Like all pets, rabbits require a little bit of maintenance from their owners in the form of grooming. Fortunately, most rabbit grooming tasks are easy enough to be performed by an owner at home with a few tools on hand. Regularly grooming your rabbit will help prevent health problems, increase your bunny’s happiness, and help you recognize signs of illness and other conditions that need to be looked at by a vet. Make these grooming steps a part of your regular rabbit routine.
How to Groom a Rabbit
When you add a new pet rabbit to your family, you’ll want to put together necessary care supplies including a rabbit first aid kit. You can add some of these basic grooming tools to your kit:
Flea Comb or Shedding Brush
Clean Bath Towel
Q-Tips & Cotton Balls
How to Brush Your Rabbit
All rabbits shed, but the frequency and quantity of their shedding will depend on their breed. Usually, there will be three big sheds a year as they grow in different coats. For some rabbit breeds, it will seem like they’re always shedding. For others, you can even see the line of shedding happen as it will start at the tip of their nose and move across their body in a line until it reaches the tail.
Since rabbits self-groom by licking themselves, during periods of heavy shedding they can ingest more hair than usual which can cause stomach issues. You’ll also notice tons of hair around your house. One way to help with this process is by brushing your rabbit.
The general recommendation is to brush your rabbit at least once weekly. If you have a long haired rabbit, two times weekly may better help to keep fur mats at bay. During heavy sheds, you may need to do it more frequently–often daily.
There are a few different styles of brushes you can use for grooming your rabbit. The type of brush doesn’t matter too much, as long as your rabbit will allow you to use it on them. Common brushes used by many bunny owners and breeders include flea combs or shedding brushes. Whatever brush you buy, look for a “cat” or “small pet” size for your rabbit. To brush your rabbits face, it’s recommended to use an eyebrow brush/eyelash comb commonly sold for doing make-up. These brushes are gentle for around delicate eyes and small enough to work on cheeks, chins, noses, and around the ears.
During heavy shedding periods, you can pluck hair by hand (demonstrated above from this video). Some rabbits do not like this though, so pay attention to your rabbit’s reaction. If they will tolerate it, plucking is a quick way to remove large tufts of hair. Make sure to only gently tug at tufts of hair that are visibly coming loose. If you grab a bit of hair and it doesn’t budge, leave it be. It’s not ready to be shed yet.
To use a brush to remove hair, gently sweep it through the hair, going in the direction of hair growth (from the head toward the tail). Often rabbits do not like it when you try to brush against the grain, even if it removes more hair. Going with the hair growth feels more like you’re petting them and some rabbits find it very relaxing. During periods of heavy shedding, shorter strokes work best. You will need to pause occasionally to clean hair from the rabbit brush or comb. Make sure to brush their bum and the area right above the tail. That area can be harder for the rabbit to reach to groom themselves, especially for older bunnies.
How to Trim Bunny Nails
In the wild, rabbits are constantly digging which wears down their ever-growing nails. Lucky house rabbits live a cushy life with soft furniture, carpets, and rugs, so their nails often don’t wear out naturally and grow long. Long nails are at risk for getting caught, scratching owners, breaking off, and causing pain for the bunny. You should regularly inspect a rabbit’s nails and trim them if they get too long. For most rabbits, they will need a nail trimming every month or every other month. You don’t need fancy tools to trim your rabbit’s nails. A regular set of fingernail clipper for humans works great for rabbits or you can buy pet nail clippers. Make sure you have styptic powder on hand or in your rabbit’s first aid kit before you start.
If you’ve never trimmed your rabbit’s nail before, it might be easier to have a friend or family member help you. While trimming the nails correctly will not hurt the rabbit, they may struggle and want to run away if they’re not used to being held. Try to hold the rabbit in your lap or on a table with a towel laid flat on the surface. Hold the rabbit against your body firmly with one arm. If your rabbit doesn’t like being held, wrapping them in a towel to make a “bunny burrito” can make the task easier.
When you’re trimming a bunny’s nails, the biggest challenge is to not cut them too short. Rabbit nails have a blood vessel in them, also called the quick. If you cut the nail too short it will bleed (which you can stop using styptic powder or corn starch). This is painful for the rabbit and create an opportunity for infection, so we want to avoid it. If your rabbit has light color nails it will make trimming easier since you’ll be able to see the quick through the nail. No matter what color your rabbit’s nails, if you use this technique (also demonstrated in the video above) you will be able to avoid cutting too close.
With your rabbit pressed against you, lift one paw. Place the clipper around the tip of the nail and press gently once and then again. If your rabbit reacts and tries to pull their foot away, you’ve placed the clippers too high. Move them lower and press twice again. If you get no reaction, got ahead and clip the nail.
Your rabbit’s front paw has four forward nails and a fifth dew claw where a human has a thumb. Make sure to check and clip all five nails. The hind legs only have four forward nails. Of your rabbit has long fur on their paws that make their nails hard to see, use a damp washcloth to lightly wet the fur. Watch the video above to see techniques for accessing each foot without stressing your rabbit too much. If your bunny is very resistant to being held, try the burrito technique, or in worst case scenarios you can have the vet clip the nails on their next check-up.
How to Bathe a Rabbit
Many new owners wonder how to clean a rabbit. Fortunately, they are a self-cleaning pet! That means barring special circumstances, your bunny will take care of their own bathing with frequent grooming like cats. In fact, bathing your bunny may cause them undue stress, so it should be avoided unless absolutely necessary.
One of the few occasions you may need to “bathe” your rabbit is when they get a poopy butt that needs to be cleaned by you. This often happens if your rabbit is sick or is overweight or old and cannot clean that area themselves. Eventually, poop will get caked into the fur on their bottom, which you’ll need to wash off. Unless directed to do so by a rabbit savvy vet, do not emerge your rabbit in water. This is extremely dangerous and can lead to shock and even death in rabbits. Instead, for poopy butt, you should give your rabbit what is called a “butt bath.”
Get a litter box or other plastic container just large enough for your rabbit to sit inside. Put a folded towel in the bottom of the box and fill it with an inch or two of tepid/warm water (NOT HOT). Gently place your rabbit in the box, holding the front end of your rabbit up so they’re out of the water (see the video above). Switch water around their butt until the dried on poop is moist. Gently remove the poop with your fingers, being careful not to pull out any hair.
Once their backside is clean, lift them from the box and place them on a dry towel. Dry them with the towel as best you can. Then use a hair dryer set on the lowest heat, until their fur is dry.
Other Grooming Tasks
While brushing and nail clipping will be the main grooming you have to do for your pet rabbit, you’ll also want to examine your rabbits at least once a month to check for sores, injuries, or anything unusual on their bodies.
Each month when you check to see if your rabbit’s nails need to be trimmed, also check the following:
While any rabbit can get fur mats, long-haired rabbits are most susceptible. Regular weekly or 2X weekly brushing will help to keep fur mats at bay, but if you do discover any you’ll need to remove them. Since rabbits have very delicate skin, it’s dangerous to cut mats out with scissors as you can easily cut their skin. Instead you should use a mat splitter or rake to gently work the mat out of the fur.
Both male and female rabbits have scent glands under their chin (which they use to mark items and people as “theirs”) and also on either side of their anus. While most rabbits do not have issues with their scent glands, some bunnies have problems grooming them, which can lead to build-up. You’ll easily notice if this is a problem because there’s usually an unpleasant smell (kind of a mix between a skunk and coffee) and a brown build-up in the glands.
Inspect your rabbit’s underside, looking for brown build-up and unpleasant smell. If there’s nothing amiss, don’t worry about it. If your rabbit’s scent glands need cleaning, get some Q-tips and warm water. Securely hold your rabbit on their back so you can access the scent glands. Gently swab away any build-up with the Q-tips.
Sore Hocks on the Feet
Rabbit feet can easily become susceptible to sore hocks. A “hock” is the heel of your rabbit’s foot, which is normally covered by fur that protects the skin. Sore hocks happen when the skin becomes inflamed and painful. While sore hocks can come from neglect, well cared for rabbits can get them too. Common causes are poor hygiene or damp bedding, long nails, rough floors (this is why wired cage floors are a no-no), obesity, immobility, and excessive thumping. My rabbit Barney developed hock sores when he got arthritis as an elderly rabbit, a combination of his immobility and a tendency to sit in his litter box for hours.
If your rabbit develops sore hocks, make sure to consult with your veterinarian to discover the cause and make a plan to remedy the situation. If the skin is broken, raw, or bleeding, see a bunny savvy vet ASAP because the risk of infection means they may need antibiotics. Minor hock sores can be treated with A&D ointment to protect and heal the skin.
One of the most important parts of rabbit is care is keeping your bunny’s cage or pen clean. While well-trained rabbits aren’t particularly messy, over the course of the day their food, litter, and feces clutter the cage and can create unhealthy conditions. To properly care for your pet rabbit, you’ll need to spend a little time each day cleaning up their cage and then give it a “deep clean” once a week. While it may seem like a chore, if you regularly keep up with the habit you’ll find it’s easy to do. Follow these cleaning steps and you’ll create a healthy, happy home for your bunnies.
How to a Clean a Rabbit’s Cage
Bunny Safe Cleaning Supplies
You’ll find that many general household cleaning supplies and tools work perfectly to clean your rabbit’s cage and pen, but there are some that make the job a little easier.
Handheld or Floor Vacuum – to suck up poops, hay, and fur from rugs and carpets
A rabbit safe disinfecting cleaner (check out our DIY solution below).
Paper towels – for wiping.
Bottle brush – for cleaning water bottles.
Do not just grab any multi-purpose cleaner you have around the house. You want to avoid using any toxic chemicals in your rabbit’s cage. Since bunnies are known to be chewers, they will inevitably ingest any cleaner you use on their home and accessories. Buy a pet safe spray or make your own cheap and non-toxic rabbit cleaner.
DIY Rabbit Cleaning Spray
While you can easily buy a pet safe cleaning spray, you can make a cheap, effective, non-toxic cleaner yourself. Vinegar is like a miracle fluid–it’s non-toxic, deodorizes, breaks up urine, and disinfects. It’s cheap to buy at any grocery store and safe for both people and pets.
Optional: Baking Soda
Mix white vinegar with water in the spray bottle. A 50/50 mixture is recommended, but if the smell of vinegar bothers you, a try 25% vinegar.
If you’re working on tough stains or need extra deodorizing power, spread baking soda on the area, spray it with the mixture and let it sit for a few minutes. The baking soda will fizz and help break up the mess and neutralize the smell.
The DIY vinegar cleaner is safe to use on metal, plastic, wood, and cloth accessories and cage parts.
For non-wood cages and supplies, you can use a diluted bleach mixture to clean the items. Use a ratio of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water. Make sure to thoroughly rinse the item after disinfecting to remove any residue. Never use bleach and vinegar together. They will create a toxic mixture. Use one or the other, NOT BOTH.
Daily Rabbit Cage Cleaning
Each day you will want to tidy up your rabbit’s cage or pen. If your bun is properly litter trained, this will be especially easy. If your rabbits are neat and tidy, you may be able to do some of these chores every other day.
Spray and wipe up any urine accidents outside the litter box (must do daily).
Replace and clean any towels, blankets, or other cloth items that are soiled.
Sweep up stray poops, hay, pellets, and any veggies or fruit leftover from the previous day (2x daily).
Remove wet litter from the litter tray and replace.
Empty and refill pellet bowl.
Empty, rinse, and refill water bottle or crock (2x daily).
Weekly Rabbit Cage Deep Clean
Once a week you should give your rabbit’s cage and litter box a deep clean. Let your bunnies loose for playtime or put them in an exercise pen. These tasks will help your rabbit’s cage stay neat and tidy.
Replace and wash and fabric within the cage or pen (towels, blankets, etc).
Sweep up stray poops, food, and hay.
