Help I Bought A Bunny In A Pet Shop

April 24, 2019

Rabbit Care How To

You were bought a bunny in a pet shop, you thought it was a great present for your children and it wasn't, so what do you do now? Don't worry, we'll figure everything out, no reason to panic just yet. When I got my first pet rabbit I also didn't know what I was doing, we are now almost 1 year on and I cannot imagine not having my baby bunny. You see, Chloé was an impulse buy at a pet shop, I imagine yours was too, and even though that was definitely already mistake number one when it comes to getting a pet, being a bunny parent can be absolutely amazing. Anyway, let's look at the hard facts: you got a bun and you need to take care of it - well I have news for you, forget everything you think you know about rabbits because you're wrong and most of what you were told at the pet shop was a lie too. So, here's your guide to being the best bunny parent you can be!

The Easter bunny

I originally wanted to write an article to prevent people from buying a bunny for Easter and for any other occasion really, but since this is something that is quite inevitable, I thought I'd help out those of you who did get one by providing you with some of the very basics of rabbit care. Here we go.

Hay, hay, hay

I imagine you're stuffing your bunny with pellets or some type of muesli like food - please let me stop you right there. A rabbit's diet is 90% made up of good quality hay. That muesli stuff you've been feeding isn't healthy for your bun, it's as if you've been feeding your rabbit the human equivalent of Mc Donalds every day. It's okay, you're going to make things right, I feed my bun a mix of orchard and timothy hay. Oat hay also is suitable for rabbits. Orchard hay is great if you're someone who suffers from allergies, this way you can make sure you and your bun are both happy and healthy. Your rabbit should have fresh, green hay (not brown) at its disposal 24/7, meaning it should never run out. My little Chloé also gets 2 table spoons of pellets a day and 2 bowls of fresh greens. You can find a list of safe greens for your bunny here along with other information about a rabbit's proper diet. It took me a month to ween Chloé off that muesli food - now I feed her pellets from the brand Selective and she looks forward to them every morning and every night. Even though Selective is more expensive than other rabbit foods you'll save yourself a bunch of money because your bun will be eating a lot less pellets than it is now and it won't be able to pick and choose what to eat. They're just pellets and healthy ones too!

Cage free bunny happy bunny 

You probably bought a cage, fine - I did too when I got my bunny so no judgement here, but did you know that you can free roam you bunny? That you can potty train them just like a cat or a dog? That you can teach them words and that they actually don't really belong in cages to begin with? Bunnies are smart and can be home trained easily! The reason why a lot of us still believe bunnies belong in cages is because they used to be kept this way to be fattened up for us to eat.

My pet rabbit free roams in the living room during the day and stays in her play pen at night. Her old cage is used as her litter box. The play pen we have is actually a puppy pen and a great way for keeping rabbits. They are spacious and way cheaper than actual 'rabbit cages'. Your bunny will have enough room to run around and live her best life. No cage means no need to buy litter or substrate. Chloé runs around on carpet and uses a litter box that is lined with newspaper and lots of hay. Rabbits love to pee and poop in the same spot, which is something they can't do when they live in a cage.

Toys' story

Rabbits are very playful animals. They love toys to chew on and to throw around. Plenty of toys really is the message here and there's no need for them to be expensive. My rabbit loves a simple, brown cardboard box to chew and hide in, sometimes I'll also stuff it with hay, the whole damn thing will be chewed in no time, yes - the cardboard and the hay. Fleece blankets and towels are also great for bunnies, they like to bite and dig in them, toys made out of toilet paper rolls are fun too. My bun also has children's toys: the Chicco stacking cups and the plastic toy links by Done By Deer, some people like to use plastic curtain rings instead which are fine too. Chloé has fun balls made of seagrass or willow sticks for chewing and she has a couple of stuffed animals as well that she loves to lick and lay next to. Some rabbits will destroy stuffed animals so be careful with those, you don't want them to ingest any of it. I recently got her a play tunnel too, I believe most of them are sold for cats, Chloé's obsessed with it! Make sure your rabbit has both chew and throw toys, young rabbits can be very destructive (just like puppies) so it's much easier to deal with when you give them plenty to play with.

The bunny savvy doctor

I'm sure you expected to read some things you wouldn't like in this article and I'm pretty confident this is one of them. Your rabbit needs to be vaccinated and it needs to be spayed or neutered. Fact: your rabbit needs to be checked out by a professional regardless - just like you go to the doctor. If you hadn't noticed, caring for a rabbit is a little bit like caring for a toddler. Your bun will need to be groomed, its nails will need to be clipped and its teeth will need to be checked. Spaying and neutering are especially important to prevent behavioural issues and diseases like cancer. It will also improve litter habits and make for a much calmer and happier bunny.

Some other do's and don'ts in rabbit care

  • rabbits hate being picked up or cuddled
  • don't feed seed sticks to your rabbit
  • rabbits are supposed to be kept in pairs (sterilised of course)
  • being able to pet your rabbit is a privilege built on trust
  • rabbits like to drink from a bowl not water bottles
  • it's normal for rabbits to eat their own poop
  • rabbits need a place to be able to hide for anxiety & sleep

Nope, I can't do it

So, you've gone through this list of how to care for a rabbit and you're tired. You don't want to deal with this bullshit and you see no other option than to get rid of this poor animal. Fair enough. Before you do - please do NOT consider the following:

  • don't give your rabbit away for free, an adoption fee may avoid that your bun is fed to reptiles (yes people do that)
  • don't set your rabbit free in nature, your rabbit cannot take care of itself
  • don't dump it at a shelter without the shelters' knowledge

What you want to do is either: find a loving, caring adoptive family and forever home, contact a shelter and ask for help, if the shelter is full ask if they can put you on a waiting list, whether they offer services outside the shelter or if they have any knowledge about other shelters who might have space. Do keep in mind that surrendering your bunny to a local animal shelter should be a last resort as the animal might be euthanised - because you thought it was a brilliant idea to buy it for Easter.

Last but not beast

Do not use this article as a complete care guide for your rabbit, do more research, ask your vet and don't hesitate to contact a rabbit shelter for more information about their care. Some of my favorite rabbit care resources are:

Good luck. 

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