Bringing Home Bunny
Welcome to the wonderful world of rabbit keeping!
These furry little guys will worm their way into your heart and steal all of your greens right out of your hands. Are you considering getting a baby rabbit? Fantastic! Remember, babies are more likely to be frightened of you than an adult, well-handled rabbit. Dwarf breeds, like mini lops, can be especially jumpy. However, with a little work, you'll become fast friends. Just remember that your rabbit is a prey animal and sees you as a predator. While we've had rabbits in captivity for a very long time, babies are still born very much ready to run. That is, as soon as they get their paws under them.
Preparing for Your New Bunny
At the bare minimum, you'll require a 12 sq ft cage (that's 1.1 meters for our metric friends). This sounds like a lot, but it's only 6x2. If you decide on a miniature breed, give them at least 10 sq ft. This can be divided up in any way you like, including double-decker cages. If you decide on a two-story cage, you'll only need a block of 3x2. Most commercially available indoor hutches are designed this way. Remember, too, that you'll need a play area or secure outdoor run of about 32-40 sq ft so your bunny can get it's binkies out. Binkying is when a bunny goes wild with joy. Don't worry, you'll see it soon!
You'll need a water bottle or bowl and food bowl, a few toys such as wicker balls, corncob or paper bedding, good quality hay with a hay rack, and premium food. How do you spot premium food? It's entirely plant-based and has little to no corn content. Rabbits are grazers. Blood or bone meal are cheap additives in poor quality food. If you can find it, Blue Seal Show Rabbit Food is an outstanding product and has been for a very long time. As an easier to find alternative, Oxbow Rabbit Food is also a great choice for food and hay. I also buy my timothy hay from Oxbow as it has less “dust” than some of the other brands (Zane gets the sniffles when his hay has a lot of small particles floating around). Your bunny will also need fresh veggies each day. The organic pre-washed boxes of herb/spring salad mix at the grocery store are yummy and convenient!
Before you go and get your new rabbit, setup your enclosure. Make sure the rabbit can't reach through the cage for wires, cloth, carpet, or anything else that may get stuck in their teeth or cause a problem for you. Remember that rabbits will chew everything they can get their mouths on. It's in their nature.
Bringing Home Your New Baby Rabbit
When you go to your rescue, breeder or rabbit show, carry with you a small crate that can be fully covered. Place some hay in the crate for bedding and snack time. If it is a very short distance, don't worry about attaching a water bottle. If it is more than 10-15 minutes travel time, attach one to the front of the crate.
Allow your rabbit 2-3 days to orient itself before you start making friends with your new pet. This means keeping the lights low in the room the rabbit is in (a lamp during the day is ideal) and using a very quiet and gentle voice when you speak to it without making physical contact until your new bunny is ready. We'll cover making friends in another article, coming up soon!