Table of Contents


Basic House Rabbit Behavior and Bunny Body Language


Bunny Proofing Your Home


​How to Litter Train a Rabbit


​Rabbit Neutering or Spaying


​Rabbit Houses


​Rabbit Diet


Rabbit Grooming


Rabbit Toys to Buy and DIY Options


​​Rabbit Information and Resources

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Basic House Rabbit Behavior and Bunny Body Language

Rabbits have many interesting behaviors and body language quirks. What do different types of bunny behavior, postures and actions mean? Here’s a quick guide to some common bunny behaviors.

Pet Bunny Hopping or Dancing

Hopping or dancing is a sign of pure joy and happiness. The bunny’s “dancing” can include leaping, doing a binky (jumping straight up and spinning in the air) and racing around.

Rabbit Flop

A bunny flop is very comical and indicates a contented — and tired — bunny.

Territorial Rabbit Chinning Behavior

Rabbits rub their chins (which contain scent glands) on items to get their scent on them. This behavior indicates that the items belong to them and also defines their territory. The scent is undetectable to humans.

Grunting

Why do rabbits grunt? If your rabbit grunts, it usually means she is angry – and possibly feels threatened. Sometimes, grunting is followed by a nip or bite. Some rabbits do not like it when you rearrange their cages as you clean; they may grunt, charge or even nip you when you try. They are creatures of habit and once they get things just right, they like them to remain that way.

Thumping or Stomping

When a bunny stomps or thumps, this indicates that he or she is frightened, mad, or sensing danger (real or imagined).

Soft or Loud Teeth Grinding Noise

Rabbits may softly grind their teeth when they are content (such as when you’re petting them). Loud teeth grinding, however, can indicate that the rabbit is in pain or is ill. Take your bunny to a rabbit veterinarian if you hear loud teeth grinding.

Rabbit Circling Your Feet

When a bunny circles a person’s feet or legs, this behavior usually indicates sexual or mating behavior (even when your rabbit is neutered). It basically means “I love you.”

Playing

How do rabbits play? Well, they like to push or toss objects around. They may also race madly around the house, jump on and off the furniture, and act like children who have had too much sugar. Rabbits love toys and some will play for hours with a favorite toy.

Rabbit Nipping or Biting

A bunny nip is gentler than a bite. Bunnies will nip to get your attention, or to politely ask you to move out of their way. Rabbits usually do not bite, but if one does, generally it doesn’t mean that he hates you. There are many reasons that might cause a rabbit to bite; for example, he might bite if you grab at him or surprise him. A rabbit may also accidentally bite while tugging at your pant leg. Another reason rabbits bite is that they have poor up-close vision, so they may think that your finger coming toward them is food — or a predator.

To put a stop to rabbit bites, immediately let out a shrill cry when you are bitten. Rabbits do this when they are hurt. Since they usually do not intend to hurt you, they will be surprised that you have cried out and will usually stop the behavior after a few times.

Spraying

Why do male and female bunnies spray? They are marking their territory. Un-neutered males will mark female rabbits and their territory by spraying them with urine. Un-spayed females can also indulge in this behavior. It’s another good reason to spay or neuter your rabbits.

Rabbit Marking Territory with Droppings

Droppings that are not in a pile, but are scattered about, are signs that this territory belongs to the rabbit. This behavior will sometimes occur when a rabbit enters a new environment or if another rabbit is brought into the house. It may be temporary or ongoing. Droppings done in piles indicate that the rabbit needs more litter box training.

Rabbit in Distress: Shrill Scream

This is an indication that your rabbit is hurt or dying. Please seek immediate medical attention.

False Pregnancy in Rabbits

Even though a rabbit may not be pregnant, an un-spayed female sometimes builds a nest and pulls hair from her chest and stomach to line the nest. She may even stop eating — behavior that usually occurs the day before she gives birth.

