General Care Guidelines for Our Bunnies
General Rabbit Care for both Flemish and Germans. Breed specifics are given at the end of the article.
Brand new bunny:
It is stressful for your new bunny to go to a new home. They adjust quickly but please give them space for a day or two.
- We recommend having their home ready before you bring them home.
- Let them get used to their new home for the first 24 hours. Do not pick them up or take them out of their home for the first day. Try to avoid loud noises in their area. Do be around and talk to them though.
- Day 2 open their door, but don’t force them out. Hang out around their home and sit on the floor. Let them come to you first.
- Hand feed them their pellets as a treat. This will earn trust fast and teach them to come to you and even do tricks for pellets.
- Only feed hay and 1 cup of pellets for first couple days. Then SLOWLY introduce veggies and 1 at a time. See below for diet.
- If you notice loose fecal pellets limit or remove all treats, food pellets and veggies/fruit from diet for a day or two. Stress can cause this and high calorie diet make it worse. They ALWAYS NEED UNLIMITED HAY! NEVER LIMIT HAY!
Our Recommendations for diet:
- ½ to 1 cup pellets and Alfalfa hay until 6 or 7 months old. Timothy is fine too. Alfalfa has more calories so it is recommended for young rabbits. It is not recommended for older (over a year old) rabbits unless they are pregnant/nursing. We also add old fashioned oatmeal to the pellets (2 tbs). Tractor Supply sells a large bale of hay for about $20. This is plenty to last well over a month for one bunny used liberally. We will provide a small bag for food. You can mix it 50/50 with the pellets you choose to transition the bunny.
- Never suddenly change their diet/pellets. When introducing a new pellet add to current pellets 50/50 for a few days to a week and watch how they adjust to it first.
- Our bunnies are used to an assortment of veggies (roman lettuce, kale, collards, carrots, broccoli, clovers, … (moderation – couple baby carrots or 1/3 whole), apples (1/4 apple), bananas (1/3 with peal). Please use small amounts of any fruit. The sugar can cause soft fecal pellets. Limit fruit to once or twice a week. Also reintroduce all veggies slowly (1 at a time). The babies are now separated from mom and may not tolerate as well without her milk.
- Unlimited water in a bottle or heavy bowl. We put a cap full of Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar per 32ounce water bottle. This helps with urine smell, keeps the coat healthy and is a great tonic.
Our Recommendations for litter box training:
- Our bunnies are litter trained. They do and will probably leave fecal pellets around to mark their territory. How much and often depends on how many bunnies you have and the bunny itself. These pellets should be dry and basically odorless. If they are soft/wet at all see above on limiting food pellets/fruits and only giving them hay until they are hard again. Neutering your bunny will help with litter box habits and marking greatly.
- Our bunnies are big and need at least a large cat little box. We use horse stall wood pellets for the bedding/odor control (at tractor supply you get a huge bag for $6). And put their hay inside the litter box. They will eat, sleep, poo and pee in the same place and it’s ok:). They will not eat the soiled hay, so once or twice a day put fresh hay in the box to assure they are eating hay. This will also take care of the smell. You can easily go 3 days or more days for 1 bunny with a large litter box like this w/o bad smell. Apple Cider Vinegar will also help keep urine from smelling strong when added to their water.
- Spot clean with white vinegar. This will deodorize w/o harming the bunny.
- Rabbits choose one corner as their litter box. If they pee outside the box you may want to move the box to the spot they prefer. It is very hard to win a battle of wills with a bunny.
Our Recommendations to keep bunny healthy and happy:
- Toys! Cat tunnels, wood rabbit toys (they need to chew), tubes from paper towels or toilet paper stuffed with hay, cardboard boxes,…
- They must have a house to hide in. A cardboard box is perfect and cheap.
- If weather is above 80 make sure they are in shade and have plenty of cool water and a fan on them if possible. Frozen water bottles or frozen/cool tiles help too.
- Give them time to run around every day.
- Give them a large enough home. Big enough for them to jump around and fully erect their ears. They can jump about 2 feet high so if the walls are 2 feet or under they will jump out. We keep ours in a spare room or a dog play pen.
- Lots of company. Rabbits are social. They get along great with cats and dogs. Just make sure especially with larger dogs that they are supervised.
- Pick them up and cuddle every day. Be sure the support the bottom when you pick up and put back down so they do not kick you. The more you hold your bunny the easier it is and they even start to like it.
- Trim their nails every month with a dog/cat nail trimmer. Be very careful not to cut the blood supply. If you hold the nail near a light you can see that the blood supply is darker in color. Trim a small part at a time. As you do this the quick of the nail will start to recede. You can start trimming a rabbit’s nails around 6 months old. I hold my rabbits like a baby when cutting their nails. If they won't be still you can wrap them up in a towel "bunny boritto".
- Do not bath your rabbit. They clean themselves similar to how a cat does. However, they cannot cough up hairballs like a cat so it is very important to brush them to limit what they ingest.
- Wool block (caused by fur stuck in digestive system)can cause a rabbit to stop eating and can kill them. If you see evidence of fur in the poo (looks like poo is stringing together) I recommend giving them chewable papaya vitamins. They love them! I give my adults papaya chewable tablets when they are molting or if I suspect they need digestion help. One or 2 tablets daily and you will see improvement in a couple days.
- To prevent and treat ear mites we put a couple drops of mineral oil in the rabbits ears every month. You can also use cat ear mite treatment to treat mites.
- To treat and prevent fleas we use diatomaceous earth. Just poof or sprinkle it over thier fur and area and it naturally kills anything with an exoskeleton by drying it out. It's also a natural dewormer and is healthy to ingest. Just get food grade. We now use this to get rid of ants as well.
Some Breed Specific notes:
Flemish Giants and French Lops:
- Flemish are the largest breed of rabbit so they will not fit into a standard bunny cage. An XL dog crate or dog pen works well. They can jump over 2 feet high.
- French Lops were bred by crossing Flemish Giants with English Lops. They are very large so will need similar space as a Flemish.
- They need to be brushed a few times a week and when you do check to make sure they do not have matted areas on their bottom or feet.
- They do not like the heat. If they must be kept outside or in temps over 85 degrees please provide a fan and/or frozen bottles to keep them cool. Also always have fresh water available.
- German Angoras are not plucked. They do not shed like some other breads of angoras. They need to be shorn or cut down every 90 days or so. They should be brushed every few days and when that is done do a general well check making sure they are clean. Cut any matting right way, but they rarely mat.
- German Angoras do not tolerate heat well. Especially if they are not shorn keep them out of the heat and provide a fan or frozen water bottle if they are in temperatures above 80 degrees.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out. I am still learning but love to talk bunny!