rabbit on window seat looking out at the world

Best Pet Rabbits

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You are in for a real treat. Rabbits are adorable and affectionate animals that make wonderful pets bringing joy to the kid in all of us. Speaking of kids….rabbits bring big smiles and happy giggles to pet-lovin’ kids too!  However, with so many different rabbit breeds around, it can be hugely overwhelming to settle on just one pet rabbit. Hopefully, this article will help. We will try to guide you to the best pet rabbits so that you can select the best breed, based on their size, personality, and care needs.

It’s also important to note that while rabbits do make great pets they do take a lot of work. They are also fragile creatures and so may not be the best pet for young children. Kids should be old enough to understand that rabbits need to be handled carefully.

When looking for a pet rabbit, you need to keep in mind their fully grown size above all else. Smaller breeds, such as the Mini Rex or Dwarf Hotot, are great for those who live in apartments or have limited space. Large breeds, such as the Flemish Giant or the Checkered Giant, require more space and may be better suited for those with larger homes or large outdoor rabbit hutches. 

Additionally, the personality of the rabbit must be carefully observed. Some rabbit breeds are more docile and affectionate, while others may be more independent or even aggressive. 

Finally, the care needs of each breed, including diet, exercise, and grooming must be organized and met. By sorting out and taking care of these chores, you’ll soon have the perfect pet rabbit for your lifestyle and home.

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Rabbits as Pets

If you’re considering getting a pet rabbit, or a pet of any kind, it’s important that you know what you’re getting into. 

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Rabbits are Social Animals

Rabbits crave and need companionship to be happy. If you’re only going to have one pet rabbit, you’ll need to spend a lot of time with it so that it doesn’t get bored and despondent. You can get two rabbits (from the same litter) and keep them together, but make sure they’re either the same sex or both have been fixed. If you ignore this step, you’ll soon end up with a lot of baby rabbits on your hands! Does the phrase ‘breed like rabbits’ ring a bell?

Rabbit socialization can be a delicate thing and even rabbits from the same litter can have issues as they grow. Make sure you understand more about rabbit bonding if you want to keep rabbits together – and you should keep rabbits in pairs, as rabbits love to be with other rabbits!

As we always say here when it comes to rabbits a hutch is not enough. Our belief is that if at all possible bunnies should be kept as house rabbits and treated just as well as dogs and cats. This will mean though keeping them in a bunny proof area for their safety and the security of your possessions. If you are going to cage rabbits they need a large space to move around in and an even larger enclosure to exercise in – more on that later.

Rabbits Need Space

Rabbits need lots of space to run and play. If you’re going to keep your rabbit in a cage, make sure it’s big enough for the rabbit to move around in. The House Rabbit Society which is an amazing resource for any prospective rabbit parents advises that the cage should be at least 8 square feet with at least 24 square feet of exercise space. This exercise space should be either in the home or an enclosed space outside that is secure from predators.

A Healthy Diet

Rabbits need a healthy diet that consists mainly of hay and leafy greens. You should not give your rabbit too many treats, especially sugary or spiced foods, as these goodies will lead to serious health problems. And, never give your rabbit any alcohol or carbonated drinks. Here’s a list of other foods you should never feed a rabbit.

Always make sure your rabbit always has easy access to clean, fresh water.

Regular Vet Checkups

Rabbits must have regular vet checkups to stay healthy. Most people with rabbit pets tend to overfeed their rabbits.  Rabbit obesity is a serious problem. You should find a vet who specializes in cage pets, like rabbits, and take yours in for an exam at least once a year.

Rabbits also need regular vaccinations so check with your vet what’s needed.

Litter Training

Rabbits can be litter trained, which makes cleaning up after them much easier. You’ll need to provide your rabbit with a litter box and train the rabbit to use it.  Some rabbits take to litter training easily, some not so much.

Grooming Needs

Rabbits have specific grooming needs, depending on their breed. Some rabbits need to be brushed regularly to prevent matting, while others need their nails trimmed often. You should research your rabbit’s breed to find out what grooming needs it has.

By learning what your rabbit’s basic needs are, you can give it a happy and healthy home.