Empty the litter box and wipe down with cleaning spray. If needed, soak with vinegar to remove built-up urine.
Remove all cage accessories like crocks, water bottles, and toys. Food dishes and water bottles can be run through the dishwasher or soaked in vinegar and water. Toys and other accessories can be spot cleaned.
Replace destroyed toys.
Spray down the floor and levels of the cage and wipe down.
Optional: If you can disassemble your cage and take it outside, you may want to rinse it down with a hose or soak it in a bathtub.
The Importance of Daily Litter Box Cleaning
One of the least pleasant parts of rabbit parenting is dealing with litter boxes. The smells and the psychological ick factor of dealing with urine and feces turns off a lot of people. But regular cleaning is more than just an annoying chore. It’s actually a very important way to monitor the health of your pet.
Because rabbits are a prey animal, they hide illness and injury. Often the first sign of sickness is a change in eating habits or in urine and feces output. If you’re spot cleaning your rabbit’s cage and litter box every day, it will be easier to notice color changes in urine or any change in poop quality or quantity. If your bunny’s appetite or waste output changes, contact your vet immediately to rule out any serious health issues. (Learn more about health and sickness with rabbits.)
Ah, summer. It brings sunny days, clear skies, and in many parts of the world, hot and humid days. But people aren’t the only ones who suffer when temperatures skyrocket. Pets also feel the heat, in fact, they can be more susceptible to it because of their fur coats. If you’re looking for ways to keep your rabbit cool during hot weather, this article will give you plenty of tips to keep your rabbit comfortable, as well as a few rules to follow to prevent heat stroke.
How to Keep Your Bunny Cool in Summer
While rabbits aren’t as heat sensitive as other small pets like chinchillas, high temperatures can still be deadly. Some cultural and climate differences guide rabbit owners to keep their pets in hutches in their yard, but we highly recommend that bunnies in the United States and other locations where temperatures go over 75F should live in houses with air conditioning.
Rabbits control their body heat through their ears. They do not sweat like humans do, so they are susceptible to heat stroke whenever temperatures go above 77F (25C). During summer months, rabbits should be kept in an air-conditioned room to regulate temperatures. If you do not have air conditioning, using a fan and some of the keep cool tips below can help keep your rabbit from overheating.
Tips to Help Keep Your Rabbit Cool
These tips and tricks will help your bunny stay cool during summer weather.
Turn the AC on, keeping temps below 77F.
Use blackout curtains to block direct sunlight from their room and keep the temperature down. You may want to relocate their cage to a cooler part of the house, like a basement. (If your rabbit is outside, position their hutch in the shade or create shade with an awning.)
Fill 2-liter soda bottles with water and freeze them. Place them in your rabbit’s cage or playpen and they can lie next to them to lower their body temperature.
Provide marble, granite, or ceramic tiles for them to lie on. These will stay cooler than other surfaces. You can also put them in the fridge or freezer for extra cooling. You can easily buy squares at hardware stores or pick up a couple Chinchilla Chiller stones at the pet store.
Change your rabbit’s water frequently to keep it fresh and cool. This is especially important if they drink out of a crock or dish. You can add a few ice cubes to keep the water cold longer.
Rinse their veggies in cool water before you feel your rabbit. This will make the veggies cool and provide a little extra hydration.
Take their fruit treats, herbs, or veggies for the day and freeze them with water in an ice cube tray. Make sure not to over feed fruit treats.
Use a fan to keep air circulating in the room. Make sure it is not blowing directly on your bun. You can put a bowl of ice in front of the fan to create a cool breeze.
If you have a long-haired rabbit, consider giving them a trim in warmer months. Try hairstyles similar to what you see on poodles. Shorter hair will help them stay cool.
Mist your rabbit’s ears with cool water. This will help lower their body temperature.
If you follow these tips and maintain a cool environment for your rabbit, they will stay healthy and happy even during the hottest summer weather.
Rabbit Heat Stroke Symptoms
When temperatures sky rocket, you should monitor your bunny for any of the symptoms of heat exhaustion. It’s especially important to pay attention to older rabbits and overweight rabbits as they tend to be less active than young bunnies and it may be harder to see the signs.
The signs of heat exhaustion in rabbits are:
Shallow and fast breathing
Wetness around the nose
Low energy or listlessness
Tossing head back with rapid, open mouth breathing
If your rabbit is showing signs of heat exhaustion, this is an emergency situation. You must immediately take action to lower their temperature and call your rabbit savvy exotics vet for further instructions.
Emergency action steps:
Move your rabbit to a cooler location away from sunlight
Eating is an important part of your rabbit’s day. You’ll notice they’re constantly munching on hay or pellets to keep their digestive system running smoothly. One of the most important parts of your rabbit’s cage or pen is all the accessories need to give your bunny food. The main parts of a rabbit’s diet are hay, pellets, fresh vegetables, and water. To help keep your rabbit’s cage clean, their food fresh, and help you keep track of how much they’re eating, you’ll need dishes to contain all of these elements.
Rabbit Food Bowls & Dishes
These dishes are great for feeding your rabbit pellets, though you may also find them useful for serving veggies or even water.
Stainlesss Steel Rabbit Food Dish
Designed originally for birds, this stainless steel food cup is perfect for bunnies as well. They’re completely chew proof and easy to clean and sterilize–plus it’s dishwasher safe.
The best part, this dish comes with a holder that mounts to the side of your cage with two bracket mountain clamps and a wingnut. These dishes come in a pack of two, so use one for pellets and the other for water. This is great for those bunnies who keep knocking over their food dishes or throwing them out of their cage.
This food dish is perfect for rabbits who are free range. It’s a heavy ceramic dish that’s design with a sloping side making it “ergonomic” for your rabbit to each out of. It’s reasonably tricky to flip it over, but a determined rabbit will find ways to push it around.
Another plus is the curved lip keeps pellets inside the bowl, which is helpful for buns who make a mess of their food. I recommend the large size for most bunnies, but if you have a dwarf rabbit the small size will work better.
If you feel like you’re in a constant battle with your rabbit to keep them from tipping their food or water bowls over, this may be the solution you’re looking for. The STAYbowl is designed to stay put, meant for guinea pigs that are always tipping their food bowls over. Unsurprisingly, it works for rabbits too. It’s a short bowl, just under 2 inches high, with a wide base that keeps it flat on the ground.
This bowl is easy to clean and dishwasher safe. It is made from a BPA free food grade plastic, so if your rabbit is a chewer, this bowl may not work out for you.
If you’re looking for a cute set of bowls for your bunny, these are adorable. Custom made by Cat Tail Studio arts, these bowls are hand made and then custom painted to your preferences. They will even personalize them with your bunny’s name. They offer 18 different color choices and you can even mix and match.
These bowls are made by hand on a potter’s wheel from natural clay and kiln fired. Because of this, it does take a couple of weeks to receive the food dishes. They are food-safe, as well as dishwasher and microwave safe. These also make a great gift for any pet lover.
If your rabbit tends to scarf their pellets down quickly or you’re looking for more ways to entertain your rabbit, adding a fun feeder (or two) to your rabbits routine can help. These feeders require interaction from your rabbit to reveal the food or treats inside. You can use them to feed pellets, treats (like dried or fresh fruit) or a combination of both.
Rabbit Treat Ball
This is a classic and fun toy for rabbits and other small animals. It’s a hard plastic ball with a slot on the side where you can add pellets or small treats. Then you put the ball on the floor and as your pet bunny nudges it around, the treats or pellets will fall out. You can adjust the size of the opening to make it more difficult for the contents to spill out.
This will give your rabbit something fun to play with while they enjoy their food, which makes it a win-win and a great boredom buster.
If you’re looking for a food dispensing toy that has a variety of challenging configurations. This Living World food dispenser has three “levels” of difficulty, so you can ramp up the challenge as your rabbit figures each one out or just offer some variety in their routine. The toy is a flat base that sits on the floor. It has eight wells that you can fill with treats or pellets and a variety of “covers” to put over them. Your rabbit must use their teeth or nose to bump or move the covers to access the treats.
This toy will slow down any bunnies who eat their food too quickly and also provide some stimulation and entertainment for your pet rabbit.
Give your bunny a little challenge to get their treats or pellets with this “logic” board. This simply designed toy entertains your bunny by making them search out and uncover their treats.
It features seven treat wells perfectly sized for pellets, herbs, dried fruit, or even small pieces of fresh fruit. Each has a plastic cover with a little handle perfectly sized for your rabbit to grab with their teeth. Once your bunny learns how to use it, they’ll be excited every time you bring their snack board out.
This is a very simple–and affordable–hay rack, but I love it. I’ve used it for the cages of my rabbits and my chinhilla and it does the job just fine. It’s a single piece that hangs off of horizontal cage bars. Fill it with tastey hay and it’s good to go.
Since it is all plastic, I recommend hanging it on the outside of the cage to discourage chewing. Easy to clean and easy to use.
If your rabbit is a big chewer, then a metal hayrack might be a better alternative. Made by Quality Cage Crafters, this hayrack is made from galvanized steel sheet metal and designed to hang on the outside of your rabbit’s wire cage or pen. The attachment wires bend to form a secure attachment, so it works with a variety of cages with horizontal bars.
I love this hay holder because it’s perfect for free range rabbits or play time. This wheel is actually a ball, with solid plastic sides and a wire center where the hay goes. The wheel can either go directly on the floor to roll around like a ball or it comes with a stand to hold it in place while your rabbit spins it. The stand can also hook onto horizontal bars to hang it on the side of a cage or playpen.
Fill it up with your rabbit’s favorite hay. You can even hide some treats or pellets inside for extra fun.
It’s a true, but funny, fact that rabbits like to eat while they sit in their litter box. Well, this hay rack is designed to support just that. Handmade by Buns, Beds, and Beyond, they take kiln-dried pine and construct a bunny safe wooden hay rack. It also includes a “bed” which holds a large plastic litter pan.
The pan easily lifts out for cleaning and disinfecting. The top of the hay rack has a lid that hinges up for easy refilling. If you have a little pan you already love, they will build you a custom rack for those dimensions.
If your bun is free-range or lives in a pen, this is a fantastic hay rack that doesn’t require mounting to a cage wall. Appropriately named the “Hay Tower,” Etsy seller ScratchyThings makes this rabbit-safe rack from pine and birch wood. It helps to stimulate your rabbit by allowing them to eat low and high, getting a little extra exercise by standing on their hind legs. It’s also easy to refill from the top.
Perfectly sized for 1-2 rabbits, this is great for anywhere you rabbit hangs out. It keeps hay fresh and clean and off the ground.
It’s kind of funny when you realize this is one of the most hotly debated topics in rabbit ownership: is it better for a bunny drink from a water bottle or a bowl? While owners all have their personal preferences, there is one thing everyone agrees on: hydrated is best. If your rabbit is picky and prefers to drink one way or the other just go with their preference.
The general advice from vets and breeders is that drinking from a bowl is the most natural way. In the wild rabbits are drinking from streams and other small bodies of water, which is more accurately mimicked by a water bowl. There are several pros and cons for each option. A bowl or crock is the most natural way, but it requires cleaning and replacing at least once a day and maybe even more often if your rabbit tips it over or kicks debris into it. A water bottle is easier to keep clean, though the water should also be changed every day. The bottle also requires the rabbit to do more work to get the same amount of water. It’s recommended to have multiple water bottles available, especially if you have more than one rabbit.
Some bunnies will absolutely refuse to use one or the other. They may also change their preferences suddenly. Many owners have found a nice middle ground in offering their rabbit both options so they know there’s always water available. That also works for rabbit pairs who have different preferences.
Our general advice is: water bowls or crocks are best for bunnies at home. A water bottle can be offered as a back up. Water bottles are best for travel.
