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Basic tips on preparing for and surviving a house rabbit.

It's almost impossible to truly appreciate a rabbit until you have lived with one in your home. Just like dogs and cats, rabbits are companion animals with individual personalities all their own. You will need to prepare though, a house rabbit brings with it some special needs, and certain precautions should be taken before bringing your bundle of bunny joy home. Think of your rabbit as a two year-old child and prepare accordingly.

Basic indoor bunny needs

Living area:
If your bun will be spending alot of time loose in the house then its cage doesn't need to be too big. Even if this is the case, the cage should have adequate room to accommodate the bunny, a feeder and water bottle, a litter box, and some room left over for bunny to stretch and hop. If the cage you are considering is too small to fit these necessities then it is too small for your bunny and you should look at the next larger size cage. Try to choose a cage with a wire floor and a removable catch pan for bunny droppings. These are very easy to keep clean. A fish aquarium is not suitable for a rabbit and should never be used unless it is an absolute emergency and then only for a short period of time.

Feeding your rabbit a consistent diet is very important. Find one brand of rabbit pellet that is convenient to purchase and stick with it. Large food and water hoppers that hold several days worth of feed and water are available at many rabbit supply stores or your local pet store. J-feeders and water bottles are preferred to bowls or crocks because they are less likely to be tipped over and spilled, thus keeping the living area cleaner. More info on proper feeding can be found here. A list of good and bad bunny treats can be found here.

There are many different substances you can use for bedding. Shavings or hay is the most economical, but hand towels and sheepskin rugs work best for indoors because they don't stick to the fur and get tracked all through the house. All you need is something for your bunny to rest on comfortably.

Rabbits are easily trained to use a litter box just like a cat. Please click here for more info on litterbox training techniques.

Bunnies need toys for mental and physical exercise. They love anything they can climb into or pick up and make noise with. See a list of some great toys for bunnies you can probably find around your house and make yourself.

You will want to spend time with your rabbit each day. Playtime strengthens the friendship and bond between you. Use your time together to observe your bunny for early signs of health problems. If you know what is normal behavior for your rabbit it will be much easier to recognize abnormal behavior, which is usually the first sign of sickness. Soon you will find your rabbit demanding your attention. Remember, think of your rabbit as a two year-old :- )

Bunny Proofing Your Home:
You will need protection! You must bunny proof your house! Bunnies love to chew and dig, so the indoor rabbit owner must take special steps to safeguard their home before bunny is let loose to run or it will certainly have its way with the most precious possessions in the home. Along with providing chew toys to distract bunny, you will also need to devise ways to keep bunny from chewing on furnishings and household items. For the sake of your home and the rabbits health, NEVER let your bunny roam free without constant supervision. This is just asking for trouble.

Carpet - Tack down, pull up, or cover with plastic runners. You can also try a small dab of perfume in the preferred spot. Bunnies' noses are very sensitive and they will avoid strong odors. There are commercial sprays available made just for this purpose.

Wiring - Raise phone, TV, appliance, computer and all electrical wires out of bunnies reach. Remember that bunny will stand up on its hind legs......Out of reach is a long way up! Cover any wires that cannot be raised with thick plastic aquarium tubing to deter chewing.

Off limits areas - Chances are you won't want your entire home ruled by a rabbit. Baby gates are great for blocking doorways while still letting you and your bunny see each other. Get down low and look for any nooks or cranny that your bunny could get wedged in or stuck. If you don't want to spend an hour fishing your bunny out from behind the fridge... block it off. Rabbits are very inquisitive animals. Once your bunny is comfortable it WILL investigate ever inch of its domain.

Doors - Watch for doors that open into rooms. It will easily accidentally hit a free roaming bunny while going in or out of rooms. Remember to open and close doors slowly.

Kitchen - You wouldn't let your toddler play in the kitchen while you are cooking would you? Again, a simple baby gate keeps bunny out of trouble while not blocking its view.

Furniture - Cover, raise, remove, or you can try a small dab of perfume or commercial chewing deterrent. A short burst of water from a spray bottle to bunny's face will quickly tell it that the particular item is off limits.

Plants - Raise beyond bunnies reach or remove altogether. If your bunny must sample plants in the home try growing one of these "good for bunny herbs". If you're not sure if a plant is poisonous or not, just move it. Better safe than sorry.

Household Chemicals - Many chemicals can be fatal to rabbits if ingested. Ensure every room in the house is rabbit safe.

An indoor rabbit is one of the most wonderfully rewarding pets you can keep. They are loving, intelligent, comical creatures. But be warned, bunnies get in your blood and before you know it, you will be wondering how you ever lived without one...or two...or.....

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