HELP school me on keeping rabbits as pets

Meadowlark

Has No Life - Lives on TB
I used to own a cat. I became allergic to it. I still kept it 15 years before it took sick and had to be put down.

Dogs are too high maintenance and expensive. So I am thinking rabbits.


I know they can be litter box trained and can be by themselves for long periods of time.

Chime in.:)
 

Macgyver

Veteran Member
They chew EVERYTHING. Woodwork, electrical wires, kitchen cabinets. If I was going g to keep one indoors, I'd keep it caged or in an x-pen unless I was actively paying attention to it.

Summerthyme
Thats usually what happens although I know someone with 2 and they don't have that issue.
She has a big dog cage (think saint bernard size) in there is the litter box, food, water, and sticks from outside for chewing.
There is a ramp up one side to a raised area with beds.
She closed them up when they were young and now they get free range most of the time.
Maybe that's what trained them to do everything in there.
 

Mprepared

Veteran Member
The neighbors dumped rabbits in 2012 and my husband built a hutch. I knew nothing about them. I started searching and I found a lady who had a rabbit she had in the house and a spare bedroom was this rabbit's area, food, bed, etc, but had the run of the house. The woman was downstairs and she said to this rabbit, you have treats in your room. The rabbit looked at her like a dog would trying to understand and turned and ran up the stairs to the room. I was shocked. I had no idea they could learn words like a dog. I am not even sure my cat would respond to a whole sentence. They learn their names and the Flemish Giant is a very tame and interesting rabbit. I found out you need a vet that knows something about them and you have to be careful what you feed them. They do chew things.
 

kyrsyan

Veteran Member
Be careful with food. Don't make sudden changes. Have their pen somewhere where they can get at least ambient sunlight. They live a lot longer than most people think, easily as long as cats. When you let them loose, use an enclosed area to keep them from doing damage. Kid fencing typically works.
 

Freeholder

This too shall pass.
My oldest daughter's first husband had a children's entertainment business (professional clown/magician). He kept his 'trick' bunny in the house. Turns out at least two of their four children are now deathly allergic to rabbits. So, since you already have allergies, I would suggest going into this with caution. Could you possibly borrow a rabbit for a bit and try it out, before making a commitment?

Other than that, I haven't got much to add. I've only kept rabbits as meat animals.

Kathleen
 

Mprepared

Veteran Member
One of the neighbor rabbits had started out as a pet and he ran loose in my yard for awhile before winter and I put him in the house and he would chase my cat. The cat would be sitting and he would go up and put his nose on the cat's tail and the cat would run and he would chase the cat.
 

energy_wave

Veteran Member
When I was married, the wife rescued a rabbit some local kid received as an Easter present that was abandoned. For several weeks, he was bunked down in the corner of the living room with cardboard box for a home, a litter box and a cage wall to keep him in the corner. Over time, he adjusted and became very friendly. The cage wall was removed and he was allowed to go any place in the house. He eventually found the stairs and patio screen door to the upstairs deck which he chewed through. Once he got on the deck, he had access to the roofs and gutters full of hemlock seeds, which he loved. He kept the gutters clean on the garage, lol. In the evening we'd take the dog for a walk into the woods and would come home with an armload of apple branches. That rabbit would jump for joy when we dropped them on the floor. He would eat the leaves and stems like candy. He used the litter box religiously and was the cleanest animal in the house. The cats treated him like one of their own. He had a good life with us until he died.

Rabbits make great pets, just make sure there aren't raccoons around leaving the parasite that can infect rabbits.
 

skwentnaflyer

Veteran Member
They chew, they love to pee on beds, and they scream when you catch them.
I would never have another one in the house.

ETA: they have to chew, to keep their teeth from getting overgrown, it's not boredom.
 
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Faroe

Un-spun
I've had them. They ARE chewers. Keep an eye on the teeth, which can get painfully overgrown. I prefer the larger, easier going breeds over anything "dwarf." Small rabbits seem to be higher energy. IMHO, some have too much energy to be suitable house rabbits. That said, my beloved sweet Ifshin was a small rabbit, and lived with me in the house. Ceramic tile is the best flooring, in my experience. Many rabbits are shy, and may not ever grow to be friendly.