If you want to offer your rabbit water in a bowl or a crock, any of the dishes recommended in our food bowl recommendations will work. If you want a water bottle, here are our recommendations:
Oasis 31 oz. Rabbit Water Bottle
Perfectly sized for a bunny or two, the Oasis water bottle is made of plastic with a stainless steel drinking tube. The clear plastic makes it easy to monitor your rabbit’s water level. It even comes with a wire holder to hang it on your rabbit’s cage or pen.
Some downsides with this model: owners report having issues with leaking. In my experience, I find if you don’t screw the top on properly to a full bottle of water it will leak. A small amount of leaking is expected with any water bottle, but if the bottle is completely draining, then there is a problem. Another downside, the holder that comes with it does not allow you to hang it on the outside of the cage. If your rabbit is a chewer this could be a problem. Consider a glass bottle, like the Lixit below.
Lixit makes some of my favorite water bottles for small pets. I’ve used them for rabbits, chinchillas, guinea pigs, and even birds. It’s a bit on the small size for rabbits at 16 oz., I would recommend getting at least two for their cage or pen. The bottle is fully glass and it’s strong. I can’t count the number of times I’ve accidentally dropped it without even causing a crack. The stainless steel nozel is perfectly sized for bunnies.
It also comes with a spring to easily hang the bottle from a cage or pen wall. You can hang it inside or outside the cage, whichever you prefer. All parts can be sterilized for easy cleaning.
What is ‘Scatter Feeding’ and should I use it for my rabbit?
Scatter feeding is a type of feeding meant to simulate a more natural eating environment. In the wild, rabbits are munching on various plants, veggies, and fruits as they encounter them. To scatter feed you can lay out hay on the floor or in a hay box and then sprinkle the daily amount of pellets over the top of the hay. The pellets will fall through and your bunny will have to forage and nose around in the hay to find the pellets. This helps entertain them, stimulate their curiosity, and slow down their eating. Another technique to consider if scatter feeding won’t work for your rabbits is the fun feeders recommended in that section of this page.
The technique of scatter feeding for rabbits works well for bunnies who tend to suck down their pellets as soon as you put them out. It’s also good for bunny pairs where one rabbit is a bit of a pig and tries to eat the other rabbit’s pellets in addition to their own. It will slow down their eating and make it harder for them to hog all of the food.
One of the downsides of scatter feeding is it makes it harder to keep track of how much your rabbit is eating. Make sure to diligently pay attention to their poops and urination to look for signs of sickness, low appetite, or gastronomical upset.
What should I feed my rabbit?
A rabbits diet is made up of four main parts: water, hay, pellets, and fresh vegetables. They are also allowed to have a small amount of treats (usually fresh fruit).
Water and hay should be available 24 hours a day because your pet bunny is constantly eating. Pellets and vegetables should be given in limited amounts once or twice a day. Learn about the proper rabbit diet, including food recommendations.
You don’t want anything to happen to your little cuddle bunny, but it’s inevitable that there may be some sort of small–or even big–emergency, injury, or illness in your rabbit’s future. When you add a bunny (or two) to your family, you want to be prepared the same as you would be for any other family member. In addition to buying the right foods and proper housing, you should have a rabbit first aid kit on hand to deal with the most common situations that come up.
Many owners think this is something they don’t have to worry about, especially with young rabbits, but I can tell you from my own personal experience that when something goes wrong, you will be so glad you were prepared in advance. Also–again my personal experience–it’s very likely that something will happen at night or on the weekends when you can’t reach your regular vet for advice or run out to the store to get essential supplies. Having these recommended items on hand in your rabbit first aid kit can help save you a costly emergency trip to the vet or even save your rabbit’s life. A rabbit first aid kit is essential for every bunny owner.
All right, now that we’ve established how important this is, let’s go through all the things you’ll need in your kit.
DIY Emergency Rabbit First Aid Kit
This is a list of items we recommend you have on hand in your rabbit first aid kit. Some are common items that you may already have around the house or in your regular first aid kit. Many of these items can be purchased at a pharmacy or from your vet. We included links to many of the harder to find items on Amazon. Because many of the items will have expiration dates–especially foods and medicines–make sure you are replacing the items as they expire.
We highly recommend getting some sort of container to keep these items in so they’re easy to find or grab in the case of an emergency evacuation. I would recommend something sturdy and waterproof, you could even take a traditional plastic first aid kit box and fill it with all your rabbit’s essentials.
First Aid Kit Checklist
Veterinary Contact Info – If you have a business card for your rabbit vet, include that or write it on a piece of paper. If there is an emergency exotics vet or other emergency resource (like a shelter) in your area, include that contact info as well.
Vetrap Bandaging Tape (Buy on Amazon) – This is a self-sticking bandage tape often used by vets to secure bandages on animals.
Styptic Powder (Check Price at Petco | Buy on Amazon) – If you accidentally clip your rabbit’s nails too close, they will bleed (same if they get their nail caught and rip it off). Dip the nail in styptic powder to stop the bleeding. In pinch, you can use cornflower. Do not use for other wounds, just nails.
Oral Syringes (Buy on Amazon) – If your rabbit stops eating or drinking, you’ll need these to administer food and water to help prevent GI Stasis. Get 1 cc size for medication and 35 cc size for feeding.
Oxbow Critical Care (Buy on Amazon) – This supplement is useful to syringe feed your rabbit if they stop eating. The flavor is tasty and it will get them the nutrients you need. Just mix with water.
Baby Food – Another trick for feeding a stubburn bunny who has stopped eating is to water down some baby food and feed it through a syringe. Make sure to buy organic baby food with no additives or other ingredients. Pumpkin and squash are highly recommended. In a pinch, you can use watered down canned pumpkin with no additives or seasonings.
A&D Ointment (Buy on Amazon) – Sold in stores as a diaper rash ointment, A&D is often recommended by vets to treat hock sores on rabbits. If you have Bag Balm on hand, this can also be used.
Infant Gas Medication (Buy on Amazon) – GI Stasis can be caused by gas build up in the stomach that prevents your rabbit from eating. You can give your rabbit 1 cc of infant gas medicine (simethicone) every hour for three hours to try and relieve the build up. Make sure to follow up with a vet if you rabbit doesn’t start eating normally again.
Papaya Tablets (Buy on Amazon) – If your rabbit is prone to hairballs, giving a papaya tablet weekly can help keep their system moving.
Rectal Thermometer (Buy on Amazon) – Because a rabbit’s body temperature can be elevated by stress (like a carride to the vet), it’s good to be able to take the temperature at home to have an accurate number. This will need to be done rectaly, and we recommend using a digital thermometer. Learn how to take a rabbit’s temperature with this easy to follow video. This is a skill you will want to practice before an emergency, both so you are comfortable with it and so your rabbit is used to the procedure.
Vaseline – To lubricate the thermometer. You MUST lubricate it well before taking your rabbit’s temperature. Vaseline or 100% petroleum jelly is recomended over other lubricants.
Heating Pad (Buy on Amazon) – Can use an electric heatng pad or a microwaveable one.
Cooling Pad – To cool an overheating rabbit. You can use a pet cooling pad, piece of tile, or an ice pack wrapped in blankets or a towel.
Towel – It’s important to have a large bath towel on hand that you can wrap your rabbit in if you need to restrain them.
If you don’t already have a rabbit carrier, buy one ASAP so you can easily take your rabbit to the vet in an emergency.
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When Should my Bunny Go to the Vet?
Just like cats and dogs, rabbits should have annual visits to the vet for check-ups. Since they are a prey animal, they easily hide any sickness or injury and an annual visit is a good way to catch health problems you may not notice. Having a relationship with a vet is also good because if you have an emergency situation you already know who to call or go see to take care of your bunny.
If you cannot afford to take your rabbit to the vet regularly, you should not have a pet rabbit. This is an essential part of rabbit care and ownership.
If you have a young rabbit who has not been spayed or neutered, you will want to have them fixed as soon as they are the appropriate age. This will greatly help with things like litter training and behavioral problems. It’s also essential for female rabbits who can develop cancer if they are not spayed. Include the cost of spaying or neutering your bunny in your considerations to add a rabbit to your home. In many places, this will cost around $150-$200.
How do I find a rabbit savvy vet?
Because rabbits are an exotic pet very different from cats and dogs, you can’t just take them to a regular vet. Instead, you’ll need to look for an exotic veterinarian with special training in rabbits. If there are any rabbit shelters or rescues in your area, you can contact them for a recommendation of a rabbit savvy vet. If not, the House Rabbit Society has a listing of vets for the United States and some other countries like Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the UK.
What emergency situations require a vet visit?
Outside of your annual wellness exams, you should take your pet rabbit to the vet ASAP if they have any of the following symptoms:
If your rabbit goes 24 hours without eating or pooping–this can be fatal and needs immediate treatment!
If your rabbit is wounded
Your rabbit’s behavior changes in a way that makes you suspect illness or an injury (eg. sudden change in mobility, change in appetite, lethargy)
Teeth protruding out of your rabbit’s mouth (malocclusion of the teeth)
One of the challenges with new pets is learning to deal with their bathroom habits. Luckily, with rabbits, they are very similar to cats. You can litter train your rabbit and keep their messes confined to an easy to clean litter box. It will take a little work, especially with a young rabbit, but it will be worth it once your rabbit is trained. Just like everything else you buy for your rabbit, you want to make sure you’re using a safe rabbit litter for your pet’s health and safety.
If you’re new to rabbit ownership or already have a messy bun that needs some help, this article covers everything you need to know about rabbit litter and litter training.
The Best Rabbit Litter Options
Like everything that goes in your rabbit’s cage, you want to make sure your litter is safe for your pet bunny. There are certain materials that are toxic or dangerous to rabbits. Rabbits spend a lot of time around their litter, often laying on it or even nibbling on it. To ensure your rabbit stays safe and healthy, you should only use litter options that are safe for bunnies.
In addition to safety and health considerations, rabbit urine also has a very strong odor. Because of the offensive aroma, there are certain litter types that work better to absorb and mask the smell of your bunny’s litter box.
To help you shop for rabbit supplies and a safe litter for your rabbit, here’s all the do’s and don’ts of rabbit litter.
Safe Rabbit Litter
Paper Based Litter (like Carefresh and Yesterday’s News)
Compressed Sawdust Pellets (these a prossessed in a way that that removes the toxic phenolic compounds so they are safe for your rabbit no matter the type. They’re often very affordable.)
Aspen Pellets or Shavings (a hard wood that is safe for rabbits)
Grass Based Pellets
Shredded Paper (needs frequent changing)
Never Use These for Rabbit Litter
Soft Wood Shavings like Pine & Cedar (learn more at Rabbit.org about liver diseases caused by wood shavings)
Clumping or Clay Litters for Cats (toxic)
Corn Cob Litter (can cause intenstinal problems if ingested)
Recommended Bunny Litter Brands
Here are some of the best brands of rabbit litter available. We’ve tried every one of these at one time or another with our pet rabbits and they’re all great options. Each litter has its own pros and con and the type you buy will be based on your own preferences for cost, odor absorption, and availability.
You will notice we do not recommend aspen shavings, even though they are safe for rabbits. While Aspen shavings are very cheap we find that when you use shredded newspaper, hay, or straw for your rabbit’s litter that while they are absorbent, they do absolutely nothing for odor. Instead. you have to change the litter frequently and deal with more unpleasant smells. A lot of bunny owners also complain that shavings and shredded paper stick to their rabbit’s fur and get tracked all over the house, which means, even more messes to clean. Our recommendations are better at absorbing odors than these cheaper options.
Kaytee Wood Pellets Rabbit Litter
My top recommended litter for rabbits is some form of wood pellets. We’ve used many different brands throughout the years (generally depends on what was on sale when it was time to buy more) and they’re all generally the same. If you live somewhere with access to a feed store you can often buy large quantities of wood stove pellets at a super cheap price and may be able to find them at home improvement stores in the winter. Wood pellets are dust free and very absorbent. When your rabbit urinates, the pellets break down as it absorbs the urine, leaving no liquid behind. It’s easy to sweep up or dump out into a trash bag.
