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What to Expect When Raising a Rabbit for the First Time | Hastings Veterinary Hospital

What to Expect When Raising a Rabbit for the First Time

It’s no secret: rabbits are amazing creatures, capable of forming long-lasting bonds with their owners. And when properly taken care of, they can bring love and joy for years to come. But beyond the cute factor of rabbits, there’s a lot that any potential new pet owner needs to know, especially if it’s their first time welcoming a rabbit into the family. 

You’ll need the right area for your rabbit to live in

Before you even think about picking out your rabbit, you’ll need to ensure you have the right kind of space for them to live in at home. Because temperature changes can be extreme between winter and summer, it’s best you plan for your rabbit to live indoors. For more reasons to choose indoors as your rabbit’s living space, visit our blog post Indoors or Outdoors? Where to Raise Your Pet Rabbit.

Rabbits need a fairly large area that is completely their own, with enough space for a large cage, their food and water, a litter box, and a good amount of open space for them to run around in. The whole area should be enclosed with a fence of some kind to ensure your rabbit doesn’t wander around the house and get into trouble. 

Know the long and short-term costs of rabbit care

Like any other pets, rabbits have certain needs that you’ll have to pay for. Beyond the short-term costs like buying the rabbit and the equipment they’ll need, (e.g. their cage, fencing, a rug, etc.) you should expect additional costs such as vet bills, food, replacement bedding, litter, and any routine medications your rabbit might need. 

Understand the social needs of a rabbit

Contrary to what some might think, rabbits are social creatures with complex emotions and needs. The vast majority of rabbits love attention from people, and they enjoy playing and exploring as well. Don’t get a rabbit if you’re expecting it to be completely self-sufficient and require minimal attention, as they can actually get lonely and depressed if left unstimulated for too long.

Consider how your rabbit will get along with other animals and children

If you have other pets or children at home, you’ll need to give some thought to how things will work if you introduce a rabbit to the equation. Although many rabbits are happy to coexist, there are some things to keep in mind. Some dogs and cats might be unable to resist their natural hunting instincts, making for a very tense relationship between them and your bunny. 

Children on the other hand usually love rabbits, yet might not understand how to properly treat them in order to keep them feeling safe and comfortable. Consider how everyone will get along, make preparations as needed for a smooth transition, and take your time with the introduction phase between your rabbit, other pets, and children. 

Know where to spend and where to save

You might be tempted to take the thrifty approach when it comes to buying equipment for a new rabbit, but it’s important to know where you can afford to save money and where it’s better to go for the best. A cage is one example of something you shouldn’t be afraid to splurge a little on. Because rabbits are burrowing creatures, they like having a dark, comfortable area for them to relax in from time to time. Consider how large your rabbit’s breed normally gets, and be sure to get a cage that’s large enough for them. 

Where something like a cage is essential, luxuries like toys and treats can wait if you’re looking to save money. You can even take this further by building your own DIY rabbit toys at home using safe materials.

Take the introduction phase slowly

As mentioned before, the first impressions that your rabbit makes of you, your family, and your other pets is vital to their long-term comfort. Rabbits are prey animals, and they have the instincts to match, so be prepared to take your time when introducing them to everyone. 

Set up your new rabbit’s area in a quiet part of the house where they won’t be disturbed, and gradually introduce them to people and pets, ensuring you go at the rabbit’s pace. The introduction phase usually takes at least 24 hours, but it may take longer depending on your rabbit’s temperament.

Work closely with a trusted veterinarian

Finally, there’s no substitute for top-quality veterinary care when it comes to raising a rabbit. And if it’s your first time living with one of these lovely creatures, a vet’s expertise becomes even more valuable. Shop around in your area for a great vet before taking your rabbit home, allowing you to get your pet in for their initial examination as quickly as possible.

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Hastings Veterinary Hospital and a clickable link back to this page.

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