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Basic Rabbit Care Guide

    Since we sell pet rabbits we of course get a lot of questions about their care, and we're happy to answer them all. Please read further to learn the basics about their bedding, shelter, and dietary needs.

 

baby bunnies

 

CAGES

Long story short; 24" x 46" minimum

    Most of the rabbits we have are large breeds selectively bred from Californian, New Zealand, and sometimes Flemish Giant mixes. These large rabbits require some more attention as they require adequate space, social interaction, and enrichment. Frankly, this is necessary for all rabbits as even small rabbits should never be left unattended in a cage as an accessory. Like most animals rabbits truly need social interaction whether from other rabbits or regularly from people. We like comparing the commitment for rabbits to that of a small dog. They are actually almost equally as intelligent and live the same lifespan of around 10 years on average. If you wouldn't consider leaving a dog in a cage all it's life, please view treating a rabbit equally. With this level of commitment it is absolutely worth investing in the largest cage possible with regular daily free roam time. For large breeds like ours a cage 24" x 46" minimum is necessary. Even better, many owners will "rabbit proof" a room or area in the house where the rabbit can spend most or all of their time out of the cage as they please. We will get into these details more later on, but long story short it would not be right to leave them in a small cage alone forever and that should not be the expectation when buying these companions. When shopping around you may stumble upon some wire bottom cages common in commercial rabbitry. These should always be avoided as they are unsanitary and create wounds and welts on rabbits' feet.

 

FOOD

Small amount of pellets & lots of hay. Approved fruits and vegetables as treats. 

    Almost all rabbit pellets bought in pet stores are alfalfa based. These are actually really not adequate for their entire diet. While they do provide the nutrients a rabbit needs alfalfa is especially high in things they DON'T need like calcium and is very high in protein. This adds a more fowl odor to their urine as their bodies are forced to remove these excess minerals which in turn creates more ammonia. If given too many pellets over time rabbits will develop issues with their digestion, kidneys, and bladder. This issues are more or less irreversible and also hard to notice but give a great deal of pain and discomfort.  Pellets are the standard available food found in pet stores and it is acceptable in moderation, but for proper care rabbits really deserve regular hay. We suggest serving a small portion of pellets with fresh hay always available, or at least give a clump the size of their body each day. Please search for the appropriate amount of pellets to offer based on your rabbit breed. If available, orchard, meadow, and oat hay are acceptable alternatives to timothy hay. The mix we offer is primarily orchard and meadow grass with brome, fescue, timothy, etc. This mix offers a very nutritious variety that keeps bunnies happy and healthy. Fresh alfalfa hay needs to be avoided as it is actually a legume and technically not a grass which is why it has excess nutrients for rabbits. We do not recommend serving lawn clippings to your bunnies unless you can be certain no pesticides are being used in the area, including by neighbors.

    Fruits and veggies like lettuce, carrots, small amounts of banana, etc are great additions to their diet in moderation. Overfeeding these can actually lead to serious gut problems, so we suggest this should make up no more than roughly 1/4 of their diet. It is not necessary to feed fruits and vegetables daily. Please always do you research before providing new foods. Surprisingly some rich greens like spinach and kale should actually not be given to your bunny, or at least very rarely.

    Chew toys are also necessary for your bunny as they teethe a lot. Keep them occupied by providing safe chew toys made from natural materials. Solid wood products are generally safe as well as bamboo, jute, etc. Apple chew sticks are the most common and best option for chew toys.

 

BEDDING

Straw, paper pulp, hay, aspen shavings

    The only bedding and litter materials we approve are hemp, straw, paper pulp, hay, and only aspen wood shavings NEVER pine and cedar. We mostly use hemp as it greatly reduces odour, reduces bacteria and bugs, is very low dust, and is the most absorbent product. We also often place straw on top as it interlocks to create an easy area for your rabbit to move on and is a little softer. We were using paper products since they are low in dust which is very important for their lungs. However, we found the paper would soil very quickly and smell quite bad. Our rabbits often chew the fresh new bedding after a cleaning and this is okay as once they soil an area they will not eat the soiled bedding. If they consistently do eat soiled areas you should provide a bedding they won't consume like paper pulp, aspen shavings, or hemp (which is still safe to consume). NEVER provide your animals with cedar or pine shavings. Softwoods such as these contain toxins that repel insects which is why they last longer. Sadly these same toxins are also bad for any rodent's respiratory system and must be avoided. Shavings have a large surface area which release these toxins easily. Aspen shavings are perfectly acceptable as aspen is a hardwood which does not harm animals. Likewise, it seems logical to use your shredded paper for bedding. This is also not acceptable as the inks on used paper are not considered safe for rodents. The inks may stain your bunny, and generally should not be digested.

