Rabbit Home & Food Guide
You want to give your rabbit a healthy and happy life, but knowing exactly what to feed and how to house your new pet can be difficult. While dogs and cats might be the most common pets we see, we have plenty of experience helping pet owners make the best habitats for rabbits and other small animals.
Below is our quick-tip guide to understanding what environment rabbits prefer, how to comfortably build a home and litter for your new pet, and how to address your rabbit’s nutritional needs.
How Should I House My Rabbit?
Rabbits are typically housed in cages of varying sizes depending on species, size, and the area your home can accommodate. Keep in mind also that you will be required to perform routine cleanings to your rabbit’s new home, so chose a size that you can realistically see yourself sanitizing regularly.
At a minimum, your rabbit’s cage should be 4' x 2' x 4' to allow for some activity. Metal cages are recommended, but the spaced, metal grating on the floor must be covered to avoid your rabbit’s foot getting trapped in his cage-wall. Wicker mats, plastic coverings, and towels are fine floor-coverings, commonly used for just that purpose.
Rabbits also enjoy burrowing when they feel at home, so having a small fake grass patch is a wonderful addition to any potential rabbit residence. Just like us, different rabbits enjoy different arrangements of their furniture - try and find the one your rabbit likes best!
What Should My Rabbit’s Litter Consist Of?
Choosing your rabbit’s litter is a big decision, made more difficult by the many choices available to you. Here are some things to consider before making your decision:
- Your rabbit will be spending lots of his time in his litter box
- Your rabbit will almost certainly nibble on some of his litter
- Your rabbit’s urine will have a very strong odor
Organic litters are easiest on your rabbit’s skin and stomach. The House Rabbit Society recommends the use of alfalfa, oat, citrus, or recycled paper to build the perfect all-organic litter.
In general, it is best to stay away from litters made from softwoods, like pine or cedar, as these products have been linked to liver problems in rabbits. You may also consider adding a handful of hay in the litter box as a top layer for the rabbit to nibble and burrow, adding a bit of recreation to an otherwise “strictly business” section of your rabbit’s new home.
What and How Much Should I Feed My Rabbit?
Rabbits love to eat and chew, but because of their small stature, they often don’t require a lot of food. Telling if your rabbit is over-eating can be as simple as observing his activity: if he is sluggish, acting odd, bouncing around less, and generally is starting to appear overweight, your rabbit requires less food than you are feeding him.
Much like in humans, overweight rabbits face severe health issues, and struggle to attain the exercise they require, so be sure to keep tabs on your rabbit’s activity, energy level, and any potential weight gains.
In general, your rabbit's diet should include:
- 70% grass hay always available
- 20% fortified foods
- 8% greens
- 2% treats
Should Rabbits Really Eat Carrots?
Thanks to popular culture, carrots may seem like the most obvious thing in the world to feed your new pet rabbit, but in truth, carrots are relatively high in calories, and must be fed sparingly or you may run the risk of overfeeding. Fruit is fine to mix in as well, but it should not be more than a slice or two per day.
Human food is far too high in calories for a pet as small as a rabbit, and so should never be offered to your pet.
Need More Information?
If you have any more questions about the care of your rabbit, consult your local veterinarian, search through our Preventive Care and Ask a Vet libraries, or click through some of the related links below: