Easter season is approaching, making it the perfect time to talk about what wonderful indoor pets rabbits make. However, because rabbits are not as common a pet as a dog or a cat, people tend to be less informed about what to expect when adopting a rabbit. Rabbits typically live to be at least 10-years-old and can survive into their teens. As with any pet, adopting a rabbit is a long-term commitment.
Bonding with Your Rabbit
Rabbits are highly inquisitive, social animals who love to play. They have very distinct personalities and are quite expressive – some are easygoing and relaxed while others are active and thrive on attention. Rabbits are prey animals and may be a bit shy or fearful when you first bring them home. It’s a good idea to let them come to you, get down on their level and set the pace as you get to know them. Although rabbits are affectionate, not all rabbits are comfortable being held (although they can be quite happy sitting next to you).
Rabbit Living Arrangements
Bunnies are very curious and when unsupervised will find ways to get into places and situations that are potentially unsafe for them or destructive to your home. Because of this, rabbits require their own space for their unsupervised alone time. Make sure, however, that the space is not secluded, as bunnies are very social animals that need social interaction, exercise, and enrichment activities. Whether you choose a rabbit condo, a rabbit cage, a puppy pen or a bunny-proofed room, your rabbit will need a place to relax with access to food, water, a litter box, and enrichment activities.
Litter Box Training Your Rabbit
Rabbits can be litter box trained, just like cats. Choose a low-sided litterbox with no top. Recycled paper litter will neutralize odors and absorb wetness and is a better choice for bunnies than pine or cedar shavings, clay or clumping litter. A thin layer of litter will suffice since droppings are small and unlike cats, rabbits do not bury their droppings. Rabbits are very clean and do not like a smelly, soiled litter box so plan to empty it at least every other day.
Enrichment for Your Rabbit
Rabbits will find their own entertainment if they’re bored so it’s very important to provide them with stimulating diversions. The bunnies at The Animal Foundation love seagrass balls but find empty toilet paper rolls and cardboard egg cartons filled with hay equally fascinating. Pinterest is full of ideas for inexpensive enrichment toys you can easily make yourself for your bunny.
Your Rabbit’s Nutritional Needs
Rabbits also have their own unique nutritional needs that include hay, vegetables, pellets, and occasional treats of carrots and fruit. As with dogs and cats, people food (and certain plants) can be toxic for your bunny. Be sure to do your research and consult with your vet to keep your rabbit trim and healthy.
As with any animal, the best way to choose a companion rabbit to adopt is to meet and spend enough time interacting with him or her so you can get to know their personality. Visit www.animalfoundation.com for more information about adoptable rabbits in a range of colors, sizes and ages.©
Michelle Barbosa is the Quality of Life Manager at The Animal Foundation, located at 655 North Mojave Road in Las Vegas.