Your First Rabbit (Our Recommendations & Shopping List)
We strongly believe that rabbits may be kept indoors and outdoors as long as their needs are being met. By needs, we mean….
- Food, Water – Rabbit feed, hay, clean water
- Climate Control – Solutions to keep rabbits comfortable in the heat and cold
- Companionship/Attention – No lonely bunnies!!!! Whether the companionship comes from another bunny or humans, they need love and attention.
ARE MALE OR FEMALE RABBITS BETTER? We have seen great bucks and does and moody bucks and does. The biggest influence on your rabbit’s personality will be your handling. You need to continue to handle and play with your rabbits to keep them socialized. Our rabbitry has a play area that we set up, and we will handle and sit with them while they are babies.
Do you want more than one rabbit? VERY IMPORTANT! When choosing male or female rabbits. If you would like two rabbits and do not plan to neuter or spay, you can only house females together. Two males that are not neutered will castrate each other! However, if you plan to neuter, contact your local vets to find out who neuters. Many vets have a waiting list so the sooner you can get on their schedule for an approximate 6-month-old appointment, the better.
Need a Vet that Neuters Rabbits? We have no affiliations with the following vets, but this is a list of those we have found that works with rabbits:
- Chadwell Animal Hospital | Abingdon, MD | 443-512-8838
- Brookeville Animal Hospital | Brookeville, MD | 301-774-9698
- Kentlands Veterinary Hospital | Gaithersburg, MD | 301-519-7944
- Kingsbrook Animal Hospital | Frederick, MD | 301-631-6900
- Fallston Veterinary Clinic | Fallston, MD | 410-877-1727
- Spay Now Animal Surgery Clinic | Grasonville, MD | 410-827-6464
- Spay Now Animal Surgery Clinic | Laurel, MD | 301-483-7080
- Paradise Animal Hospital | Catonsville, MD | 410-744-4224
- Collins Animal Hospital | Washington, DC | 202-659-8830
- Stahl Exotic Animal Veterinary Services | Fairfax, VA | 703-281-3750
- Blue Ridge Veterinary Associates (Low Cost Spay/Neuter) | Purcellville, VA | 540-338-7387
- Pender Vet | Fairfax, VA | 540-752-9661
- Ani-Care Animal Hospital | Dallastown, PA | 717-741-1320
- Rock Spring Veterinary Clinic | Forest Hill, MD | 410-838-6960
- Animal Birth Control | Millersville, MD | 410-729-4342
Indoor or Outdoor?
Outdoor Considerations — We recommend keeping your rabbit indoors for a lot of reasons – socialization, comfort, and overall a better part of the family. However, you may successfully keep rabbits outdoors; consider having an indoor and outdoor area for them so that in extreme temperatures, you may bring them in. This works really well.
Cold Temperatures: Rabbits can handle cold temperatures as long as they have shelter from the rain and wind. They must have a “cubby” type of spot where they can climb in and stay warm that is insulated (straw is a great insulator but hay can work as well). If you keep your rabbit outside, consider other ways to keep them warm such as a wind break on one or two sides of their shelter. If it is freezing, their water will freeze so you must find a solution to that. We recommend these heated waterers.
Hot Temperatures: Heat is the most dangerous for your rabbit. Rabbits will die from the heat. You can keep your hutch in the shade (never direct sun in the heat of the summer) and make sure you provide plenty of water, but that’s not enough. They must have something to cool them down. Fans can help circulate air; however, we suggest keeping a few liter bottles full of water in your freezer and take one out every day and let them lie with it in the cage. They will occasionally chew them and cause them to leak but they very much need to be able to cool down. There are solar fan kit options as well if you are too far from electricity. If you choose to use a fan, solar or otherwise, do not allow any wires or the fan itself near the rabbit. He will chew it up and hurt himself.
If you plan to keep your rabbit outside, we recommend hutches that have plenty of room and preferably two levels. Here are some options below that we simply love. And chicken coops work as rabbit hutches much of the time! Consider using these indoors as well if you have the space!
Predators: One other important factor about keeping your rabbit outside. If you have foxes, coyotes, hawks, eagles, or raccoons, your rabbit may become dinner. If you ever find evidence that a predator has been around your outdoor hutch, you will have to figure out a way to secure it. One way is to dig down around the bottom of the hutch about one foot and bury wire (hardware cloth), attaching it to the hutch itself. You may even have to consider stabilizing the hutch so it cannot be knocked down. Hawks and eagles are a concern if you use a pen that has no cover on it for playtime outside of the hutch. Raccoons can put their arms through chicken wire or wide bars and grab and even kill your rabbit through the bars.
Indoor Considerations — Again, we do recommend keeping your rabbit indoors. Many of our customers keep their rabbits indoors and allow them to run around the house. The most dangerous part of keeping your rabbit indoors is wires. They do like to chew! If you let your rabbits out to play, keep them supervised or consider using a pen. Some rabbits can jump these. We have had one of our rabbits jump one of these to our surprise, but none of the others have. Make sure your pen is at least 30 inches high.
You absolutely can use hutches that were designed for outdoors inside of your home. These are really great. If you have enough room, consider the ones above, if not, these are slightly smaller but still give plenty of room.
Here’s one for two rabbits kept separately that we like.
Use your imagination!
Check out the indoor rabbit hutch we designed as an ikea hack.
This is simply an enclosed shelving unit from Ikea. Look for cheap furniture that you can alter – check out your local Goodwill. Find something that makes sense. This original piece had glass panels. Before assembling, we smashed the glass out (carefully and safely).
