21 Things You Need to Know Before Getting a Rabbit {Bonus FAQs}

Rabbits are excellent pets to enjoy life with you in your home. It’s essential that you create the best atmosphere and understand what they need before they are invited to live with you.

Rabbits seem easy to care for, but there are plenty of quirky or complex specifics about rabbits that make them unique.

If you read through this article about rabbit facts and needs, you will be better equipped to care for them.

21 Things You Need to Know Before Getting a Rabbit

1. Prepare To Be There

Rabbits need you once they enter your home. Certain breeds will live up to 15 years. Many live 5-8 and some can survive and thrive for 12 years with you.

We would like to make this your first point to read today because it is your challenge to see how long you can extend your rabbit’s life span.

Once they become a part of your family, you should have the ambition to commit for as long it takes to keep them in your life for as long as possible.

2. Keep Rabbits Close

A rabbit should feel included and not kept at the farthest region of your property. Hopefully, you are allowing your rabbit to enter the living spaces where you or your family frequently rest and relax.

If you can fit their enclosure in this space with exercise time outside of it, then you are providing an ideal setting to welcome this new family member.

3. Get Them Their Own Home

Enclosures for rabbits can become expensive. You don’t need to buy the biggest or best, but you should make sure their needs are covered. Let’s go through this in more detail:

  • The width of the cage should be a minimum of 2 feet or 6 centimeters for smaller to medium breeds of rabbits. If you know your rabbit has more growing to do, get a width of 3 feet (90cm) or larger.
  • The length should be 6 feet for a total of 12 square feet when factoring in a 2 foot width for medium sized rabbits.

The Rabbit Welfare Association is one many groups that tell us rabbits need 3 hops from one end to another for absolute comfort. This will reduce stress and give them space to not need to be let out so often during many points in the day.

Rabbits should be able to stand up, hope, stretch and move in a space with 2 feet in height as well. So we’re looking at 6 feet in length, 2 feet width and 2 feet in height.

4. What It’s The Cage?

Rabbits need enrichment and something to do in such a space that they call their own personal home inside your home. You will need to fit:

  • Food bowls
  • Water bowl or dispenser
  • Litter box
  • Hideouts
  • Levels
  • Ramps
  • A perch
  • Chew toys
  • Salt wheels
  • Bedding

Food and water are absolutely essential and we should include bedding in that category as well, while the rest are bonuses that create a better living environment for your rabbit.

Read more about rabbit salt wheels.

YouTube video

5. What’s Underneath?

The substrate or bottom of the enclosure should never be wire or mesh. They can get their feet stuck or develop wounds or infections.

The solid bottom could be made of plastic because you will be adding bedding on top. Your choices of bedding ranges from paper, fleece to wood shavings.

Read more about rabbit wire floors.

6. Best Bedding

Rabbits can enjoy a variety of bedding options, but you should decide what works for you. Do you own a paper shredder? People who do, opt for shredded paper as a perfect solution for rabbit bedding.

Unfortunately, it gets solid or moist quicker than other absorbent bedding material and needs frequent changing.

Best bedding for rabbits:

  • Aspen shavings
  • Carefresh bedding
  • Anti-pill fleece blankets

Each has their own benefits. Read more on rabbit bedding:

7. Rabbits Will Be Fearful

We are discussing an animal that gets hunted and killed by so many predators in the wild. They will be fearful of this new environment you have created.

Knowing that they cannot escape into a burrow or dash away means that they need to feel safe. This means adding hiding spaces in the enclosure is important

Adding more than one rabbit gives them more security and comfort as well since they live in larger groups in the wild.

Read more on rabbits playing dead.

8. Time To Exercise

Rabbits are hearty, agile and active animals who will need to exercise to avoid obesity and plenty of other health issues.

Try to give them 4 hours of playtime or exercise outside of the enclosure. Set up a fences area outside or use baby gates in your home to keep one space available for rabbits indoors. There are options of exercise balls and wheels as well.

