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How to Care for Your Bunny

care-for-bunnyIf you are thinking about adopting a pet rabbit, consider the following facts about how to properly care for your bunny. Bunnies can be cute, furry friends that are fun to take care of and have as a pet. However, taking care of a bunny properly requires specific knowledge so the rabbit stays healthy and safe. They are not low-maintenance animals, and they require different care than a dog or cat does.

Housing: Choose The Indoors

Although picture books and the old way of doing things suggest keeping a bunny in an outdoor hutch, experts have learned that this can be harmful to a bunny’s health.

“Outdoor rabbits are farm bunnies. Indoor rabbits are pets. Simple as that,” said Stephan Flores, author of The Bunny Lover’s Complete Guide to House Rabbits and educator to the public. “Outdoor rabbits are at risk of disease, the weather and predators, whether they are in a cage or not.”

According to Petfinder.com, rabbits, who are prey to other animals, can become so stressed and afraid at the sound of a wild animal that they may have a heart attack and die. Rabbits should not stay alone outside. Make a home for your furry friend inside.

Patty Strain, who has been raising show and pet rabbits since 2000, noted that indoor rabbits can’t be taken outside in the summer heat even for 10 minutes. “A rabbit that is used to air conditioning cannot adjust quickly to heat and will perish in a short amount of time,” she said.

Chewing: Prepare For It  

Rabbits like to chew. If you’re not careful or don’t keep a watchful eye on your friend, your furniture may be a chewed up mess before you know it. Expect that your rabbit will want to chew something and provide products your rabbit can chew, so your furniture stays in tact. Wood blocks, toilet paper rolls and old telephone books are a few items you might have laying around the house that are safe for your bunny to chew on.

Because “you cannot train a rabbit to be a dog or cat,” said Flores, “your bunny abode area needs to be bunny-proofed.”

Flores suggests covering wood items or furniture that could be chewed on, making a barrier to it or removing it. “The only behaviors that you can modify are yours,” he said. Not the rabbit’s.  

Spaying/Neutering: Get It Done

Spaying or neutering your bunny not only prevents unwanted litters, but it also helps prevent health problems in the future. Particularly, it helps lessen aggressive, territory-marking behavior in males, and it prevents uterine cancer in females and testicular cancer in males.

Strain noted the importance of making sure you take your bunny to a vet who is knowledgeable about rabbits, as “some rabbits do not do well with anesthesia” and rabbits are much different than dogs or cats, she said.

“Most breeds can be spayed or neutered by four months of age,” said Flores.

Bonding: The More The Merrier

Bunnies like to have friends. However, bunnies that aren’t yet bonded can be aggressive and mean to each other. Bonding is the process where two bunnies slowly grow accustomed to each other, learn to trust each other and love each other.

Naturally, one pair of bunnies may get along better than another pair. If you have one rabbit and are considering getting another, try having a few play dates with several bunnies to see who your bun gets along best with before purchasing a new friend. If you add a second bunny to the family and the bunnies are indifferent to each other or are a little friendly, bonding will be much easier.

“In order to bond two rabbits, they both must be spayed or neutered. They are ready for their first dates four to six weeks after they have both had their spay/neuter surgery,” said Flores.

Grooming

Make sure to brush your rabbit regularly, Flores suggests once a week, from head to tail with a soft brush. This helps keep the bunny’s coat healthy and will get rid of unwanted, excess hair.

“Rabbits need regular grooming because if you do not remove the excess fur, they will end up ingesting it . . . but unlike a cat they cannot throw up a fur ball,” said Flores.

Make sure to trim your rabbit’s toenails, too.

“Rabbits also need their nails trimmed (5 per front foot, 4 per back foot) or they can break off if they get too long.  If you cut the nails too short (to the quick) the nail will bleed so do not cut them too short,” said Strain.

 

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