What should you expect from your rabbit?

Rabbits are gentle, quiet animals that make excellent pets. They have dynamic personalities and appreciate human interaction. The more time you spend with your rabbit, the more it will become tame, friendly, and bonded to you.

Domestic rabbits are best suited to live in safe homes with adult supervision. Rabbits like to explore and chew, so it is important to guard your home (furniture, electrical cords, wood) against their inquisitive nibbling when they are allowed to roam around your house. It is important to provide a stimulating environment for rabbits, such as the availability of toys. Toys may be as simple as cardboard mailers, paper towel centers, safe wooden toys made for birds or PVC tubing.

A rabbit should be handled carefully, especially when removing it from its cage. Always support its hindquarters when picking it up, as its powerful rear legs can cause serious spinal injuries if it kicks while being held.

Are rabbits tame?

While it is usually gentle with its owner, a rabbit may kick, scratch or bite if it becomes anxious; therefore, play with young children must be supervised. Rabbits can be trained to use a litter box.

Where should you house your rabbit?

You should confine your rabbit to a hutch, cage or bunny-proofed room when you are not at home. The larger the area, the better, as rabbits like to scamper about in bursts of energy. Yard and garden exercise should be strictly supervised.

To house your rabbit outdoors, be sure it is sheltered from excessive sun and predators. Do not allow the temperature around your rabbit's hutch to exceed 90 degrees. If the hutch has a slatted or mesh bottom, provide at least a section of solid flooring. The House Rabbit Society recommends organic litters made from alfalfa, oat, citrus, or paper. Litters made from soft woods, such as pine or cedar, should be avoided. Your rabbit will appreciate a box for hiding and sleeping.

You will want to clean your rabbit's cage frequently (at least once a week), both for your rabbit's health as well as to control urine odor.

If you have more than one rabbit, keep your males separated from each other and from females. Be aware that non-neutered males will fight with each other whether there are females around or not.

Housing for your rabbit should:
  • Include a cage or box for hiding even if it is given free range in the home.
  • Be cleaned every few days, including a change in bedding material to keep it dry.
  • Be maintained in temperatures between 55-90 degrees.
  • Be located in an area with good ventilation.
  • Include a tunnel for hiding and resting.
  • Include items for chewing, such as untreated wood, cardboard, or safe wooden toys.
  • Be easy to clean with access to remove food scraps daily.

What should you feed your rabbit?
  • A commercial rabbit pellet made of timothy hay.
  • No "Gourmet" pellets with nuts or seeds should be fed to your rabbit.
  • Pellets should be fed in moderation to avoid obesity.
  • Unlimited grass hay, such as timothy or orchard grass hay, should be present at all times
  • Leafy green vegetables, such as dandelion greens, Swiss chard, endive, etc., should be offered as well.
  • Fruit can be fed as an occasional treat.

How can you keep your rabbit healthy, happy and safe?
  • Take your rabbit to Saukville Veterinary Clinic immediately after purchase and then annually for examination.
  • Ask your veterinarian at the clinic to evaluate your rabbit's teeth so they won't become overgrown.
  • Administer medication to your rabbit only as directed by your veterinarian.
  • Keep your rabbit's toenails trimmed and its fur free of mats and feces.
  • Have your female rabbit spayed at an early age to prevent uterine cancer.
  • Prevent the formation of hairballs by brushing your rabbit frequently and by providing sufficient roughage in the diet via a good timothy hay.
  • Check sipper bottle frequently since rabbits drink a lot of water.

Things you must keep away from your rabbit:
  • Electrical cords
  • Blankets and carpets that may be ingested
  • Lead paint and wood varnish
  • Unsupervised dogs, cats, and other pets
  • Unsupervised children
  • Toxic houseplants
  • Pesticides or other lawn chemicals
  • Cedar shavings
  • Tobacco and cigarette smoke
  • Gourmet pellets that include peanuts and other additives

For more information: House Rabbit Society of Wisconsin