Find out more about rabbit exercise.

9. Rabbit proof Your Home

Rabbits need time outside of the cage, but our home is full of hazards that we overlook or do not notice. Electrical cords, furniture, lights, glass or food and cleaning supplies that remain out in the open could be unsafe or toxic to your rabbit.

Supervision is key during exercise time outside of the enclosure. Block access to unsafe items and areas. Move away household plants to other rooms. Accidents will happen and we hope they are too serious.

Read this article here to help you out with more rabbit safety tips.

10. Entertainment Time

Rabbits will provide us with funny moments and as they entertain us with their whimsical and quirky behavior. We will take photos or videos and find their moments or clumsy actions to be hilarious to us.

They will comfort us and keep us company. What will we do for them to prevent them from getting bored when they aren’t home? There are options such as:

  • Puzzle feeder
  • Chew toys
  • Grass mat
  • Untreated and cleaned branches or twigs

It’s best to start with rabbit toys or other rodent chew toys available in pet shops. They are safe and will help your rabbit who needs to gnaw on items to wear down their teeth. This action prevents boredom as well.

Read more about unsafe chewable items. 

11. Get To Know Your Rabbit {Male Vs. Female}

No two rabbits are the same. The longer you get to be in their presence, the more you will identify their unique characteristics. If you care for more than one bunny, you will see differences between them.

Some will be more social, playful or energetic while others will curl up with you or need more time alone. The better you understand your rabbit’s needs, the more you can adjust a schedule and interaction to keep them comfortable.

Find out more about the difference between male vs. female rabbits.

12. Groom Your Rabbit

Rabbits will do most of the grooming job on their own. They take care of their own fur and each other. Grooming is a form of bonding. They may decide to groom you too.

Brush out their fur to prevent clumps of hair. If the hair is too matted, they may pull too aggressively and hurt their skin.

Trim their nails 4-6 weeks at a time. Trim less and more often to prevent cutting too deep which can cause pain or bleeding.

13. This is Not A Cartoon

Rabbits don’t live on carrots. They are not in a hurry and they are not scheming tricksters.

What they are is a balanced animal who requires hay, grass, plant matter and some occasional fruit or veggies treats. When it gets complicated, specially formulated pellet food will balance out their dietary needs.

Read more on rabbit pellets.

14. What To Eat

Your rabbit’s staple food is hay or grass. Timothy hay, Orchard Hay and plenty of other hay products should always be chosen for rabbits and provided in copious amounts. If the hay gets too moist or soiled, switch it out daily or every other day.

Add in vegetables to their diet like kale, romaine lettuce or parley. Carrots are an occasional treat only. When feeding your rabbit treats, do so slowly in small amounts.

They have sensitive GI tracts that need adjustment to new foods. Pellets are helpful balanced nutrition and their serving size ins indicated on the package you choose.

Find out more about rabbit hay.

15. Clean Up Schedule

A litter box inside the enclosure is not an absolute must, but we recommend it. Otherwise a rabbit will relieve themselves anywhere they choose. Rabbits can be trained to go in one area.

  • The litter box should be cleaned out each day.
  • Avoid direct contact with your hands.
  • Wear gloves, Use a small vacuum or broom with a dustpan.
  • Wash your hands dafter to avoid the spread of bacteria.
  • Clean out the cage once per week.

Read more on rabbit litter. 

16. Get To Know Your Rabbit’s Vet

This is a person who is there to save the day. Bunnies can go into shock, suffer from digestive issues such as GI Stasis and plenty of other illnesses. They are great at hiding their symptoms.

Your rabbit’s vet will go through vaccination options and discuss what your unique bunny may need more than others based of any variety of tests at their clinic.

Read more about rabbit digestive issues.

17. Cuddles Take Time

Your rabbit will need time to bond with you. You can’t just pick up a rabbit on day one and expect them to be your fur ball on your lap right away. Sadly, this may never happen for some rabbits who do not care for close contact.