Your best bet to pick a good companion would be to consult a rescue that works with lots of them. Also, a copy of The House Rabbit Handbook would be handy. Completely Angora is also very good, even if you don't get an Angora.

The litterbox part is....mostly/maybe. They will likely still leave some pellets around, these can be dry, or squishy. Like I said; tile floors and a spray bottle of vinegar.
 
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Hognutz

Has No Life - Lives on TB
My Daughter had a Lionshead breed. He was a good pet , but chewed everything. When we would let him out the cage he would hump anything he could find that was female rabbit sized…
 

Faroe

Un-spun
You might have a better experience with a couple of fancy rats. I am completely serious.
Curious, out-going, sweet natures. Very intelligent. About the same amount of work as a rabbit, without the headaches. The biggest expense is the cage - Critter Nation is the best choice, by far.
 
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teneo

Contributing Member
My wife had several early in our marriage. They were very cute but fragile and any little illness resulted in death. We took them to multiple vets who did the best they could but they still died.

I recall that they pee a lot. If you give them some room to run around the area will soon be drenched and the smell is heavy on ammonia- something about their biology makes their urine very powerful.

Cute critters but we eventually decided that nature has put rabbits into the world to be food for higher-order animals so that’s why they breed a lot and are not very resistant to stress. After the rabbits all died we had children and have been more successful.
 

Bridey Rose

Senior Member
Friends had 2 they kept in a pen in the back yard. I felt sorry they had to constantly stand on mesh wire so I'd take the female out of the cage from time to time. The male refused to be picked up. They don't like to being off the ground; they like having all fours on terra firma.

Once I tried to get a rabbit to sit quietly with me in a lawn chair. After a phenomenal struggle, the rabbit finally gave up and sat still on my lap. Visitors who came by were shocked to see the rabbit sitting quietly with me, but they didn't know the struggle required to subdue the beast! Rabbits may be covered in soft fur but they are not cats; they won't sit quietly and submit to being petted without a fight.

And they do scream. Once I took a rabbit out of the cage and let her run around on the lawn. A stray cat sauntered into the yard and regarded the rabbit with some interest. I panicked. When I grabbed the rabbit firmly around the ribs and picked her up to protect her from the cat, I was surprised to hear a normally quiet animal scream like that!

The nice thing about rabbits is they can do double duty. They are both pets AND meat! And if you get a boy and a girl, you can always breed more rabbits. If you do, I suggest you name the girl "Fajita" and the boy "Picadillo." I've never eaten rabbit, but I've heard that the meat is really sweet and one large rabbit can feed a family of four.
 
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goosebeans

Veteran Member
Rex and mini Rex rabbits have a coat like velvet. That would be your best bet, if you have allergies. We used to raise regular coated rabbits for meat but hubby was a complete miserable mess with his allergies whenever he butchered one. Had to quit rabbits.

 

Tesss

Senior Member
I was sold a "she". She ate the woodwork and was a pooping machine. The local park had a petting zoo and they took her. Turns out it was a "he". So much for having "papers"!
 

summerthyme

Administrator
_______________
Send Donald Shimoda a PM. He's been reading this evening. It's possible he won't be able to answer you because of his cancer, but he adored his pet rabbits, and was certainly our resident expert.

Send him our well wishes if you contact him!

Summerthyme
 

Pinecone

Has No Life - Lives on TB
One summer night over in Central Oregon, hot in the day and cold at night, someone dumped several Holland Lops. DH and DD found it coming home from a hike at nightfall. It was about 4 weeks old, and would fit in my hand. Someone had tatted it's ear. We think he had been out alone, without food and water in heat and cold, and bite sized for owls and coyotes for two nights, based on when the others were found in the neighborhood.

We kept it and it grew into a nice little bunny. We named him Hazelnut. He was the most beautiful bunny we've ever seen. He had a pen to live in, but he was so well behaved we let him roam the house. The only thing he chewed on was the earphone wires I used on my desktop.