Training Pet Rabbits and Reducing Undesirable Behavior

Bunnies, like other pets, are occasionally naughty. When that happens, remember that you should never hit a rabbit. It’s cruel and they don’t understand why they are in trouble. They can also become very angry and aggressive if provoked. Instead of punishing bad behavior, it’s usually far more effective to use positive reinforcement to encourage your rabbit to behave in the way you would like. Like many other pets, rabbits can be clicker-trained.

Always be consistent when disciplining rabbits and don’t expect too much from them.

Here are two humane things to try if your rabbit is being a bit ornery:

Shout “no” or clap your hands.
Thump your foot, like a rabbit, to convey your displeasure.

You can help reduce undesirable behavior in your rabbit by spaying or neutering, bunny proofing your house, and providing plenty of toys.

Bunny Proofing Your Home

When you’re not home to supervise, your rabbits should be kept in a safe, confined, rabbit-proof area. When you are home, they must be let out for several hours each day, both to exercise and to have social interaction with you and/or your other pets. Also, the more they are let out, the faster they will learn proper behavior through discipline. Younger rabbits tend to get into more mischief and must be watched and disciplined more closely. As time goes on and bunnies know what is expected of them, more freedom may be given.

Eventually, when you feel you can trust your rabbit, give him free run of the house when you’re home. But first, you must carefully inspect every room for any exposed wires and other dangerous objects (like plants) that could be harmful to him. You may have to deny him access to one or more rooms if bunny-proofing is difficult or impossible (such as a computer room, where there are numerous exposed wires). But the more space your rabbit has to roam, the more delightful you will find him or her as a pet and companion.

Keeping a Rabbit Safe Indoors

Rooms that are generally easy to rabbit-proof are the bathroom, laundry room, kitchen, and bedroom. Below are things to watch out for in all areas of your house.

Stop Rabbits from Chewing on Wires

Rabbits love to chew wires of all kinds — electrical wires, telephone wires, computer cables. To protect your bunny, cover all exposed wires with plastic tubing, available at most hardware or electronic stores. This tubing goes by several different names, including polygon tubing, plumber’s tubing and vacuum tubing, and comes in various sizes, thicknesses, and types of plastic (some are hard while others are soft and easily bendable). Some wires can be taped up on the wall, away from your bunny’s reach, making the tubing unnecessary. Check for hidden wires in places that the rabbit may be able to get to that you can’t see — such as under a bed or behind furniture.

Keep Bunnies from Gnawing on Walls, Window Frames and Corners

Some rabbits will chew on the corners of walls or window frames. Before allowing your bunny the run of the house, you’ll need to be patient and observe your rabbit for a while to see whether he has this particular habit. If your bunny finds a favorite spot to chew, you can purchase hard plastic or wood corner protectors from hardware stores to place over the area.

Stop Rabbits from Nibbling on Furniture

If your rabbit chews on items like chair legs, kitchen cabinets, and baseboards, a product called Grannick’s Bitter Apple (available at pet supply stores) can be applied to the area being chewed. This product has a terrible flavor and should deter any further chewing. Unfortunately, for some reason, a few rabbits seem to like the taste. You can also try to protect chair legs with wrapped cardboard.

Another deterrent is to keep a lot of toys — blocks, baskets, boxes, and other items — around the house to give the rabbit something to chew on besides your furniture. Just make sure that the material the toy is made of is natural and has not been painted, stained, varnished, or treated with any chemicals (no plywood, press board, particle board, or pressure-treated wood).

Plants Toxic to Rabbits

Many house plants are toxic to rabbits. If you have an active bunny, it’s best to hang your plants from the ceiling, but be sure to watch for falling leaves. For more information, visit the House Rabbit Society’s website and search for “toxic plants.”

