Are you bringing rabbits home? Do you want to know how to take care of pet rabbits? When my three children and I went to a pet store and saw these soft, cuddly balls of fur with those cute little velvety ears, those tiny eyes, and twitching noses, we fell in love with them instantly. And so will you.
We brought two females and a male home and they have had over 10 litters of baby rabbits. Together, with our children, we have raised over 100 rabbits at home. We were constantly on Google to understand how to raise them, what to feed them, and what mistakes to avoid. Still, we ended up making quite a few mistakes. We want to share our learnings with you, since you seem to be interested in raising your own cuddly balls of fur.
Reading this will hopefully save you a whole day of Googling!
In this article: Table of contents
1. Before you bring your pet rabbit home
2. How much does a pet rabbit cost in India?
3. What to feed a rabbit
4. How much to feed your rabbits (A simple and nutritious rabbit diet chart)
5. How to feed a baby rabbit
6. Rabbit droppings – a vital clue to health
Before you bring your pet rabbit home
- They might look small and cute but they do grow quickly! If you learn how to take care of pet rabbits well, kits (baby rabbits) grow up to be healthy adult rabbits with a personality of their own.
- They have a voracious appetite: Rabbits are constant eaters and need to have food available at all times. They are almost always chewing and they do this to help maintain the health of their continuously growing teeth.
- Rabbits feel hot: In the wild rabbits burrow and find respite from the heat but as pets it is our duty to ensure we keep them cool, especially if you are in a part of the country where the temperatures soar.
- Rabbits are social animals: Rabbits live together in groups and they have a hierarchy that they maintain. If you are going to be taking on a rabbit then it is upto to you to be the companion or provide a companion for your little pet. Two females work well together, two males may fight, a male and female will eventually lead to many babies unless you plan to spay your rabbits. If you are going the single bunny route then remember to spend lots of time with your bunny, play with it and talk to it.
- Bunnies rule the house: It is lovely to see a bunny as a part of a family, roaming around freely within the confines of your home but a few accidents that we need to watch out for are young kids, while playing around, running around the possibility of these skittish little mammals getting hurt is huge so finding away to control it is key. Rabbits are nibblers so wires, electric cords are all accidents waiting to happen. Rabbits can’t vomit so it is important to ensure that they do not consume anything that is toxic.
Now that you have some basic information about raising rabbits, let’s get on with the main task at hand – how to take care of pet rabbits
How much does a pet rabbit cost in India?
The cost of a pet rabbit in India is Rs 400 to Rs 500. But that is not all the money you will spend. Rabbits are found in plenty at pet stores because of how often they breed and hence they are affordable to buy.
Taking care of rabbits can cost much more than you initially imagine. When it comes to looking after them though allow for anything from Rs. 5000 to Rs 7000 per month for three rabbits.
Our rabbit food expenses (for 3 adult bunnies and their kits)
Hay – 3 bundles – Rs 1500 per month
Green leaves – Rs 750 per week or Rs 3000 per month
Pellets – Rs 1000 per month
How to take care of pet rabbits: Rabbit diet
Here is how to take care of your pet rabbit’s most vital part of life, their diet. What do you feed a rabbit? How much to feed a rabbit? And what not to feed rabbits? Rabbits are constantly eating and have an enormous appetite and it is in their best interest and ours to give them a healthy balanced diet.
Hay is compulsory for rabbits. Their diet should comprise 80-90% of hay. The different types of hay that you can provide for your bunny are Timothy hay, orchard or brome and all these are available on Amazon and a few select pet stores.
Our experience has been that they are not always readily in stock so we order in bulk to ensure our rabbits get their daily dose of hay.
Grass hay is rich in fibre, which is critical for maintaining a rabbit’s healthy digestive tract. Alfa-alfa hay can be given to rabbits below a year because it is rich in calcium and protein. Adults should not be given alfa-alfa hay unless they are feeding a litter. We can not stress enough the importance of hay in a rabbit’s diet.
Leafy greens and vegetables
10 – 20% of your rabbit’s diet should have fresh vegetables and in that mainly green leafy vegetables. Give them a variety of leafy greens such as
- Coriander, Mint, Amaranthus, beetroot leaves, basil, radish leaves, carrots tops; these veggies can be given in a decent amount.
