Rabbits are great companions, they're lovable, social, curious and love goofing around, but they do require close supervision and a great deal of care.
Whether you want your bunny to live inside or outside, they will need a safe environment with adequate space to grow in and to maintain their health and happiness. As with all new pets, a bunny will feel stressed after the initial move and they will need the proper care to settle in to their new home.
So, what do you need to keep in mind when committing to keeping a rabbit as a pet? Let us tell you...
They need plenty of space
When choosing a cage for your new bunny, it's best to go for the biggest one you can. Bunnies are very active and get spirts of energy which involves running around a lot, so a small cage is not going to allow them to do this. It's also important to get a big cage for your rabbit because it should be able to be divided into 4 areas: resting, playing, eating/drinking and toileting (more on this to come...). Ventilation is also key for any rabbit cage as damp, stuffy, and poor-ventilated living conditions can cause illnesses.
If you decide that your pet rabbit is going to live outdoors, then go for a good, spacious rabbit house - having a run attached or access to a big grassy area would be perfect for your new furry friend to roam around in. By having your rabbit's home in the outdoors, you'll need to bare in mind the temperatures and potential predators though, as rabbits do not cope well with extreme temperatures, and they can get stressed out or literally die of fear if they see/hear wild animals nearby. Best thing to do is ensure that the rabbit has a safe hiding place that they can retreat to.
If your rabbit is going to be an indoor pet, then they will need a spacious cage that has plenty of ventilation. Wire cages are an option, as long as the wires are spaced close enough so that the rabbit cannot get its body stuck trying to get through. Usually, having an indoor cage means the rabbit has less room to live in so it's important that they have some sort of play/exercise area. This can mean either being let our freely around your living space (just be careful of all the wires or objects they can chew on and cupboards they can sneak behind!), or into a pen (indoors or outdoors). A two-leveled rabbit house would be ideal, too, as it ensures the rabbit has plenty of room to stretch and walk around in when it's enclosed.
Divide the rabbit's home
The 4 different areas that a rabbit requires in its living space is similar to a human's. They need somewhere cozy they can rest in, somewhere else dedicated to being fed and watered, another section to exercise and have fun in, and a final section to use as a toilet.
As mentioned before, rabbits are vulnerable out in the open and a safe, quiet place to escape to is necessary. Varying temperatures can affect your furry friend, so it's important that their resting place has appropriate bedding to keep them insulated in the cold, or cool them down in the heat. The resting area should be as large as possible, big enough for them to stretch out comfortably in all directions, and high enough for your bunny to stand up fully stretched without its ears touching the top.
Rabbits like to eat and drink undisturbed and in their own time. Ensure that the food bowl is situated near the water, and that they're far away from the litter area. You can also provide hay for your rabbit to have something to nibble on throughout the day.
The area that the rabbit can use to be active in should be quite big but if you have a small cage or hutch, this isn't always possible. As long as the rabbit has somewhere that they can play with a toy in then they shouldn't get too bored. Of course, they will still need to be let out daily for exercise and exploration if this is the case.
In your rabbit cage, you should have a section filled with shredded paper or non-toxic litter material that serves as a toilet area. Refrain from using wood shavings in your rabbit's cage as some, such as cedar, can cause serious health problems for rabbits.
A rabbit's cage will need to be cleaned regularly, not doing so will result in your furry friend becoming unwell. Once a week should be an appropriate amount to clean out the whole cage thoroughly but it should be maintained daily to be a hygienic environment for your bunny to live in. Make sure you get rid of any wet and dirty areas in the cage and replace with fresh bedding/shavings.
When you go to refill your pet's food and water, it's a good idea to wash out the bowls/containers each time to avoid any dirt or old food to contaminate the fresh ones.
Rabbits are known to be playful and curious creatures so you will need to ensure that your bunny is entertained, and having a good pen or an area they can explore and exercise in daily does just this. Good chew toys will also allow your bunny to concentrate on an activity, as well as stop them from being destructive and chewing other things, like their cage, or your belongings (furniture and wires if they're allowed to roam inside the house).
If your rabbit has access to your garden, ensure that it's kept away from flower beds or any nearby plants and flowers as many common ones are poisonous to rabbits. This goes for any plants or flowers you may have inside your home too. It's a good idea to read up on what can be fatal to your furry friend as the list includes daffodils and lillies!
Of course, as with any other pet, you will need to keep any hazardous liquids such as cleaning products away from the bunny's reach to avoid any accidental ingestion. Should your rabbit come in contact with anything you think could be poisonous, call your Vet immediately for advice.
Spend time with your friend!
It's always nice to think of your pets as friends, and having this mentality will help you bond with your bunny. Being social and playful is part of a rabbit's nature and they will love your company, and being able to explore with or around you.
As long as you think of your pet rabbit's needs and attend to them appropriately, there is no reason why he/she shouldn't live a happy, healthy life.