He was my bunny. And evidently I was his. He groomed my forehead. Only mine. One day, his little male bunny hormones kicked in and he would try to mount my leg. Yuck. Then he jumped on the couch, onto my DH, looked him in the eyes and peed all over him. Flying bunny! He was put in his cage and the next day there was a call to the vet. (The rest of the family still laughs and love to tell that story!)

It was a little country vet who did the deed and I got to watch. That was an experience. When the vet tech went to sterilize his parts (he was still awake at this point) he withdrew his testicles. The vet tech was very confused, because they were just there. She held him up and gently shook him a little, but . . . nothing. The vet was amused. He told us they can withdraw their testicles when the get into fights. And evidently to protect them from vets and vet techs. The surgery went well and he recovered quickly, soon becoming a calmer, nicer bunny. The vet techs renamed him Hazelnut-less. LOL

He had a cage we could confine him in, with a litter box, food and water. We generally used hay for his box.

He loved to tease the cat. They would chase each other around the house. Other times, Bunny would wait until the cat was sleeping in front of the fire, then run and bump her tail, just to count coup on her! He attacked the vacuum cleaner. He was fearless. He and the old dog got along fine. They ignored each other.

We fed him apple branches to keep his teeth worn down, boxes, and toilet paper tubes. He loved apples and berries and watching him hoover up his lettuce or hay was always entertaining. Dandelion flowers were his favorites and I think of him when I see them.

We loved him dearly, and for us, he was a great pet. Yes, he did drop pellets (dry poops) sometimes, and when moving from one state to another (they don't like change) peed on our sleeping bags. Back into your pen, you rotten rabbit! He was pretty healthy, but at age 6 was getting arthritis. One day, he was running out of the bedroom and ran right into my hiking boot. He lost the ability to use his back legs the next day. We let him go a couple days, then had him put down. It broke my heart.

I still see him bunny dancing. It was joy personified. I miss his cuddles and bunny purrs. I miss watching him levitate onto the furniture to sit with us. I miss watching his sassy self climb to the top of a rock, or go explore or help me in the garden, hiding under the potatoes. I'm sure there is still some bunny fur wandering around in the very back of the closet. We wore it with aggravation and amusement for years, but it wasn't onerous. It could make the nose tickle!

DD has two bunnies. One has GI issues frequently. One chews on books and both will chew wires, so they are mostly pen bound unless she lets them run outside. They aren't as cuddly as Hazelnut was, but they are loved house bunnies. Their cat ignores them.

Is a bunny right for you? Hard to tell. I guess it depends on your allergies, and the personality of the bunny. The more time you spend with it, the better pet it will be. Good luck.
 

summerthyme

Administrator
_______________
bunny right for you? Hard to tell. I guess it depends on your allergies, and the personality of the bunny. The more time you spend with it, the better pet it will be. Good luck.
I'll add that the younger (after weaning) you can get one, the better. A 5-6 week old bunny is a bit younger than most like to wean them, but they are fully on solid food and fully furred... the big rabbitries routinely wean bunnies at 6 or even 5 weeks, in order to breed the doe back sooner. But they will imprint on you much, much better than a few weeks later, and affected a few months, it might be impossible to ever really tame one which had little or no human contact before you bought it.

Are you in an area where 4-H is sctive? Rabbits are a popular project. There almost always someone who has some for sale. Look for a county Cooperative Extension office, or look on the web for local 4-H contacts.

Summerthyme
 

zookeeper9

Veteran Member
We have rabbits. And prefer the larger breeds our favorite is the Flemish Giant. They can be litter trained easily. High quality rabbit pellets are needed, but the most important thing is hay. Hay should be their primary food source. Other things are just treats -- carrots, lettuce, apples slices are favorites around here and doled out sparingly.

They are prey animals and WILL hide illnesses until it too late most of the time. If you get to know their personalities and quirks you can usually pick up on something. We caught a URI with one of our rabbits because of one sneeze she made. I took her to the vet and she was already fairly sick. (She pulled through because we caught it early)

It is important you have an excellent exotic vet that knows rabbits, not just a vet that sees rabbits. It can make all the difference. Also consider getting the fixed, male and/or female. Males can get aggressive and females can get pyometra.

They chew everything so you need to keep cords up and out of the way (or encased in PVC).
 

