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Tell me about your bunnies!

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  • Tell me about your bunnies!

    Husband and I are considering adoptiong a rescued bunny, because we don't have enough animals already . This bunny lives outside - he has a hutch but not much else currently. I know next to nothing about bunnies as I've never had one for a pet - have done a little research over the past few days but would love to hear any tips/important info from current/past bunny owners. This guy was rescued and has been living a couple of houses over with the bare minimum - well, from what I'm reading, less than that as he's had water and bunny food but no hay until I started bringing him some of my own.

    Tell me more about bunnies in general...if we adopt him, he'll remain an outside bunny but we'll plan to spend time with him each day, and he'll be covered from the elements. Apart from water, hay and bunny food, what else do they really need to be happy/healthy bunnies?

    This guy is HUGE - a New Zealand white rabbit, I think? "Rescued" from someone's dinner plate, apparently...at any rate, he seems to have gotten to like us as we visit him almost daily. He was not very impressed with my picking him last night (didn't realize bunnies have NAILS!) but tolerated being held for a minute or so.

    Just looking for anything I can get in terms of info, good resources, etc. I'm well versed with cats/dogs/horses...but rabbits? Not so much.
    Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue.

    A Voice Halted

  • #2
    I had a Californian/Rex cross living in the house with me for a year until she developed a taste for sheetrock, couch stuffing, electrical cords, woodwork, etc. Getting her a buddy, a mini-lop, didn't help! Now, they live in the barn with an indoor area, a hole under the barn wall, and an outside paddock fenced on all sides plus top and bottom. It's about 16 feet by 12 feet. They are hilarious, active, athletic animals! I would recommend that your bunny not just have daily attention but also room to run, whether it's in a 24/7 situation or in some sort of supervised area each day. Don't let the "rabbits must live indoors" crowd scare you: honestly, like a horse, they do fine with good turnout.

    Good luck! They're really fun animals!
    My ears hear a symphony of two mules, trains, and rain. The best is always yet to come, that's what they explained to me. —Bob Dylan

    Fenway Bartholomule ♥ Arrietty G. Teaspoon Brays Of Our Lives


    • #3
      Bunnies really are happiest in the home. They're just as social as dogs and cats, and also don't do well in weather extremes. It can be pretty cheap to set up a living environment for them in the home; a used exercise pen (for dogs) makes a great enclosure. They often times can be litterbox trained, and hay is the most important part of their diet.

      They can be destructive, so rooms need to be bunny-proofed; holes and crevices blocked off, all cords put out of reach.

      They're very fun pets and have tons of personality. My french lop bunny follows me around like a dog, and when I'm not giving him enough attention he glares at me, then DIGDIGDIGS! at the carpet. He loves dried pineapple and detests raisins.
      Tell a Gelding. Ask a Stallion. Discuss it with a Mare... Pray if it's a Pony!


      • Original Poster

        Thanks, both! I seem to be getting conflicting opinions from several people about keeping them indoors versus out. We really don't have room to keep him inside all the time - and I'm worried my dog would consider him a tasty snack. However, we would certainly bring him in and let him run around in a bunny proofed room and perhaps when things settle down, we could set up an exercise area for him in our backyard (it's currently not fenced so that won't do, but we're planning to fence it this summer).

        He is always happy to see us but doesn't appear to be distressed at all - I know nothing about this particular bunny in terms of his age and whether or not he's always been an outside bunny. I would suspect he has been, as he was apparently getting ready to be someone's dinner.

        How are they with different types of hay? From what I've read so far they appear to like all of it!

        What about their teeth? What can I give him to chew on that would be safe but satisfying? Do they like things to play with? I really need to post a pic, this guy is HUGE.
        Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue.

        A Voice Halted


        • #5

          This is the link the the House Rabbit Society - they (obviously) have a strong leaning toward indoor only rabbits, but if you ignore that, they've got a ton of valuable info about how to take care of rabbits. Pretty much anything you can think of to ask about, they have covered. Our two rabbits live indoors because I prefer it that way, but I've seen some fantastic outdoor rabbit enclosure as well that I'd use in a heartbeat!

