How to Raise a Healthy Bunny

Three Parts:Giving Your Rabbit the Correct DietSetting Up Your Rabbit's HomeGeneral Care for Your Rabbit

Rabbits, while small, are a lot of work to care for properly. They are particular about diet, grooming habits, and living space. However, if you do your research and learn the best ways to raise your rabbit, you will enjoy many years of joy with your pet.

Part 1
Giving Your Rabbit the Correct Diet

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    Give your rabbit unlimited quantities of hay. Hay forms the foundation of a rabbit's diet. Not only is this important for nutrients, but fiber as well. Since rabbits clean themselves, they often swallow a lot of hair. Without adequate fiber, these hairballs can block the GI tract and can be fatal. Chewing hay also keeps the rabbit's teeth at a healthy length by wearing them down and preventing them from overgrowing.[1][2]
    • Feed your rabbit grass-based hays like timothy, oat, or wheat. Other hays like alfalfa may be too rich in calcium or protein for your rabbit to handle. To choose a good quality hay, look for a tinge of green and a sweet smell. Poor quality hay is completely yellow and may smell musty. Do not feed your rabbit a poor quality hay.[3]
    • If you cannot find a good hay at a local pet store, there are mail order companies that can ship you the right hay.[4]
    • Rabbits can be fed hay from birth.
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    Provide your rabbit with plenty of water. Like with most animals, water is essential for health and well-being. Without adequate water, a rabbit can become dehydrated, go into organ failure, and die. Your rabbit should have fresh drinking water at all times.[5]
    • A water bottle or ceramic/stainless steel bowl are sufficient to give your rabbit water. Keep in mind that your rabbit my drink more from a bowl than a bottle, which is good for the rabbit's health. You can start with both to see what your rabbit prefers.
    • Whatever method of providing water you choose, be sure to use lead-free products.
    • Replace old water with clean water every day.
    • Also be sure to clean water bottles and bowls with hot water and soap daily to prevent bacteria growth. Rinse these thoroughly to make sure all soap residue is washed away.
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    Add fresh vegetables to your rabbit's diet. The best vegetables for your rabbit are romaine lettuce, broccoli, carrots, cilantro, spinach, and celery.[6][7]
    • Make sure any vegetables you feed to your rabbit are fresh. Vegetables even a few days old can make your rabbit sick.
    • Serve vegetables wet to increase your rabbit's fluid intake and help the food flow more easily through the GI tract.
    • Switch up the vegetables you give your rabbit every day. Some rabbits, when fed only one type of vegetable, can develop sludge in the bladder which may then form into bladder stones. A typical example is carrots which are high in oxalate. Feeding carrots every day can predispose a rabbit to bladder problems. To avoid this, never give the same food two days in a row. If your rabbit eats carrot one day, offer broccoli next so you're constantly mixing things up.
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    Feed your rabbit fruit as a treat. Fruits should be considered a treat and should not form the base of your rabbit's diet. Generally you should limit fruit servings to no more than two tablespoons per day.[8][9]
    • All fruits are considered safe for feeding to rabbits, as long as they are in controlled quantities.
    • Mix up your rabbit's fruit intake daily, the same as you would with vegetables.
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    Provide rabbit pellets in limited quantities. Commercial rabbit pellets are generally not considered essential for a rabbit's diet- they don't provide the fiber or the tooth exercise that hay provides. They are also high in calories and can cause obesity if your rabbit eats too much of them. In limited quantities, however, pellets can provide vitamins and minerals that your rabbit needs.[10][11]
    • Remember that pellets should only be a supplement to other foods, and not form the foundation of your rabbit's diet.
    • Pick pellets that are timothy-based rather than alfalfa-based. Alfalfa pellets tend to be higher in calories and can cause obesity.
    • Pellets come in two forms: muesli and extruded. Muesli types have individual nutrients in each pellet, while extruded types have all nutrients mixed into each pellet. Use extruded types to give your rabbit all the essential nutrients he requires. With muesli types, your rabbit may pick out tasty pellets and neglect others, leading to deficiencies.[12]
    • Talk to your vet for the ideal portion size for your rabbit. Some recommended servings for adult rabbits are as low as 1 tablespoon daily.[13]
    • If your rabbit starts neglecting his hay, cut back on pellets. A lack of fiber from hay can cause a fatal blockage in your rabbit's GI tract, so you'll want to make sure it is the primary food in the rabbit's diet.
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    Avoid feeding rabbits anything not included on this list. Rabbits have sensitive digestive systems and you shouldn't feed them anything unfamiliar. Specifically avoid nuts, seeds, corn, or any dessert foods like chocolate. Your rabbit won't be able to digest these foods and consumption of these could be fatal.[14]
    • Also avoid any gourmet rabbit treats. These can be harmful.
    • Always check with your vet before feeding something new to your rabbit.