- Spinach, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli leaves and capsicum are just some of the veggies that should be given in moderation
- With lettuce and cucumber be cautious. They have very little nutrients and more water.
- Beans, grain, seeds, nuts, potatoes and corn should be completely avoided from a rabbit’s diet. They are far too many carbs and will lead to obesity and put their digestive tract out of balance
There are few fruits that you can give your rabbit, but as mentioned before these are sweet and too much of this kind of sugar will again disrupt the gut bacteria. A couple of one-inch pieces once a week is acceptable. Here are a few fruits that you can try.
- Apples (deseeded)
- Pears (deseeded)
- Banana (peeled and a small bit)
Stay away from highly wet and pulpy fruit like papaya, mango, watermelon.
Pellets: How much can you give a day?
Pellets can be given everyday but not more than a quarter cup for every 2.5 kg of body weight. Ensure the brand of pellets you get for your bunny does not contain grains.
Store bought treats can be given to your bunny but nothing like making them at home. You can find numerous recipes online. Whether store bought or made at home ensure that these treats do not have added colour, added flavour, seeds, grain and nuts. Remember a treat is a treat and not an everyday thing. Do not fall for that cute face!
Water should have been the first thing on the list but we all know that. Clean fresh water needs to be provided to them. Some rabbits like to drink out of water bowls and some like sipper bottles. If they drink out of a bowl ensure it is cleaned and refilled as many times in a day as required.
There should be no faeces in the bowl and needs to be cleaned each time. The sipper bottles need to be disinfected and cleaned out regularly to ensure no bacterial growth and infection.
What is the favourite food of rabbits? It’s not carrots!
Now every bunny story, every bunny cartoon, showcases bunnies eating and enjoying carrots and depicted as rabbit’s favourite food but here is the danger. Carrots are sweet and are carb heavy which means it is not good for rabbits. Using it as a treat once in a while is okay but do not make it part of a your bunny’s everyday diet.
How much to feed your rabbits (A simple and nutritious rabbit diet chart)
|What to feed your rabbit||How much to feed your rabbit||How often to feed your rabbit|
|Rabbit Hay||80% of their diet||Always keep it in their cage|
|Green Leafy Vegetables||15% of their diet||4 times a day|
|Other vegetables||5% of their diet||Once daily|
|Water||As much as needed||Don’t run out of water|
|Fruit, Carrots||2 pieces, one-inch sized||Once a week|
How to take care of pet rabbits: How to feed a baby rabbit
Baby rabbits also called Kits or kittens are born hairless and blind. If this is your first experience of having baby bunnies we just want you to know, at first, it is very rare to see a mother feeding her babies. It is their instinctive way to keep prey away from their defenceless young.
To know for sure that the babies have not been fed, the thing to do is to see if they are warm and that their bellies are full. If they are cold and the bellies do not seem swollen it is a sure sign that the mother is not feeding them.
At home we always have a packet of powdered goats milk on standby and a feeding syringe all available on amazon. Diluting this powder as per the instructions on the package and fed to the kits is a good substitute to mom’s milk.
Droppings – a vital clue to take care of your rabbit’s health
Droppings are an important clue to determine if your rabbit is healthy or not. If the droppings are dark green, hold shape and then all is good. The moment you notice the droppings are extremely soft and are very loose then you know something is not quite right.
At times like this we offer only hay for the next few days to our rabbits and usually their tummies get back to normal in a day. If your rabbit does not eat the hay then we suggest you make a visit to your vet.
Don’t be alarmed, but rabbits eat their own faeces
Rabbits engage in coprophagy, which is basically, they eat their own faeces. This usually occurs only at night. These droppings are different from the usual droppings that they excrete during the day. They are smaller, darker, pasty and have a slightly sweet fermented odour. Now while this might disgust you please understand this particular kind of droppings are rich in nutrients, specifically protein, Vit. B & K. It is normal! Who would have thought!
Did we help you to take better care of your rabbits? Let us know
We hope you found our learnings useful. Please let us know if you have any questions in the comments below!