The Do’s and Don’ts

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Aya Schlueter, Journalist

 

Most people are not educated on rabbits. Mainly because they aren’t a very popular pet, but recently they have been gaining popularity. Rabbits are sensitive, so it is important to give them everything they need. Bunnies are sweet, playful, energetic, and inquisitive animals, so being able to interact and bond with them is such a rewarding experience.

First, the important things you need to do for your bunny. One of the essential parts of keeping any animal healthy is a balanced diet. Rabbits need about 2 cups of veggies a day, things like collard greens, romaine lettuce, bok choy. They can also have herbs like parsley, cilantro, basil, sage, thyme, rosemary, oregano, dill, and more. Pellets are a supplement. They can be substituted with other vegetables, but most people chose to give their rabbits pellets. The rule is ¼ cup of pellets for every 6 pounds of a rabbit. Smaller bunnies that weigh less than 6 pounds can have ⅛  cup. The largest part of a healthy rabbit’s diet is hay. Timothy, brome, or orchard grass hay. Hay is 80% of their diet. Measuring out the hay is not needed. It is best to give them unlimited amounts of it in their litter box/hay rack. Make sure the hay is not too dusty. Bunnies, especially angoras and lionheads, need to be groomed. The easiest way to get a rabbit brush is to get a flea comb and thread a thick rubber band through the teeth. It should come out looking kind of like the hair buster, a good bunny grooming tool.

Rabbits are prey animals, so they like to hide. You can cut holes in boxes for them or buy cat towers. The height limit should be about 3 feet. Something really nice about keeping bunnies is that they can be litter trained. The best litters to use for them are paper litter or edible stuff, like Eco Straw. I prefer Eco Straw because it doesn’t get everywhere as easily as paper litter. For their hay, people usually put it in the rabbit’s litter box. This might sound a little gross, but don’t worry. Rabbits are smart enough not to eat dirty hay.

Now onto the “Do Not’s.” One of the worst things people do to their pets is trance them.

This may seem innocent at first glance, but this actually means that the rabbit is afraid. Bunnies do not like being put on their backs. Trancing induces so much unnecessary stress, and it damages the relationship between the owner and the rabbit. The second worst thing for rabbits is being bathed. Their skin is so thin they can’t really regulate their temperature. Submerging them in water can give them hypothermia. If the animal has special needs or is too old to go to the bathroom in their litter box, all the cleaning they need is a damp washcloth. One of the bad things about rabbits is, well, they breed like rabbits. If a male and female are kept together, and they are not neutered/spayed, they will breed. You can get overrun with baby rabbits surprisingly fast. People also make lots of dietary mistakes, like giving too many pellets, not enough hay, etc.

Some of the don’ts might seem harmless, but they can do a lot of harm. These are some risks of bad rabbit care. Feeding adult rabbits alfalfa hay can cause urinary stones from having too much calcium. Alfalfa hay also doesn’t have as much fiber as timothy or orchard grass. Rabbits having no hay is detrimental to their health. They will most likely develop GI stasis within the first couple of  days without hay, and their digestive system will get blocked up, and they will die rather quickly. Hay is most of what rabbits eat, so it’s not a surprise how essential it is. The risk of feeding too many pellets is obesity and teeth problems. Too many pellets make rabbits gain a lot of weight. That’s why baby rabbits get lots of pellets, but adults cannot handle so many extra calories. Pellets are also too easy to eat. Rabbit teeth grow all their lives, so they need to be chewing all the time. Only eating pellets just let their teeth grow. If rabbits aren’t chewing frequently, they will need their teeth shaved down.

Bunnies are such good pets, but people’s knowledge of them is quite limited. They are such sweet and intelligent animals, and they are so fun to care for too. Hopefully, this article helps educate people about these wonderful creatures.