In addition to absorbing urine, wood pellets also do a great job of counteracting the odor of your bunny’s urine. As long as you are changing out the litter every few days, you should experience very few unpleasant smells. The Kaytee brand is easy to find at most pet stores or to order online.
If you live in an urban area where you don’t have any options to buy wood stove pellets, you can get the same experience at an affordable price with Feline Pine. This wood pellet litter is sold in the cat section and made with 100% natural pine. It’s also perfectly safe if you’re shopping for a new rabbit litter. Just like other wood pellet litters, it has no dust and fully absorbs urine, eliminating odors. It is then easy to sweep up or dump out.
Since cats are so common, you’ll find this litter at pet stores, grocery stories, and places like Target or Wal Mart. You can also order it online. Feline Pine is also more often available in larger quantities than other litters marketed to small pet owners. You may be able to get wood stove pellets for cheaper elsewhere, but this is a great option for urban rabbit owners.
Available Sizes: 7 lbs., 14 lbs., 20 lbs., 40 lbs.
Carefresh is a brand well known and loved by many exotic pet owners. It’s no surprise that their bedding is one of the most often recommended bunny litters. One of the big downsides with Carefresh is the price, they are usually one of the more expensive litter options. For some rabbit owners, that’s fine, but if you have multiple rabbits that extra cost can add up. Their soft bedding is made from reclaimed pulp, producing a dust free rabbit litter that is perfect for a litter box or an entire cage floor. They advertise it as 99% dust free and 3x more absorbent than wood shavings.
From my experience, Carefresh is great at absorbing urine and reducing odors compared to other rabbit litters. I would say it’s about on par with wood pellets and Yesterday’s News (reviewed below). Carefresh is generally only available at pet stores or online, though there are many knock-off or generic versions you may be able to find elsewhere. Make sure you read the packaging to look out for any dyes, perfumes, or other ingredients that are harmful to your pet rabbit. It’s also a great option for households that have multiple types of small pets as this is one of the few litter and bedding options that are safe for multiple types of exotic pets. It’s a great litter for chinchillas, guinea pigs, rats, hamsters, and many other small pets.
Note:Whenever buying Carefresh, always buy the “Naturals” version (brown). All other versions are either bleached, contain dyes, or perfumes that can be toxic to your rabbit.
Another soft paper bedding option is offered by Oxbow. It’s sometimes harder to find in pet stores, but it is becoming more common. The pricing is usually similar to Carefresh. Made from paper pulp, this is a soft bunny litter that absorbs urine and controls odor easily. The pieces are like tiny soft pieces of cardboard, making it gentle on bunny feet. It’s 99% dust free, making it an easy litter to clean up and it won’t cause respiratory issues for your pet.
Oxbow offers a “Natural” and a “Blend” option. Always buy the “Natural” one. This litter works great for other small exotic pets as well.
Here’s another bunny litter that we need to go to the cat section to find. If you consider yourself green, then you’ll love this litter even more. Yesterday’s News is quite literal in their name–the pellets are made from recycled paper and they’re compostable. The result is a dark gray paper pellet similar in size to many rabbit food pellets. It is not as soft as Carefresh, but a more affordable paper-based option. This litter is 99.7% dust free and super easy to clean up. It’s great at absorbing odors and easy to sweep up or toss out in the trash.
Since Yesterday’s News is marketed at cat owners, you can often find it at grocery stores and places like Target in addition to pet stores and online. It’s usually cheaper than Carefresh or Oxbow, and depending on where you live may be about the same price as wood pellet litter. Cat owners and rabbit owners are similarly smitten with this brand, so it’s a great option if you have both kitties and bunnies.
Note: When you are shopping, always make sure to buy the “Unscented” variety. They also sell a “Fresh Scent Version” that has perfumes in it which you should avoid for rabbit use.
A litter box is an important part of your rabbit’s cage. The type you get will depend on the age and size of your rabbit, the number of rabbits you have in a cage, and your rabbit’s personal preference. If you’re a new rabbit owner with a young rabbit that needs litter training, we will cover that in the next section. For now, we’ll just cover the different types of litter pans and recommendations for you to buy.
Note: You should avoid any litter pans with a grate that your rabbit sits on instead of sitting directly on the litter. Grates and wire cage bottoms are terrible for rabbit’s sensitive feet and can cause hock sores. As long as you are using one of the safe litters we reviewed above and clean the litter box out frequently, there is no reason your rabbit can’t sit or lie directly in their litter box. In fact, you may discover your rabbit spends a lot of time hanging out in there.
Standard Rabbit Litter Pan
A wander through the cat section of the pet store will give you plenty of options for an affordable, basic litter pan for your pet bunny. If you have multiple rabbits that live together, I highly recommend getting a pan that both of them can fit in at the same time. Our pair loved to sit in their together and munch hay. (An alternative is to have as many smaller litter pans as you have rabbits, but there may be disputes over who gets to use their “favorite” ones.)
A plain, plastic litter pan works great. You don’t need any bells and whistles. Just enough space for your rabbit to get in and do their business.
Rabbits instintively go to corners to urinate. While this is usually fine for most litter boxes, some rabbits have a bad habbit of backing their bum up too far when they go. This can result in them peeing outside their box–or even outside of their cage! If your rabbit is giving you headaches with all the messes you have to clean up, then a corner litter pan with a high back will be essential.
Kaytee makes a couple versions of this design, which is a compact litter pan that fits perfectly in the corner of any cage or enclosure. This particular model is the tallest they offer. I recommend this one because it really keeps messes inside the litter box, plus it comes with a “quick lock,” which is perfect if you have a rabbit who likes to do occasional “redecorating.” Our rabbit, Barney, had a terrible habit of dumping his litter box out or pushing it out of his cage when he got bored. The quick lock (plus some new tossing toys) helped stop that behavior.
These litter boxes are only big enough for one adult rabbit at a time, so you should order one for each rabbit in your cage.
Many rabbits like to eat hay while they hang out in their litter box. To help encourage this behavior you can either “hack it” by putting hay in their litter box or hanging a hay rack over it. Or you can buy one of these awesome combo hay feeder and litter box.
Handmade by Etsy seller Bunny Rabbit Toys, this pine wood feeder features an easy to clean plastic litter pan encased in rabbit safe wood. This is a great option for free-range rabbits that don’t have cage wires to hang a hay rack on. It also looks a little nicer sitting in the corner of your living room than a normal litter box. The only downside is the price.
If you have an elderly or disabled rabbit, they may have difficulty jumping in and out of a normally litter box. Luckily there are some litter pan options on the market known as “easy entry” boxes. They have a side that is lower than the others so they can easily step into the litter box instead of jumping in. The rest of the sides are high enough to keep litter and messes inside.
If your pet store doesn’t carry any of these easy entry boxes, a trip to the home improvement store or a garden shop may give you what you need. The litter box pictured to the left is actually sold as a portable potting tray. The design is absolutely perfect for an easy entry rabbit litter box. Most elderly or disabled rabbits will be able to use this litter pan easily. You can fill this with any rabbit litter or bedding of your choice and the front lip will keep the litter and poop inside.
If your rabbit is a free-range bunny or a particularly messy digger, you may find a covered litter box to work better for you. These are great for living rooms and other public areas of the house as they keep messes and odors contained and look a little nicer for guests. They also keep frisky rabbits from kicking their litter out of the box when they are in the mood to dig.
There are many different styles of covered litter boxes available, especially if you check out the cat section of the pet store. The majority are plastic and have a removable lid so you can easily clean out the inside of the litter pan. If you’re willing to spend a little more, they even make litter boxes that look like furniture so that your guests will have no idea what’s inside.
Rabbits are fairly easy to litter train and once they’re trained, they will not stray from their habits. Older rabbits are easier to train than young rabbits, but young rabbits usually just take a little extra time. If your rabbit is spayed or neutered it will make the process much easier. An un-altered rabbit will be less likely to use their litter box because their hormones make them want to “mark their territory.” Because of the health and behavioral benefits that come with spaying and neutering, we recommend getting your pet bunny fixed as soon as they are old enough. In the long run, it will definitely save you many litter training headaches.
Before you start the process of litter training your bunny, you need to understand a few things about their behavior. First, is understanding how your rabbit usings droppings or “pills.” You will notice that your rabbit leaves little pills around their cage or play area. This is a territorial behavior that they use to mark their “home.” You will not be able to completely break them of this habit as it is ingrained in them by nature. However, a properly trained rabbit will leave the majority of their pills and only urinate in their litter box.
To make sure your rabbit only drops territorial pills in their cage, make sure to respect it as their home. That means you need to stay out of their cage as much as possible (keep food dishes near the doorway so you do not need to reach in very far to refill, do not clean the cage when your rabbit is inside, etc.). You should also avoid grabbing your rabbit and taking them out of the cage or forcibly putting them inside. Instead, they should be able to freely come and go from their cage. When it’s play time, open the door and let them come out as they like. When play time is over, you can put them near the door, but let them hop in themselves. When your rabbit feels that their cage is clearly marked as “theirs” they will keep all pills inside.
With that in mind, here are the steps to litter train a rabbit:
Limit your rabbit to a reasonably sized area that includes their cage and a bunny-proofed play area. If you give them too much room it will make litter training more difficult. Once they’re training you can increase the size to a whole room or even let them free roam your house. An exercise pen is a great option to create this safe space.
Place one litter box in the cage and a couple boxes in the play area. Rabbits like to urinate in corners, so try to place boxes there. If your rabbit seems to prefer a different corner, move their box. Play hay in the box or hang a hay rack over it to make it more enticing.
Start just observing the rabbit in their cage. Once they start using that litter box, you can let them into the play area. When you first see your rabbit use the box, immediately praise them and give them a treat.
You must be actively watching your rabbit when you let them out to play. If you see them try to urinate in a place other than their litter pan, immediately yell a loud “no.” Try to guide your rabbit back to their litter box. Do not chase them or scare them too much so they don’t view their litter box as a punishment.
If your rabbit goes outside their box and you don’t see it happen, sweep up the pills or mop up the urine with a paper towel. Place these in the litter box so they understand that’s what the box is for.
Once the rabbit has mastered using the litter boxes in the play space, you can expand to a whole room. Make sure there are conveniently located litter boxes, especially when you expand to other rooms or floors of your house. Take this step very slowly. Do not suddenly open up your whole house to your rabbit. Add one room at a time once each previous one is mastered.
Once your rabbit is a litter-trained pro, you can reduce the number of litter boxes in some areas. Try to keep the same routine, your rabbit is habitual and dislikes change.
If your rabbit refuses to stop urinating in a certain spot, put a litter box there. This is a fight you may not win since rabbits can be so stubborn.
Common Litter Training Mistakes to Avoid
Do not let your bunny play outside their cage without supervision. If you don’t “catch” your bunny in the act of urinating so you can correct them, it will take longer to train them.
Don’t give your rabbit free run of your house before training is complete. It will be more difficult for them to learn to use their litter boxes and they may build some bad urination habits that will be hard to over come.
Don’t rush your pet rabbit. Litter training takes time and as long as you are willing to put in the time you will end up with a well-behaved bun that will bring you endless joy.
Do not invade your rabbit’s cage. Respect it as their space. Like we said above, your rabbit can become territorial and leave droppings outside the cage to try and mark their space
Every rabbit needs a home within your home. This is a place where they will sleep, eat, and even play. For some rabbits, this may be a cage, others may call and exercise pen home, or very lucky bunnies may have an entire room to stretch out in. No matter what kind of space you have or what budget you can spend on a rabbit cage, your pet bunny will require a minimum amount of space and daily exercise to be healthy and happy. This article covers all the options available (including rabbit cages and exercise pens) so you can decide which one will work best for your home and your pet.
