Bunnies do not need to be bathed!!!
They will need a nail trim on occasion.
Holland Lops do not require much grooming you can brush them once a week but they often don’t need it.
Angora bunnies require a lot more grooming. Most Angoras naturally shed their coat every couple of months. How do you know if your rabbit is shedding its coat? It’s pretty hard to miss! When you pet the rabbit, the loose fur will literally fall right out. Looking at the rabbit, you will see loose tendrils of fur falling. That is when you know it is time to step up the grooming schedule. In non-shedding weeks I usually groom each of my rabbits once a week, taking about 30 minutes per rabbit. During shedding times the grooming takes a bit longer because I am trying to make sure I get all the loose fur, taking about 45-60 minutes per rabbit. I use a comb to remove the excess fur from my rabbits (just like it sounds, combing is just brushing the bunny to get out the loose wool). I usually follow that up with plucking (which isn’t as horrible as it sounds, it is just using your hands to remove the loose tendrils). You can also shear your rabbit.
Shearing involves using clippers or scissors to trim the coat off. Shearing is definitely the fastest method. Although it is fastest, I don’t use it unless the fur is matted because an Angora rabbit’s coat is constantly growing, so when you shear the coat you end up taking off not only the old loose fur that is 3-5 inches in length, but you also get the shorter, new fur (about 1-2 inches in length). The longer hairs are preferable if you will be spinning the wool into yarn, the short hairs are considered “second cuts” and often will shed out of the yarn.
Bunnies CAN be housed outdoors in a hutch, but it isn’t ideal as the elements, predators, and neglect are very real dangers. Your bunny will need wind/sun protection, fresh water at all times (difficult during cold weather), and be cautious that the wire flooring can harm their feet over time. More importantly, outdoor bunnies don’t have the opportunity to bond with family members like an indoor bunny. Indoors is also safer and an all-around more ideal situation. Since we have so many bunnies we have them in a heated pull barn building.
Paws down, exercise pens are the cheapest, most spacious, and most flexible housing option for your bunny. Whether it’s your bunny’s full-time enclosure or simply to keep your bunny out of trouble while you are sleeping or away from home, you can likely find an exercise pen that fits the size of your room and your budget as well.
Kennel Style Enclosures
If your bunny’s exercise area is separate from where the enclosure needs to be, a dog kennel style enclosure could be a great idea for your bunny to sleep and live when you are unable to supervise play sessions. Kennels aren’t as spacious as exercise pens but have solid floors that are easy to clean, take up little space, and offer a way to keep your bunny safe when you’re away. You can always add an exercise pen around, connected to, or near your bunny’s kennel to expand the available space when it’s time for your bunny’s exercise and playtime.
DIY C&C Grid Enclosures
“C&C” refers to cubes and coroplast. The cubes are painted or powder coated wire grid panels and coroplast is corrugated plastic panels. You can use zip ties or plastic connectors and even create wooden ramps and hideouts to construct some amazing bunny enclosures!
C&C grids offer a very flexible canvas for your bunny enclosure creation, but they aren’t the cheapest option. When building your C&C bunny enclosure, keep in mind that your bunny will be most comfortable if the height is tall enough for standing and a bit of hopping and there is plenty of room for horizontal movement as well.
1. Litter Box Selection
Litter Box w/ Grate – This is what was most recommended online because, the poop and urine fall through the grate, away from the bunny’s bottom. Check the dimensions and measure your bunny’s buns! The Ware litter box comes with handy tabs that connect it to a wire cage wall or exercise pen, which is nice. Be cautious not to get a small, lightweight litter box that your bunny will dump over. They’re mischievous little critters and flip anything they can. 🙂
2. Litter Box Placement:
Keep your bunny’s area relatively small until litter training improves, such as in an exercise pen. Add a litter box for each small area your bunny plays. Don’t be afraid to move the litter box to the location where your bunny frequently has accidents. Add more litter boxes if needed. You can ALWAYS remove extra litter boxes as your bunny matures and has fewer accidents.
Place your bunny’s hay in or near the litter box, especially at first. Bunnies often pee and poop when they eat their hay. You can even make your own hay rack out of a cheap dollar store plastic container partially cut and zip tied to the exercise pen wall above the litter box. My bunnies have both litter boxes and hay boxes/tubs and have trained themselves not to do their business where they eat hay, but many bunnies prefer a single hay/litter box (see small blue cat-style litter box photo above…litter in the bottom and hay on top…but it’s a bit too small).
3. What to use as Litter?
Compressed pine pellets, Rural King, Carefresh Naturals (shredded cardboard), aspen shavings, or Yesterday’s News (compressed newspaper pellets) are other great bunny litter options.
A COMMON MISTAKE is spreading a layer of litter/bedding material along your bunny’s enclosure floor. Do NOT do this! Your bunny will be confused about where to go to the bathroom! The litter goes in the litter box only.
Bunnies are smart animals who tend to prefer urinating in the same few areas, but all will have accidents during litter training. If you ever see your bunny pause and lift his/her tail, quickly scoop the bunny into the litter box and let the urine flow! Keep the area small and don’t let your bunny play on furniture or carpeted areas until litter training is improved.