Best Pet Rabbits: Breed Overview

A pet rabbit might be the perfect pet that you are seeking. However, it can be tough to know which breed is best for you. It’s also important to remember that many people underestimate just what is involved in caring for a rabbit and many are abandoned or handed over to shelters every year. This then should be your first port of call, to see if there are rabbits in shelters that can be adopted.

If you are going to look for a specific breed here are five of the best pet rabbit breeds you should consider:

Lionhead

The Lionhead rabbit is a small breed with a distinctive mane of fur around its head.  It looks like a lion, hence the funny breed name. Lionheads are friendly, curious, and love to play. They also have a lot of energy, so they need plenty of space to run around. Lionheads are great pets for families with kids, as they’re gentle and generally easy to handle.

Dutch

The Dutch rabbit is a medium-sized bunny breed with a very distinctive black and white coat. They are friendly, social, fun-loving, and love to be around people. They’re also very active, so they need plenty of space to run around and play. Dutch rabbits are great pets for families with children, as they’re easy to handle and have tons of energy.  Plus, these bunnies love to play hide-and-seek, so kids love them!

Mini Lop

The Mini Lop rabbit is a small breed with a cute, floppy-eared appearance. They’re friendly and gentle. They also have a lot of energy, so they need plenty of space to run around.

Flemish Giant

This is a huge rabbit! The Flemish Giant rabbit is a ginormous breed with a gentle, docile personality. They’re friendly, calm, and love to be around people. They have a big heart, a sweet disposition, and a lot of energy. They need plenty of space to frolic around and play. Flemish Giants are much loved pets in families with children — preferably, eight years old and older. They’re pretty docile and easy to handle, but they tend to be big and heavy with a strong kick. So, little kids and babies should never be left alone with this big rabbit breed.

Polish

The Polish rabbit is a small breed with a distinctive, rounded head and short ears. They’re friendly, curious, and love to play. They also have a lot of energy, so they need plenty of space to run around. Polish rabbits are great pets for families with children, as they’re easy to handle and have a lot of personality.

When choosing a pet rabbit, it’s important to consider the breed’s personality, size, and energy level. Each of these five breeds makes a great pet, but it’s important to choose the one that’s right for you and your family. With a little research and some careful consideration, you’re sure to find the perfect furry friend to bring home.

Choosing the Right Rabbit

When it comes to selecting the right rabbit, there are a few things you should consider. In this section, we will cover the most important things to keep in mind when choosing your new pet rabbit.

Age and Size

The age and size of your rabbit must be considered. If you are a first-time rabbit owner, adopting an adult rabbit may be the best choice for you. Mature rabbits typically need less training and are already used to hutches and friendly people.

When it comes to size, smaller breeds like the Netherland Dwarf, Mini Lion Lop, Lionhead, and Jersey Wooly are more energetic, while bigger breeds like the Flemish Giant and Checkered Giant tend to be more laid-back. Keep in mind that big rabbits need bigger areas to live and romp around in and won’t do well in smaller living quarters.

Breed Temperament

Different rabbit breeds come with different temperaments. The American Rabbit, for instance, is a comfortable choice for first-time rabbit owners due to their calm and sweet nature. However, this breed may not be the best fit for young families with small kids because they are timid.

The Mini Rex, on the other hand, is known for being calm and quiet, but may not be the best at being handled. The Mini Lop is another popular breed known for their floppy ears and affectionate nature.

Health and Lifespan

Rabbits live for 8 to 12 years and you should fully understand the health and lifespan of your chosen rabbit breed.

When choosing a particular rabbit, always pick out one that has been well-cared for and appears healthy. Look for clear eyes, clean ears, and a shiny coat. Also, be sure to research any potential health issues that may be common in your favored breed.

Rabbit Care Essentials

There are several rabbit care essentials you need to keep in mind. From proper housing to veterinary care, each plays a key role in your pet rabbit’s health and happiness.

Housing

Of utmost importance is providing a safe and comfortable living space. Your rabbit needs a spacious enclosure that allows him or her to move around freely. A wire playpen, a large cage (not made of wire), or a rabbit hutch are all acceptable as long as they have a solid bottom and a sanitary means of easily disposing of waste. Good rabbit care also requires that the enclosure is cleaned regularly to prevent the buildup of harmful bacteria and wet, smelly waste.