Keeping a Rabbit Safe Outdoors

It is a joy to watch rabbits play outside, but certain precautions must be taken:

Do not let your rabbit play on grass that has been sprayed with fertilizers or pesticides, or frequented by feral cats or wild animals (which can spread disease through their feces).
Always supervise your rabbit while she is outside. It’s best to have her on a harness or in an enclosed area. It only takes a few seconds for a dog to jump a fence and attack or frighten the rabbit (literally) to death. Other dangers are bites from snakes or a hawk swooping down to snatch the rabbit. Rabbits are avid diggers, so the area should also be secured so they can’t dig down or under fencing.
Under no circumstances should a rabbit be left outside after dark, since predators such as possums, raccoons, and coyotes can be present even in very urban areas. And, of course, dogs (and the occasional cat) will attack a small rabbit. Even if you have an enclosure that is very secure, a rabbit can die of fright while a predator attempts to break in.

How to Litter Train a Rabbit

Can bunnies be trained to use a litter box? Yes, rabbits can learn to do their “business” in a box — but with some different twists. After all, rabbits are not cats. So, let’s look at some strategies and tips for getting bunnies to use the litter pan.

Potty Training a Bunny Tips

First, younger rabbits are usually harder to train than older rabbits. Youngsters have a shorter attention span and want to explore and quickly hop on to the next adventure. Training can begin early, but don’t expect quick results.

Second, spaying or neutering makes a difference in how quickly a bunny will learn to use the litter box. Un-neutered males have other important matters (such as mating) on their minds and un-spayed females going through a false pregnancy, or a real one, will also be preoccupied. Plus, marking territory is important to both sexes when they are not spayed or neutered. This undesirable trait is only one reason to spay or neuter your rabbits at the appropriate age. (For other reasons, see “Rabbit Neutering or Spaying.”)

Another key to success: Take the time to observe your rabbit’s behavior, so you know what indicates that the bunny is about to go potty. Some rabbits back up into a corner to urinate; others want to potty as soon as they are let out of their cage. Look for the tail to go up and the ears to relax. You’ll want to catch the rabbit before she urinates and steer her into the litter box.

Types of Rabbit Litter

You will want your rabbit to be excited about spending time in the litter box, so make it a welcoming place. Fill the bottom of the box with rabbit-safe litter, such as wood pellets, aspen shavings, or thick layers of newspaper. Don’t use clay, cedar or clumping cat litters because these are bad for bunnies’ health. Pile fresh hay on top and, to really entice your bunny, add a few papaya treats, a piece of apple, a favorite herb or a toy.

When your bunny is in the box, give her lots of praise. Don’t ever punish your bunny for “accidents”; punishment doesn’t work and it will just cause stress for the rabbit.

Steps for Litter Training Rabbits

What’s the actual process for teaching the bunny to use the box? First, she’ll need her own piece of real estate — a space that the rabbit distinguishes as hers and separate from the space she shares with you. If the rabbit does not have a cage, section off a space in a room or run.

Next, prepare a couple of litter boxes and put them out in the rabbit’s space. In the beginning of training, it helps to place a few of the rabbit’s droppings and the scent of her urine into the litter boxes to let her know that this is the place to go. Place one box inside the rabbit’s cage, one just outside and another in a corner, or wherever you see your rabbit doing her business. Move the boxes as needed, according to where your rabbit chooses to urinate.

As the bunny gets better at using the litter box, you can start eliminating boxes. When your rabbit is consistently successful, you can expand her living space, but go slow, adding a little space at a time. Don’t expect perfection: Rabbits will occasionally leave some droppings outside the litter box. “Hop and drop” just happens and a few droppings are easy to clean up.

Cleaning a Litter Pan or Box

Cleanliness is important for keeping your bunny interested in using the box, so clean the litter boxes every two or three days, or as needed. A good cleaning solution is half white vinegar and half water. Top the boxes daily with fresh hay.

To respect the rabbit’s space, don’t reach into the cage or space to pull the rabbit out; instead, coax her out. Also, don’t clean the space or cage when the rabbit is inside. Keep food dishes close to the door to minimize intrusion. If you are carrying the bunny back to her area, let her hop into the door of the cage or sectioned-off area rather than placing her inside.