The bottom of a rabbit food pyramid would contain long-stemmed ﬁber, in the form of hay, which makes up 80 to 90 percent of a rabbit’s diet. As grazing animals, rabbits need to have an unlimited supply of fresh hay daily.
You’ll want to feed your rabbit grass hays. Good types of grass hay for bunnies are timothy, orchard grass, brome and oat hay. You can feed your bunnies either one type or a mixture of different grass hays. Buy the freshest hay possible and check for the presence of mold or dust, which could make your rabbit sick.
Alfalfa hay is not a good choice for an adult rabbit, since it’s a legume, not a grass, and as such is too rich to be fed on a daily basis. Alfalfa can be given to rabbits once in awhile as a treat. Rabbits under one year of age can be fed alfalfa hay, but as they get older they should be switched to grass hay, especially if they are also being fed alfalfa pellets.
Timothy hay pellets can be given to bunnies in small quantities. An average-sized (6-10 pounds) adult rabbit only needs one-quarter cup of pellets daily. If your rabbit is under five pounds, feed just one-eighth of a cup. Rabbits larger than 10 pounds do not need more than a quarter of a cup, since it’s not a crucial part of a bunny’s diet.
Rabbits under one year old can be fed alfalfa pellets. Be sure to feed grass hay (rather than alfalfa) if you are feeding your young rabbit alfalfa pellets. Look for pellets with a high ﬁber content — the higher the better. Also, be aware that many foods marketed to rabbits aren’t actually healthy for them and can sometimes be harmful, so please read the ingredients. Do not buy the rabbit pellets that have dried corn, nuts and seeds added, because those foods can potentially be very harmful for rabbits.
Rabbits count vegetables and herbs among their favorite foods. Most greens found in a supermarket are safe for rabbits, with a few limitations and exceptions. (See the list of foods to avoid below.)
No more than two cups daily of fresh vegetables should be given to adult rabbits. Dwarf breeds and rabbits under five pounds should get just one cup of fresh veggies per day. A variety of two or three vegetables is ideal. Add one new vegetable at a time, and watch for signs of loose stool or diarrhea because, as mentioned above, bunnies have delicate digestive systems. Certain vegetables can be given every day, while others should be fed sparingly, one or two times a week.
Do not feed your rabbit potatoes, corn, beans, seeds or nuts. These foods are difﬁcult for rabbits to digest and can cause serious digestive problems.
Fruit should be given to your bunny one or two times a week. The appropriate serving is one to two tablespoons of fruit (either one kind or a mixture) per five pounds of body weight. As with vegetables, fruit should be introduced slowly and one at a time.
Like lots of people, many rabbits have a sweet tooth. As with humans, treats are at the top of the food pyramid for bunnies and therefore should be fed sparingly. Healthy treats for your bunny include small pieces of fresh or freeze-dried fruit (the approved fruits listed above); natural, unprocessed mixes that include hay and dried flowers (the approved flowers listed above); and Oxbow brand rabbit treats.
Always read the ingredient list on store-bought treats because not all of them are safe for bunnies. Avoid treats that include added sugar, preservatives and artificial coloring, and never give your rabbit human treats.
Some foods are not good for rabbits under any circumstances because they can make rabbits extremely sick. Here are foods to avoid giving your bunny completely:
Finally, rabbits need to stay hydrated, so they should have an unlimited supply of fresh water, which should be changed daily. The water container should be cleaned with soap and water every few days. Water bottles are not easy to clean and can be difficult for rabbits to use, so bowls are better. A heavy ceramic bowl is ideal, since it doesn’t tip over easily.
**If you only learn about one bunny ailment, GI issues should be it!**
Rabbits’ digestive systems are unique in that they have a special fermentation chamber in the intestinal tract called the cecum. The cecum is what allows rabbits to process indigestible fiber such as hay and grass and convert it into essential nutrients. These nutrients are expelled as “cecotropes” or “cecal pellets” that look like brown raspberries: shiny, sticky, and stinky, but aren’t actually fecal matter. Though bunnies usually do a good job eating these (which I’ll expand upon shortly), you will likely find uneaten cecotropes smashed about your bunny’s area. Babies are notorious for being messy with their cecotropes, but these stinky poop-like droppings are incredibly important.
Rabbits ingest these cecotropes to gain nutrients and help keep their digestion in balance. The cecum must constantly be fed with fiber from hay and small amounts of quality pellets. This fiber also pushes ingested fur through the intestines. Inadequate fiber can lead to sluggish digestion and an overgrowth of bad bacteria in the cecum.
Once bad bacteria takes over, gas and toxins are produced in the digestive system. These cause gas, and since rabbits can’t burp or vomit, the gas must be expelled rectally and is incredibly painful. This causes a gradual gut slowdown, and the pain prevents your rabbit from eating.
Symptoms of Gastrointestinal Stasis (GI Stasis) include gradual reduction and cessation of poop, bunny stops eating and drinking, rabbit is not interested in moving and may be in a hunched, “meatloaf” position, you may hear tooth grinding, and the rabbit’s stomach will be hard and shrunken due to fluid being drawn into intestines.