Part 2
Setting Up Your Rabbit's Home

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    Decide whether your rabbit will be an indoor or outdoor pet. There are unique advantages and drawbacks to each, so weigh each option before making a final decision.[15][16]
    • If you will house your rabbit outdoors, make sure he has a secure living space that will protect him from predators and the elements. Even urban areas have threats like raccoons and cats that can harm or kill your rabbit, so you'll need to make sure he is protected. Also be sure to provide your rabbit with plenty of company and social interaction. It would also be helpful to give your rabbit an outdoor pen to play in during the day.
    • If your rabbit will be an indoor pet, remember that rabbits like to chew. You'll need to sufficiently protect your furniture and valuables from getting damaged. He will also need daily exposure to sunlight to help with vitamin D production, so bring him outside regularly to ensure he stays healthy.
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    Designate the area that your rabbit will be allowed in. Will your rabbit be allowed to roam the whole house, or is there a specific room you want to keep him in?
    • Your rabbit will need several hours of exercise outside his cage every day. When choosing an area, remember that he needs enough room to explore and roam to make sure he gets enough exercise. At the minimum a full room should do.[17]
    • Keep in mind that the bigger area you allow your rabbit to roam in, the more bunny-proofing you'll have to do.
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    Bunny-proof your rabbit's area. Rabbits love to chew, which can not only damage your home and furniture, but can be fatal for your rabbit. You need to remove or protect certain items within the rabbit's area.[18][19]
    • Either remove electrical wires from the rabbit's reach or wrap them to prevent your rabbit from chewing through them. To wrap them, get plastic tubes from the hardware store. Using scissors or a utility knife, carefully cut the tube lengthwise and push the wire inside.[20]
    • Cover open outlets with child-proof plugs.
    • Remove any plants from the area. Rabbits have sensitive digestive systems and eating unfamiliar plants can make them sick.
    • Continue supervising your rabbit if he is roaming the house. Even if you think you've taken everything out of his reach, rabbits can easily sneak through small openings and reach areas they aren't supposed to. This is especially true for younger rabbits.
    • Rabbits are generally fine around other house pets like dogs and cats, so long as they are well-mannered. Puppies especially should be well-trained before you let them interact with your rabbit, as they may hurt him trying to play.[21]
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    Get your rabbit a cage. Your rabbit will need a place to sleep, eat, drink, and rest. Choosing the right cage is very important for keeping your rabbit healthy and happy.[22]
    • As a general rule, your rabbit should be able to stretch out fully and stand on his hind legs without hitting the top of the cage. For a more concrete measurement, the minimum recommended size is 24" x 36" x 24".
    • Choose a cage without a wire floor. These can hurt the rabbit's feet. Instead look for a solid plastic bottom.
    • If you can only find a wire-bottom cage, lay a piece of wood or plastic on it to make sure your rabbit stays comfortable.
    • You can also substitute a dog or cat cage for a specialized rabbit cage, so long as it is big enough.
    • Include a small rug or mat and some hay for your rabbit to lay on.[23]
    • If your rabbit goes back into his cage, let him stay there and don't force him out. Rabbits often use their cages as a safe area where they can rest and relax.
    • Make sure the rabbit has a place to hide within the cage. Rabbits are burrowing animals and need the security of a small dark space. A simple shoe box will do as a hide, but be prepared to replace it regularly because he will probably chew on it.
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    House-train your rabbit. Like cats, rabbits can be trained to use a litter box.[24]
    • First see which corner of the cage your rabbit chooses as his bathroom. Then place a litter box there.
    • When he consistently uses the litter box in his cage, you can allow him to roam more outside his cage. Place more litter boxes around his area to encourage him to use them.
    • Always use positive reinforcement when house-training your rabbit, never punishments. Rewards include things like offering your rabbit's favorite treat. If the rabbit is well-socialized and loves people, reward him with praise or being groomed.
    • Avoid using clumping litters, as your rabbit may eat clumps and cause an intestinal blockage. Use litters made from wood pulp, paper, or citrus. You could also use newspaper as an alternative, though this may not be as absorbent.[25]