I replaced the glass with 1/2 inch hardware cloth simply by stapling it to the back of the frame.
Next, I cut holes in the center area for “travel” around the hutch.
I then assembled.
Have you ever tiled? We did but for a cheap alternative, you can use stick-on tiles that you can purchase at your DIY home store (they are super simple and with a razor knife, you score them, and “pop” the cut pieces off to the size you need). For this hutch, I used leftover ceramic tile from one of our home projects. Keep in mind, rabbit poo can be like glue if it gets worked into a surface – soaking it with a cleaning product for a few minutes is all it takes to wipe clean. Ceramic tiles are heavy, we will warn, so stick on ones may be a better option for you.
The final product – perfect for a teen or kids’ room. We did alter this one a bit more, and placed panels at the bottom of the doors to make sure bedding stayed in. This is also not enough room for a rabbit to “run”, so any house bunny should be let out occasionally to jump up and kick his heels.
If you are having a problem with keeping a rabbit, there are solutions that help! Every problem has a solution!
Please scroll down for more information for helping keep a pet rabbit in your life.
Basic Rabbit Care — Rabbit Requirements
- Pellets – An alfalfa-based pellet is the general staple of rabbits. Keep a bowl of it available at all times for them. It’s cheaper to purchase in bulk from a local feed store or Tractor Supply type of store. Pet chain stores tend to sell a lesser quality and much more expensive. However, this is your choice. As an example….
- Hay – Rabbits need fiber. Timothy hay is what they need and lots of it. Keep hay available at all times to them. Again, feed stores are great for this, but you can pick up bags at your local pet chain store.
- Treats – Human food is not recommended – Please read about what is poisonous to rabbits here. We don’t make it a habbit to give our rabbits a lot of treats. If in doubt, it is best to just stick with the hay and pellets. Rabbits do have sensitive systems. By the time you notice diarrhea, it could be too late. A note on grass: Do not allow your rabbit outside to play and chew on grass for long periods of time when they have never had grass. This could upset their stomachs. If you want to get them used to grass, it is just like horses – take them out for a few minutes each day and extend the time gradually so their digestive system adjusts. Make sure there are no poisonous weeds where your rabbit is kept.
It is important that your rabbit has plenty to chew on that is healthy and keeps their teeth worn down.
- Wood – Wood is great. You can purchase wood specifically for rabbits, but you can also research. Kiln dried pine is the cheapest for rabbits as you can purchase it from Home Depot. Other types of wood that rabbits can chew on is wood from apple trees, birch, juniper, willow, maple, and poplar. We will be offering our own line of fun and safe treats this spring so check back!
- Hay Cubes – We have found that hay cubes are also nice for them to chew on to help keep teeth worn down.
- Rabbits need bedding and “litter” (not cat litter). I personally use straw and pine pellets (that are compressed pellets that you can purchase for horse bedding at local feed stores). There is some question whether or not pine is good due to residue. We’ve not had a problem with it. It is important that you do not use cedar. The reason we like these pellets is they tend to be more “contained” and they soak up urine very well and take care of odors the best that we have seen. Also, if you are purchasing a lionhead, this does not stick in their fur like flake bedding does. If you are interested in the pellet bedding, they do have it available in small quantities as in the link below; but if you are out to save money, you can buy 40-lb bags of the same at Tractor Supply for $6. That is what we do. Ask us when you visit, and we will show it to you.
Litter Box –
- Will my rabbit be litter trained when I purchase from you? No. The reason why is when there are multiple babies, they don’t all eliminate in the same spot. It would be impossible for us to litter train your rabbit with the other siblings. You can litter train your rabbits. Rabbits like to urinate in the same corner all the time. They will choose the corner. You will just have to pick up some soiled bedding and place it in the litter box and keep the litter box in the corner of their choice. Very Important: You cannot use cat litter. We suggest the pine pellets described above. Watch for them chewing on the litter box. They should not be ingesting plastic, so if you find this is an issue, make more wooden toys or chews available for them.
As far as litter box choice, you will see these corner boxes the most.
However, if you have the room, you may want to consider a small cat litter box. We like these better.
Don’t forget – rabbits can be trained; however, if you let them around the house, they will leave a few dry pellets around. These are easy to clean up and even vacuum.
- Some rabbits will drink out of bowls – we prefer the typical bottle with roller ball. Some are better than others as far as leaks go, so test a few to find out what works best for you. Remember, if you are keeping your rabbit outdoors – these bottles will freeze. You can purchase heated water bottles as we stated above in the outdoor considerations. We like these bottles for regular use. These have been the most leak free for us (just make sure it is screwed together well) and we don’t have to change the bottles out as often.
- Claws: Rabbits dig naturally in the wild which helps them keep their claws shorter. Rabbit claws do need to be trimmed. This is another reason you should continuously keep your bunny socialized. We find it easier to trim claws with two people. We can demonstrate this – remind us when you visit to pick up your bunny. One of us holds the rabbit securely while sitting on the floor while the other trims, being careful not to get the quick. After a little practice, this becomes very easy, don’t worry!
- Hair: Grooming lionhead hair a few times a month is all that is needed. Sometimes lionlops require brushing more often, especially when they are starting to shed as the Mighty Boosh did to the right here…. This amount of hair is not normal to be brushing out for our lionheads and definitely not for the holland lops. Boosh is quite different. If there is any time that you may want to trim the hair around your lionhead’s face, only use child safe scissors with the rounded ends.
Our favorite brush and nail trimmers below.
Check out more of our articles on our Bunny Blog for more information about rabbit care, rabbit genetics, and keep an eye on our latest lionhead or holland lop litters!