House-Trained Bunnies

Finally, if your rabbit’s litter box habits change, there may be something medically wrong with her. Have the bunny checked by your veterinarian, just to make sure. Of course, a change in litter box habits can also result from the rabbit being frightened, new rabbits in the area, or a change in caregivers or the bunny’s environment.

With a bit of luck, you should soon be experiencing the joys of a rabbit trained to use the litter box!

Rabbit Neutering or Spaying

The reason for spay/neuter surgery is obvious if you have both a male and a female rabbit. (Remember the old cliché about breeding like rabbits!) But why should you spay or neuter your bunny if you have only one, or if you have several of the same sex?

Reasons to Spay or Neuter a Bunny

There are several very good reasons. First, studies indicate that a high percentage of unspayed female rabbits will get uterine and/or ovarian cancer between two and five years of age, and a very high rate of males will get testicular cancer. So, spaying or neutering your rabbit will help give her or him a potential life span of eight to twelve (or more) years.

Second, upon reaching sexual maturity, rabbits often display such undesirable behaviors as spraying, chewing and fighting with other rabbits, as well as becoming aggressive toward people. Spaying or neutering greatly reduces and, in many cases, eliminates these behaviors.

At what age should a rabbit be spayed or neutered?

The best time to spay or neuter rabbits is just as soon as they reach sexual maturity, which can be as young as three months in dwarf rabbits. Be sure to double-check your rabbit’s sex beforehand. Most young rabbits can be spayed between three and six months.

Is a rabbit ever too old to be spayed or neutered?

The answer to this question really depends upon the general health of the bunny in conjunction with the bunny’s age. A younger rabbit with significant medical problems may be more of an anesthetic risk than an older rabbit who’s healthy (although all anesthesia poses some risk). Discussing your rabbit’s individual health history with your veterinarian is the best way to make a decision about whether your rabbit can undergo the procedure.

Choosing a Veterinarian

It is extremely important to make sure that your vet is knowledgeable about the spay/neuter procedure, and experienced with both the procedure and rabbits in general. A rabbit neuter or spay surgery can be dangerous or even life-threatening if improper technique is used. If the rabbit is older, tests may need to be done to assess liver and kidney function prior to surgery.

Please question the vet carefully about his or her experience with rabbits before you take your bunny in for surgery. The House Rabbit Society (rabbit.org) keeps a list of experienced rabbit vets.

Cost of Spay/Neuter Surgery for Bunnies

The cost to perform spay or neuter on a bunny is quite variable, but it does tend to be slightly higher than the cost for a dog or cat since the surgery is a bit more specialized. Check with your veterinarian or your local humane society to determine what the cost will be. You can also contact any rabbit rescue groups in your area to see if they have additional information or can help defray the cost.

About the Sterilization Surgery

Contrary to the procedure with other animals, food and water should not be withheld from a rabbit the evening before surgery. If the veterinary office staff directs you to withhold food, discuss the request with your vet. Generally, the reason that food is withheld from cats and dogs is the possibility of vomiting during surgery, but rabbits cannot throw up, so vomiting is not a danger with them. In fact, withholding food and water is harmful to rabbits and can result in a longer recovery time from surgery.

The actual surgery involves removal of the ovaries and double uterus in a female, and removal of the testes in a male. All large blood vessels are carefully tied off with suture to prevent bleeding and the incision is closed in layers with buried suture to prevent chewing after recovery.

During anesthesia and surgery, it is important to maintain the bunny’s body temperature. Heating pads, warm IV fluids, warmed or humidified anesthetic gases, and radiant heat are common and effective methods. Plastic bubble wrap (for warmth, insulation and soft bedding) is also used.

Recovery After the Procedure

To assist with the recovery process, as soon as the rabbit awakens from surgery, he or she should be encouraged to eat. Offer the bunny a variety of his or her favorite fresh foods. Any rabbit who’s not eating soon after surgery may need to have some help with feeding (such as syringe feeding, unless there is a medical reason to avoid this).