Rabbits should be kept indoors where the air temperature can be controlled and they are safe from predators and the stress of outdoors. All of our cage and housing recommendations on this page are for indoor house rabbits.
Rabbit Cage Requirements
The first thing to take into consideration is the cage’s size, which we will cover in its own section below. Then you want to consider what the cage is made of. Generally, you want to avoid any cages with a wire floor. Many cages marketed for rabbits come with these wire floors and a pan underneath as a way to make them easier to clean. These wire floors are actually bad for your rabbit as they can damage their feet and cause sores. If you do have a cage with a wire floor you should provide them flat and sturdy surfaces to rest on like a tile, piece of wood, or cardboard.
The cage should have a door that your rabbit can easily come and go from inside the cage during exercise time.
You’ll also want to make sure the cage has good ventilation so your rabbit does not overheat during warmer months.
Rabbit Cage Measurements
Size is one of the most important requirements for a rabbit’s cage. You should give your bunny (or bunnies) as much space as possible for their home. Many experts recommend a living space at least 4 to 6 times the size of your rabbit. I know many people do not have enough room in their house to dedicate that much space to a cage or pen for their rabbit. Instead, you can have a smaller cage and make sure your rabbit has access to a larger space (like an exercise pen or a bunny proofed room) for several hours of exercise and play time each day.
If you’re looking for specific measurements, most rabbit experts recommend at least 8 square feet of cage or enclosure space in combination with 24 square feet of exercise space. That size will work well for a single rabbit or a bunny pair. Your rabbit will require about 3-5 hours of exercise time each day.
The height of your cage should be tall enough for your rabbit to stand on their hind legs without its ears touching the roof. Usually, a height of at least 2 feet should be good for most breeds. If the cage has multiple levels, they should at least have some space where they can fully stand uninhibited.
Most of the rabbit cages you see in pet stores–especially starter cages–are not appropriate for housing rabbits long term (though they may be OK for travel or temporary housing). We have recommendations for appropriately sized rabbit cages in the next section.
Can my rabbit live loose in my home like a cat or dog?
If you are new to rabbit ownership or have a new bunny in your home, I do not recommend this. Before you can even consider letting your rabbit run loose 24/7, your entire house will need to be bunny-proofed. You will also need to make sure your rabbit is litter trained and comfortable enough with the house to not get in trouble when you’re not around.
Once you get to know your rabbit and understand their behavior, you may eventually decide to let your bun live “free range” in your home. Even at that point, they will still need a “home base” where they sleep, eat, and can go hide if they’re feeling stressed or in danger. A cage with a door that is always open works well for this.
Recommended Rabbit Cages
It is very tricky to find rabbit cages that meet the minimum requirements for a rabbit’s needs, especially for larger rabbit breeds. These rabbit cages work well for small rabbits and can work for larger rabbits in conjunction with proper exercise time or an exercise pen extension to the main cage.
SONGMICS X-Pen Rabbit Cage Kit
Finding a good rabbit cage is so hard that it’s not surprising our top choice isn’t quite a cage. If you’ve heard about DIY x-pen cages for rabbits, SONGMICS sells an entire kit with everything you need to make your own (including a rubber mallet!). Thanks to the included instructions, you just have to follow along to build your own x-pen bunny cage.
In addition to the wire panels, the kit has plastic connectors to hold them together, along with zip ties for extra safety. There’s also non-slip pads you can put on the “foot” connections to prevent the cage from slipping around on hard surfaces. Because it’s customizable, you can change up the layout or even make the cage larger by buying additional panels. You will need to provide some sort of solid surface for the second level floors as the wires are bad for bunny feet.
As long as you buy the extra large size, this rabbit cage from Living World will work well for many rabbits. They call it a “hybrid cage” because it’s made from a solid, plastic base (with a solid floor to protect your rabbit’s precious footsies) and wire walls and roof for good air ventilation. To access your pet bunny, the cage features a sliding side door they can hop in and out of and the roof opens up to easily reach in for cleaning or picking up your rabbit. Some reviewers have said their rabbits figured out how to open the side door, so this cage may not work for you if your bun is a troublemaker.
The cage will ship flat and require assembly, though no tools are required. Some owners have even connected two of these cages together to create double the living space for a pair of bonded rabbits. This cage comes with some accessories that you may want to replace, including a “balcony” which is a shelf with ramp creating a second floor and a “tip proof” food dish, plus a plastic water bottle and a hay rack.
Yes, I know. This is a dog crate. But sometimes exotic pet owners have to think outside the box to find appropriate and affordable cages for their rabbits. The nice thing about these dog crates is they are more affordable than many cages and are collapsable which is great if you travel with your rabbit. To meet your bunny’s needs, this crate has plenty of room to stretch out. The metal construction walls will keep your rabbit safely contained. The floor features a removable plastic pan, which makes cleaning easy and protects your rabbit’s feet from sores.
This crate also comes with a removable divider panel, though you probably won’t need it. The 48″ model (which is the one you should buy for your rabbit) comes either with a single door or a double-door option. I would recommend the double door for the ease of cleaning and accessing your rabbit.
This rabbit cage from Ferplast is a great option for a single bunny. It comes with the normal rabbit cage, plus a detachable wooden hutch to give your bunny a safe places to sleep. The plastic base features a smooth floor with tall guards to keep messes inside the cage. The wire walls and roof allow for plenty of ventilation, and the one side opens up entirely to make it easy to get inside to clean.
This cage comes with some accessories that you may not want to use, including a plastic hay feeder, a water bottle, and a food bowl with a plastic shelf. We only recommend using this cage with the attached hutch because otherwise, the cage is too small. If you don’t like the idea of a wooden hutch (they often hold odors and are difficult to clean), Ferplast makes a version with a connecting wire section instead. You could also buy two of these cages and hook them together (without the hutch) to create double the living space.
You may find building a home for your rabbit is easier and less expensive than buying a rabbit cage. This allows you to create a custom home of any size for any number of rabbits. Many rabbit owners have used “nic cubes”–Neat Idea Cubes or wire storage cubes–to build elaborate cages for their buns. These cubes are easily purchased online or in stores like Wal-Mart or Target. While they’re meant to build customizable shelving units for closets or basements, they’re absolutely perfect for build a rabbit condo.
It does require a little bit of creativity, but the only materials you need are the NIC cubes, zip ties or cable ties to secure each panel and material for flooring and shelves (or buy this kit).
For flooring, a piece of linoleum or a tarp will work well for messy rabbits who don’t have great litter habits. Corrugated plastic (like those used for outdoor signs) can work well if you find a large enough sheet that you can cut to size (try contacting local custom sign stores to see what sizes they have).
If you want a second (or even third) floor in your bunny condo, you will need to build shelves. The shelves will have NIC cubes as their base, reinforced with wood planks or wooden dowels underneath them. Since rabbits should not be on wire floors, you will need to cover the panels with wood, linoleum, tiles, or other solid materials. If your rabbit isn’t a carpet chewer, carpet or other thick fabrics may be a good option. If you have high shelves, you may want to provide a ramp or ladder for young or elderly rabbits to hop up.
For an excellent guide with step-by-step instructions to build a custom rabbit condo or cage, check out this article by the Brey Family. It includes step-by-step photos on how they built the condo pictured below:
Don’t forget, once you’ve built your bunny condo, you’ll need lots of rabbit cage accessories to keep your bunny happy.
Exercise Pens Instead of Cages
An exercise pen is a great option to house your rabbit, either as an extension to your bunny’s cage (creating a yard) or to work as a cage itself. Exercise pens are great to fence off a corner of a room or create a freestanding pen for your rabbit to live in. You may need to add a tarp, rug, or another type of “flooring” to protect carpet or hardwood floors from your messy bun. Otherwise, you can just set up the pen and add all the cage accessories they need.
There are exercise pens on the market specifically for small pets, but often pens meant for dogs work well, are easier to find, and a little larger in size. Usually, a pen at least 24″ or 2 feet in high is best, though you may want to purchase a taller one if you plan on adding houses your rabbit can jump on. The same with cages, we recommend getting the largest exercise pen you can accommodate in your home. More space is always better for your bunny.
Here are a few different exercise pens that work well for rabbit cages. They can either be used in conjunction with a wall or corner to create extra space or set up as a freestanding pen to keep a nibbling rabbit away from walls.
MidWest Rabbit Exercise Pen
This x-pen from Midwest Homes for Pets is marketed for dogs, but it works perfectly as a rabbit enclosure and cage alternative. Available in a variety of heights, each pen provides 16 square feet of enclosure area for your rabbit to play or live. Set up is easy and requires no tools. It also comes with ground anchors if you plan to use it outside in your yard.
Available in black or gold zinc, make sure you buy the version with door built in so you and your rabbit can easily come and go from this exercise pen. (Note: if you have a smaller breed rabbit they may have difficulty hopping up and out of this pen. Instead, you can opt for the doorless version and just create a “doorway” out of one of the panels.)
Dimensions: 8 Panels. Each panel is 24″ wide and your choice of height: 24″, 30″, 42″, 48″
This sturdy metal pen from OxGord is another great option for housing your bunny. Made from 8 metal panels, this pen is easily assembled in any combination or set-up. One of the panel includes a doorway with two locking closures to keep your bunny safely inside. This model only comes in one height (24″) but that should be good for most rabbits. If you ever want to expand your enclosure, it’s easy to add additional panels.
The metal is coated with a rust-resistant material, which is great if you use this exercise pen outdoors or if your bunny is messy with their litter box habits. This pen also easily breaks down, so it’s great for people who travel and want to bring a larger enclosure for their rabbits.
A cardboard pet house can be used to create levels for your rabbit inside of the pen and provide cozy spaces for them to sleep.
You can either build one yourself from cardboard boxes or there are many available marketed towards cats that work great for rabbits. This cat castle (pictured left) from Napping JoJo is an excellent option that adds multiple levels to an exercise pen.
There are many joys to having a pet rabbit. There are some annoyances also. Rabbits are always chewing–it’s part of their nature since their teeth are constantly growing in need to wear down. As a result, mischievous rabbits will chew on furniture, baseboards, book spines, electrical wires, and anything else they can get their little paws on. As a rabbit owner, you can counteract this by rabbit proofing your home or the rooms your bunny plays in to protect them from damage and keep your bun safe. This article will cover everything you need to know to rabbit-proof your home.
Rabbit Proofing Your Home
If your rabbit is ever left unsupervised in a space it must be rabbit proofed for their safety. When you are assessing a room for problem spots that need to be bunny proofed, get down on the floor and see the world through your rabbit’s eyes. Look for anything they can chew on, especially things made out of wood or paper. Looking for wires or electrical cables in easy reach of your rabbit’s teeth. Now search for any areas where you rabbit may squeeze into like furniture they can crawl under or behind. Try rearranged furniture or moving items to eliminate as many of this problem areas as possible. For the rest, you may need to do some additional bunny proofing as outlined in the next sections.
Limit Their Access
The first (and maybe easiest) thing you can do is limit your rabbit’s access to your home. This can be done by restricting their access to specific rooms that are not easy to rabbit proof or by limiting the space they exercise and play in. How you do this will depend on your specific home and how much space you want to allow your bun to access.
If your rabbit is still a new pet that you’re getting used to or if you’re traveling with your bun, the easiest way to give them a bunny-proofed space is with an exercise pen. These can be set up anywhere in a house, apartment, or hotel room and instantly limit access to furniture, electrical cords, and other things your rabbit shouldn’t chew on. Many pens sold for dogs work well for rabbits. You should look for a wire pen at least 2 feet tall to keep your rabbit safely contained during play time. (Check out our recommendations for bunny exercise pens.)
