Safe Foods For Rabbits
Your rabbit's main, daily diet should consist of fresh water, hay, and rabbit-specific pellet food. Below you will find a list of foods that are safe to feed your rabbit, feeding 2-4 cups of frequently-fed vegetables a day depending on the size of your rabbit.
Can be fed frequently
Green leaf lettuce
Red leaf lettuce
Can be fed occasionally
Can be fed as a treat
NEVER FEED: Beans, cabbage, cauliflower, iceberg lettuce, potatoes, rhubarb, nuts, yogurt covered anything (including treats).
Caring for a Rabbit
Lifespan: 5 - 15 years (depending on the breed)
Rabbits are very social, playful animals that require a lot of cuddle time with their owners, and form close bonds with their human parents. There are over 40 different breeds of rabbit. They come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and hair types. Rabbits are quite smart, and can learn tricks and can even be potty trained! Before you decide to get a rabbit (adopting or rescuing is always recommended), please do the research to decide which is the perfect breed of rabbit for you! Children should always be supervised when handling, and rabbits are not recommended for young children.
Rabbits can be housed in cages or hutches. It is advised to house them indoors to limit predator exposure, especially in cold New Hampshire weather! Housing them in a barn in the winter can be done successfully if done properly. When your rabbit is not supervised, they should be in a habitat of at least 3 - 4 feet long (larger for big rabbit breeds) and wide enough for them to comfortably and completely turn around. Rabbits have sensitive feet, and do poorly in wire-bottom cages. When supervised, many rabbit owners let their rabbit run around the house with them. If you choose to do this, you must ensure that the room the rabbit is roaming is completely rabbit-proof; they will chew on anything they can find, especially electrical wires. If you don't choose to let your pet run around, dog-sized play pens are a great way to give them extra space to get the exercise they need to be healthy.
Your pet's habitat should include plenty of toys and chews to play with, a water bottle larger than 12-ounces, a newspaper-lined litter box filled with pelleted soft litter or grass hay, a heavy food dish (ceramic ones work great), and some sort of shelf that your rabbit can hop onto and/or hide underneath. Using a dust-free bedding such as Carefresh or Fresh World Bedding is recommended, but kiln-dried pine shavings can also be fine for rabbits as long as it is dust-free.
Rabbits should be given access to hay 24/7, as hay helps their digestive system work properly and can help break down hairballs. Timothy hay or a blend of Timothy/Orchard Grass hay are great examples of hay that can be provided daily. Avoid alfalfa hay if your rabbit is older than 3 months of age. Look for plain, boring pellets; pellets with corn and sugary additives are generally not recommended. Feeding a variety of vegetables daily ensures they are getting a balanced diet. Remember to provide fresh water and ensure that your water bottle is working properly every day.
Spot clean the soiled areas of the cage daily. Scrub out the entire cage weekly, as well as food dishes and the insides of water bottles. Always rinse and dry the cage well before adding fresh bedding.
Nails should be trimmed about once a month to prevent harm to your rabbit's feet. The frequency of trimming depends on how fast the nails grow. Regular brushing is highly recommended, as it helps prevent hairballs and helps your bond with your pet. Rabbits have special teeth that never stop growing, so it is important to always make sure your rabbit has things like apple sticks to chew on, and your veterinarian should look ensure your pet's mouth during each visit.
Learn what is normal for your pet, so if you notice changes in their behavior, diet, teeth length, or droppings, you can get them the veterinary care they need. Signs that your rabbit needs urgent care include not eating or drinking; lethargy; sneezing or wheezing; crusty or runny eyes/nose; dirty, wet, patchy fur; loose stool or diarrhea; limping; cuts, or bumps.
Neutering/spaying rabbits can be done, and can aid in some health-related issues such as odor control. Make sure your have an exotic-knowledgeable veterinarian for any of your rabbit health needs.
Rabbits have extremely fragile spines. When rabbits are frightened, they may kick out their back legs. If your rabbit is standing next to a wall when it kicks out, it can cause serious damage to their spines. This frequently happens when people go to pick up a rabbit incorrectly, or while it is sleeping.
If your pet seems to not be eating as much, or is having trouble eating, it may have a dental issue. Take your pet to your local exotic-knowledgeable veterinarian to have its mouth examined.
Rabbits cannot use balls or wheels for exercise, as it can severely injure their spines.
Just because a rabbit is pictured on the packaging does not mean the product is safe for rabbits. Talk to an employee about whether or not products are okay for your pet.
WHERE DO YOU GET RABBITS?
There are so many rabbits all over the country looking for their "furever" homes. Almost every shelter that takes rabbits will have at least one. Some local places that may have rabbits include:
- Live and Let Live Farm (Chichester, NH)
- The Humane Society (Laconia, NH)
- The MSPCA (Methuen, MA)