Rabbits like to stay on the ground. They feel safe there. Use two hands, hold the rear end securely and reduced time in the air as much as possible. A quick lift from the ground to your lap will reduce the stress from being picked up.

18. Rabbit Love Mating

They are rabbits after all. One female rabbit can give birth to as much as 140 or more babies. This is why it’s essential to neuter the males and spay the females. They will more likely reduce their aggression or urge to chase each other around if you prevent them from mating.

Read more about male and female rabbits here.

19. Crepuscular Creatures Need Day Rest

Rabbits are crepuscular, meaning that they will remain active at dusk and dawn. They will need you to give them time to rest during the day. The location of the enclosure should be away from direct sunlight and high traffic areas.

Give them some relation because they will be moving around before and after you each day. This also means that you should keep their enclosure further away from your bed so as to not be disturbed in your sleep.

Read more about rabbits at night.

20. Rabbits Can’t Vomit

What do they need from you if rabbits can’t let go of fur balls caught in their throat or gut? You will need to provide roughage with more hay or other fibrous foods to help move anything that could be stuck which leads to potential suffocation or gut problems.

One item we love is slippery elm bark. We feed it to our rabbits in powdered form on top of their pelleted food or other treats. It quickly discovers a fibrous jelly in their gut to help move things along.

21. Let Them Eat Their Poop Sometimes

This sounds gross, but rabbits excrete cecotropes from their rear end that are technically poops, but softer than the regular pellets.

They will eat those right away because their digestive system moves so quickly that they haven’t fully absorbed the nutrients within. They are digesting and we can allow this to happen by not immediately removing their poop.

Read more about rabbit poop.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Why Do Rabbits Sleep With Their Eyes Open?

Rabbits have many predators in the wild. It has taken them centuries to adapt to this method of sleeping and just because they are safe in your home doesn’t mean they will stop sleeping with their eyes open.

This is a defense mechanism and way of staying alert even when they are sleeping. Our guinea pigs do this too!

This gives predators the illusion that a rabbit is awake and able to flee. If they found them asleep with their eyes closed, they would be more enticed to pounce on these bunnies.

2. How Many Breeds Of Rabbits Are There?

There are around 49 main breeds of rabbits. Some places suggest there are up to 305 breeds. This means they are hybrids or mixed breeds because they get along really well with each other. The Dutch lop rabbit is very common, but so are the ones listed below:

  • American Rabbit
  • Belgian Hare Rabbit
  • Californian Rabbits
  • English Lop
  • French Angora Rabbit
  • Harlequin Rabbit
  • Lionhead Rabbit
  • Lionhead with Flowers
  • Netherland Dwarf Rabbit
  • Tan Rabbit

You may need a vet to determine whether you have a dominant breed of certain type of rabbit. You might have a mixed breed rabbit the way we do.

3. Do Rabbits See Well?

Yes. Rabbits have a vision that can expand to 360 degrees. They are able to prevent anyone from sneaking up on them or above them.

They won’t even need to turn their heads to discover that you are right behind. The only downside to this incredible 360 degree vision is that they have a blind spot located directly in front of their face.

4. What Type of Animal Is A Rabbit?

Rabbits are classified as lagomorphs. Only rabbits, hares and pikas are in this animal category, making them very unique.

Even though they carry many common characteristics with rodents such as their ever-growing front teeth, they are different.

Rabbits have an additional pair of incisors behind their large incisors in their upper jaw. As a lagomorph, they do not have paw pads. Instead their paws are covered with fur.

 

Good luck with your adventures and journey of caring for your rabbit. We hope you enjoy the experience and take care of more in the future. Thank you for visiting PocketPetCentral.com for the best information to help you enjoy the life of your pocket pet companion in a fun, safe & healthy way.

Anna

My name is Anna and I work full time in my local pet shop where we sell many animals that I write about on this site. I love all animals and love writing about them.