          What's really important, IMO, is to make sure that the bunny can't dig out of any enclosure you put him in and nothing else can dig in. If we ever end up making the outdoor run I'd like, we're going to bury some sort of mesh/wire/grid completely under the floor of the enclosure as well as sinking it along all the sides.

          Depending on the hutch your guy comes with, you may want to consider replacing any type of mesh flooring with a solid one. This might mean more cleaning for you (depending on whether you want to litterbox train your guy or not), but since rabbits don't have pads on their feet like dogs or cats do, the mesh floor can really do a number on their feet, which in turn can cause body soreness issues. Our girl rabbit was on a typical mesh floor before we got her and ended up ripping out one of her toenails. It grew back very malformed and she has started favoring that foot more now that she's getting older. I can't say that is was absolutely the mesh floor she was on that caused her foot problem, but I really think it contributed a lot.

          A rabbit's digestive system is very much like a horse's and they do best on hay 24/7, supplemented with fresh vegetables and pellets. Our two stay on a timothy grass blend for hay; they love alfalfa but get too chubby when they get that! We give papaya tablets and small pieces of fresh fruit for treats.

          Apple branches, bird toys and the hard plastic cat calls with the bells in the middle are popular with our two as chew toys/fun toys. They do really well with clicker training too!


          • #6
            I had indoor only bunnies and used the house rabbit site for feeding info. I fed quality bunny pellets plus some fresh veggies going easy on the lettuce. The Lettuce was a treat and both boys loved it.
            Not so much fruit. gotta watch for the runs. and plenty of hay!

            I gave them apple branches to chew on as well as washed and dried pinecones - no sap on them.

            One bunny liked ripping up boxes so he got a new one every week or so. Toilet paper tubes to chew, egg cartons.


            • #7
              I have a bunny as my class pet (I'm the teacher!)

              I got flamed by many on this board for doing so. I adopted her after she was left in a box outside of a pet store. She's a grey and white lop, and the sweetest thing ever.

              A few weeks into school I told the students that I was considering getting them a class pet because of how caring and responsible they were. We all went through "bunny training" where they learned how to care for bunnies and keep themselves, and the bunny safe. My students are 6 and they can tell you more about bunny anatomy, behavior, and care than most adults!

              They are totally responsible for her. They clean her cage, feed her, record her health and attitude daily. Her supplies are purchased with a grant I applied for.

              If you walk into the room you will be introduced to "Peach" and asked to give her a treat, you'll also here "sssshhhh! you're being too loud, you're hurting Peach's ears!" if it gets noisy.

              I've never had her be aggressive to the students and she lets them hold her and catch her.

              I really think they'll miss her more than me this summer!!
              http://www.clarkdesigngrouparchitects.com/index.html - Lets build your dream barn


              • #8
                I love bunnies

                My last one was a housepet, he had a litterbox (shared with the cat) and pretty much ate dinner with the dogs/cat and just roamed free the rest of the time.

                Downside is, bunny's shed like crazy

                Upside is, they are freakin' awesome

                If youare going to keep him outside, neuter him and get him a buddy (spayed female). Outdoor rabbits are often much happier in groups. They are prey animals and get better sleep, warmth etc. when with a buddy. Most shlters have spayed rabbits available for under $50.


                • #9
                  I have 4 bunnies, 2 pair, and they all live in the barn. All are spayed and neutered, all were rescued. Two were strays, and two were starving in hoarder situations. They all have heated beds, free choice hay, daily pellets, salads, and room to play and be rabbits. In a perfect world they would live in the house and have constant human interaction. But the fact is there are 1000's of rabbits that need rescued and living in a barn is not the worst place to be.



                  • #10
                    I have 2 bunnies, both mini-Rex's. I got them as itty bitty babies, and got
                    them both neutered. They are a bonded pair now, and are best buddies.

                    Mine live in my family room in a NIC condo that I built, and they get free
                    play time every day for a couple of hours. You will def need to bunny proof
                    if you let them inside - they love chewing electrical cords ! They have a
                    litterpan in their house, and are pretty good about using it. Cheapest
                    bunny litter is woodypet. It works really well.

                    As far as chewing - I get mine the big parrot wood toys that I can hang
                    in their cage. Petsmart has them, and I also have a parrot store pretty
                    close to the house.

