With their fluffy tails, long ears, marble-like eyes and wiggly nose, rabbits can quickly convince you to adopt them. Before you do, understand that having a rabbit as a pet comes with responsibility. Providing your bunny with housing, food, grooming, exercise and entertainment is essential to his well-being and happiness, and when done correctly, he might live to grow more than 10 years old.
When it comes to housing, a large, hard-bottom cage that's high enough so your furry pal can stand on his hind legs and lie fully stretched out is essential. To estimate the correct cage size, the Humane Society of the United States recommends taking by the adult size of the rabbit and multiplying it by 5. Spread a bed of hay, aspen shavings or straw on the bottom of the cage. Place a litter box on one side to serve as your rabbit's potty and use an upside-down cardboard box with a hole to give your bunny a hideout.
Food and Water
In addition to unlimited hay to gnaw on, feed your bunny good-quality, commercial rabbit pellets that are free of nuts and seeds. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals suggests feeding pellets that contain at least 15 percent protein and 18 percent fiber. Additionally, treat your furry friend to a daily portion of leafy greens and carrot tops in the amount of 2 cups for every 6 pounds of body weight. Have him wash it down with water from a hanging water bottle or ceramic bowl.
Rabbits are avid groomers that lick their fur consistently. Unlike cats, they can't throw up the ingested hair and might suffer a stomach blockage. To prevent this, brush your rabbit weekly with a slicker brush, and once heavy shedding sets in, brush him daily and manually remove loose clumps of hair. Long-haired rabbits can benefit from professional haircuts to keep their coats less than an inch long. Baths aren't necessary, but an occasional light dusting with dry rabbit shampoo or cornstarch is optional. Also, have a vet trim your rabbit's nails every six to eight weeks.
Exercise and Entertainment
Allowing your rabbit to run and play for a few hours per day can keep him happy and prevent destructive behavior, weight gain and depression. Supervise him while he's hopping, climbing, crawling, chewing or digging in a rabbit-proof room or in a fully enclosed outdoor pen. Watch him explore and provide commercial rabbit toys, empty cereal boxes or a telephone book to play with. As an extra treat, surprise your bunny with a cardboard box that's partially filled with soil or shredded paper for a fun digging party.
Kimberly Caines is a well traveled model, writer and licensed physical fitness trainer who was first published in 1997. Her work has appeared in the Dutch newspaper "De Overschiese Krant" and on various websites. Caines holds a degree in journalism from Mercurius College in Holland and is writing her first novel.