If all goes well, your bunny will start to perk up noticeably by the second day after surgery. Healing begins quickly; adhesions (normal tissue repair) usually start to form within 24 hours of surgery in rabbits. Recovery time will depend on the type of surgery, the surgeon's technique and any complications. In the case of spay/neuter, a male will usually recover more quickly, since a neuter is less invasive than a spay. A male is usually ready for normal activity within a few days of surgery; a female might take a bit longer to recover from her spay surgery.

Post-operative pain relief will also help your bunny recuperate faster, as pain can be a cause of post-operative gastrointestinal tract issues. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are easy to administer and well tolerated by most rabbits. Other medications (such as opiates) can also be used, and although it is often suggested that these drugs can affect gastrointestinal motility, this is uncommon when an animal is truly in pain. Your veterinarian will advise you about which pain medication to use and what dose to give your bunny.

Rabbit Houses: Cages, Hutches, X-Pens and Other Enclosures

Best to Keep Bunnies Indoors

Because rabbits are prey animals, living outdoors, even in a secure hutch, can be extremely stressful for them. Plus, it’s easier to make a rabbit part of your family and enjoy his companionship if he’s living with you inside your home.

Rabbit Housing Guidelines

All rabbits love a special place of their own where they can retreat and yet still be a part of family life. Here are some guidelines to follow when considering housing for your bunny:

Many rabbit cages are too small to provide humane housing. A rabbit’s home or enclosure should be large enough for the rabbit to stretch out all the way, with the back legs extended times one.
The home should be tall enough to allow the rabbit to stretch to his full length when standing on his hind feet.
Provide a wooden shelf that the rabbit can hop up on. This gives your bunny a bit of exercise even when confined inside her home.
The home needs to have an opening or door large enough for a litter box to pass through and for you to bring the bunny out of the house without injury.
Wire bottoms are uncomfortable for rabbits and can lead to sore feet. If your rabbit’s house has a wire bottom, cover at least half of it with Plexiglas, a wood platform, or washable towels or blankets. Consider getting a home with a solid metal or plastic tray bottom; it’s healthier and more comfortable for your rabbit.
Besides the litter box, you’ll need to equip your bunny’s house with a food dish, a ceramic bowl for water and lots of bunny toys. Even with all these items in his house, your bunny should still be able to stretch out comfortably.

Dog Pen for Rabbits

One option for bunny housing is a dog pen (commonly called an X-pen). Pens provide spacious enclosures that have room for all the necessities, including toys and a wooden or cardboard house so your rabbit can “take a break.” One advantage of pens is that they can be easily moved from place to place. One note about the height of the pen: Some rabbits love to jump, so a taller pen might be needed for them.

Make Your Own Rabbit Cage

How elaborate you make your bunny’s house is limited only by your imagination and your pocketbook. Many people create and build their own “bunny palaces.” There are companies that sell double- and triple-level condos with ramps connecting the floors. Whatever type of housing you choose for your bunny, make sure he gets supervised time outside his house on a regular basis to exercise and interact with you.

Rabbit Diet: What to Feed a Bunny

What should pet bunnies eat? Contrary to popular belief, rabbits need to eat more than just carrots and lettuce. They require a balanced diet of hay, fresh veggies and fruit, and a few pellets. Rabbits have very sensitive digestive tracts, so the transition to hay or pellets, or the introduction of new fruits and vegetables, must be done gradually to allow the rabbit’s system to adjust.

Hay

The bottom of a rabbit food pyramid would contain long-stemmed fiber, in the form of hay, which makes up 80 to 90 percent of a rabbit’s diet. As grazing animals, rabbits need to have an unlimited supply of fresh hay daily.

You’ll want to feed your rabbit grass hays. Good types of grass hay for bunnies are timothy, orchard grass, brome and oat hay. You can feed your bunnies either one type or a mixture of different grass hays. Buy the freshest hay possible and check for the presence of mold or dust, which could make your rabbit sick.