An exercise pen will protect your bunny from any dangers and allow you to maintain a semblance of normalcy in the rest of your home without worrying about making every nook and cranny rabbit safe.
If you want to limit your rabbit to certain rooms or keep them out of certain areas of the house, you may find a baby gate works well as a bunny gate. A plastic or metal gate works best, and you should make sure the bars aren’t wide enough that your rabbit can squeeze through them, especially if they’re young or a smaller breed. Try to avoid wood or fabric gates as your rabbit may chew through them and escape. Baby gates are great for doorways, the top or bottom of stairs, and hallways. They’re also an excellent option if you’re able to rabbit-proof an entire room for your rabbit to frolic and play in. The gate will keep your bunny in their safe space and protect the rest of your house, too.
Protect Floors, Carpets, and Rugs
Rabbits love to chew and burrow, so it’s not a surprise that your flooring could become victim to your bun’s “creative redecorating.” The easiest way to bunny proof your floors is to cover them with something. Towels, a blanket, or a tarp are cheap solutions you may already have around your home.
Rag rugs are an affordable and easy option to protect your floors. You can easily throw them in the washing machine if they get dirty. You can use any of these as a permanent flooring for your rabbit’s exercise area or just throw them down when it’s play time.
Protecting Furniture & Baseboards
Furniture legs, corners, and other edges are tempting for rabbits to chew. Baseboards also look tasty to your bun. If you can’t limit your rabbit’s access to the furniture and walls there are a few things you can try.
For baseboards and other flat areas, you can use a rabbit safe wood or cardboard to cover it. Then your rabbit will nibble the wood instead of your baseboards. We recommend stopping by the hardware store and buying furring strips or other cheap (but safe!) wood. They can cut it to size for you. Clear plastic panels (like plexiglass) are another option to limit your rabbit’s access to walls and furniture.
For furniture with round legs, you can easily hide them to prevent your bunny from treating them like a tree branch. If they’re skinny enough, a paper towel roll provides a temporary solution that will need to be replaced frequently. For voracious chewers try PVC pipe or a hard plastic flex hose to protect the furniture legs.
If these options won’t work for you, consider using NIC Cubes or an exercise pen as a fence to restrict access to the furniture or wall. You could even set them up as a perimeter around a room, giving them plenty of space to hop and play, but keeping your rabbit away from walls, cords, or furniture.
Rabbit Proofing Wires, Cables, & Cords
Rabbit chewing electrical cords isn’t just an annoyance for you, it’s incredibly dangerous for your bun as well! If your rabbit chews on a cable that is plugged in they can electrocute themselves and possibly die. Rabbit proofing any cables and wires in the spaces your rabbit accesses is essential to keep them safe.
The first step you should take is to try and limit their access to any electrical cords. If they can be hidden behind furniture or raised out of reach, that may be enough. Keep in mind that rabbits are crafty and may often find ways to squeeze behind furniture or stand up on their hind legs to munch on your cables.
If you can’t keep all of your cables out of reach of your bunny, there are many products available to protect your cords and keep your rabbit from chewing on them. Hard plastic cord management covers, which are usually used in offices that have a lot of cables to manage, a great option to cover wires and keep them out of your rabbit’s mouth. Another product seen often in offices that can protect your wires is split loom tubing. It’s extremely affordable and easily covers cables with hard plastic so your rabbit can’t chew on them. Some pet stores also sell clear tubing that will cover cords. Here are some great options:
Make sure to check any cables covers regularly for any bit marks and to replace any tubing that is heavily damaged. If your rabbit is still chewing away, you may need to consider other ways to limit their access to electrical cords, such as with gates or exercise pens.
If when your rabbit is out for play time they want to hop, explore, and find tasty things to chew on. If you don’t provide them any type of entertainment, your rabbit will make their own fun–often by chewing or destroying things like furniture, carpets, and other precious belongings. You should make sure to provide them plenty of toys and other rabbit fun to keep them busy and distracted from the things you don’t want them to chew.
There are plenty of commercial rabbit toys and playsets to keep your bunny entertained. If you don’t have a huge budget or find your rabbit destroys their toys almost as soon as you set them out, there are plenty of DIY options to provide rabbit entertainment. Clean cardboard, free of stickers, tape, or printing make great toys. Empty oatmeal containers or toilet paper rolls provide tossing and chewing fun. You can even make easy DIY rabbit toys from paper towel tubes to add some variety.
Cardboard boxes can be used to create houses to explore or dig boxes to burn off some energy. You can even make a fun cardboard box maze with just a box, some scissors, and a little creativity.
When you first add a pet rabbit to your family there are a lot of things to buy that are considered rabbit essentials. In addition to a cage, toys, food, and all the other day to day supplies, you will also need to purchase some sort of rabbit carrier or travel cage. A rabbit safe carrier is essential to easily and safely transport your rabbit whether you’re traveling or on your way to the vet. While you may think a rabbit carrier isn’t important to buy right away, you never know when there will be an emergency and you’ll need to drive your bunny to the vet or animal hospital at 2 a.m. on a Wednesday.
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to take into consideration when selecting a rabbit carrier for your pet bunny. Whether you need a carrier for air travel or visits to the vet we have recommendations for you. We’ll also look at travel rabbit cages and collapsible rabbit cages. If you need a cage to transport your show rabbit in or just a travel cage to keep your bun comfortable on a road trip, we have options for those as well.
What to Look for in a Rabbit Carrier
Any pet carrier should perform two functions: easily and safely transport your pet and also prevent them from escaping. Keeping those two rules in mind, these are the features you should look for in a rabbit carrier. (If you just want to see the best reviewed rabbit carriers, scroll down to the next section.)
Perfect Size – A travel carrier for your rabbit shouldn’t be too small and also shouldn’t be too large. You should look for a “just right” size that will change depending on your rabbit’s size. If you have a Netherland dwarf rabbit you will need a much smaller carrier than other breeds. The general rule of thumb is that the carrier should be large enough for your rabbit to stand up, turn around, and lay down. You should always select a smaller carrier rather than a larger one for your rabbit’s safety. In a large carrier, it is easier for your rabbit to slide around or be injured if there’s a sudden stop or a car accident.
Solid Material – Rabbit are voracious chewers and can also be little escape artists too. A hard sided carrier is the best choice for a rabbit. Look for hard plastic and wire on the sides and top. It not only physically protects them on car or plane rides, but it prevents them from chewing through the carrier and escaping. Fabric and soft-sided carriers are easy for them to chew through and not recommended, especially for long trips.
Good Ventilation – To prevent your pet rabbit from overheating, the carrier you select should have adequate ventilation to allow airflow. This is one of many reasons why a cardboard box is not a good rabbit carrier.
Easy Access – Whatever rabbit carrier you select should make it easy for your bunny to get in and out of it. Usually, they will feature a door that your rabbit can walk in, but you should also look for a carrier that has a top door or a removable top. This is essential for those moments when your terrified bun refuses to leave the carrier at the vet.
Easy to Clean – A hard-sided carrier with a solid plastic bottom is usually easy to clean and wipe out with paper towels. You’ll also want a carrier that is easy to take apart if you need to wash it down with a hose or rinse it in the sink.
Easy to Transport – Smaller carriers should have a sturdy handle that is firmly attached to the carrier and will stand the test of time. If you’re transporting more than one rabbit at a time, you may want a carrier with a shoulder strap or something with wheels that you can push or pull around.
This video gives shows an example of a perfectly sized carrier for a rabbit and tips on picking a safe and correctly sized bunny carrier:
A Note on Flying with Rabbits
Some airlines will allow you to fly with rabbits, either as cargo or in the cabin with you. If you need to fly with your pet bunny you should contact airlines well in advance of your trip to find out what regulations and rules that have regarding traveling with a pet rabbit. They will also have rules about what kind of carrier your pet can travel in and may require pre-approval or ask you to buy a carrier from a list of approved models.
Recommended Rabbit Carriers
These carriers meet the recommendations listed in the previous section. Make sure to pay attention to the size measurements and purchase a carrier correctly sized for your bun. Remember that airlines will have their own rules for approved carriers.
Petmate 2 Door Top Load Rabbit Kennel
Designed with dogs and cats in mind, this carrier from petmate is perfect for transporting bunnies as long as you get the 19″ size (if you’re looking for a carrier for two rabbits at once, upgrade to the 24″ size). Made from hard plastic with a steel wire door, this carrier is sturdy and will prevent your rabbit from making an escape attempts. It also features two entry doors: a double latch side door and a top door for easy removal of nervous buns. The sides, door, and roof of the kennel feature plenty of ventilation to keep your rabbit cool.
This model of Petmate travel carrier is made of two pieces for the top and bottom. They are attached with bolts and wingnuts to easily take them apart to clean the inside of the carrier. This rabbit carrier also comes with a water cup to easily offer your rabbit food or water on the go. Made in the USA.
Size: 19.4″ X 12.8″ X 10″ inches (holds up to 10 lbs.)
This travel carrier is a favorite among rabbit owners. It’s designed for dogs, but it’s solid side and easy to use clam shell opening is great for transporting dogs. It’s also the right size to fit under an airline seat if your rabbit is flying in cabin (make sure to call your airline to find out if it is approved for travel).
If you’re unfamiliar with this type of carrier, you’re probably wondering how your rabbit gets inside. The gray latches on the side slid open and the entire top flips open like a clam. This makes it easy for your rabbit to hop in and out or for you to pick them up. It also makes cleaning a cinch. The sides are made of sturdy plastic and feature ventilation slots to prevent your bunny from overheating. Even though this is designed with air travel in mind, this carrier is also a great option for car rides and trips to the vet.
Many rabbit owners buy a small litter box to put inside this carrier since there are slits all around the bottom. The pan makes it easy to put in hay, treats, toys, newspaper, and other items to make your rabbit’s trip more comfortable. I will note that the height of this kennel is only 8″ tall, so if you have a larger or taller rabbit, this may not be a comfortable option for them.
Size: 17-inch length by 12-inch width by 8-inch height
If you’re looking for another affordable, kennel style carrier for your rabbit, AmazonBasics has a nice option. This is designed for cats and small dogs, but the 19″ size could work for many rabbits as well. Made from durable plastic with a steel wire door, this carrier is a safe and sturdy opton. The ventilation holes on this model are smaller and maybe a good option for nervous rabbits who want to feel more protected. There are two doors: the wire side door and a plastic door on top. The top door can open to the left or the right depending on which option is most convenient.
If you’re worried about cleaning the AmazonBasics rabbit kennel, it’s as easy as most of the options. The top and bottom half of the carrier snap together and can easily come apart to wipe out or rinse down the inside of the carrier. If also features loops on the front and the back of the carrier if you want to attach a strap for easier carrying, but the handle on the top will work for many situations. If you want to transport two rabbits at once, the 23″ model may work for you.
Taking your rabbits to the vet is frequently a stressful experience. One of the worst parts is trying to get them out of the carrier. I’ve never had a rabbit that walks out on their own, instead the vet tech is stuck reaching in to pull them out, which is scary and stressful. While a top opening carrier is a good alternative, you still have to reach in to pull the rabbit out. The Van Ness Calm Carrier was designed to ease the stress of cats going to the vet and it’s perfectly sized for rabbits too.
Instead of having a traditional door, this carrier features a solid bottom that slides in and out like a drawer. Gently place your bun inside and slide it shut, then once you arrive at the vet you can pull the drawer out for easy access to remove your rabbit. Your vet may even be able to do the exam without taking them out of the carrier at all.
The design features side ventilation and a heavy gage wire door to keep your rabbit securely inside. The top is attached with screws that can be removed for easy cleaning.
