Sunday, February 27, 2011

How To Care For Your New Rabbit

Planning on adding a furry new friend to your family? Here are some tips and guidelines to care for your new rabbit.

It is hard to resist something as cute as a bunny. Their little twitching noses, their long whiskers, and their huge furry feet are enough to make the hardest of hearts admit the bunny's natural charm. Interestingly enough, many people do not realize that bunnies are a lot like puppies. Like small puppies, they require an abundance of attention and nurturing. If you are planning on acquiring a bunny for yourself or a loved one, here are some basic guidelines to help you prepare for your bunny's arrival.

One of the first things you must realize aboutrabbits is that their average lifespan is anywhere from seven to ten years, so if you choose to get one, you will need to be sure you are committed to that timeframe. Rabbits are a breed of animal that lives in small packs for their lifetime, so some people choose to get at least two rabbits so the rabbits always have company and companionship; however, if you choose only to get one rabbit, you must understand that the rabbit will come to depend on frequent human interaction, so you must also be committed to that.

When purchasing your rabbit, speak to arabbit breeder or consult a reference book to read up on signs of healthy bunnies. Be sure that you purchase a rabbit that is at least older than six weeks to be sure they are properly weaned. Finally, you will want to acquire your new furry friend from a reputable pet store that has a lot of experience with rabbits and not simply the pet store chain because it will be cheaper.

Before the arrival of your new rabbit, you will want to prepare his living space, or hutch. If he is going to be an outside rabbit, be surethat his hutch is protected from natural elements (direct sunlight, high winds or rain) and from other animals that may want to attack him (dogs, cats, etc.). If he is going to be an indoors rabbit, his hutch will need to be in a room that is both quiet and away from direct sunlight. The hutch should be divided into two distinct "rooms." One room should be covered for your rabbit to sleep. The other room should be open and be the spot where his food, water and toys are kept. The hutch should be high enough that your bunny can completely stretch and wide (or long) enough so that he can hop around. The bottom of the hutch will need to be lined with newspaper that is covered with something like hay or wood shavings. Once your rabbit is living in his hutch, you will want to clean out his droppings at least once a day and then change the entire lining at least once a week. After all, rabbits are extremely clean creatures, so you will want his living quarters to be clean, as well. Other than his hutch, your rabbit will also need some time every day to exercise and "stretch his legs" so to speak, so let him run around the yard in a secure spot as often as you can.

Your rabbit will need fresh food and water every single day. Talk to your local pet store or veterinarian, but most rabbits will eat hay and store-bought rabbit food. Since rabbits love to chew, provide plenty of chew toys, as well. In addition to regularly brushing your rabbit's fur, you will need to take your rabbit to the vet at least once a year to check his teeth and nails.

Be gentle when handling your rabbit. When he first arrives home, give him a day or two to get acclimated to his new hutch before you start picking him up and playing with him. However, be sure to talk to him, so that he gets to learn your voice. Despite what you

may have seen on television or cartoons, a bunny should never be picked up by his ears. Rather, you can pick him up by the scruff of his neck, and then you will want to hold him close to your chest supporting his underside. With these tips, you and your rabbit should have a long, fun and healthy relationship for many years.

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