A lot like cats, rabbits are pretty self-sufficient creatures. They don’t need daily exercise (although they appreciate it). They don’t crave your affection (unless they’re used to it). They don’t need trained (unless you’re really into it). They do, however, require daily care and maintenance. Make sure you check out a few of the books recommended in the “Resources” page for more in depth coverage.
We recommend you acquire equipment before you acquire rabbits. Sure, you can take them home in a cat carrier. You just shouldn’t make them live in it.
All wire! All wire! All wire! Poo falls through to the ground. Pee drips down to the ground. If you’re worried about Bunny’s sensitive feet, get her a plastic resting board. The wire mesh should be 1/2 inch by 1 inch so that kits can’t fall through and Bunny’s feet can’t get caught in the holes. If your hutch is over a floor you’ll want trays underneath so you can easily empty the poo into your compost bin. If the hutch is over the dirt, no worries!
For your buck, you’ll want a cage with at least 600 sq in of floor space. For your breeding does, you’ll want cages with at least 900 sq in of floor space. Kits take up room.
Adult rabbits are territorial, so they each need their own “hole,” or individual cage. Kits are weaned at 6 to 8 weeks by moving them out of the hutch they share with their mama two at a time over the course of a week or so. They can still be in the same hole with each other, but we separate the girls and boys when we wean them.
We’ve recently discovered plastic J-feeders. Available at Woody’s Wabbits or Quality Cage Co. The metal ones are more commonly available, though, and sift the feed a little better. We also use EZ Crocks for the bucks, because they don’t need a whole J-feeder to themselves.
Water is important! Rabbits should have clean, fresh water available at all times. We’ve noticed they drink the most at night, so we check the water in the morning and make sure it’s full at night.
Choose water bottles that are easy to fill and empty. For bucks and non-breeding does, we use 16 oz bottles and they usually drink about half. For our does with young litters, a 32 oz bottle is good. For does with older litters, go for the 64 ouncer. There are automatic watering options out there and someday we’ll figure that out. For a small rabbitry, the bottles work fine.
Does need a place to have their babies. Nothing is better than a nice, cozy nest box! Galvanized is best with a removeable plywood bottom. Give her one that is big enough for to get in and turn around in, but not any larger. 10″ across is good. Give it to your expecting mama bunny about 28 days after you breed her. Put a half inch or so of aspen bedding in it and give her hay to arrange in it.
Choose the highest-quality feed you can. We choose 16% rabbit pellets (meaning 16% of the feed is protein from soy) because they’re easy for us to come by (i.e., sold at the local feed store). We’ve looked into buying organic rabbit pellets over the interweb, but they are just too expensive for our budget. Hillsboro Feed Co. could mill us organic feed, but they mill a ton at a time. It would take us a loooong time to go through that much feed, so we are looking to split an order. Takers?
Pellets are like dog or cat food. They are (supposedly) a complete and balanced feed containing everything your rabbit needs. Well, we personally believe that animals need to eat food that is alive. So we supplement with greens from our yard (dandelions!) and from our garden. Some bunnies have sensitive stomachs, though, so watch out for diarrhea. If your bunny should become ill, quit giving it greens. Don’t give bunnies greens until they are fully weaned!!!
Bunnies need fresh water every day. Check ‘em in the morning and afternoon. Fill and rinse their bottles once a day at least.
Bunnies need fed every day. Check ‘em in the morning and afternoon. We feed ours around dinner time because rabbits, being mainly nocturnal, eat at night.
For bucks and non-breeding does, feed about 3/4 cup per day. Run your hand down the length of your rabbit every day. You should be able to feel the spine, but it shouldn’t be sticking out. Too fat? Feed less. Too skinny? Feed a little more.
Pregnant does should be fed their normal (non-breeding) ration until they’re 2 weeks pregnant. Then start gradually increasing until you’re feeding 2 cups by the 4th week.
Mamas with litters should be given free choice pellets. Growing kits should be given free choice pellets until approximately 6 months old. Fill the feeder every time it’s looking empty.
Give your bunnies hay! Hay has lots of vitamins and minerals and fiber! Bunnies just love munching on hay. Junior animals (less than a year old) can eat alfalfa and local grass hay. After a year old, orchard mix or timothy hay should be given. Alfalfa has too much calcium for bucks and non-working does.
Or however often you need to, clean out droppings trays.
Disinfect the cage with a 10:1 water:bleach solution. If you are leaving bun in her cage, soak a rag in the bleach solution and wipe it down. Alternatively, use a spray bottle of the bleach solution if you take her out.
Clip your bunny’s claws. We use a cat claw clipper. Be careful not to cut too far down on the nail or they’ll bleed and you’ll feel like a horrible person.