Caring for Your Pet Rabbit

Longtime rabbit raiser Karen Patry provides basic information on grooming, housing and meeting the other needs of your pet rabbit.

| December 2014

The Rabbit-Raising Problem Solver (Storey Publishing, 2014), by Karen Patry, addresses questions and concerns about housing, feeding and breeding rabbits at every stage in their lives. From choosing productive meat and fiber breeds to preparing a proper nest box and coaxing a fussy bunny to eat, you’ll find proven answers and humane solutions to your rabbit-raising quandaries. In the following excerpt from Chapter 2, “The Rabbit as a Pet,” Patry conveys useful information for beginning pet rabbit owners.

You can purchase this book from the GRIT store: The Rabbit-Raising Problem Solver.

Rabbit Care 101

Q. What is involved in caring for a pet rabbit?

A. A rabbit’s physical needs include shelter, food, water, chew toys that entertain and help keep their teeth chiseled, and protection from fear and predators. A sturdy wire cage or hutch will do the trick, whether you house your pet rabbit indoors or outdoors. Rabbits can be trained to use a litter box and allowed to roam indoors, but they can be destructive and must be supervised. House rabbits will find a hiding spot in which they feel secure. That spot may be in their cage or may instead be among the dust bunnies deep under your bed!

If your pet rabbit has the run of part or all of the house and/or spends time romping in the yard or garden, you’ll need to be attentive to the intentions of family dogs or cats until you are certain that they think “Friend!” and not “Dinner!” at the sight of a pet rabbit. Sometimes members of different species get along great and can be trusted to play together nicely. With others, you can never be confident — make sure you know which situation you have.

Rabbits, especially a single pet, do need attention every day, but their need for companionship is not extravagant. Rabbits are most active at dawn and at dusk, when their main activities, at least in the wild, are foraging and chewing. Otherwise, they rest and sleep most of the day and some of the night as well, a pattern of behavior referred to as crepuscular. So a rabbit will be most open to your attention in the late afternoon and evening, a time frame that typically coincides with families coming home from work or finishing up homework and chores. With regular petting and playtime, a rabbit is likely to consider you an important part of its world.

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