February is Adopt a Rescued Rabbit Month, making it the perfect time to talk about what wonderful indoor pets rabbits make. According to the American Pet Products Association’s, there are approximately 6.7 million pet rabbits in the United States, making rabbits the most popular small pet in America. Nevertheless, 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. While it’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of adopting a rabbit, it’s important to make sure a pet rabbit is a good fit for your family, home, and lifestyle. 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 and make wonderful indoor companions. They have very distinct personalities and are quite expressive – some are easygoing and relaxed while others are active and thrive on attention. Unlike dogs and cats who are predators, 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 and set the pace as you get to know them. Remember to get down on their level (or bring them up to yours) as its difficult to bond with a pair of legs and feet! Use treats to build trust. Although rabbits are affectionate, not all rabbits are comfortable being held (although they can be quite happy sitting next to you). With time and patience, you will learn what makes your bunny happy.
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. They find all sorts of things interesting, and, left unattended, may try to gnaw on baseboards or electrical cords and cables or jump on furniture, such as tables and chairs. 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. Bunnies like to eat hay and poop at the same time. You can place hay directly in their litter box or next to it. 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 (which are a mainstay on our wish list) 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 buddy or buddies.
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. It’s important to do your research and consult with your vet to keep your rabbit trim and healthy. As with dogs and cats, people food (and certain plants) can be toxic for your bunny.
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. Here at The Animal Foundation you will find adoptable rabbits in a range of colors, sizes, and ages, all waiting for a good forever home. View adoptable rabbits.