Congratulations on your new bunny! Hopefully if you’re considering introducing a new bunny to your home, you’ve read through the Supplies Page. Below are a few additional tips for new bunny owners. When mistakes are made it is usually because new owners love their bunny so much that they try to do nice things for their bunny which can unfortunately backfire.
The biggest mistake that new bunny owners make is overfeeding their bunnies or introducing new treats too fast. Our Holland Lops and Lionheads full-grown are under 3.5 pounds. Read and follow the instructions on the rabbit pellets you choose but most will say 1/8-1/4 of a cup per day is appropriate for rabbits under 4 pounds. You may be feeding a larger amount when feeding juvenile food and need to cut back once you transition your bunny to adult food. Your bunny will be excited about their food and that may make you want to feed them more because you love them. However, you are doing them a huge disservice if you overfeed them. Although bunnies should have unlimited access to timothy hay and water at all times, rabbit food pellets should be measured. If they are not eating hay, that means you are feeding them too many pellets. Hay should be the largest percentage of their diet. Alfalfa hay is not a great choice for adult rabbits and since once young rabbits get the taste of it they may not want to switch to timothy hay, we prefer to stick with timothy hay from the beginning. Extra carbohydrates like dry oatmeal, carrots and other treats should not be given to bunnies under the age of three months. (Some sources say 6 months but that’s a bit of a simplification to keep you from making the mistake of introducing too many things too fast.) Too many additional carbohydrates will throw off the pH of their gut bacteria and can cause enteritis. Once their digestive system is a little more mature at 3 months you can give them treats starting in the amount of 1 teaspoon per day. When introducing new foods do so one type at a time (like you would for any baby) in a small quantity and watch their droppings for 48 hours to ensure they look normal. Also introducing new foods should be limited during other changes in your bunny’s life like moving to a new home. Do your research before introducing new foods. For example, you should avoid feeding your rabbit light-colored lettuce, including iceberg, as it can contain lactucarium, a chemical that can be harmful to your bunny's health if ingested. If your rabbit stops producing droppings, refuses food or has watery droppings seek immediate veterinary advice. Young rabbits are very fragile and can become very sick in a matter of hours.
Bunnies do not need baths. It can be confusing when you go to the pet store and you see something like rabbit shampoo for sale. In fact, bunnies can go into shock and die if submerged in water. So don’t be tempted to do it. Bunnies are prodigious groomers and will keep themselves clean unless there is a problem. If they are sick, if they are overweight and cannot reach around to groom themselves, or if they are old and arthritic and cannot reach around to groom themselves you may need to help them a little bit. If for some reason they are a real mess due to one of the reasons just mentioned, you can put them in about 1 inch of warm, not hot, water with a towel in the bottom so that they can grip the bottom. Hold up their upper body out of the water and just carefully use water only on their bottoms only to try to loosen up anything matted around their bottom area. Be ready with multiple towels to help get them dry afterwards.
Some people ask about bedding for bunnies. Carefresh with no dye is a good bedding option although it can be confusing for bunnies who are working on litter training to have bedding. You might want to start with nothing and slowly add it in once the corner for the litter box has been established and you are comfortable that your bunny won’t get confused. As long as you are providing plenty of timothy hay the bunnies will kind of spread it where they want it if they need a little nesting situation. That way they can also nibble on it and it gives them a project which they like!
Bunnies love toys and an example of an inexpensive and fun toy is a toilet paper roll, just the cardboard part, stuffed with Timothy hay. If you want to buy toys for your bunny, avoid dollar stores as sometimes their pet toys contain chemicals which rabbits are very sensitive to. Buy toys from a known producer of rabbit/small animal toys.
Sometimes I use fencing to create a ‘maze’ for our bunnies to run around in with a little treat in the middle. Then the next day I change the maze. This is just to provide them some mental stimulation and fun since they are naturally curious. Even something as simple as a small shoebox in their habitat can be something new for them to explore and play in.
Please contact us if you have questions and always remember that if you find yourself unable to properly care for your bunny that we will take our bunnies back (no refund), no questions asked and no guilt trips about changed circumstances. We understand that life can throw us curves. However, we never want our bunnies to be neglected, left in a shelter or released into the wild where they would be unable to survive.
If you are buying a bunny from us and we ask for personal details like name, number, email address, etc please understand that we need this information in order to keep strict ownership records to be able to adhere to our policy of taking back our bunnies if necessary.