How to Have an Indoor Rabbit or House Rabbit
If you take a few precautions, rabbits and indoor living can mix very well. You will have to bunny-proof your home, and have your pet spayed or neutered. If you have kids, teach them how to play appropriately with the rabbit, which includes petting rather than picking up.
Rabbits are born to chew, and while wood is their preference in the wild, indoor anything goes. That includes electrical cords -- making a quick end to your pet and possibly setting your house on fire, carpeting, curtains, upholstery, and basically anything he can get his teeth on.
Protect your pet and your home by taking these steps:
- Encase electrical cords in vinyl or plastic tubes, available at hardware stores. Another option, albeit more expensive, are decorative wire concealers that can adhere to the wall. Flexible cable wrap can protect your computer, telephone and similar items that you might move from room to room.
- Provide your pet with plenty of acceptable chewing items and toys.
- Keep your bunny confined when no one is home to supervise him.
- Only allow your bunny in carpet-free areas.
Most rabbits take to litter training quite easily. If kept in a cage, the majority of bunnies "do their business" in one section, generally a corner. Put a small litter box in that area, lining with it newspaper and adding either hay, straw or litter made from recycled newspaper. Other litter types to avoid include cedar or pine shavings, as the odors can harm your pet.
Clean your bunny's litter box daily -- rabbits don't like a dirty bathroom, and may start eliminating elsewhere if the box is filthy.
Bunnies don't shed like cats and many dog breeds, but you will find hair in the house. Brush your rabbit weekly with a soft brush. If he's a long-haired variety, you'll need a comb to keep his fur from matting. A house bunny also need regular nail clipping. You can have your vet perform this ritual, or she can show you how to do it with minimal stress for your rabbit.
If you have cats or dogs in your house, take special care. Most cats will eventually ignore a house rabbit, unless it's very small and a good prey candidate. Introduce them gradually, and don't let the cat have access to the room in which the bunny is kept until you know that they will get along.
Dogs are another story. If you have a dog with a high prey drive, think twice about adding a rabbit to the family. If your dog is well-behaved and responds to your commands, try a gradual introduction. Since rabbits are prey animals, the mere sight of a predator can cause them to panic and even die. Never allow a rabbit and dog to stay together in the house unsupervised.
Feeding Your Bunny
Your bunny should always have timothy hay available. If timothy hay is hard to come by in your area, feed your rabbit another grass hay, but avoid feeding alfalfa. That legume is far too rich for rabbits.
While you can give your rabbit commercial rabbit pellets, these should never account for the bulk of your pet's diet. Provide your rabbit with small amounts of greens daily, the types normally found in salads such as kale, romaine, collards and mustard greens. Bunnies love dandelions, so pick some from your lawn and treat your pet, as long as the yellow flowers haven't been exposed to pesticides. Your bunny should always have clean, fresh water available.