 

SHELTER

Houses, "perch", litter box

    Each rabbit should have access to a shelter or house that will provide it comfort and safety. Through our free range rabbits we've noticed an interesting natural habit where bunnies like to dig their tunnel or den and stomp an area on top which they observe from, allowing them to quickly run into their home if they feel threatened. A good rabbit house will emulate this and allow the bunny a comfortable, dark shelter to crawl into along with a roof they can "perch" on. A rabbit without adequate hiding room will be stressed, and stressed animals can act out in many unfavorable ways. We recommend only buying products which are safe to chew such as solid wood (not cedar), bamboo, hemp, jute, etc. Stick to natural products that can be safely digested as they teeth. Unlike in bedding, solid pine is okay for toys and shelters especially if kiln dried. The toxins in pine are at a small enough level in a solid wood product that they are considered safe. It is a concern for bedding regardless since the finely shaved wood exposes too much of these toxins.

    Another factor to consider is their litter. Rabbits are very clean animals. They deliberately try to soil one area of their space as they do not like to sit in their waste. However, they also poop a lot as they eat. This is why rabbit litter boxes and hay feeders are a common and great choice. A good design will have a dispenser for hay or pellets in front of a tray which holds soiled hay or straw. This provides a comfortable dining area for your bunny as well as an easy to clean space. We prefer not to use any wire/grate bottom litter boxes as this design is tough on their feet.

 

EXPERT CARE

Bunny proofing & bonding rabbits

    We're going down a whole new rabbit hole here, so I don't recommend new or potential owners dive too deep in this area until they gain some experience. No need to overwhelm yourselves as you'll naturally learn some of these things as you grow better bonds with your rabbits. However, when you're ready for the commitment you will have the happiest bunnies possible if you can "bunny proof" a room or area in your home where your rabbits can walk freely. All this means is that you must ensure the rabbits do not have access to chew things they shouldn't such as any cords, furniture, trim, etc. Chew-safe mats and blankets can be used to add traction for your rabbits to run on. Fenced areas can be created using products like baby/dog gates or c & c grids (all available on Amazon). These spaces are often decorated with lots of unique shelters, toys, and play areas for the rabbit(s). Ultimately it's a fun & creative experience for a lot of owners and allows you to bond with your rabbits in a very rewarding way.

Litter training is also often important. This can be done by simply throwing their poops back on the litter area so the rabbit can see, or picking them up and placing them there when accidents happen outside. It's the same concept as a dog and with some dedication it can be done properly more easily than you may think as rabbits naturally like to do this anyway.

Another tricky area is bonding rabbits and keeping multiple rabbits together. We personally believe new owners should stick to one rabbit to start as not all rabbits will get along easily and this can be very discouraging. Bonding rabbits can take some time and care, and it should never be attempted with males (bucks). Males are extremely aggressive and territorial once fully grown and they will almost always fight. Trust me, it's stressful. Female rabbits (does) can be kept together but it also does not always work well. With time they usually do build a bond themselves, however. Neutering and spaying will also help allow them to socialize successfully. Speaking of which, males and females definitely shouldn't be kept together unless fixed as you will have more rabbits than you'll ever know what to do with.

If you'd like to learn more about keeping rabbits free roam in your home or bunny pen simply search "bunny room" on Youtube or Google. You will be flooded with many great resources and ideas to help you get started.

 

OUR OFFER

Bulk rabbit pellets, Timothy hay, Hemp bedding, Shelters, Toys & More!

    To best serve our customers we are investing a lot into supplying trustworthy products for rabbits and other pets. We currently offer bulk bags of pellets, timothy hay, and straw. We also design our very own unique rabbit shelters made of 100% safe kiln dried wood with no glue, metal, or plastic used in our designs. These products are all made locally from materials sourced in Ontario. Discount delivery service is also available for all of our products within Kitchener/Waterloo.

 

Thanks for reading!

    We hope this was helpful and we hope you enjoy your furry companions as much as we do. Contact us any time if you have further questions about rabbit care and products. If you are reading this as an experienced rabbit owner and have suggestions or corrections for us to provide better information through this article please let us know! We welcome all feedback.

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