05 April 2016

A Quick Guide to Having A Pet Rabbit

Awhile ago a friend asked me if I could share some information in regards to having a bunny as a pet. After a lot of messages sent back and forth I came to the conclusion that I really needed to write a blog post about this, because like my friend said, it can be a little difficult finding information on bunnies as pets.
A Quick Guide to Having A Pet Rabbit

As most of you know, I have a pet bunny named Olive. She's an English Spot/dwarf mix and I absolutely love that little bun with all my heart. When I first decided that I wanted a rabbit as a pet I did A LOT of research online and no matter how much I read, I wasn't all that knowledgeable until having Olive for a little while. I figured I'd share what I learned with all of you!

So, you're thinking about getting a pet rabbit.
Having a rabbit as a pet is NOT like having a cat or a dog - they need supervision too. In my opinion having a pet rabbit is actually a lot better and I've had both cats and dogs in the past. Rabbits are skittish by nature, I mean wouldn't you if you were not even six pounds? Besides they are prey animals. By default they are ready to move at the slightest sign of danger. You have to be gentle with them, they are keen to doing things on THEIR terms. Sometimes rabbits nip. Olive only does it when you are in her way and she's exhausted all other avenues of moving you. It's never a hard nip, but when she first did it was unexpected. Oh, and they shed too, which is always fun if you have a white rabbit and wear mostly black like I do.

Food, treats and water.
Rabbits need hay and A LOT of it. They should consume hay daily (typically the size of their body). Depending on their size, rabbits will need different amounts of pellets and fresh veggies. For every two pounds of bunny weight, the should get a cup a veggies. Since Olive is 4lbs I give her 2 cups of fresh veggies for dinner. As for pellets, I stick to 2 tablespoons for her breakfast. The list of veggies and fruit that rabbits eat is rather long, so I won't list it here, but you can check out an awesome list over at Rabbit House Society. Believe it or not, Olive's favourite special treat are bananas. She goes crazy for them.

Cage sizes and run times.
A pet rabbit, in my opinion, should always be kept indoors. As for the cage size, you have to remember that once the litter box is in there (yes - rabbits can be liter box trained) there needs to be enough room for the water bowl and area for the bunny to sprawl out. For Olive, I purchased this one. Olive isn't a large rabbit, maybe 4 pounds, so this cage is perfect for her. Keep in mind that when you purchase a cage you should take into consideration what the rabbit's size will be once it's full grown. *UPDATE* We have since gotten Olive a rabbit-tat aka a metal x-pen. Go here for more info.

Picking up your rabbit and other things to consider.
Most rabbits don't enjoy being picked up. Simply consider that you tower over them, they feel safe being low to the ground and picking them up could signal danger. Olive will only let me pick her up on rare occasions. One way to see if your rabbit will even allow you to pick them up is to test the situation. Usually what I do is start by getting down on the ground next to her, I let her sniff me and then I will start petting her. I'll then move my hand towards her side, in between her feet, and if she doesn't bolt  I know that she's cool with letting me pick her up.

How to hold a rabbit - lots of bunny butt support.
When holding your rabbit make sure their paws are pressed to your chest with one hand supporting their butt. Bunnies have very delicate spines and supporting them in that way and location helps them feel safe in the "cuddle position" as I like to call it.

Listen closely, rabbits DO make noises.
Olive loves to grunt if she doesn't like what I am doing. This usually occurs if I have to pick her up and she doesn't want anything to do with it. She'll also grunt if I have to rearrange her set up in her cage while she is still in it. Bunnies can be a little OCD with their habitats and if they set up their stuff a certain way, they don't like to see it altered.

P.S. If you ever hear a rabbit making a grinding noise while you're petting them, it means that they are content. It's the bunny equivalent of purring.

Honestly, rabbits make great pets,  they can live up to ten years (sometimes more) so it is a big decision. They need love and attention just like any other animal. And please, if you are thinking about getting a rabbit, check out local shelters near you. There are so many bunnies in need of adoption.

You can check out Olive's adventures here.


  1. Great information! Since I've met Olive and got to hold her, I know how sweet she is!!

    1. She loved you. Seriously, I haven't seen her stay that long in someone's arms besides mine!