Monday, May 23, 2016

Want a Bunny? Here's What You Need to Know

If you want to become a first time bunny parent or just brought a bunny into your home then this is for you. Bunnies are such complex animals and any information you know about them is great to have on hand, even if it may seem trivial now.

Rabbits, contrary to what most people think, are NOT rodents. A rabbit is actually a lagomorph, which is a Greek word meaning "hare-shaped". The difference between a rodent and a lagomorph is in their diet and their teeth. With that said, let's make teeth our next topic.

Bunnies have 28 teeth that never stop growing, which is why they constantly need to chew. This is one reason why hay is so important in a rabbit's diet. It keeps their teeth trim and healthy. Issues with teeth can develop depending on genetics, age and a bunny's previous care. Early detection of any dental issues can make it easier to treat before the problem gets out of control.

Another reason hay is essential in a bunny's diet is for their digestive health. Like cats, rabbits do get hairballs, the difference being that bunnies cannot vomit, so they can't cough up the hairballs like a cat. Hay keeps the bunny digestive system in working order. They should always have unlimited hay available to them. Always give them hay and never ever feed them food with seeds or nuts. Pet stores do sell those items, but that doesn't make them healthy. You can walk into a grocery store and buy a box of doughnuts, but that doesn't mean they're healthy for you. Nuts and seeds are something that a bun just can't handle in their gut.The digestive system of a rabbit is quite complex and they can develop gut issues very quickly and if not treated by the proper veterinarian, it can be fatal. Having some dye-free infant gas drops in your bun's medicine cabinet can be extremely helpful for tummy issues. Depending on the area where you're located, will determine what these drops are called. In the United States we call it Simethicone, while in other parts of the world, it's referred to as Infacol. Please do NOT think gas drops will be a cure for whatever is making your bunny's tummy uncomfortable. The drops can ease the discomfort of built up gas and ONLY that. To know for sure what the issue is, you will need to consult with a rabbit savvy veterinarian. When I say rabbit savvy, I mean an exotics veterinarian. Many veterinarians will tell you they can treat bunnies in their office, but rabbits are nothing like cats and dogs when it comes to their medical treatment. To ensure your sweet bunny gets the proper medical care, please do some research to find an exotics vet closest to you.

Bunnies are prey animals. They have this instinct which makes them fearful of almost everything. Even though they're safe inside your home that doesn't stop them from thinking a predator is just around the corner. Being prey animals means they try to hide any sickness or injury they may develop. In the wild bunnies are vulnerable to any carnivorous animal, but a sick bunny in the wild is even easier prey, so they try to conceal any health issues, even from you. If you suspect your bunny is sick or injured, listen for extremely loud grinding of the teeth (soft grinding is okay as that is equivalent to a cat's purr), look for decreased water intake, decreased appetite or no appetite at all, any change in the shape, consistency and amount of fecal pellets, and sitting in a hunched position for extended periods of time or if your bunny doesn't move much. All are signs that your bunny needs to be seen by a rabbit savvy vet immediately. So always make sure you have a pet carrier to transport your bunny because you never know when an emergency will happen. Bunnies are so fragile. They can be healthy one minute and knocking on death's door the next.

Rabbits love to be clean so they will bathe themselves like a cat. There may be times when your bunny will need some assistance in keeping clean. If your bun has a messy bottom then ONLY that area should be cleaned. Bunnies should NEVER be given a bath where they are completely submersed in water. I will say now that you will hear varying opinions on this topic but I advise you to never give your bun a complete bath. It's not worth risking your bunny's life. If they get a messy bottom just give them a butt bath. Even a butt bath can carry risks if you don't know what you're doing.

Please choose adoption when you're thinking of bringing a bunny into your home. There are many moral reasons as to why you should adopt but I will not get into those just now. If you adopt, you will be getting a bun who is already spayed or neutered. More than likely they will have already had a thorough veterinary examination and if not, some adoption centers will allow you to adopt and take the bunny to the vet yourself  but they will cover the cost of the vet visit.

I would like to add one more piece of info before I finish this post. Bunnies need 3-4 hours of run time each day. That means 3-4 hours outside of their cage or pen, if you're not letting them run free in your home. Younger bunnies will need more run time, of course. Just be sure the area they're running around in has been bunnyproofed. I'll go into more detail on this, as well as other bits of info provided here, in later posts.

Bunnies are not the low maintenance pet most believe them to be. I do hope with all this information you now have a better understanding of these majestic animals. I think I've more than likely overwhelmed you with this particular post so I'll give your brains and my hands a rest for now! ;)

As always feel free to email me with any questions you'd like covered in a post at

**** DISCLAIMER: The information provided here is just that...information. I am not a rabbit savvy veterinarian, but I do have years of experience with bunny care. This is only information to help you with your new bunny. This information is not intended to diagnose or treat any illnesses or injuries. Always consult your bunny's vet for medical issues. ****