New Pet Owners: Taking Care of Rabbits

Caring for a pet bunny rabbit is more work than most people think. Unfortunately for the rabbit's sake, some people purchase rabbits as cute Easter presents, but soon loose interest in them and either let them run free in the wild or neglect to take care of them as well as they should. The love and affection that a healthy rabbit provides is well worth the effort. Here are some important things for pet owners to remember when caring for rabbits: -Timothy hay should be available in the rabbit's cage at all times. Long strands of hay rather than pressed cubes are preferable and necessary for their health. Hay provides vitamins, minerals, proteins, and indigestible fiber that promotes a healthy intestinal tract. Intestinal problems can result from lack of hay. -Fresh foods, in addition to hay, should be provided daily. Consider giving your bunny: broccoli leaves, romaine lettuce, clover, cabbage, spinach, brussel sprouts, carrots and carrot tops, green peppers, parsley or kale. Be sure to avoid: beans, breads, seeds, chocolate, peas, cereals, oats, refined sugar, corn, nuts, and wheat. -Be sure to have provide plenty of things for your bunny to chew on in their cage. This prevents unwanted chewing on the furniture and helps to evenly wear down their teeth. Rabbits teeth grow continually throughout their life and unless they are worn down, their teeth will prevent them from being able to eat, and ultimately, may cause them to die. If you are unsure if your rabbit has problems with their teeth, have a vet check the rabbit and file their teeth if necessary. -If housing your rabbit outdoors, be sure to provide shelter from the wind, rain, snow, and shade from the sun. Always keep a box in the cage for them hide in in the event that cats or other predators are prowling around the cage scaring them. If the rabbit feels they have no where to hide, their heart can race so fast from fear, they can die. Whether your rabbit is indoor or out, don't keep them on dirty floors or 100% wire flooring as the rabbit can develop foot ulcers. Also, don't confine them to their cage all the time. Problems that develop include; obesity, poor bone density, poor muscle tone, abnormal elimination habits, and behavioral problems. -Keep toys on hand for your rabbit to play with. Untreated tree branches, wooden chew toys for birds, straw baskets, metal cans, paper bags, balls, toilet paper rolls, and shredded paper are all great ideas. -Be careful how you pick up your rabbit. Never pick them up by their ears and always support their hind legs and their back end. If you let their feet dangle, one strong kick from your bunny will break their back. -Neuter or spay your bunny. It helps prevent certain types of cancer, particularly in females, and eliminates spraying and aggressive behavior. If you follow these tips, your bunny will be a great companion for 7 to 10 years. Take care of them. They are counting on you!