                    They also like to dig. Right now, I have a rubbermaid container with an old
                    phone book in it. They have fun shredding the heck out of it. Cardboard paper
                    towel rolls, old cardboard oatmeal containers ... a brown cardboard box with hay
                    in it is a fun toy too. As is a small brown paper bag filled with hay that they
                    can destroy. I've given them a litterpan with sandbox sand in it - they like
                    digging away in that.

                    Stay away from alfalfa hay for an adult rabbit, other than as an occasional
                    treat. But any hay that you feed your horse (timothy,orchard grass, etc.)
                    is fine for your rabbit. They also need some greens, pretty much anything
                    but iceberg lettuce. Mine like carrots, celery tops, apples, bananas,
                    string beans, peppers ... you get the idea.

                    They are funny creatures - they are a hoot to watch during their 'free' time,
                    they race around and buck and leap like horses do.

                    Oh, and those nails ? You'll need to have them trimmed every so often.


                    • Original Poster

                      Bunny update...

                      He's still not too keen on the act of being picked up, but once I have him, he's fine. We brought him into the house for the first time Saturday, and let him stay for a few minutes to get used to the exciting new environment (put a gate up so the dogs couldn't get to him). He sniffed both cats and appears to be a pretty laid back guy. Brought him in again last night for longer with several people over, and he took it in stride. He is getting braver about exploring and hopped all over the downstairs - didn't try to chew anything yet, but we've been closely supervising him.

                      We let the dogs meet him for the first time under VERY close watch - my Chow/Lab is very taken with him, though I'm watching her like a hawk. They laid together under the coffee table last night and watched TV. This bunny seems to have NO fear about our other animals and really seems to like the cats.

                      He spends the night outside in his hutch with a new bed of shavings and his hay. He gets quite excited about his breakfast and dinner and loves carrots and dandelions. I'm learning something new about him every day.

                      Current plan is to keep his primary residence outside but bring him in for play time and love each morning and evening. Eventually our yard will be fenced and he can hop around there under supervision.

                      This is definitely a new adventure!
                      Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue.

                      A Voice Halted


                      • #12
                        Just an FYI - pine shavings are not good for rabbits. The oils can cause a lot of respiratory problems.

                        Pelleted pine bedding is fine, as the drying process removes most of the oils. If you want to line the hutch, try using a piece of old fleece blanket, or even some newspapers (which he will likely shred and have fun with).

                        Sounds like his personality is starting to come out ! They can be a little reserved at first but they are very curious creatures.


                        • #13

                          The site is geared towards indoor bunnies, but its a forum just like COTH for bunny owners!
                          "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."


                          • Original Poster

                            Good to know about the pine shavings - I somehow missed that in trying to absorb as much info as possible from various sites. Husband just bought a big bag of shavings - not sure what kind they are - definitely not cedar but may be pine, will have to double check when I get home. Bunny seems okay so far - I did not line the hutch heavily, just enough to absorb his bathroom breaks.

                            He does not appreciate being picked up - however, once up he seems to be fine - I don't pick him up unless I'm bringing him into or out of the house, but last night he almost tried to squirm away and deposit himself in the trash can! Am working on the husband in terms of getting a better hutch to move him indoors and make access easier so he can just hop out. Right now the design of the hutch he came with doesn't make retrieving him all that easy. But it is what it is at this point - I've been bringing him inside for a few hours each night to let him stretch his legs and explore until we work out a better living solution.

                            Left a message for a local vet that sees bunnies about getting his nails trimmed and rabbit balls chopped off...so I think we're slowly but surely getting on the right track. Considering he just moved over on Friday and neither of us have ever had a bunny before.

                            I guess considering that otherwise he would have been sitting in someone's belly at this point means he's faring slightly better for now!
                            Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue.

                            A Voice Halted


                            • #15
                              There is a ton on info out there - but you are doing great with knowing
                              they need lots of hay in addition to the pellets, and fresh veggies, and
                              plenty of 'out of the cage' time. :-) Many bunny owners don't get
                              that far !

                              My bunnies love love love hay cubes by the way - I get the timothy/alfalfa
                              cubes. They love gnawing on them like crazy.

