BunnyEaster is here! Many of us give gifts to celebrate the gift of life. In the spring our focus turns to baby rabbits and chickens as gifts. Although they are adorable they do grow up into mature rabbits and chickens. As with any pet, they require special attention and have special needs of their own regarding their diet and housing. Let’s explore the needs of rabbits so you can make a wise decision on whether this is a pet for you and your family.

You never want to rush into purchasing any type of pet! Why not give chocolate or stuffed bunnies or chickens until you research if a live rabbit is right for you and your family.

Rabbits are social animals that need affection and can be wonderful companion animals. They are intelligent and can be litter box trained and taught to walk on a leash. Rabbits need to be kept inside (especially in Texas during the summer).

The benefits of spayed or neutered rabbits are many. Like other pets their hormones can cause them to “mark territory”. By spaying or neutering your rabbit, this improves litter box habits, decreases territorial aggression, lessens chewing behavior, and helps your rabbit have a happier and longer life.

Rabbits can have free run of the home but it is best for most rabbits to start with a cage.  To litter box train your rabbit, start by fastening a litter box in the corner of the cage that the rabbit uses for a “bathroom.”  As soon as she uses the box consistently you can give her more freedom. Use only positive reinforcement (treats and praises)—never punishment.

Your home needs to be bunny proofed! It is natural for rabbits to chew on furniture, rugs, drapes and electrical cords. The electrical cords must be concealed so that the rabbit can not reach them. For cords that you can not conceal you can encase them in vinyl tubing.

Give your rabbit lots of attention along with safe chewables and toys. This will distract her from chewing the rugs and furniture. A wonderful play box is a cardboard box stuffed with hay.

Some major health problems rabbits can have are intestinal blockages, bacterial imbalances with the stomach, and infectious bacteria that causes colds.

You want to have an experienced rabbit doctor as they will know the needs of your pet. You want to regularly check eyes, nose, ears, teeth, weight, appetite and droppings for signs of illness.

This is the beginning of our information on rabbits. Watch for more regarding caring for a rabbit in the next blog. We will cover danger signs to watch for, housing, feeding, grooming and supplies needed.