Rabbits make excellent pets as they can easily adapt to a domestic lifestyle and you cannot deny the fact that they have wonderful personalities and temperament. They can also adjust well to living inside an apartment. To keep your rabbit happy and healthy, just like any other pets, they need to be well taken care of, given a good shelter and fed regularly with the right kind of food.
A Cage for your Pet Rabbit
To house a rabbit, you must get an appropriately sized cage. A four feet wide, two feet deep and two feet tall cage is enough to keep your eight pound or so rabbit. Always remember that your pet should have enough room to stretch out comfortably, hop properly and lay down while still keeping a room for food, water and litter box. If you do not want to buy a cage for your rabbit, you may always build one. Just ensure that it is big enough for your pet. If you feel like your cage is not enough for hopping and exercise, you can always build an exercise pen. Note that big rabbits will require big pens and cages as well. So, build according to size and their ability to play and hop around.
When building or buying a cage for your rabbit, look for the ones with solid bottom and sides made out of wire safe for rabbits. If you cannot find a solid bottom cage, you can always go for the wired ones. Just place a wood plank so it will not hurt the rabbit’s feet when inside. Do note also that a rabbit is an active animal, so an exercise pen or a room where it can hop around is very important. A rabbit is also a social animal. Ensure to buy a pair. If you do not want them to multiply, just neuter or spay them. Inside the cage, do not forget to line it with hay or soft wood shavings. Reason being, rabbits like to rest comfortably in nests. Hays also play an important role in a rabbit’s diet.
Where to Place the Rabbit
Rabbits also like to chew. If you are placing your pet inside the house, make sure that the cage is away from where the cords are. You may opt to buy cord protectors or just buy the baby fence or dog fence to give your rabbit an access to the house without destroying anything.
Territories of Rabbits
The rabbits like to use a small space as a restroom and will always go back to that spot. This certain spot is usually in one corner of the cage. Identify the preferred spot of your pet then line it with a litter box especially made for rabbits. Consider also in putting another litter box in its play area as he will be staying here most of the day.
Provide also a hiding place in your rabbit’s cage. They are burrowing prey animals, so giving them a hiding place is good for their well-being.
Food for the Rabbits
As for the food, contrary to popular belief that rabbits love to eat carrots as popularized by cartoon character Bugs Bunny, rabbits actually love hay. Hay is the main component of your pet’s diet so be sure you have lots of hay ready for him. Oat, broom hay or timothy is best bets for your rabbit. For young growing rabbits or pregnant ones, feed the alfalfa hay and pellets. These foods will give your rabbits the extra calories they need. For adult rabbits, it should have an eighth of a cup for every 5 pounds of body weight.
Apart from hay, offer your pet plenty of vegetables too. However, note the carrots as it is high in sugar content. You should go for the green leafy ones. But ensure that it is organic so as not to harm the health of your pet. You cannot go wrong with spinach, turnip greens, cilantro, parsley, watercress, celery, dandelion leaves and collards. You may also feed your pet with fruits if you like. You can opt for strawberries, blueberries, bananas or apples as special treats. However, feed it sparingly as fruits are high in sugar.
Though the rabbit eats fruits and vegetables, it should not be fed with human food such as candy, dairy, chocolate, bread and anything cooked! Do not feed your pet with lettuce too! Particularly the iceberg lettuce. This may cause death to a rabbit as it will upset the stomach and cause severe diarrhea. If you want to feed your rabbit some lettuce, romaine with be a good idea. Just make sure that it is organic and wash it properly. Lastly, do not feed your rabbit some grass cuttings as this will cause serious health problems. You would not want that right?
Aside from food such as hay, vegetables and fruits, you should not forget to provide clean water to your pet. Fresh water must always be available and should be changed daily to prevent any contamination. You may use a bowl just like that of a hamster. Make sure that the water never runs out.
As for pet grooming, you should clean the cage every week. Always wash it with hot, soapy water then rinse it thoroughly and let it dry completely. Wash the water bowl every day and change the litter box everyday too. Now, bathing is not necessary for rabbits but you can use a soft bristled brush to carefully remove matted hair every day or two. Should you wish to bathe your rabbit for proper pet grooming, you may purchase a rabbit shampoo. You may discuss with your veterinarian on how often should your rabbit be bathe in a month.
Lastly, do not forget to pay your veterinarian a visit for health checkups. As there may be vaccines needed for your rabbit that should ward of diseases such as Myxomatosis. Regular trips to the vet will always ensure that your rabbit is living healthy and have the vitamins and minerals it needs. Apart from health checkup, since it loves to chew, do not forget to let the vet check its teeth too!