Pet rabbits can be charming and intelligent family pets. They range in size from 2 pounds to 28 pounds and come in a variety of colors. Rabbits are social animals that love to jump, run and play. Therefore, they need adequate living space and physical stimuli. Caring for pet rabbits requires the right type of housing, appropriate bedding, good-quality feed, grooming utensils, safe chew toys and possibly a litter box.
The Right Type of Cage
Rabbits should be housed in large escape-proof enclosures. The cage should be three times as long, two times as wide and two times as tall as the length of your full-grown rabbit. It should be large enough to allow your rabbit to stand on his hind legs without his ears touching the top. A smooth bottom floor is best for your rabbit's feet and rabbits enjoy multiple levels for jumping. Attached or separated exercise pens can be used for daily exercise.
Bedding and Litter
Straw, hay, aspen shavings and recycled paper bedding are appropriate bedding for your rabbit. Cedar and pine shavings are not good choices, as vapors from those types of woods can be harmful to rabbits. Additionally, rabbits can be litter trained. Most rabbits will choose a corner of the cage as a bathroom. Once he makes his choice, you can place a litter box in that corner. Only use hay or pelleted litter, not cat litter.
Food and Water
Grass hay, such as timothy hay, is the most important component of your rabbit's diet. Alfalfa and clover hay are not recommended. Give 2 packed cups of fresh leafy greens or vegetables daily per kilogram of body weight. Only offer high quality commercial rabbit pellets in small quantities. You can give 1 to 2 tablespoons of treats daily, but do not feed nuts, grains, corn, beans or processed foods to your rabbit. Fresh, clean water should be available at all times.
Handle your rabbit daily and groom your rabbit's fur regularly. Since rabbits frequently groom themselves, they can develop digestive hair balls. Brushing your rabbit daily with a soft brush can eliminate some of the loose hair your rabbit may ingest. Certain types of rabbits, such as angoras, may need special attention. Additionally, check the length of your rabbit's toenails weekly and ask your vet to show you how to trim them.
Rabbits enjoy environmental stimuli. Digging and chewing behaviors are natural. Cardboard boxes with soil or shredded paper can be used for digging, while paper bags, cardboard tubes or plastic toys are good choices for chew toys. Commercial chew sticks are available at pet stores. Old phone books and fruit tree branches make great rabbit chew toys. To prevent boredom, rotate environmental objects regularly.
Based in Michigan, Keri Gardner has been writing scientific journal articles since 1998. Her articles have appeared in such journals as "Disability and Rehabilitation" and "Journal of Orthopaedic Research." She holds a Master of Science in comparative medicine and integrative biology from Michigan State University.