Rabbit Keeping: Everything for a Species-appropriate Rabbit Life

Rabbits have been with humans for a long time. They used to be used as food, but today most rabbits are beloved pets who are pampered and cared for by their owners. However, they have fundamentally different demands and completely different behavior than dogs or cats, for example. In order to do justice to the lovable animals, you should inform yourself in detail about their needs.

How Can I Keep Rabbits Appropriate to Their Species?

Rabbits are intelligent and curious animals that need stimulation and activity – a varied enclosure with hiding places, digging options and rabbit-friendly toys is an absolute must. You should also not underestimate the space requirements of the animals: Rabbits can leisurely hop forward, but they can suddenly dash off, hit hooks, and jump surprisingly high.

In order to be able to lead a species-appropriate rabbit life, the animals need a safe, retreat in the enclosure, plenty of exercises, suitable rabbit food, and employment opportunities that correspond to their nature: digging, nibbling, and exercise. Confident rabbits feel comfortable around people and can also develop a relationship with those who care for them with consideration for their needs. Always act calmly towards the rabbit, without unnecessary hectic rush and noise, and initially lure it with treats until it has gained confidence in you.

Avoid touching the rabbit in the first few days without having to worry: only when it has lost its fear of your hands can you carefully try to touch the animal and gently stroke it, if it will voluntarily allow it. Please always keep in mind that in nature rabbits are the prey of birds of prey and in most cases lifting them is stressful for them. Only pick up the animals when you have to, for example, to visit the vet. To pick up a rabbit, reach under its chest and slide your other hand under its rump.

Can I Keep Rabbits Alone?

The simple answer is no. Rabbits are sociable animals that live in large groups in the wild. Your pet rabbit needs the company of at least one member of its own species in order to be able to live relaxed and according to its nature. It is important that the second animal is actually a rabbit. Contrary to common practice, socialization with guinea pigs is not appropriate to the species. Although the animals can get along well with each other, they are different species that tolerate each other at best, but cannot communicate with each other.

If you decide to have two or more rabbits, make sure that the animals are as old as possible. To avoid offspring, you can choose same-sex animals. Especially with female rabbits, intolerance can occur more often when they are kept together. Rammers should be neutered between eight and ten weeks of age to avoid aggressive territorial disputes. Even in mixed groups, the males should be castrated before the onset of sexual maturity. A good combination is a pair of a female and neuter.

How Should I Set Up the Rabbit Enclosure?

For rabbits to be kept in a species-appropriate manner, it must be ensured that the animal has enough space in its enclosure, which consists of a free-range and a place of retreat. A floor area of ​​at least 6 square meters is required for species-appropriate animal husbandry for two rabbits, and the area must be increased by at least 20 percent for each additional animal. The absolute (!) The minimum size for a retreat of a dwarf rabbit is 150 by 60 centimeters at a height of 50 centimeters so that the animal can stretch out and also stand up. However, this is a purely theoretical rule of thumb, since rabbits can only live appropriately in the company.

With very large rabbit breeds such as the German giants, the enclosure must of course be considerably larger. These details relate to the mere accommodation of the rabbits: The place of retreat must of course not be the permanent place of residence for animals that are so intense in movement. The place of the retreat includes an area in which you can move around several hours a day (ideally constantly). If it is possible to set up such an enclosure protected from predators in the garden or on the balcony, that is ideal.

The place of the retreat itself consists, for example, of a stable plastic lower tub and the latticed structure: The tub should be high enough that the rabbit cannot carry the litter out, but also low enough so that it can look over the edge of the tub. Softly cushion the cage with an underlay made from pellets and generous litter for small animals from specialist shops. Litter made from paper flakes and wool is particularly suitable. Rabbits have sensitive paw pads and should not sit on hard ground. They also love hay and straw to dig and cuddle up with. The enclosure also features feeding bowls, made of heavy material such as ceramics, which do not tip over so quickly, nipple troughs, hay racks, and one sleeping house for each animal, which also serves as a hiding place and lookout point. Each should have two entrances so that the animals can get out of the way.

In a large enclosure, you can add variety with additional accessories such as tunnels or ramps. Some rabbits get used to using a rodent toilet – it’s worth the try. What is important is the location of the place of retreat in an enclosure in a room that is as quiet as possible: the rabbits must never be exposed to drafts or direct sunlight; they are extremely sensitive to heat. Ideally, you should place the retreat in a corner of the room so that it is protected on two sides by a wall; This gives the residents a better overview and does not have to constantly keep an eye out for dangers in all directions.

How Can I Transport Rabbits?

Rabbits appreciate the security of their familiar surroundings. The transport usually means stress for them, but sometimes it cannot be avoided. To transport a rabbit safely – be it from the breeder to the new home or to the occasional vet visit – use a transport box. In this way you prevent the animal from becoming agitated and trying to escape; In the limited space of a transport box, the rabbit feels like in a safe hiding place.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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