Rabbits make wonderful pets. They have individual personalities, just like all of us. And the more they are out of their cage, interacting with us and the world, the better pets they will be. It is never a good idea to keep any pet confined to a cage or a small, secluded part of your home.
Rabbits are intelligent, social animals who need affection, and they can become wonderful companion animals if given a chance to interact with their human families.
The Benefits of Spaying and Neutering
Just like dogs and cats, it is a good idea to have your rabbit spayed or neutered. Although most rabbits will use a litterbox, hormones may cause unneutered males and unspayed females to “mark territory.” Spaying or neutering your rabbit improves litterbox habits, lessens chewing behavior, decreases territorial aggression, and gives your rabbit a happier, longer life. Have your rabbit neutered between ages 4 to 6 months, depending on sexual maturity, by an experienced rabbit veterinarian.
Rabbits may have free run of the home. However, it’s best for most–and necessary for some–to start with a space they can call their own. This can be an exercise pen, a large dog crate, a bunny proofed room, or a very large cage or condo. To make this confined time learning time, make sure that there’s a litterbox in the corner of the space that your rabbit chooses for a “bathroom.” As soon as he uses the box consistently, you can give him some freedom. Place one or more large litterboxes in corners of the running area outside the rabbit’s home base.
Use only positive reinforcement (treats and praise)–never punishment.
Bunny-proofing your home is part of living with a house rabbit. It is natural for rabbits to chew on furniture, rugs, drapes, and, most deadly of all, electrical cords. Cords must be concealed so that the rabbit cannot reach them. Exposed cords can be encased in vinyl tubing (found at hardware stores). By splitting the tubing lengthwise with a utility knife the cord can be pushed inside it. Give your rabbit enough attention, safe chewables, and toys, so that she is distracted from chewing furniture and rugs. A cardboard box stuffed with hay makes an inexpensive playbox. Young rabbits (under a year) are more inclined to mischief and require more confinement and/or bunny-proofing than mature rabbits. And most rabbits who are fed a high fiber, low sugar diet will not chew on the environment. We would be happy to help you accomplish this.
Where can you find a bunny who needs a home?
Pet stores sell rabbits, but we prefer that you adopt your bunny from a bunny rescue or the humane society. These rabbits are waiting for a good home.
If you have questions, please ask our rabbit veterinarians. Ideally, make an appointment with Dr Salinger, Dr Gonzales, or Dr Blass soon after adopting your rabbit. We have a lot more information to help your rabbit stay healthy and happy.
Dr Elaine Salinger