Alfalfa hay is not a good choice for an adult rabbit, since it’s a legume, not a grass, and as such is too rich to be fed on a daily basis. Alfalfa can be given to rabbits once in awhile as a treat. Rabbits under one year of age can be fed alfalfa hay, but as they get older they should be switched to grass hay, especially if they are also being fed alfalfa pellets.

Pellets

Timothy hay pellets can be given to bunnies in small quantities. An average-sized (6-10 pounds) adult rabbit only needs one-quarter cup of pellets daily. If your rabbit is under five pounds, feed just one-eighth of a cup. Rabbits larger than 10 pounds do not need more than a quarter of a cup, since it’s not a crucial part of a bunny’s diet.

Rabbits under one year old can be fed alfalfa pellets. Be sure to feed grass hay (rather than alfalfa) if you are feeding your young rabbit alfalfa pellets. Look for pellets with a high fiber content — the higher the better. Do not buy the rabbit pellets that have dried corn, nuts and seeds added, because those foods can potentially be very harmful for rabbits.

Vegetables

Rabbits count vegetables and herbs among their favorite foods. Most greens found in a supermarket are safe for rabbits, with a few limitations and exceptions. (See the list of foods to avoid below.)

No more than two cups daily of fresh vegetables should be given to adult rabbits. Dwarf breeds and rabbits under five pounds should get just one cup of fresh veggies per day. A variety of two or three vegetables is ideal. Add one new vegetable at a time, and watch for signs of loose stool or diarrhea because, as mentioned above, bunnies have delicate digestive systems. Certain vegetables can be given every day, while others should be fed sparingly, one or two times a week.

Do not feed your rabbit potatoes, corn, beans, seeds or nuts. These foods are difficult for rabbits to digest and can cause serious digestive problems.

Vegetables that Can be Fed to a Rabbit Daily:

Bell peppers
Bok choy
Brussels sprouts
Carrot tops
Cucumber
Endive
Escarole
Fennel
Herbs: basil, cilantro, dill, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, thyme
Lettuces: romaine, green leaf, red leaf, Boston bibb, arugula, butter
Okra leaves
Radicchio
Radish tops
Sprouts: alfalfa, radish, clover
Watercress
Wheatgrass
Zucchini

Vegetables and Plants to Give Sparingly (one or two times a week) to a Bunny:

Broccoli (stems and leaves only)
Carrots
Chard
Clover
Collard greens
Dandelion greens (pesticide-free)
Flowers: calendula, chamomile, daylily, dianthus, English daisy, hibiscus, honeysuckle, marigold, nasturtium, pansy, rose
Kale
Spinach

Fruit

Fruit should be given to your bunny one or two times a week. The appropriate serving is one to two tablespoons of fruit (either one kind or a mixture) per five pounds of body weight. As with vegetables, fruit should be introduced slowly and one at a time.

Fruit to Feed Your Rabbit (one or two times a week):

Apple (no seeds)
Banana
Berries: blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, cranberries
Cherries (no seeds)
Grapes
Melon
Nectarine
Orange
Papaya
Peach
Pear
Pineapple
Plum
Watermelon

Treats

Like lots of people, many rabbits have a sweet tooth. As with humans, treats are at the top of the food pyramid for bunnies and therefore should be fed sparingly. Healthy treats for your bunny include small pieces of fresh or freeze-dried fruit (the approved fruits listed above); natural, unprocessed mixes that include hay and dried flowers (the approved flowers listed above); and Oxbow brand rabbit treats.

Always read the ingredient list on store-bought treats because not all of them are safe for bunnies. Avoid treats that include added sugar, preservatives and artificial coloring, and never give your rabbit human treats.