Stasis causes: poor diet (lack of fiber/hay, too many pellets or treats, poor quality pellet with soy and fillers, sugary treats), pain from illness/injury/dental issue, and stress.
Stasis treatment: Contact veterinarian immediately! Oral fluids (water or electrolyte mix like Sherwood’s Appetite Restore) via syringe, subcutaneous fluids (lactacted ringers injected under skin on back of rabbit’s neck), infant gas drops (simethicone), Metacam (prescription pain reliever), heating pad, abdominal massages and exercise can be helpful, but please check with your veterinarian before administering these treatments. A powdered food/water slurry such as Sherwood’s Recovery Food or Oxbow Critical Care may be recommended but only if your vet ensures there is no blockage. A hay-heavy diet with a small amount of dark leafy greens (spring mix, kale, cilantro, spinach, chard, etc) will likely be helpful as your bunny recovers. Looking for hay for your bunny?
GI Obstruction (Bloat)
Bloat has similar symptoms to GI Stasis but happens rapidly and is an even greater emergency. Bunnies can die in 6-12 hours if treatment is not administered! Bloat is caused by an intestinal blockage that causes gas and fluid to build up in the stomach, causing intense pain.
Sudden cessation of pooping, rumbling in stomach, inflated, full stomach (not hard and shriveled like stasis).
Seek emergency veterinary care ASAP! Use a heating pad/disc or hot water bottle to bring your rabbit’s temperature up while you seek emergency care. Your veterinarian will likely take x-rays to confirm a blockage and administer IV fluids with medication. Emptying of your rabbit’s stomach under anesthesia might be required with surgical blockage removal as a last resort.
Cause of Bloat:
Believe it or not, bloat in rabbits can be caused simply by an almond-sized compacted hairball. Some veterinarians believe this is expelled in a cecotrope and swallowed whole by the bunny, causing a blockage in the intestine.
Fur mites are not uncommon in rabbits and can come from the environment, especially for bunnies that play outside, or it can even be present in the hay. You will likely see white flakes on the skin and stuck to the bases of the fur shafts. The back of the neck is a common site for fur mites to occupy, and your bunny will likely be scratching a lot.
Thankfully, fur mites are usually easily treated with topical Revolution, which you need to obtain from your rabbit’s veterinarian. I have heard of some using Ivermectin topically for fur mites, but I have never used this on my rabbits nor can conclude it is a safe, effective treatment. Remember to also thoroughly clean your bunny’s area and belongings to eradicate the fur mites.
Pinworms appear in your rabbit’s poop as tiny little white worms – which may or may not still be alive when expelled. Yes, they are gross, but rest assured that pinworms are species specific and are not contagious to humans. Plus, they’re pretty easy to eradicate and are quite common, possibly coming from hay sources or if a rabbit has outdoor access. I only treat my rabbits if I see an issue, as I don’t want to risk creating drug resistance.
Pinworm treatment: My choice is to use Safeguard Equibits pellets, 3 to 5 pellets per bunny daily for 5 days (dosage based upon 3-5 pound Holland lop rabbits with lighter rabbits getting 3 pellets and larger rabbits 5 pellets). Stop for 5 days and then repeat the treatment once.
Ear mites present as crusty, scaly sores inside your bunny’s ears. The bunny will likely be scratching at his/her ears, and there might be blood from scabs being scraped off. Do not scrape off the sores! The couple times I’ve had rabbits with ear mites, I’ve successfully treated by suffocating the mites and softening the scales with VetRX Rabbit remedy. I’ve heard of others using mineral oil, as you just need to kill the mites and soften the scaly sores so they can be safely removed. It’s also important to clean your rabbit’s area, dishes, litter box, bedding, brush, etc to fully eradicate the mites.
Age, size, and breed really do not matter when matching two bunnies. Although a male/female pair is usually easiest, female/female and male/male pairs are often feasible as well. What is most important is that their personalities mesh well (and that both are spayed/neutered of course). Hormones cause a bunny to display negative behaviors such as aggression, excessive mounting, digging, lunging, and incomplete litter training.
- Allow your bunnies to live near each other for 1-2 weeks BEFORE bonding attempts!
- Consider swapping litter boxes or enclosures so they can experience each other’s scent.
- Select a SMALL, NEUTRAL area such as a bath tub, bath room, or exercise pen in a neutral territory.
- Begin with a short (15 minute) “date” DAILY and always keep the bunnies within arm’s reach.
- Acceptable behaviors: curious sniffing, minor mounting, small nips, minimal tiffs.
- SEPARATE if: biting, lunging, circling with ears back, incessant mounting, full on death charges.
- End the session with a positive reward (treat) and not when the bunnies are fighting.
- It may take DAYS or MONTHS for bonding to look promising, though some rabbits just aren’t suitable matches.
- Be persistent and consistent with bonding sessions. Try a different area if the first doesn’t work.
Bunny water dispenser and food dish
Woodshavings or bedding
Brush and chew toys
Quality pellets & Timothy hay (We buy ours from Houles in Forest Lake)