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Bringing Home a New Baby Rabbit? Read these useful tips first!

If you have plans to bring home a new baby rabbit there are certain things to keep in mind and prepare for in advance.  Here is a short checklist of things to get ready:

  1. Decide what you will use for a cage.  Whether you plan to have your rabbit outdoors or in the house, you will need a cage for safety from predators and to keep the rabbit contained.  Even in the house a rabbit will need a cage to use as “home base” and a safe haven for resting and eating.  As a general rule of thumb the cage needs to be at least four times the size of the rabbit.  For rabbits smaller than eight pounds (at mature size, not baby size) a typical cage size is 24” by 36”.  For larger rabbits cage size should be 30” by 36”.  A side opening door is easier to use than a top opening door.  For comfort, place a board in the cage because rabbits don’t do well on all wire floors if there is no solid surface to lie down on. 
  2. Rabbit food should be purchased in advance and made available the moment your rabbit arrives home.  Pick up a bag of Hubbard Life Rabbit Food for your rabbit.  Hubbard Life is formulated by experienced nutritionists who know how to feed rabbits.  You can learn more about the feed and tips for raising rabbits at http://www.hubbardlife.com/rabbit.aspx
  3. Rabbit food containers come in various types.  Some use heavy crocks that cannot be flung around or tipped over.  These help reduce waste and save money.  You can attach a rabbit feeder to the side of the cage if you would rather do that.  Think twice about using tin cans as those are easily spilled.
  4. Water containers are of great importance and can’t be overlooked.  Most will use a heavy crock bowl or a water bottle with a valve.  Regardless of the container make sure your rabbit always has fresh water and as much as they choose to consume.  Never let the water go dry.  Water is one of the most crucial things for your rabbit.

So, we’ve considered the things that need to be purchased before you buy the rabbit, now let’s focus on getting a healthy little rabbit selected.

Decide if you are going to a pet store or straight to a rabbit breeder to buy your new pet.  Both options are fine and those people can provide you some helpful advice as you get on with raising your rabbits.

  There are 4 main considerations in choosing your rabbit and getting it settled at home:

  1. Get a rabbit that has been fully weaned for several days.  Taking a rabbit to a new home will be stressful enough on their system, don’t escalate the stress level by taking the rabbit off the mother the same day you take it home to your place.  Those two events--weaning from mom and traveling to a new home--should be separated by several days to let the rabbit adjust.  Rabbits can be weaned as early as 4 weeks of age, but it may be best if they are not taken to your home until 5-6 weeks of age.  This gives a good adjustment time.
  2. Check for general good health on the rabbits you are selecting from.  There are two things to look for.  First, flip the bunny over and be sure it’s bottom is dry.  If there are signs of bunny diarrhea you will want to hold off a while or select your bunny somewhere else.  If the bunny’s bottom is dry that is a good indicator that the healthy flora in the gastro intestinal tract are established and you are likely out of the danger zone.  Second, check the rabbit’s nose.  Any sneezing or white gunk in the bunny’s nose means it is sick.  Don’t take it.  If you hear sneezing in the littermates and nearby animals that is a huge warning sign.  Just politely walk away and look for bunnies elsewhere.
  3. When you first arrive home with your rabbit give it quiet time.  Allow your bunny a couple days to get used to his new home.  Be quiet and calm around the bunny and don’t handle it much.  This is an effort to reduce the stress and anxiety your rabbit will feel.  While you’re at it, keep any dogs and cats (considered predators to your rabbit) at a distance.  Even if you know your dog wouldn’t hurt the rabbit, your rabbit is not convinced of that.  After a few days of settling in you can introduce your other pets.
  4. Always give your rabbit plenty of grass hay until at least 10 weeks of age.  It is cheap health insurance.  The high-fiber grass hay helps to prevent the proliferation of clostridium and other pathogenic germs.

Good luck and enjoy your new long-eared friend!

Posted on 8/21/2012 by Amy Brown  |  Category: Rabbit
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