Care and Feeding of Pet Rabbits

Rabbit in a cage
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If you know the proper care and feeding of pet rabbits, you can expect your pet to live a long and happy life. Rabbits can be wonderful companions if you are prepared to give them the attention needed. Learn more about their needs.

Pet Rabbits

Rabbits have always been popular as outdoor pets kept in cages, but they are now popular as housetrained indoor pets. Domesticated rabbits are similar to cats in that they are generally clean and can be housetrained to defecate in a litter box. They are also like puppies because they like to chew and nibble on anything near the ground such as electrical cords, toys, furniture and draperies. Rabbits will mark their territory with urine if they are not litter box trained. Both house rabbits and outdoor rabbits need early and continued socialization or they will become skittish, moody, difficult to hold and may bite. The following additional rabbit facts will help you understand what to expect:

  • Pet rabbits can live up to 15 years with the proper care, but the average lifetime is six to eight years.
  • The female is called a doe and the male is called a buck.
  • The female reaches sexual maturity and can have a litter as early as four months old, while the male reaches sexual maturity at around five months old.
  • Baby rabbits are called kits.
  • You can have your rabbit spayed or neutered.
  • Spayed and neutered rabbits make better pets because they are less aggressive, become more docile, and are less territorial.
  • Rabbits can make noise, such as a growl or a squeal.
  • The Chinese Zodiac Year of the Rabbit is 2011.
  • Rabbits require your time and attention or they will become wild.
  • Children should be supervised around a pet rabbit.
  • Rabbits can have a heart attack if they become extremely frightened.

Housing

If your rabbit will be an outdoor pet, purchase or make a rabbit hutch. If you choose to housetrain your rabbit, buy a small floor cage that is made for indoor purposes. This type of cage also acts as a litter box for the rabbit. The cage is over the litter box for easy cleaning. Once the rabbit becomes used to her cage, you can leave the door open and she will leave the cage and come back to eat, sleep and defecate once she is housetrained.

Feeding Your Rabbit

Rabbits are herbivores, which means they eat plant-based foods. A good rabbit diet includes water, hay, fresh vegetables and specially made rabbit food pellets. Feed your young rabbits pellets, and then gradually increase the amount of fresh vegetables and hay you give them. The pellets are vitamin rich and high in fiber. Water should be available at all times. Make sure the vegetables, hay and any outdoor plants your pet may graze on are pesticide free.. Some vegetables you can feed your rabbit include:

  • Carrots
  • Bok choy
  • Broccoli
  • Celery
  • Dark leafy green lettuce
  • Clover
  • Green peppers
  • Parsley
  • Spinach
  • Pea pods
  • Wheat grass

Dental Health

Rabbit teeth continue to grow all through their lives, so they need to chew to keep their teeth healthy and at the proper length. Provide your pet with chewing blocks purchased at your local pet supply so you can be sure the wood is free from any chemical treatments. You'll also want to look at your pet's teeth periodically to check for malocclusions. A malocclusion occurs when teeth overgrow and no longer fit together as they should. This condition can ultimately result in a rabbit being unable to eat, so it's best to check periodically and consult your vet if something doesn't look right.

Join a Pet Rabbit Group

Serious pet rabbit owners should check into joining an organization such as the House Rabbit Society to get support and knowledge from other pet rabbit owners. These types of societies help rescue domesticated rabbits from homes and shelters when people do not want them anymore. These groups also help educate future pet owners on the proper care and feeding of pet rabbits.

The Care and Feeding of Pet Rabbits Takes a Real Commitment

The care and feeding of pet rabbits is a fairly simple yet rewarding job. However, it does take dedication to keep up with that care week after week and, ultimately, year after year. With the proper care and feeding of pet rabbits, you can expect your rabbit to become sociable, docile and even huggable. He may even sit on your lap just like a lap dog. Just be sure you can make the commitment to provide him with everything he needs, and he'll reward you with warm and fuzzy companionship.

Care and Feeding of Pet Rabbits