Part 3
General Care for Your Rabbit

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    Spay or neuter your rabbit. Go to your vet and have your rabbit fixed. There are a number of health benefits to spaying or neutering your rabbit regardless of its gender.[26]
    • Fixed rabbits are less likely to leave litter around the house because fixing reduces the urge to mark territory.
    • Your rabbit will be much less aggressive.
    • Rabbits' reproductive organs are susceptible to cancer as they age. Removing these eliminates this risk.
    • Skip this step if you intend to breed your rabbits. This is safe as long as you have enough space for multiple rabbits and are well-educated on safe breeding methods.[27] If this is the case, be sure to visit the vet regularly to check for problems with your rabbit's reproductive health.
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    Provide plenty of toys for your rabbit. Rabbits naturally chew, so giving them toys ensures that its not your furniture that gets chewed up. You don't need expensive rabbit toys- pieces of cardboard, paper towel rolls, and untreated, chemical-free wood will keep your bunny amused and entertained.[28]
    • Avoid rubber toys. If a rabbit swallows a piece of rubber it could block the GI tract.[29]
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    Play with your rabbit. Rabbits are active creatures and love to play. There are some great games you can play with your rabbit to amuse the two of you and keep him in good shape.[30]
    • Set up some small toy bowling pins and let your rabbit go knock them over. Active bunnies will love this game.
    • Some bunnies like to flick toys around and have you return them, like a reverse game of fetch.
    • Build an obstacle course for your rabbit. Rabbits love to explore, so appeal to this tendency with an obstacle course. Make sure to use materials like newspaper or cardboard so your rabbit won't get hurt.[31]
    • Always allow your bunny to rest if he wants to. When he's losing interest in a game, don't force him to continue.
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    Handle your rabbit gently. Rabbits have fragile bones that can easily break if they are handled roughly. You should always be gentle with your rabbit to prevent harm.[32]
    • If your rabbit struggles when you try to pick him up, don't force it. Struggling rabbits can break their own bones or pull muscles, and you can also drop him as he struggles. Leave your rabbit alone if he doesn't want to be picked up.
    • Introduce him to being picked up slowly. Rabbits are ground-dwelling animals and get easily spooked by going high into the air. Get him used to being stroked first. As he becomes more used to human company, try raising his front feet an inch off the ground. Then stay sitting when you pick him up for the first few times and hold him in your lap. Finally, advance to picking him up and standing.
    • To properly pick up your rabbit, place one hand under his chest and one under his backside. For more details on picking up your rabbit safely, see Pick up a Rabbit.
    • If you are worried the rabbit may scratch you, use a towel to pick him up. You could accidentally drop him if you get scratched.
    • Make sure all pets are properly trained before they interact with the rabbit.
    • Make sure all young children in the house know the rules when playing with the rabbit. Supervise them while they interact with the rabbit and stop them if they do anything that could harm him.
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    Groom your rabbit regularly. Rabbits are hairy creatures that like to clean themselves. Unfortunately, ingesting too much hair can cause a serious intestinal blockage. You'll have to groom your rabbit regularly to prevent this.[33]
    • Brush your rabbit at least once a week. Using a fine-toothed comb, like a flea comb, thoroughly brush your rabbit. This will remove loose hair that your rabbit might otherwise swallow while grooming himself.
    • Rabbits are typically sensitive to water, and can easily get hypothermia or fall into shock if submerged. If necessary you can spot clean your rabbit with a damp towel, but never submerge him. For more details on cleaning and grooming your rabbit safely, see Bathe Your Pet Rabbit.
    • Clip your rabbit's nails every few weeks. Look at your rabbit's nails and find where the blood vessel inside it ends. This should be visible even if your rabbit has dark-colored nails. Using a nail clipper, clip right after the blood vessel ends. If you're afraid of hurting your rabbit, the vet can do this during checkups.
    • If you see dry or flaky skin while brushing your rabbit, contact your vet. This could be a sign of mites or fleas.
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    Take your rabbit to the vet annually. Like all pets, your rabbit requires regular medical care to stay healthy. Stick with annual checkups and don't hesitate to schedule an appointment if you think something might be wrong with your rabbit.
    • Look for a vet who has experience with rabbits. These are sometimes considered exotic veterinarians who specialize in non-traditional pets.[34]
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    Watch for signs of distress or illness in your rabbit. Since rabbits are sensitive creatures, they are susceptible to a number of ailments that range from minor to fatal. If you notice any of the following symptoms, contact your vet immediately.[35]
    • Sudden loss of appetite paired with abdominal gurgling.
    • Labored breathing.
    • A head tilt.
    • Incontinence.
    • Lumps or abscesses anywhere on your rabbit's body.


