Below are explanations and links to readily available feed and care products that we buy via Chewy.com or Amazon that you may want to consider. Your bunny will come with some starter nursery feed.
Holland Lops and Lionheads need to be able to take at least two hops and to be able to stand up in their bunny home. Our bunnies are used to being In larger cages with the addition of plenty of exercise.
The link below is an option for a habitat that also includes a water bottle and a food bowl. We have had feedback from some of our bunny owners that they were surprised by how large the habitat is so be sure to look at the size in the description.
You will want to get a jumbo sized litter box to make cleaning easier. We recommend this one which is inexpensive and is the only one we’ve found that keeps bunnies’ little feet clean. We especially like this litter box for Lionheads because things can get stuck in theit long fur. We use kiln dried pine pellets for litter. (Don’t use clay based kitty litter as it is dangerous for bunnies’ health. Pine shavings can contain oils that irritate bunnies’ eyes and potentially their digestive systems.) Bunnies will choose the corner that they want their litter box in and will notify you by making a mess in that corner. Don’t try to fight it, just move the litter box to that corner and all will be well! Sometimes it’s best to start with the litter box right under where the feeder is hung because bunnies actually like to eat and poop at the same time. If your bunny has an accident, sop it up and put it in the litter box and they will get the idea. If you are letting your bunny hop around the house, enlarge their area slowly as they can get confused as to where their litter box is at first! See our FAQ’s for a link to an article on litter training.
On the topic of digestive tracts, bunnies have two kinds of droppings. 1) hard, dry pellets which should be uniform in size and which are primarily fiber, 2) Cecotropes which look like smaller, wet mulberries. Cecotropes are a special food for bunny which only bunny can make. They contain necessary, helpful gut bacteria and they are produced in a portion of the rabbit's digestive tract called the cecum. Bunnies must eat cecotropes to remain healthy and this is one of the reasons babies need momma until they are 8 weeks old. This is an informat article on bunny poop which is indicative of bunny health!
We use Feline Pine litter which is kiln dried sawdust made into pellets. It doesn’t contain oils (like pine shavings) that can be irritating to bunnies. Since rabbit droppings are one of the best fertilizers available, we use natural litter that we can dump in our garden to save on mulching and fertilizer costs. If you don’t have a garden, or if you prefer to stick with your existing landscape maintenance plan, there are other safe litter products for bunnies including Carefresh, Yesterday's News, aspen shavings (no pine or cedar shavings!), newspaper, and plain old hay. Newspaper and bulk hay are the most inexpensive choice, but they aren't as absorbent as other litters so must be changed frequently.
If using Feline Pine, scatter barely enough to cover the bottom of the litter box because it swells up 10X after coming in contact with water/urine. You don’t want it to swell out of the top of the litter box grate. There should be plenty of room for droppings to fall down into the litter box.
Note that bunny urine can vary in color from yellow to bright orange/dark red. Don’t panic if you see orange or red urine. Discoloration can be unpredictable and two bunnies fed identical diets can have very different colored urine. You can test if blood is present by dripping hydrogen peroxide on it, if it's blood it foams A LOT. But blood in the urine is more often seen as specks, not as uniformly red urine. If your bunny shows signs of straining, not peeing or not having uniform droppings (aside from cecotropes) you should consult a vet.
Bunnies need unlimited access to timothy hay (not alfalfa hay) and water. A handful of hay the size of your bunny both in the morning and before bed is best. Bunnies‘ digestive tracts can get woolbind without enough fiber (hay), especially Lionheads with their long fur, so it should ALWAYS be available. Before buying a bunny, please ensure you are not allergic to hay. An allergist can test you for rabbit as well as hay allergies. Or if you are into home testing, buy some hay, rub it on the inside of your wrist and wave it in front of your face. (We recommend the allergist option.) It is not fair to take an animal into your home that you cannot keep because you are allergic. You would not do this with a dog or a cat and you should put equal research into welcoming a bunny or any animal into your family. Allergy shots are always an option (we know because we get them!)
We like a combined hay and feed bin like the one in the link below because it keeps the hay off the bottom of the cage which can be confusing for bunnies who are litter box trained. It also provides one place for both rabbit pellets and hay. Timothy hay should always be made available but rabbit food should be limited.
Bunnies must always have access to clean water because they need it to maintain their body temperature. Compared to a cat or dog, bunnies drink significantly more water per pound of body weight. For example, 1 lb bunny can drink as much as a 5 pound dog. A 4 pound bunny can drink 3 cups of water or more per day. If your water bottle is leaking then the water obviously goes much faster.
The water bottle in the link below is one we’ve found that doesn’t drip which is a major issue with every other water bottles we have tried.
Our bunnies are used to drinking from a water bottle. We have tried ceramic bowls instead of water bottles but they tend to get bunny hair floating on the top and generally look unsanitary even when cleaned every day. If you prefer a ceramic bowl it’s really important to choose a low bowl heavy enough so that the rabbit cannot push it around or tip it over. They like to put their front paws on the rim when they are drinking so if the bowl can tip over easily it probably will.
