Gold Fox Acres

Home of Miniature Monsters Petting Zoo

Caring for your new pet rabbit

Rabbits are sociable animals who crave attention, so spend plenty of time with your rabbit and give her/him lots of attention. All of our rabbits have been handled since they were 1-2 days old depending on their mothers to keep an eye on their health and weights

Rabbits are not a short term pet most will live from 6-10 years, with some living to be 12 years old.

They can be housed indoors or out (better in spring – fall time). When housed outdoors, care should be given to protect the rabbits from predators. The hutch should provide protection from drafts and wetness and be placed in shade during summer.

When you pick up your dwarf rabbit use two hands- one to support it's chest and the other to support it's bottom. Hold it against your chest and always support it's bottom. Never ever pick a bunny up by its ears. A rabbit’s powerful hind feet can also cause deep scratches if they are handled improperly.

What you will need to care for your new rabbit

1.Cage
A small rabbit needs a cage at least 24"x24" and 12" high (the bigger the better).  This cage should be a place where it can be safe, and not interrupted. Cage should be kept far from the heater.  Indoor rabbits are usually kept in a cage with a plastic base as this is easily cleaned.

2. Provide a litter box, with wood pellets or non-clumping cat litter. Bunnies can be trained to use a litter box which makes them an ideal house pet.

3. Water bottle

4 .Pellet Feed

5. Hay (timothy or regular)

6. Mineral/salt wheel

Feeding:

1. Fresh water – ALWAYS!

2.  Plenty of fresh hay at all times

3. Dwarf rabbits under 6 months can have unlimited pellets, while those over 6 months should be given 2-3oz. of pellets per day. The owner may have to adjust the amount higher or lower depending on the adult weight of their rabbit.

4. Give your dwarf rabbit (4 months old and up)  a small piece of apple, carrot or banana  per day as a treat.

When introducing a new treat give a small amount and wait 24 hours to check for diarrhea, if it appears do not give that particular treat again. One should avoid iceberg lettuce, avocado, and treats which are sugary or salty, these can all cause digestive system upsets. Also be sure not to feed produce that contains pesticides or that is rotting.

Keeping your Rabbit Happy

Rabbits should  spend approx 4 hours free to roam around the house or in their pen each day.

The owner must take care to bunny-proof any rooms their rabbit will be allowed loose in. Make sure phone wires, computer wires and other wires are out of reach before you let your bunny out. They love to chew. A rabbit should also be watched when allowed free run of the house so they don’t try and chew furniture, baseboards, or walls. Chewing and digging are normal rabbit behaviors and instead of discouraging it you should work to redirect it to acceptable chew toys and digging spots. This can be accomplished by spraying the rabbit with water and shouting no when he misbehaves. In order to properly train a rabbit the owner must have patience and commitment.

Pet owners receive much pleasure interacting with their pet rabbits. For example a rabbit will often use their teeth as a form of communication. A gentle nip can mean pet me while a hard bite is telling the owner bunny has had enough. They will often use their nose to nudge and push you, again it may mean they need attention or that you are in the way. Other rabbit body language can include circling (a sign of affection or mating behavior), licking (bunny kisses), or the most entertaining of all hops and sprints to express joy. These bunny hops are often performed at the end of a sprint, sometimes they leap straight up and other times up and to the side. It is hard to miss the look of happiness that appears on the rabbit’s face when performing this stunt. Many owners have rabbits that enjoy cuddling with them and demand lots of pets, however some rabbits tend to be "loners" or shy and prefer less obvious displays of affection. Each one has their own individual personality so the owner must learn how best to bond with their rabbit. A rabbit owner should also be aware that rabbits thump their hind feet to signal danger so it is best to refrain from using thumping or banging to get bunny’s attention, unless it is to tell them to stop.

Rabbits will also exhibit undesirable behavior that will make the owner unhappy but are natural for bunny. Some of these include sexually motivated behaviors such as urine spraying, aggression, digging, and mounting. Litterbox habits may also suffer because droppings are used to mark territory. Some does will also go through false pregnancies and dig nests and pull fur as well as become very aggressive. Usually spaying or neutering will prevent these behaviors or lessen them. Altered rabbits are also easier to find companions for without the fear of unwanted litters and less fighting between newly introduced pairs. Rabbits can bond with another but be advised that in many cases it takes time and intervention during fights. Rabbits can also live happily with other household pets including the family cat and dog. Caution must be exercised when introducing other animals..

The next important step is to feed the pellet in limited quantities. The cause of many diet problems in pet rabbits is the overfeeding of pellets which lead to obesity and greater incidence of disease. Rabbits will eat more in winter due to greater energy demands for heat and less in summer when they need less energy to keep warm. It is also important not to over indulge the bunny in treats. Treats should be given in very small quantities, think in terms of teaspoons or less. Some popular treats include: oatmeal, fruit, vegetables, herbs, dry bread, and rabbit supplements.