is usually low, which can be appealing to those looking for a new pet, there are many hidden costs to consider. For example, bunnies require weekly bedding changes, frequent grooming, and a hardy diet of hay, produce, and pellets each day. In addition, chew sticks and toys need to be replaced as they wear down to provide your bunny with an exciting assortment of activities to encourage mental stimulation. Bunny owners also need to be aware of their rabbit’s physical health, noting any changes in behavior, and scheduling routine vet checkups. Because rabbits are prey animals, they may try to hide any illness or injury, so these checkups are essential in keeping your pet well. Unfortunately, these bunny necessities add up and can be tricky to stay on top of if you are not prepared, so be sure to factor in these expenses before they sneak up on you.

what not to feed rabbits

A Rabbit’s Diet Requirements

Rabbits love to eat and require an assorted intake of fresh produce, pellets, and piles of premium hay each day. That being said, one of the more significant responsibilities you’ll have if you choose to become a bunny parent is keeping up with your pet’s food supply and providing a range of quality ingredients. The nutrients in your rabbit’s food affect their overall health, meaning your animal’s digestive system, hygiene, mental wellness, and more are all directly impacted by the meals you place in front of them.

What can rabbits eat

Good quality hay should make up 75% — 80% of your rabbit’s diet. Rabbits need hay to keep their digestive system healthy and to wear down their teeth (did you know that a rabbits teeth continually grow?!). Hay should always be available so your rabbit can graze naturally. Fruits and vegetables are also a great way to give your rabbit vitamins and nutrients.

Fruits & vegetables rabbits can eat include:

  • Cabbage
  • Kale
  • Broccoli
  • Parsley
  • Mint
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Grapes

What not to feed rabbits

Foods to avoid feeding your bunny include:

  • Avocadoes
  • Beans
  • Chocolate
  • Eggs
  • Iceburg lettuce
  • Meat
  • Raw Onions
  • Potatoes

Curating a nourishing diet for your bunny may be trickier than it would be for other species, but the extra effort you put into their meals will undoubtedly benefit your bunny and strengthen the bond between you. And to make things a bit easier, Andy delivers top-tier organic hay products, so you know for sure that your bunny is receiving all the vitamins and other essentials they need to stay happy and healthy.

So. ..should you adopt a pet rabbit?

As you now know, these animals requir e a particular level of care that can be tough for some folks to follow through on, but the result of a well-loved and cared-for bunny is well worth the extra work. Rabbits contain multitudes of endearing characteristics and unique attributes that make them exc eptional companions, so if you are ready to put in the effort, Andy is here to support you on your journey to becoming an excellent rabbit owner.

Written by Kristina Birdsong

Blending the worlds of ecommerce and marketing, Kristina spearheads Andy’s digital efforts. She’s also a proud pet mom to Burrito and Jefe (good dogs!), Kirby the cat, and her sweet little guinea pigs, Ginger and Lulu.

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