Our bunnies are used to apple cider vinegar in their water which we HIGHLY recommend be continued after you take them home. We add 1/2 tsp ACV per cup of water which we add with a syringe since it’s easier than a measuring spoon. Apple cider vinegar has many benefits for the domestic bunny. It contains a potent combination of vitamins as well as being full of minerals, such as potassium, copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorous and many more. Plus bunnies really like the taste of ACV! We also save the ACV glass bottles and use them to replace the plastic bottles that come with the water feeder (Dishwasher safe). Here are some additional recognized benefits:
-ACV helps reduce the ammonia smell of rabbit urine.
-Prevents urinary tract problems like bladder sludge (from excess calcium), reducing infections because the organisms can not live in acidic urine.
-Keeps the body pH regulated, clearing up any skin infections or weepy eyes.
-Increases the nutrient absorption capabilities of the G.I. tract as well as helping the whole digestive process.
-Makes bunnies unattractive to fleas and mites by making the bunny ‘smell‘ off, making it a great repellent.
-Keeps fur softer and shinier.
-If bringing your bunnies to a show or transporting them, ACV water will taste the same as the water from home no matter what tap you use.
- Apple cider vinegar is available in your local market. We recommend the raw unfiltered kind that says ‘with the Mother’.
This makes your life much easier. Amazon link included in the button but it’s less expensive at your local pet store.
When it comes to bunny food, the biggest mistake new bunny owners make is over feeding. Holland Lops and Lionheads needs unlimited access to hay but only 1/8-1/4 of a cup of pellets daily. Overweight bunnies are unhealthy bunnies so resist the urge to over feed. when selecting pellets, avoid any with colorful shapes added in with the regular pellets as those are treats - kind of like feeding your children sugary cereal for breakfast. They love it but it’s not healthy for them. We feed Purina Show which only comes in 50 lb bags. We’ve included below a link to Oxbow Essentials which is the food we recommend you transition your bunny to. You will not want to buy a 50 pound bag of Purina Show because rabbit food does lose nutrients if it is sitting around too long. You will transition to adult food at 6 months. To transition to a new food, add 1 tablespoon of the old food into the new food for a week.
It’s tempting to feed your new baby bunny fresh fruits and vegetable but please don’t do that. Moving to a new home is already a big change for them and stress can impacts their digestime health. You will receive a baggy of pellets that your bunny is used to. Mix a tablespoon of that feed into your choice of pellets until it is gone. After a month (when they are 12 weeks), you can slowly introduce new foods.
New fresh foods need to be introduced slowly so your bunny’s gut bacteria can adapt to processing the new food. It's a good idea to introduce one type of food at a time, then if your bunny is sensitive to one type it's easier to identify and avoid in the future.
If you find your bunny’s droppings change from their normal solid round pellets, this is a sign that you may be going too fast or that a particular food doesn't agree with them. Stopping the fresh foods for a few days and ensuring plenty of Timothy Hay is available should return them to normal.
Leafy greens, except lettuce, are best for bunnies. Dandelion leaves, carrot tops, kale, spinach, spring greens, raspberry/blackberry leaves and herbs such as parsley and basil are nice options but be sure to not feed from your yard if it has been treated with pesticide. For young bunnies’ first introduction to greens it's best to avoid fruits, though these can be introduced as training treats later. (2 tsp per day).
After your bunny has settled into their new home, there are some additional items below you may want to consider.
My daughter loves to take our bunnies for a hop/walk with the harness and our bunnies love it too! Note that the leash is stretchy, unlike a dog leash. This is so the bunnies don’t get an injured spine by trying to hop forward reaching the end of the leash and being snapped backwards. So it’s a little different feel than a dog leash since you can’t really direct the rabbit easily. Also, since other people might be walking their dogs you still need to be very careful where you are going and to what or to whom you are exposing your bunny.
You may be tempted to buy a large plastic ‘bunny ball‘ similar to what you would put a gerbil or rodent in. Some bunnies have been known to get broken spines from the large plastic ball so we do not advise it. Remember, bunnies like to hop, not run on all fours.
You should trim your bunnies’ nails monthly. Examine the claw to locate the vein inside the nail. This vein is called the quick, and you should avoid cutting it. Cutting the quick will cause your pet to experience some pain, and he/she will bleed. Look for the pink part in the nail and cut below it. Some nails are quite dark, so you will need a small flashlight to see it. If you do accidentally trim the nails too short, use flour or styptic powder to stop the bleeding. There are plenty of YouTube videos on trimming bunny nails.
Bunnies have open rooted teeth. That means their teeth grow all the time just like our fingernails. Their teeth naturally wear down to the proper length by the act of eating hay and pellets. Some bunnies like a lava rock grinding stone toy to chew on for fun. You can also make your own chew toys - just use a cardboard box, unfinished wood block, toilet paper or paper towel roll, unfinished wicker etc.