  • If a rabbit licks you it means they like you!
  • Don't give your rabbit too many watery treats, as it is bad for their digestive system.
  • While you're in a room with your bunny just leave the cage open they will come out themselves even if your not watching they just like to come out They get sad if you don't let them out.
  • Make sure the bunny's cage is big enough for him/her to hop across 4 times, and tall enough to stand on its hind legs.
  • Rabbits are very social creatures, and most will enjoy having a partner (rabbits not of the same litter tend to get along better with rabbits of the opposite gender, but there are exceptions) for company. Again, make sure they're spayed and neutered!
  • Never make your bun live directly on wire as it in picture above! It not only hurts their feet, it can cause sore hocks which are difficult to heal and may become infected. They will appreciate a soft, dry surface.
  • Carrots are not very healthy for them. These should be fed to them every once in a while; not everyday.
  • Rabbits do not like lots of noise, so avoid loud sounds. Sounds like dogs barking, bands playing, or any other loud/distracting noises.
  • Rabbits are incredibly easy to litter train – even more so if they are young and spayed/neutered. They naturally eliminate while they eat, so give them a large cat litter pan lined with newspaper and filled with timothy hay or orchard grass and they will practically train themselves. You may notice "raisins" being left around their free-roam area; they are marking their territory. As they settle in (and thoroughly scent-mark everything with their chins) this should slacken off and stop.
  • Don't try to catch a rabbit. Doing this could cause the rabbit to be home sick, which may result in a really mean bunny!
  • Don't just try to grab your rabbit in the cage. Wait until he/she comes to you.
  • If you're petting a rabbit and his nose is twitching faster than usual then stop petting him for a bit - when a rabbit's nose twitches a lot he may be uncomfortable.
  • Don't keep your rabbit in a cage, it is bad for them and it will lead to having digestive problems.


  • Do your research before (and after) purchasing a rabbit!
  • If bunnies live in an area where electrical cords are plugged in, unplug them or move the bunnies. Rabbits have a fondness for chewing on cords, and one bite could kill them. Another option is to cover the wire using PVC pipe or a flexible plastic coil, available at some electronics stores and rabbit supply websites.
  • Do not let your rabbit get fat! Think about how bad it is for humans to get fat – it's a lot worse for bunnies. Proper diet and exercise are major factors in keeping your rabbit slim and trim.

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Categories: Rabbit Health