Every time we bring a new animal home, it’s the beginning of a new chapter in life in which we will share a relationship with a new small creature. We think of all the possibility of owning and befriending our new rabbit, and our hearts soar at all the prospects of play time, binkies (if we know what they are!), and cuddles.
It was such a great day on December 10th, 2011—it was the day Abi and I brought Alice and Michelle home, and we couldn’t have been more happy about welcoming our new friends into the family. It was two days before my birthday and our family was visiting a rabbit show for the first time ever. Abi had joined 4H’s rabbit project that year and she was in need of a show rabbit, and I was looking to buy a fiber rabbit. My husband was so awesome to help us both find our sweet friends, and while it felt like our new little fur balls were all we would need, we made sure to pick up a few necessary things to make our new rabbit comfortable.
I polled people a while back by asking what they thought were the most important items needed when bringing home a new rabbit. This list, not necessarily in order, is a compilation of some of the items we brought home, items we wish we had brought home, and items that we are still collecting.
Top 10 Things to Bring Home with Your New Rabbit
- Cage or Hutch: Your bunny’s new house will protect her from the elements, provide her privacy, and basically be your bunny’s ‘bedroom’. Depending upon your climate, you will want to choose a hutch with sides, or a cage. If you live in a windy or cold area, you may want to choose a hutch with sides; by the same token, if you live in an area that has really hot summers, a cage might be a better choice.
- Pellets/Food: Pellets, vegetables and hay (below) are great choices to stock up on for your new bunny friend. high in fiber and low in protein are a good choice especially for an older rabbit, as it can contribute to obesity. Lettuce, broccoli leaves, and collard greens, amongst other vegetables, can be given regularly to your rabbit, providing you are sure that your rabbit hasn’t had any adverse reaction to it. Click here for a list of safe foods for your rabbit.
- Feeding Bowl: Most feeding bowls for rabbits are the type that fasten to the side of the cage, but you can use a crock, or even a continual feeder. I don’t recommend giving rabbits more than what they need each day because they will often overeat and become obese. At our house, we use both the bowls that fasten to the cage and crocks. Crocks give more flexibility in that we can move them around if one area of the hutch gets soiled. They are also lower to the ground which makes the food more accessible for smaller rabbits.
- Water Bottles/Crocks: A source for water is a must for every rabbit, as they need a constant supply of fresh water, which aids their system in converting feed into health-giving nutrients. Without water, a rabbits appetite may decrease. A water bottle will supply your rabbit with clean water on a daily basis without your help, while a water crock will need to be dumped and refilled with fresh water daily. Using a water bottle makes it much easier to add apple cider vinegar and a garlic clove to your rabbits water, which will boost your rabbit’s immune system.
- Hay: Hay produces dry roughage for your rabbit, and comes in many types: alfalfa, bluegrass, lespedeza, oat hay, peanut hay, timothy, and common vetch, amongst others. Which one you choose will depend upon how much protein your rabbit needs at any given time. If you are planning on feeding your rabbit a 16% protein, it is fine to give your rabbit timothy hay regularly.
- Bedding/Something to Rest On: Most rabbit owners seem to use their timothy hay as a bedding as well as a diet supplement. In the winter, hay is great for your bunny to snuggle into to keep warm. We also use old towels in the winter because they provide relief for their feet as well as give our bunnies a warm place to lay. In the summer, give your bunny a nice, cool tile to stretch out on.
- Toys/Things to Keep Them Busy: Bunnies love to chew so apple wood branches, cardboard boxes filled with hay, and toys provide a break from the boredom your bunny might feel, which sometimes results in them chewing their bowls or the wood in their hutches.
- Grooming Items: Nail clippers are a must for rabbits, as their nails can get very long, crack or get caught in the wiring of their cage/hutch floor causing them pain or injury. Long nails can also injure you, if your rabbit happens to get spooked and kick you with her back feet. A hair brush is good for short-haired rabbits, but an imperative tool for long haired rabbits, such as Jersey Woolies or Angora breeds.
- First Aid Items: You will want to have a kit of items to use should your rabbit get hurt. VetRX is an effective relief for snuffles, pneumonia, ear mites, or ear canker. Vetericyn is effective against infection of skin wounds and eye infections. Both of these items are worth having on hand along with styptic powder (stops bleeding in the event that you accidentally cut a vein while trimming nails), a syringe (for administering liquids, medication, or foods that have been liquefied in the event bunny stops eating), and other items on this list from Minnesota Companion Rabbit Society.
- Wire Brush: This is used for dry-scrubbing any feces off the wire floor of the hutch or cage.
This is most definitely not an exhaustive list of everything you will need for your rabbit, but if you take some time to collect these things for your rabbit before you need them, you will find that you will be quite equipped to care for your rabbit in most any way, and in most situations.
Minnesota Companion Rabbit Society
Storey’s Guide to Raising Rabbits by Bob Bennett
Raising Rabbits by Ann Kanable