In some cases, your travel may require a portable and collapsible cage for your pet rabbit. These cages are often smaller than the normally recommended rabbit cage but are perfect for travel situations. These are great for show rabbits or if you’re taking your rabbit with you on vacation. A travel rabbit cage should not be used as a permanent home for your rabbit as they are way too small, though you may find them helpful for temporarily housing a sick rabbit away from the rest of your bunnies or a good hangout for them while you’re cleaning their cage.
These travel cages should not be used for transporting your rabbit over long distances or riding in the car. Instead, you should purchase a carrier or kennel for your rabbit (like those recommended in the previous section) for car and air travel. Check out our recommended travel & collapsible rabbit cages below.
MidWest Wabbitat Folding Rabbit Cage
The Wabbitat folding rabbit cage makes a perfect travel bunny cage or temporary cage. It sets up with no tools needed and is easy to fold down to store plate. The cage features top and front door access to easily get your rabbit in and out of the cage and the slide latch makes it easy to open and close the doors. The 1/2″ wire mesh floor features a removable waste pan underneath than can easily slide out for cleaning. Once nice thing about this model is that the bottom grate can be removed, which is recommended to prevent hock sores from developing on your rabbit’s feet.
This model also comes with a urine guard you can install in the corner to prevent the unfortunate urine splatter some buns accidentally spray. There are two sizes of Wabbitat cages available in case you need a larger one to transport more rabbits. The smaller size will have plenty of room for one rabbit (or two dwarf rabbits) plus their litter box, food and water dishes, hay, and some toys.
Dimensions: 25″L x 19″W x 20″H or 37″L x 19″W x 20″H
Another affordable option for traveling with your bunny is this wire dog crate. Though it isn’t specifically designed for rabbits, it meets the requirements for temporary rabbit housing at a great price. The wire cage features two doors for easy access and a solid pan floor to protect your bunny’s feet. The hook latch system will keep the doors securely shut and your rabbit safe inside.
The cage folds down to a convenient carrying and storage size, plus it features a handle so you can carry it like a briefcase (check the Amazon listing to see the photo). Setup requires no tools and can be done in under a minute.
Traveling with your rabbit can be a stressful experience, especially for your bun. However, there are a few things you can do to make the process as painless as possible and ensure a successful trip with your rabbit.
When you’re traveling via car or plane, you should make sure to purchase a carrier that is the appropriate size for your rabbit, like the ones we recommend above. Inside that carrier, you should provide newspaper, towels, or other soft surfaces that they can sit on which can also absorb any urine. If the carrier size permits it, you can even put a small litter box inside to fill with newspaper or soft litter.
Usually, rabbits are nervous or stress when they travel and they won’t want to eat. Even so, you should provide fresh hay in their carrier so they can nervously munch on the way. If you are driving, every 2 hours you should stop and offer your rabbit food and water. They may not eat, but they will often drink when it’s offered. Another option if your rabbit doesn’t seem interested in eating is to bring along a zip lock baggy of their favorite veggies. Wet the veggies and offer that to your bun, that way when they eat they will be able to hydrate with the moisture on the vegetables. (Learn more about safe vegetables for rabbits.) These periodic stops will also allow them to calm down and be still for 10 to 15 minutes.
If you’re flying with your rabbit, be sure to have plenty of hay in their carrier and offer them pellets, water, and veggies periodically during the flight. Don’t be surprised if they’re too stressed to eat when they’re flying. It’s often a good idea to offer them food and water before you board the plane and after you land when they are less nervous. Try to find a calm area without a lot of noise to let them relax.
The one part of caring for your pet rabbit that will affect their health and longevity the most is the food that they eat. Rabbits have a sensitive digestive system that needs a specific diet in correct proportions to function correctly. Following the correct rabbit diet will help your bunny maintain a healthy weight and prevent other health issues, lowering vet bills. They’ll also make for a happy and active rabbit.
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about feeding your pet rabbit a safe, healthy, and nutritious diet. We cover all the types of food and quantities they should eat, as well as recommendations of the best brands of rabbit pellets and the best hay for rabbits. This whole article is filled with must know information for rabbit owners, but if you’re looking for specifics on a particular part of bunny diets, feel free to use the contents links to jump to that section. Bun appetit!
Pet Rabbit Diet & Nutrition
A pet rabbit’s diet is made up of five components:
Water and hay should be available to your pet rabbit 24 hours a day.
Pellets are also an important part of a rabbit’s diet, though the type of pellets they get will depend on their age (see the next section on “Bunny Age and Diet”). In addition to pellets, they should also be given fresh vegetables. As a rabbit gets older, you should lower the amount of pellets they’re fed, and add more vegetables to their diet. Some owners opt to feed their adult rabbits hay and fresh vegetables exclusively (eliminating the rabbit pellets), but you should consult with a rabbit savvy vet before you do this to make sure your bunny is getting adequate fiber, protein, and calories in their diet.
How and when you feed your rabbit pellets and vegetables is up to you and the routine you establish with your pet rabbit. Our routine is to feed the full amount of pellets in the morning, allowing them to eat those throughout the day along with their hay. Then in the evenings, they get their “bunny salad” with fresh vegetables and greens. You can also give a half portion of pellets and veggies in the morning, and then another half portion in the evening.
Fruit is considered a treat and must be given sparingly. Fresh fruit is a much better option than commercial rabbit treats sold in pet stores or grocery stores. If you don’t have a safe fresh fruit on hand you can also give dried fruit to your bunny, but they must be given in smaller quantities than fresh fruit.
Bunny Age and Diet
Baby and young rabbits have different dietary needs than adult rabbits. While most rabbits you will find at a shelter will be adults, sometimes the rabbits purchased from breeders or pet stores may be younger. And if you have a rabbit who has an unexpected pregnancy, you may end up raising some baby rabbits you didn’t plan for.
A baby rabbit will only drink their mother’s milk until they are about 6-8 weeks old. Rabbits should not be separated from their mother until after 8 weeks when their digestive system is fully adjusted for solid foods. At that point, pellets and hay can be introduced (and they’ll probably start to nibble at their mother’s portions around 6 weeks if they are living together).
While diets for young rabbits are close to that of adult rabbits, there are a few changes you should make. Since young rabbits are doing a lot of growing, they need extra protein in their diets. One way this is achieved is through alfalfa hay, which has higher protein and calcium contents than other grass hays. It’s a good idea to mix it with other grass hays so your bunny gets used to them in their diet and then eliminated the alfalfa completely by 5 months of age.
Another way to help ensure your young rabbit gets enough protein is to feed them a pellet with a higher protein content that is formulated for young rabbits. We will give some recommendations for this in the section on Rabbit Pellets below.
Fresh vegetables can be introduced to a rabbit once they’re 12 weeks old. If you have recently added a young rabbit to your home, allow them to have a couple of weeks to settle in before you make any changes to their diet. Introduce fresh vegetables and fruit one at a time and observe their droppings. If their stool becomes soft or watery stop feeding the new food to them. If need be, consult with a rabbit-savvy veterinarian about your rabbit’s diet.
Here’s a handy chart to help you remember all the parts of a healthy rabbit diet. Save it to Pinterest to easily reference it later.
Best Hay for Rabbits
When we talk about rabbit grass, we aren’t talking about that plastic grass you find in Easter baskets. Instead, we’re talking about dried grass and hay that form the base of a good rabbit diet. Hay should be available to your rabbit 24/7. In the wild, rabbits can graze freely on grass and so your setup should allow for unrestricted access to fresh hay. Generally, you should expect your rabbit to eat any amount of hay equal to their body size each day–that’s a lot of hay!
Hay also provides several important benefits for rabbit nutrition and overall health. Hay is a roughage that helps prevent hairballs and the fiber helps their gut function and prevent illnesses like GI Stasis.
When shopping for hay you want to look for options that meet the fiber and nutritional needs for your rabbits (which is dependent on their age). You also want to make sure anything you buy is fresh: the hay should be green and smell fragrant but not moldy.
The final thing you should take into consideration when shopping for hay is that your rabbit will actually eat it! Bunny’s have their own flavor preferences and will sometimes have no interest in certain types of hay. Feeding a mixture of hay types is a good way to keep them interested and give some variety in their diet, but if your bun refuses to eat a certain hay type, give them something else.
When most pet owners think about hay, they assume the only thing you should buy is timothy hay for bunnies. While timothy hay is one of the most abundant and traditionally fed hay for rabbits, it is not the only option. You can feed your pet rabbit any of the following hay types and even provide them a mixture:
Recommended Hay Types for Rabbits
Alfalfa Hay (under 1 year old only)
A Reminder About Alfalfa Hay: Rabbits under 1 year of age should be fed alfalfa hay in addition to other grass and oat hay. Because of the high protein and calcium content of alfalfa hay, it should not be fed to adult rabbits.
If you can buy hay directly from a farm or feed store, this is usually best. Not only will it cost less than hay from pet stores, it will often be fresher. If you don’t have direct access to a farm or feed store, you can easily order good quality hay for rabbits online.
Recommended Rabbit Hay Brands
Our recommendations include national brands you can find in pet stores or order on Amazon. We also have some farms that you can order from directly in larger quantities.
If you’re shopping for timothy hay for bunnies, you may have a choice of “cut” either first, second, or third cutting. These numbered cuttings refer to the crop of hay it came from during the growing season. Generally, the second cut is the best as it has a good balance of nutrients and fiber. Many owners prefer third cutting timothy hay, but it is rarer and during a bad season may not happen at all.
Oxbow Rabbit Hay
We are a huge fan of Oxbow and they are one of the best brands available in many pet stores in the US and they’re extremely easy to order online. They offer many varieties of hay that are great for small animals like rabbits. Their hay is grown in the USA and hand-selected to ensure a good quality product. They have a great variety of hay types available, which is perfect if your bun is a picky eater.
A newer food distributor is Small Pet Select. They’re receiving positive reviews from exotic pet owners and are worth considering when shopping for your rabbit. Unfortunately they only offer timothy hay and orchard grass.
One thing that Small Pet Select does differently, is they pack and ship their hay in a cardboard box, which is the best long-term storage option for keeping hay. They offer timothy hay in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd cuttings.
Kaytee is one of the most common brands of hay and food available, often seen in national pet store chains and grocery stores. They’re also usually the cheapest option. Some rabbit owners complain about the freshness and have seen inconsistent quality, but we have used it without issue. (When buying any hay you should check the freshness and quality of it before feeding it to your pet.)
Kaytee offers the following hay options for rabbits:
Farmer Dave is located in New York State and specializes in organic, high-quality pet supplies for small pet owners. His hay selection is unfortunately limited to timothy hay, but he offers it in 1st and 2nd cuttings. He also ships LARGE boxes of hay, great for rabbit owners that have a whole warren of hungry bunnies. Currently, he offers 10 lb., 25 lb., and 35 lb. boxes.
(If you’re in the market for toys & chews for your rabbit, check out his apple sticks.)
If you’re interested in buying rabbit hay directly from a farmer but don’t need such large quantities, check out Fay’s Hay. Also located in New York State, Alicia Fay owns a small family farm that sells hay to large animal farms in the northeast. Now they offer their delicious bunny grass to small pet owners as well. All of their hay is pesticide and chemical free, and naturally sun and wind dried on their farm.
They only sell timothy hay and orchard grass blend that has a small amount of clover, but it is available in 1st and 2nd cuttings, or a mixture of the two. Available sizes include 1 lb., 5 lbs., 10 lbs. and 20 lbs.
Pellets are an important part of a balanced rabbit diet. When shopping for bunny food there are a couple of things to keep in mind in your hunt for the best rabbit pellets. First, you want to make sure the rabbit food meets the nutritional requirements for rabbits. Then you want to make sure the feed you buy consists of only pellets. A lot of food advertised for rabbits in pet stores or grocery stores contains nuts, seeds, dried fruit, or colored pieces. Those added in bits are junk–basically treats–and your bunny will pick those out and skip over the pellets that have all the nutrients and fiber they need.
