Basic Bunny Care

How to care for your pet rabbit

Skylar dePolo

9/4/20233 min read

Skylar's bunny Fidget
Skylar's bunny Fidget

How to take care of a rabbit

Rabbits are a lot of work, which is something that most people don’t realize. Before you go out and bring home a new furry friend, it is important to make sure you understand how to keep them happy and healthy.

What should rabbits eat?

Rabbits have specific dietary needs that very from that of other animals. Only a small portion of their diet should consist of pellet food; young rabbits should be fed an alfalfa based pellet, while adult rabbits should eat timothy based pellets. Hay is the most important part of their diet. Fresh timothy hay should be easily available to them 24/7. Their daily diet should also include fresh veggies.

Daily fresh foods (1-2 cups per day for an adult):

  • Parsley

  • Cilantro

  • Green leaf lettuce

  • Red leaf lettuce

  • Spinach

  • Carrot tops

  • Bell pepper (no seeds)

  • Romaine lettuce (in small quantities)

    Occasional fresh foods (2-3 times a week)

  • Apple slices (no seeds)

  • Strawberries

  • Blueberries

  • Carrots

  • Watermelon (no seeds, no rind)

  • Kale

    There are several more options that are safe for rabbits to eat, these are just some of my recommendations and what I feed mine.

I like to give my bunnies about 2 cups of spring mix and a couple pieces of parsley (or cilantro) per day. I give them apple slices about twice a week, one at a time for my dwarf mix rabbit and 1-2 slices each for my slightly larger rabbits. Sometimes, not often, I give them carrots, entire or baby cut, bell pepper, strawberries, or kale. Make sure to thoroughly rinse any fruits or veggies before feeding them to your rabbit.

What type of cage should bunnies have?

A rabbit enclosure should be at least 12 square feet, (yes, even for dwarf bunnies). If you allow your rabbit several hours of free roam time per day, then it is okay for their cage to not have a playpen or run attached. If your rabbit does not receive daily free roam, then their enclosure should consist of an enclosed space for sleeping, a play area with toys and room to run, a litter box, hay basket, and food bowls. Always provide fresh, clean water. Rabbits may not receive enough water through a bottle, so it is best to provide a weighted bowl of water. Bunnies do not need bedding throughout their entire cage. It is best to only use bedding in the litter box. Bunnies poop a lot, and often lay in their litter box, so it is best to clean the litter box once a day. If you like, you may put blankets or towels in other areas of the enclosure, such as the enclosed sleeping area, which provides cozy snuggles and burrowing fun for your furry friend.

Cage or hutch?

For outside rabbits, a hutch with an attached playpen or run is best. If the hutch is out in the yard, make sure to put a cover over the playpen and a solid floor to protect your rabbits from predators and prevent them from escaping. Housing your rabbit indoors will always be safer than outdoors. Being outside exposes your rabbit to weather, possible disease, and even if predators cannot get into the hutch, the sight of them could possibly give your rabbit a heart attack. Be mindful of this when keeping rabbits outdoors. For indoor rabbits, a hutch or cage will work fine, it is up to you! If you decide to use a cage, just make sure to attach a playpen, and provide a dark enclosed space for your rabbit to sleep and feel secure. The walls of the playpen need to be at least 3 feet high to prevent your rabbit from escaping. However, depending on your specific rabbit, they may still be able to jump over 3 feet. Covered areas need to be tall enough to allow your rabbit to stand up on their beck feet without hitting their head.

Do rabbits like to be held?

Each bunny has their own unique personality. Some may let you hold them for hours on end, while others may extremely dislike being held. When you bring home a new rabbit, it will take some time for them to adjust to you and their new surroundings. Start off just by petting them and talking to them, and slowly work your way up to holding them for minutes at a time. Most rabbits will become friendlier over time if you continue to work with them every day. Rabbits are social animals, so if you only have one, it is best to keep their cage in a popular room and/or let them have several hours of free roam time- just make sure to bunny proof first!

Should you get a pet rabbit?

If you are a responsible pet owner, have plenty of space, time, and patience, a bunny may be a great addition to your life. Just remember that bunnies require a lot of work to care for and are not a pet for beginners.