Foods to Avoid Giving a Rabbit

Some foods are not good for rabbits under any circumstances because they can make rabbits extremely sick. Here are foods to avoid giving your bunny completely:

All human treats
Beans
Beet greens
Cabbage
Cauliflower
Cereal
Chocolate
Corn or corn-cob treats
Crackers
Iceberg lettuce
Legumes
Mustard greens
Nuts
Pasta
Peas
Potatoes
Rhubarb
Seeds
Sugar  
Turnip greens
Yogurt

Water

Finally, rabbits need to stay hydrated, so they should have an unlimited supply of fresh water, which should be changed daily. The water container should be cleaned with soap and water every few days. Water bottles are not easy to clean and can be difficult for rabbits to use, so bowls are better. A heavy ceramic bowl is ideal, since it doesn’t tip over easily.

Rabbit Grooming: How to Groom a Bunny Shedding Hair

Because of their constant shedding, rabbits need to be brushed at least weekly to remove loose hair. You will have to brush daily during heavy sheds. Rabbits shed in different ways: Some take a couple of weeks or more to lose their old coat, while others shed their old coat in a few days. Much of the hair can often be removed by gently plucking it out with your fingers. Fine-toothed flea combs made for cats work very well to comb out loose rabbit hair.

How to Groom a Bunny

Rabbits have thin, sensitive skin, so you’ll want to use gentle strokes when grooming. You can use the soft brushes sold for cats. Rabbits vary in their affinity for grooming; some like it, some don’t. Lionhead, angora and other long-haired rabbits require much more attention in the grooming department than short-haired rabbits. Long-haired bunnies must be groomed daily to prevent matting of the fur and hairballs.

Grooming provides an excellent opportunity for you to give your rabbit a quick overall checkup. You should check his teeth for misalignment, his eyes and nose for any discharge, and the condition of his fur and skin. Check also for mats and “poopy bottom” (fecal matter stuck to his bottom).

Bald spots on rabbits can occur when they are shedding, but they could also be an indication of mites if your bunny picks at the bald spots or you see dandruff-like flakes when the hair is pulled out. Consult your veterinarian if you are unsure.

Can You Bathe Rabbits?

Rabbits are naturally very clean and do not need baths unless they are incontinent or prone to poopy bottom. If you do need to bathe your bunny, use water only or a gentle rabbit or kitten shampoo. Don’t ever immerse your bunny completely in water — bathe only the soiled area. Many bunnies squirm quite a bit during bathing, so you might want to have another person there to assist you. Towel-dry the rabbit and use a hairdryer (set to warm, not hot) if necessary.

Trimming Rabbit Nails

A rabbit’s nails can grow to be very long and sharp, and can be uncomfortable for both you and the rabbit. You can clip the nails with a guillotine-type nail clipper, the type made for cats and birds, available from any pet supply store. Wrapping the bunny in a towel may help to calm her and prevent injury from kicking. Try holding the bunny on her back with her head tucked into the crook of your elbow.

If your rabbit has light-colored nails, the quick (the portion of the nail containing blood) is highly visible, making them very easy to trim. Just clip the nail right before the quick, but not too close. Dark-colored nails, of course, make it much more difficult to see the quick. Try shining a penlight through the nail.

People are often afraid to clip the nails for fear that they will cut the quick and draw blood. If bleeding occurs, it can be stopped by one of the following methods:

Apply flour to the area by dabbing it on with your fingers and applying pressure. The flour will help clot the blood.
Apply pressure to the nail with a cotton ball.
Use styptic powder (one brand is Kwik Stop), available at most pet supply stores. Always have this on hand if you plan to trim your bunny’s nails.

Can You Declaw a Rabbit?

Your veterinarian can also clip your rabbit’s nails for you. They should be checked every four to six weeks. Never ever declaw a rabbit; it is not recommended for rabbits and is also unsafe, inhumane, and totally unnecessary.

Rabbit Toys to Buy and DIY Options

Some people are surprised to hear that rabbits like to play with toys. Some of their “toys” are not what you would typically put in that category and rabbits might not play like cats and dogs, but they do enjoy playing, in their own way. They love to gnaw on, toss, push and rearrange their “toys” — and they are curious and excited about new playthings. Below is a list of safe “toys” (do-it-yourself options and toys you can buy) that will keep your rabbits from getting bored and bring bunny fun into their lives.

Bunny Toy Tips

A couple pointers: Most toys that are safe for parrots are also safe for rabbits. Please don’t buy or use anything treated with preservatives or chemicals. Keep the toys clean with mild soap and water, and replace or change the toys often to keep your rabbit interested.

Fun and Safe Toys for Pet Rabbits

Here are some suggested toys for rabbits:

Straw or wicker baskets
Straw placemats and rugs or paper-plate holders
Paper-towel or toilet-paper rolls (You can stuff these with hay for extra fun.)
Large brown paper grocery bags (These are a fun place for bunnies to hide.)
Rings with bells, such as a parrot toy or a Mason jar cover ring with a large bell attached using a key ring
Most sturdy hanging parrot toys
Whisk brooms (You can attach these to the cage or run.)
Maze-type balls with a bell in the center (Make sure they are sturdy and not constructed of thin plastic.)
Wooden clothespins (You can soak these in apple or cranberry juice to create a tasty chew.)
Chunks of untreated wood (Avoid the cedars and aromatics.)
Cardboard boxes with holes or doors cut into them
PVC tubes (6 inches in diameter), cut into three- or four-foot lengths for tunnels (You can also use heavy cardboard tubes. Both can be found at home improvement stores.)
Cylinder-shaped cardboard boxes, such as a rolled oats box, with the ends cut off
Baby toys: sturdy, hard plastic “keys,” telephone rattles, etc.
Newspaper (not the colored inserts, though)
Towels and blankets (Rabbits love to rearrange them.)
Platforms, small ramps or large blocks that the rabbits can jump up on
A house or tunnel made of straw bales
Shallow sand boxes or small kids’ plastic pools filled with dirt for digging

There are also many wonderful and safe rabbit toys sold online. Two recommended sites are busybunny.com and binkybunny.com.

Rabbit Information and Resources

Rabbits are intelligent, social animals who need affection. They can become wonderful companion animals if given a chance to interact with their human families.

Information about rabbits

If you are considering adopting a rabbit, here are just some of the things you should know:

Rabbits may live eight to twelve years, so make sure you are ready for that kind of commitment.
Rabbits need daily care. If they are not handled gently and often, they may not be comfortable with being picked up and cuddled.
Rabbits love the company of other rabbits. If you have one bunny, think about getting him or her a companion.
Rabbits are intelligent and curious, and consequently a bored rabbit can be a destructive and unhappy rabbit. Digging and chewing are among their favorite pastimes, so whether he's inside a cage or out, your rabbit needs plenty of toys to keep busy.
Rabbits have a fairly delicate digestive system; to obtain necessary nutrients, they must be fed a varied diet.
Rabbits prefer gentle, quiet environments so they may not fit in well with a hectic family life and rowdy pet dogs and cats.
As with any family pet, your rabbit will need to see the vet for regular checkups.
Rabbits should also be spayed or neutered to make them happier, healthier pets.
Rabbits can be taught to use a litter box, especially if they are spayed or neutered.
To control the temperature of the environment and to keep them safe from predators, rabbits should be kept inside.
If kept outside, rabbits must be in a predator-proof area and must be kept cool during the hot weather. They must not be able to dig under fences and they need to be protected from air attacks by birds, not to mention all the other predators.

Resources on the web about rabbits

Brambley Hedge Rabbit Rescue: bhrabbitrescue.org
House Rabbit Society: rabbit.org
Rabbit Advocates: adoptarabbit.com
The Bunny Bunch S.P.C.R.: bunnybunch.org
Zooh Corner Rabbit Rescue: mybunny.org

Tip: To find a vet who is experienced in treating rabbits, go to the House Rabbit Society's website at rabbit.org/vets.

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