When considering rabbit nutrition, for adult rabbits you should look for a timothy based pellet. Alfalfa based pellets are too high in protein, calories, and calcium for adult rabbits and should only be fed to rabbits under 1 year of age. If you’re considering a new brand of rabbit pellet, look for a feed that has 20-25% fiber (18% is the absolutely minimum), no more than 1-2% fat, 12-14% protein, and no more than 1% calcium. If you don’t want to shop around, you can check out our recommended brands below for some healthy bunny food.
The standard amount to feed a 6 lb. rabbit is about 1/4 to 1/2 a cup of pellets. These can be served in a bowl or crock, or spread among their cage and hidden in their hay to encourage foraging. There are also toys to help your bun get a little exercise while they eat, like this treat ball they have to push around to get the food to come out.
Recommended Healthy Rabbit Pellet Brands
Oxbow Essentials Adult Rabbit Food
In addition to their fantastic hay, Oxbow also makes two lines of quality rabbit pellets. The Adult Rabbit Food is a timothy-based pellet recommended for adult rabbits over 1 year of age. This is the brand we feed our rabbits and they absolutely love it. It was also recommended to us by our exotics vet, so that’s why it gets our #1 spot as the best rabbit pellets. The feed has large amounts of fiber while keeping fat and calcium low. And this feed is just pellets–not nuts or dried fruit in the bag.
Oxbow is available in many national and local pet stores, as well as easy to order online.
The other bunny diet option from Oxbow is their Young Rabbit Food formula. This is designed for rabbits under 1 year of age who need more protein in their diet. The base of this pellet is made from alfalfa, which rabbits love, and it helps those young bunnies grow.
Just like their adult formula, this rabbit food has only pellets in it–no additional junk. It’s a great option to provide a balanced rabbit diet for your young bunny. This brand is also easy to find in pet stores or order online.
Though not as widely available as Oxbow, American Pet Diner makes their own timothy based bunny pellet that is great for adult rabbits. Timmy Rabbit has a little bit higher crude fiber content than Oxbow, but nutritionally they’re very similar and balanced well to provide good rabbit nutrition. As you may guess from the name, the Timmy Rabbit feed is made in the USA.
We’ve never been able to find American Pet Diner in our local pet store, but their pellets are easy to buy online. They even promise “chewing and gnawing satisfaction guaranteed.”
This is another brand that is tough to find locally, but many rabbit owners swear by it. ZuPreem’s bunny pellets are made from western timothy hay and include not artifical colors, flavors, or preservatives. There’s no seeds or junk in this pellet mix. It’s also fortified with vitamins and minerals to create a balanced pet bunny diet.
One thing to watch out for is this pellet does have alfalfa in it, though timothy hay is the main ingredient. I would not recommend this for overweight rabbits
Vegetables are an extremely important component in a balanced pet rabbit diet. Adult rabbits should be fed about 1 cup of vegetables per 2 lbs of bodyweight each day. The majority of the veggies should be leafy greens, but a variety of fresh veggies and herbs will provide an interesting and balanced diet for your pet bunny.
Just like when planning your own diet, variety is an important component to ensure your rabbit is getting a variety of vitamins and nutrients from the fresh vegetables they eat. A variety of colors is an easy indicator to consider when planning your bunny’s meals. Once you know what vegetables your rabbit enjoys, it’s good to rotate vegetables rather than give them the exact same meal every day (for example: your rabbit may get romaine, green, or red lettuce every day, and then carrots every other day alternating with broccoli stems, and some bell peppers when you have them on hand). My rabbits always enjoy when I have extra basil from making pesto, even if they don’t get to have basil every day.
Always try to buy organic vegetables and herbs whenever possible. Or if you’re a gardener, you can grow greens and veggies for your bunny yourself and avoid any pesticides. Make sure to rinse or scrub any vegetables or fruits before serving them to your pet rabbit.
A Note on Introducing New Foods to Your Rabbit: Rabbit’s stomach are very delicate and they need to be introduced to new food very slowly and only one new food at a time. When you introduce a new food, monitor their stool. If they have softer stools that persist over a couple days, do not continue the new food. Even though these lists include vegetables that are safe for rabbits, your rabbit may not tolerate it or even like the veggies! Keep a list of their favorites to make shopping easy. If you have questions or concerns about your rabbit’s diet, consult with a rabbit-savvy veterinarian.
Leafy greens should make up about 3/4 of your rabbits vegetable meals each day.
Veggies with an * are high in oxalic acid and should be rotated and limited to 1 per day.
Basil (all types)
Dandelion Greens (& flowers)
Fennel (base & leafy tops)
Kale (all types)
Mint (all types)
Parsley* (flat leaf recommended)
Red or Green Lettuce
Bell peppers (all colors)
Broccoli (leaves and stems only)
Cabbage (all type)
Chinese Pea Pods (the flat kind without large peas)
Fruit and Treats for Rabbits
Even if your rabbit is a sugar fiend and loves to gobble down bananas faster than you can slice them, fruit should be given as a treat only and not a part of their “regular” diet. Fresh fruit should only be given to a maximum of 2 tablespoons per day (for a 6 lb. rabbit). Dried fruit should be given in even smaller quantities as the sugar is more concentrated.
Buying organic fruit is best, but if not available you can remove the peel. Make sure to wash all fruit thoroughly before giving them to your pet rabbit.
Fruit for Rabbits
These fruits are safe to give to pet rabbits as treats:
Apple (no stems or seeds)
Banana (no peel)
Cherries (no pits)
Melons (peel & seeds ok)
Orange (with peel)
Pineapple (no skin)
Plum (no pits)
Commercial Treats for Rabbits
Pet rabbit treats are a booming business in pet stores–but that doesn’t mean you can give your bunny any “treat” you see on the shelf. Even if it’s advertised as “for rabbits,” plenty of commercial treats are just filled with sugar and unhealthy ingredients for your little bunny. Treats like yogurt drops are not healthy for rabbits. Instead, we recommend fresh fruit as the best treat to give your rabbit.
Now we understand that seasonality and produce prices may mean you don’t always have fresh fruit on hand for your bunny. In that case, there are a few other options you can consider.
The first option is to give your rabbit dried fruits like pineapple, papaya, strawberries, or banana. Dried pineapple is highly recommended because pineapple contains enzymes that help break down fur in your bunny’s tummy is the perfect treat during molting season. If you’re buying dried fruit for your rabbit, make sure to look for organic options with no added sugar.
If you really, really want to buy some pre-made commercial treats, you should keep the following in mind. First, look for all natural ingredients that are made from things already safe for rabbits–this includes hays, herbs, dried veggies or fruits. Then read the ingredients to check for any artificial flavors or colors and make sure there’s no additional sugar.
Many entrepreneurial rabbit owners have taken to making their own rabbit treats, many hard biscuits that encourage chewing and the natural wearing down of a rabbit’s teeth. Oxbow also sells some rabbit safe treats. Check out these recommended pet rabbit treats.
Rabbits have delicate stomachs that are sensitive to sudden diet changes, so any changes to what they eat need to be done carefully. Young rabbits are extra sensitive because their systems are still developing.
When you first adopt a rabbit, you should continue them on the same diet they had before they joined your home for at least 2 weeks. This gives them time to settle into their new home and new routine. Make sure to inquire to find out what brand of pellets, types of hay and veggies they were eating and match their meal times as closely as possible. A young rabbit should have at least 2 weeks of eating hay before any changes are made to their diet. The hay keeps their GI track working properly while other aspects of the diet are changing and helps prevent loose stools.
You should only introduce one new type of food at a time. For example, if you are transitioning to a new pellet brand, you should not introduce any new fresh vegetables until your rabbit it completely transitioned.
Introducing New Fruits & Vegetables to Your Bunny
You should only give them one new fresh fruit or vegetable at a time. Give it to them for three days in a row and monitor their stools. If you notice softer or runny stools, stop the new food. After 3 days, if there’s no change in their poop, you can add the vegetable or fruit to their regular rabbit diet.
Occasionally, your rabbit may refuse to eat or show less interest in certain vegetables. That’s just a matter of taste (we could never get our Barney to eat bell peppers!) and probably a good sign it’s time to experiment with a different vegetable.
Keep track of which vegetables are your bunny’s favorite and you’ll be able to plan a diverse fresh rabbit diet that works with seasonality. It may even give you some ideas for vegetables and herbs to grow in your garden.
Transitioning to New Rabbit Pellets
Just like other parts of the rabbit’s diet, consistency is best. Ideally, you will select a healthy brand of pellets that is easy for you to purchase and that’s what your rabbit will eat all their life. But when you first bring your pet rabbit home, you may need to switch the rabbit pellets they eat.
Changing pellets should happen as a slow transition, while no other changes are made to your bun’s diet. You may need to plan in advance to make sure you have enough of the old bunny food on hand to make the smooth transition. While you are changing from one food to another, keep an eye on your rabbit’s stool. If it starts to get soft or mushy, then you are changing too quickly.
The absolute best way to transition a pet rabbit to new pellets is slowly over 3 weeks. Follow this schedule:
Week 1: Feed 75% of the old pellets and 25% of the new pellets each day.
Week 2: Feed 50% of the old and 50% of the new pellets each day.
Week 3: Feed 25% of the old and 75% of the new pellets each day.
Week 4: If your rabbit has no problems, feed the new pellets exclusively.
Occasionally, you may have a rabbit that refuses to transition to the new food. Instead, they will pick out the old pellets and leave the new ones uneaten. In that case, you may want to continue to feed the old food (as long as it is healthy and meets your rabbit’s nutritional needs) or try a different brand.
Use this infographic as a handy guide:
What to do if Your Rabbit Stops Eating
If your rabbit stops eating, consider it an emergency situation. Because of their delicate digestive systems, a rabbit can go into what’s called GI Stasis. If not properly treated, your rabbit could die.
GI Stasis can be caused by a variety of issues like stress, pain, intestinal blockage, or insufficient fiber in their diet. Our rabbit Barney went into GI Stasis from joint pain he was experiencing from undiagnosed arthritis in his hind legs. Once the GI Statis was treated and the vet prescribed pain medication to help his arthritis he went on to live 3 more happy, hoppy years. If I hadn’t taken him to the emergency vet the day he stopped eating, that story would have had a very different ending.
So what should you do in the situation? Make sure you are always keeping an eye on your rabbit’s poop and their eating habits. Sweeping out their cage and play area frequently and changing out their litter box daily will help you keep tabs on their pooping habits. If the number of poops decreases or changes in consistency, this could be the first indication that something is wrong with your rabbit. If they stop pooping for 12 hours, you need to contact a rabbit-savvy veterinarian immediately.
If your rabbit doesn’t seem to be eating, offer them their favorite fruit or treat (bananas usually work well for this). If your bunny takes it, make sure they have lots of their favorite foods, fresh hay, and clean water on hand and keep an eye on them. If they don’t improve, make an appointment to see your vet. If your rabbit refuses their favorite treat, you need to take them to a rabbit veterinarian ASAP.
GI Stasis can often be cured with treatment, but it should be done under the care and advice of an experienced vet. Once it is treated and cured, you should identify the cause and make appropriate changes to prevent it from happening again. You can learn more about GI Stasis in rabbits on the House Rabbit Society website.
Because emergencies like this can happen at any moment day or night, it’s important to have a relationships with a rabbit savvy vet near you. They are a great resource to call if you’re unsure about your rabbit’s health or behavior, and they’re the first place you need to go if your rabbit shows symptoms of GI Stasis If you need to find a vet near you, check out this list on the House Rabbit Society site. DO NOT WAIT FOR AN EMERGENCY TO FIND A GOOD RABBIT VET.
Now that you know what to feed your rabbit, get all the right bunny bowls and dishes. We had recommendations for crocks, food bowls, water bottles, hay racks, and even fun feeders.