                              Also, does your bunny go in the same corner usually (pee)? If you put a litterpan
                              there, with the wood pellets in it, he will probably start going in the litterpan.
                              The wood pellets work great because the top will stay dry and the wet part migrates
                              to the bottom - they end up sitting on dry pellets, not wet. You can also
                              put his hay IN the litterpan, as they will 'go' while they are eating. Seems
                              weird but it really works - they won't eat the soiled hay. If the bottom of his hutch is wire, he may like
                              hanging out in the litterpan better than the wire.

                              Having them litter trained makes cleaning up after them so much easier.
                              Bunnies are normally very tidy animals so it's easy to get them trained.


                              • #16
                                I have a similar situation...

                                I am not a bunny person, per se. But a couple years ago a bunny ran across the road in front of my truck, and wouldn't move. When I got out of the truck to shoo the odd bunny off to the side of the road- he had lop-ears!! So I picked him up, stuck him in the truck, took him home, learned about bunnies, and got in touch with the House Rabbit people, who helped me rehome him.

                                Now, my aunt had a bunny for her daughter but the bunny doesn't get enough attention and they don't really want it. So they are trying to decide what to do with it. So my aunt says, maybe she should just let it go. NO, says I, I will take bunny, despite that I just spent nearly 1K on my boyfriend's older relative's cat that she couldn't keep. So now I have a bunny in a hutch outside. We are trying to find her a home/figure out where to put her inside, but aren't making a lot of progress on that. And I have a small indoor bunny cage that would serve as a "house" for the bunny, but with a turnout area, except that today I told one of my students that he could have it. Because, as it turns out, while I am telling them about the bunny, that one of my students found a stray bunny in his backyard 2 weeks ago and he can't keep it due to dog. He has been feeding it and patting it, picking it up, etc., but needs to find it a home. And another student says he'll take it, so I volunteer to give my cage to the student who is taking the stray bunny. So now tomorrow after school I am driving a cage to a student's house, picking up a bunny, and bringing it to another student's house. All the while, I still have a bunny, and don't really need to have a bunny. I have 5 cats. The Inn is FULL.


                                • #17
                                  LOL that is how I ended up with my first bunny as an adult (had them as a kid).

                                  I found Bob sitting in the grass in front of my office on a cold November
                                  day. There were big fields around the office complex and it was a popular
                                  place to dump animals (dogs, cats, rabbits..). Bob was a huge adult male
                                  english lop. I brought him into my office, and we fed him. He was quite
                                  happy to hop around and then snuggle in a blanket. I stopped on the way
                                  home to get him an xpen to live in, and decided to see how well he got along
                                  with my 2 dogs. If everyone got along, he could stay. If not, I'd find him a
                                  good home. Well, everyone got along just fine, so he stayed with me 9 years
                                  until he died last summer. He was a funny dude, I swear he thought he was
                                  a dog. He would chase my dogs around the house all the time.

                                  Then I got 2 baby mini Rex rabbits from a local rescue. Figured 2 of them
                                  could live in the same space as Supersized Bob.


                                  • Original Poster


                                    Husband has since deemed the bunny to be: Carl.

                                    Carl is adjusting to his life as an indoor/outdoor bunny, and I've been able to pick him up the last couple of days without him attempting to either shred my arms or deposit himself in the trash can beside his hutch. He has an appointment with the bunny vet next week to get a check-up and nail trim.

                                    Currently his favorite things to do inside are scare the bejesus out of the cats, try to eat our wood floor (got some apple wood sticks to take care of that), watch Duck Dynasty under the coffee table, and splay himself out over the floor vent in the kitchen.

                                    Eventually, he'll move to being an inside bunny - just need to locate a reasonable indoor set-up.

                                    Here's a pic of the big boy from the night we adopted him - he's thrilled, clearly:

                                    Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue.

                                    A Voice Halted


                                    • Original Poster

                                      And one more, currently my favorite shot of him - he's got a rough life now, huh?

                                      Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue.

                                      A Voice Halted


                                      • #20
                                        As much as I like dogs, cats, and horses (and have plenty of all of them!) if I had to have just one single animal in my life, it would be a bunny! I freaking love them.