Rabbits are one of the most misunderstood pets in the UK. It’s so easy to pop to a pet shop, let your child pick a new pet bunny, choose a hutch and off you go. Sadly, this makes it all too easy for people to buy these lovely creatures in a whim, having little or no knowledge on how to properly care for them.
When I was a child, indoor rabbits weren’t very popular so all of my first bunnies were kept outdoors in huge hutches and runs handmade by my dad. As I got older I brought my beautiful standard rex Sandy inside after spending most of her previous life with her other owner in a small outdoor hutch. She loved being indoors with me and would run to greet me at the door with the cats and flop out on my bed cuddled into me every night! She was the sweetest thing and I adored her. After Sandy passed away, I decided all of my future rabbits would live inside as Sandy and I developed such a close bond.
Bunny proofing your home is essential if you decide on keeping your rabbit indoors as they can and will chew through pretty much anything! Cables should be covered or placed somewhere that your furry friend can’t get to and you should provide a large enclosure or small room where your bunny can safely rest whilst you’re out of the house, without getting into trouble! I prefer hard flooring such as laminate or tiles as it’s easier to clean and rabbits can easily dig up and gnaw on carpet.
Toilet training is also crucial if you don’t want to be stepping on wet patches and tiny raisins everywhere you go! To do this, provide your rabbit with a good sized litter tray (big enough for your bunny to lie in if she wants to), add rabbit safe cat litter (paper or wood based works well but always opt for the non clumping kind as clumping litter can swell inside your bunny’s stomach if eaten). Once you have the litter tray set up add a few of your bunnies’ poops and wet/soiled bedding. This will show her that the tray is where she should fo to toilet and she will soon learn to use this all the time. Adding a hay rack above her litter tray helps too as it’s become well known that bunnies love to nibble on hay and poop at the same time!
As well as a toilet training and bunny proofing your home, remember to provide lots of toys for your bunny to entertain themselves with and wooden gnawing chews to help keep their teeth down and satisfy their chewing urges. If you wanted to let your rabbit have a run outside now and again, ensure the run is secure and only do this when the weather is nice. House rabbits won’t have developed a winter coat like their outdoor dwelling friends so they will feel the cold if put outside during the colder months.
Lastly, have fun! Rabbits are such little characters and can really bond with their owner if cared for and treated well. Make toys out of cardboard tubes, stuff hay into cardboard boxes along with a few rabbit treats or even teach her to come when called! You can train rabbits just like you would a dog so have fun and reward lots! For more tips on bunny care check out my “bunny basics” blog.