DazedandConfused

Veteran Member
I raise rabbits for meat. My breeders are pets :) Only send the babies to freeze camp once the are filled out.
I have Silver Fox, New Zealand whites and Tennessee Reds. They all make great pets and can be very loving critters if shown the same love. Indoors they should be caged until they learn life indoors.
Remove any electrical cords from their range within the house till they learn not to chew..LOL Litter box training is easy as they will always poop in the same place.
Claws needed to be trimmed regularly their hind legs can leave a deep scratch and the bigger breeds can break a mans arm if they kick you just right.
Male and female together equals babies in 30 days LOL and it only takes a min for the deed to be done.
Iceberg lettuce is deadly for rabbits and carrots should be limited to just a small treat now and then. Keep plenty of fresh water and pellets available and a small stash of Timothy hay 24/7.
Enjoy the rabbit as a pet and if it doesn't work out they make a fine meal.;)
 

Griz3752

Retired, practising Curmudgeon
The nice thing about rabbits is they can do double duty. They are both pets AND meat! And if you get a boy and a girl, you can always breed more rabbits. If you do, I suggest you name the girl "Fajita" and the boy "Picadillo." I've never eaten rabbit, but I've heard that the meat is really sweet and one large rabbit can feed a family of four.
Had neighbours who raised Belgian Lops??? for meat - we ate lots of those at holidays -- very tasty
 

psychgirl

Veteran Member
From my experience at work as a tech, yes, they do have special needs, and usually a veterinarian with special attention to their particular husbandry is best for any illnesses and regular care. We will only see them for very minor issues such as nail trims or a quick exam.
Just a personal choice of my boss; he chooses not to see exotics or these type of animals.
They can really hurt themselves if frightened or angry especially their spine/back can be badly damaged if they freak. We’ve had to immediately cease a nail trim before just because the animal was in an angry scared panic. Even our best restraint efforts just weren’t working.

Everything else mentioned here is true as far as I know and that’s not much lol.
They’re probably wonderful pets, smart, sweet, and great indoors, they just have some special issues.

(As an aside, I adore the guinea pig patients we have, most of us techs will fight to get those appointments!! We only have two or three of those pet owners so those don’t come around too often!)
 

Mary Contrary

Veteran Member
If you have an allergy to cats, then you may have an allergy to rabbits.
my ex boyfriend many yrs ago loved rabbits..said only give Timothy hay as alfalfa is too sweet like candy. Carrots too are too sweet and he gave just an inch once a day or less. The fur flies all over the place and floats in the air.

It is worse than cat hair. He got a slight allergy to it, but still kept it. At one point he had 5, but he took great care of them. Gotta trim their nails. Bunny beans are dry no problem.

One day he freaked out a friend. There was a raisin on the floor and he picked it up and ate it. The friend thought it was bunny poop. The friend never visited him again.
One of the neighbor rabbits had started out as a pet and he ran loose in my yard for awhile before winter and I put him in the house and he would chase my cat. The cat would be sitting and he would go up and put his nose on the cat's tail and the cat would run and he would chase the cat.
i had a rabbit many yrs ago. Got along great with the cat. They would play.
I've had them. They ARE chewers. Keep an eye on the teeth, which can get painfully overgrown. I prefer the larger, easier going breeds over anything "dwarf." Small rabbits seem to be higher energy. IMHO, some have too much energy to be suitable house rabbits. That said, my beloved sweet Ifshin was a small rabbit, and lived with me in the house. Ceramic tile is the best flooring, in my experience. Many rabbits are shy, and may not ever grow to be friendly.

Your best bet to pick a good companion would be to consult a rescue that works with lots of them. Also, a copy of The House Rabbit Handbook would be handy. Completely Angora is also very good, even if you don't get an Angora.

The litterbox part is....mostly/maybe. They will likely still leave some pellets around, these can be dry, or squishy. Like I said; tile floors and a spray bottle of vinegar.
pellets very good for the garden.
My Daughter had a Lionshead breed. He was a good pet , but chewed everything. When we would let him out the cage he would hump anything he could find that was female rabbit sized…
my ex solved that problem. He gave the bunny a large beach ball and it would hump it a lot.
 
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