Rabbits are active and curious. Once around humans, they can form strong bonds with the family members. Rabbits live to a long age (about 12 years), so be prepared to have them around for a long period of time. They are not aggressive, in fact, they are quite mild mannered. However, if they are not handled properly, they can become aggressive and destructive.
Choosing a rabbit
While white is the commonest color, rabbits come in a range of sizes and colors. They may be single colored or even striped. When you are choosing a rabbit, look for one which seems healthy. Younger rabbits are easier to train and you can train them to use the litter box.
It is also a good idea to buy more than one rabbit as they are social animals and welcome company. You should make sure that they are neutered, otherwise you will be stuck with litters of babies.
The common rabbit species are:
- American Chinchilla
- English Spot
- American Fuzzy Lop
Housing the rabbit
You can house rabbits in a hutch or large cages. They should have sufficient room to move. They can be kept indoors or outdoors. In fact, rabbits do well when they have some place to run around and even burrow. So they should be let out of the hutches for some time.
The hutch should be weatherproofed and locked, except when you need to open it to take out the rabbit or for cleaning. It should be lined with newspapers, sawdust and hay. Ideally there should be a separate sleeping area for the rabbit. It will have to be kept cleaned thoroughly at least once a week. On a daily basis you will need to remove leftover food, spoilt or wet bedding and maintain hygiene levels.
Rabbits have very sensitive digestive systems and should be fed properly. Meadow hay is a requirement because it gives them the chance to gnaw and they also feed on the hay which provides fiber. You can buy ready made rabbit food which should be given along with fresh vegetables, root vegetables, fruits and greens at least three times a week.
Don’t give too much of ready made rabbit food which is high in fat and starch because this can made the animal fat and prone to various diseases. Rabbits also enjoy the occasional treat of lilies and roses to eat. You should also keep a water bottle in the hutch and make sure the water is changed daily.
If fed properly and taken care of rabbits are quite hardy. However, they do need to be vaccinated against myxomatosis and viral hemorrhagic disease, which can prove fatal. Talk to the vet about shots and taking care of your pet.
You should also groom your pet regularly, brushing his fur gently. His claws will also need clipping when long. If you can’t do it yourself, the vet or his assistant will do it for you.
You should place some toys in the hutch to allow the rabbit to play with stuff. There can also be some large tubes for the rabbit to move in and out. You can also place miscellaneous objects for rabbits to play with.
If you keep your rabbit on a harness, you can take it for a walk. Otherwise you should make sure that you spend some time with it, stroking it and playing with it as rabbits enjoy contact.