Urban Farmer’s Almanac – Rabbits as Pets

Rabbits, the unheralded domestic pet - Urban Farmer's Almanac

Whether you’re a 4-H participant, a young couple looking for a pet in your city apartment or a suburban family looking for something unique and different in a furry companion, there’s a cuddly creature you may not have thought of before. They display affection and lots of personality, ranging from playful, inquisitive, independent and even silly. They are intelligent and adaptive animals with a loyalty streak and a cunning mind when it comes to getting through and around protective barriers. They’re not dogs, cats, parrots or guinea pigs …

They’re rabbits and they make excellent pets.

They come in a variety of ‘styles’ and looks. From the large, floppy-eared Holland Lop, to the very charming and beautiful Jersey Wooly, to the distinctively marked and highly prodigious reproducer, Himalayans, to the classic, Min-Rex, you’ll find that bunnies will quickly become a beloved family member.

  • Rabbits have a lifespan of roughly 7-10 years and require the same dedication and care as dogs. So even though they look like cuddly stuffed toys, they need to be cared for on a consistent basis.
  • Generally speaking, rabbits are affectionate and will be patient with children (and us cooing adults) with petting and gentle rubbing. But bunnies will stand their ground with other animals and will not suffer foolish household pets gladly.
  • They are also curious creatures and are superb jumpers so keep that in mind when creating penned-in areas for their housing.
  • Rabbits are also terrific ‘green’ pets as they love vegetables and hay and waste very little. Since their teeth never stop growing you need to constantly give them food and things to chew on to keep those pearly bucked whites under control.
  • Rabbits do require some grooming but don’t need to be bathed. Brushing them on a regular basis will keep their coats healthy as well as minimize the hair around your home.
  • Taking them to your veterinarian is important as well as spaying and neutering them. Rabbits are known as prolific reproducers and their behavior can become aggressive with sexual maturity so having them spayed or neutered will greatly control these behaviors.
  • Rabbits do fine in confined areas but should be let out now and again to fully thrive. They also enjoying digging in the ground. Keep them in a larger confined area when let outside for their own protection as well as being able to easily retrieve them back into the house.
  • Rabbits are easy to care for, either by a child or raising it yourself in confined space or even on a farm. But they do need some maintenance and a few steps can get you started making them a member of the family.

Housing

Ideally rabbits need housing or cages at least four feet in length. Stay away from cages with wire surfaces which can create ulcerations on their feet. Pens or even large dog crates are better choices. There are proponents of letting bunnies roam free but be aware this takes a lot of ‘rabbit proofing’ of your house, not to mention diligent supervision.

Diet

Rabbits need to be fed and watered consistently. A diet rich in fresh hay (unlimited), along with leafy green vegetables (kale, cilantro, collard and beet greens, for example) and a constant source of fresh, clean water is what is required. Carrots are standard cliché’ for feeding but do to high sugar content should be given in small quantities. Many people feed rabbit pellets but their use should be limited and only use high fiber rabbit pellets. Always keep an eye on your rabbit’s eating habits. If they have stopped eating for 12 hours, seek advice and medical attention from your vet.

Litter Care

Observing your bunny’s bathroom habits will give you a good idea where to place a litter box. The box should be lined with newspaper and filled with grass. Bunnies are consistent in their bathroom habits and this will make cleaning and maintenance much easier.

Securing Your Home – Rabbit-Proofing

A creature that is constantly chewing makes a home a ripe opportunity for mischief and damage. Allowing them to play outside in a larger, confined place keeps the home off-limits. Aside from that if a rabbit is allowed to roam throughout the house, be sure to cover or keep rabbits away from electrical wires, stray food (other pet food) and house plants that will simply be too tempting.

Exercise and Play

Rabbits require time outside of their immediate cage or pen and getting them outside (always in a protected area) is best. Try to make sure they experience the outdoors at least 25-30 hours a week. Additionally, making sure they’re active keeps them stimulated and content. Toys like an old towel, untreated grass mats, small boxes (or egg cartons) and small, plastic toys will give them lots of enjoyment… and you, too, as you watch them frolic.

Handling

Giving your rabbit regular attention with gentle strokes and light petting will be appreciated by them but be aware pf how sensitive they are. You may pick them up but do so gently by supporting their forequarters with one hand and hindquarters with the other. It should go without saying that you should never pick up a rabbit by its ears. Holding them gently against your body will give them warmth and security. Be sure to release them after a short period of time and then let them observe you as you sit with them. This will allow them to grow accustomed and familiar with you. In time, they will recognize your movements, voice and presence.

Coastal has a variety of bunnies to choose from in all of our store locations. We also have rabbit feed, cages and housing, water and food containers and so much more more.

You’ll find your bunny of choice quickly becoming a family member. Whatever breed you choose, giving them a consistent source of food and water, a protective shelter and much affection will give you not just a pet but a grateful rabbit that will make an endearing companion.


Urban Farmer’s Almanac Fun Facts

  • When rabbits are happy they perform a maneuver where they jump in the air, twisting and spinning. One would like to think this maneuver is called the ‘Bunny Hop’ but the move is actually called a Binky.
  • The Vernal Equinox (official first day of Spring) is a day that is split exactly in two; 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness.
  • In April of 2007, the largest Easter Egg hunt ever recorded took place at the Cypress Gardens Adventure Park in Winter Haven, Florida. Nearly 9800 children scoured the grounds for 501,000 decorated eggs. That’s a lot of stomping feet. We’re thinking all those eggs didn’t make it out whole…
  • Though it’s only in the Midwest and some Southern states, Ragweed is considered by many doctors to be the most allergenic. Gesundheit.

 

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