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You’ll need to buy special food for a pet bunny and change the bedding in the cage frequently. “The primary component of a mature rabbit’s diet should be grass hay that’s given fresh daily, in large quantities,” Cotter says. To supplement hay, she suggests a daily salad of dark green, leafy vegetables. Rabbit pellets should be given only in very limited quantities, since unrestricted feeding of pellets leads to obesity.
In terms of grooming, rabbits continually clean themselves,and they're notorious for developing hairballs. If the bunny is on a normal, high-fiber hay diet, the hair will pass, but it can build up for a rabbit on a poor diet. If a bunny ingests a small, hard mat of hair, it can get lodged in the intestine, so it's important to regularly brush rabbits, especially longhaired breeds.
Although an outdoor hutch has been the traditional form of housing for a rabbit, today we know better. Keep your bunny indoors, where he will be safe and can interact with the family.
“Be sure to get your pet a cage that allows him to move freely,” Cotter says. It should be at least four feet wide, two feet deep and two feet tall. Although wire-bottom cages are common, solid bottoms are better for your pet’s feet. And line the base with straw or hay to keep your bunny cozy.
Cotter says rabbits are clean by nature and will do their best to keep their living area as such. “Rabbits can easily be litterbox-trained, but you and the rabbit must negotiate this process,” she says.
Watch to see which corner of the cage the rabbit uses for urination. As soon as your rabbit’s choice is clear, put a newspaper-lined litterbox in that corner. Fill it with timothy hay (or any other grass hay, except alfalfa) or pelleted-newspaper litter. If the litterbox is refreshed daily, your rabbit’s home will stay odor-free.
Your bunny needs a safe exercise area, with lots of room to run and jump. “Never leave a rabbit alone outdoors — even for a few minutes,” Cotter says. “Cats, dogs and predatory birds can easily get around fencing. Rabbits might also dig under fences and get lost. If you exercise your pet indoors, be sure to rabbit-proof by covering all electrical wires and anything else that your pet is likely to chew."
Like dogs and cats, rabbits need regular veterinary care, including checkups, dental exams and treatments for illness. But, as Cotter explains, not all veterinarians are knowledgeable about rabbits, so you need to find one with the proper training and expertise. To locate one in your area, search the House Rabbit Society's database.
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