Diet

Hay is critical for your rabbit’s health, not only helping with digestion but also wearing their teeth down. A rabbit’s digestive system can be very sensitive so it’s vital to provide them with the right diet. Read more here on what should be included.

Don’t forget the water! Water should always be available, and the bowl or bottle should be cleaned and refilled daily.

Exercise

Your rabbit’s physical and mental well-being require plenty of daily exercise. Rabbits need space to run, jump, and play. A daily exercise routine can be beneficial for your pet’s health. You can create a play area with tunnels, boxes, and challenging toys to keep your rabbit fit and entertained. Plus, it’s so much fun just to watch them frolic and have a good time.

Grooming

Grooming your rabbit is an important part of its daily care routine. Regular brushing can help prevent hairballs and keep your rabbit’s coat healthy, clean, and shiny. You should also trim their nails regularly to prevent them from becoming too long. 

Veterinary Care

Regular veterinary checkups are needed for your rabbit’s health too. Your vet can help identify any health problems early on and provide any necessary treatment. Vaccinations and spaying/neutering are also important to keep your rabbit healthy and prevent unwanted litters or diseases.

woman lying on the floor playing with her two rabbits

Common Rabbit Behaviors

It is essential that you understand your rabbit’s behavior to guard his or her well-being.

  Here are some common rabbit behaviors:

  • Relaxed Ears: When your rabbit’s ears are relaxed, it means they are calm and content.
  • Binky: A binky is when your rabbit jumps straight up and spins in the air. It is a sign of happiness and excitement.
  • Flop: A flop is when your rabbit flops over on their side. It indicates a content and tired bunny.
  • Teeth Grinding: Soft teeth grinding is a sign of relaxation and contentment.
  • Rabbit Circle: When your rabbit circles around your feet, it means they want attention or food.
  • Rabbit Play: Rabbits love to play, and they may toss toys, run around, or even play with other pets.
  • Bunny Grooming: Like cats, rabbits are fastidious groomers. Don’t be alarmed — rabbits may spend hours grooming themselves or their bonded partner.
  • Eating Cecotropes: Eating cecotropes is a normal behavior for rabbits. These soft, nutrient-rich poop pellets are produced in the rabbit’s cecum and are an essential part of their diet.
  • Butt Twitching: Butt twitching is a sign of pleasure and relaxation.
  • Bunny Zoomies: Bunny zoomies are when your rabbit suddenly darts around the room, often in circles. It is a sign of happiness and energy.
  • Loafing: Loafing is when your rabbit sits with their back legs stretched out behind them. It is a sign of relaxation and trust.
  • Chinning: Chinning is when your rabbit rubs their chin on objects or people. It is a territorial behavior and a way for rabbits to mark their territory.

(Understanding your rabbit’s behavior can help you provide the best care for them. If you notice any sudden changes in their behavior, such as aggression or lethargy, it may be a sign of illness, and you should take your rabbit to a veterinarian.)

Challenges 

Even though rabbits are great pets, there are some challenges that come with owning one:

1. Health Issues

Rabbits are prone to certain health issues that sometimes need expensive veterinary care. For instance, dental problems are very common in rabbits. In fact, they may need routine teeth trimming to prevent overgrown teeth. Also, rabbits sometimes get gastrointestinal stasis, which is a potentially life-threatening condition requiring urgent veterinary attention.

2. Litter Box Training

They are not cats! Litter box training a rabbit can really be challenging, especially if they are not spayed or neutered. Rabbits like to mark their territory so they may not always use the litter box consistently. You must be patient and consistent with rabbits when you are litter box training, and give your rabbit lots of space to move around in. 

If you are easily frustrated or angered, then rabbits are probably not a good pet choice for you. But, if you like to laugh and don’t mind a few rabbit antics, then go for it and enjoy your funny friend!

3. Chewing

Rabbits have a natural urge to chew, and they may chew on furniture, wires, and other items in your home. Providing your rabbit with plenty of chew toys and a safe, designated area to explore can help prevent destructive and dangerous chewing.

4. Socialization

Rabbits are very social animals that very much need daily interaction with their owners to stay happy and healthy. If you are unable to give your rabbit plenty of daily attention and interactive socialization, chances are that they will become bored, depressed, and even aggressive.

5. Diet

We can’t stress this enough and at the risk of being redundant — rabbits need a specific diet that includes hay, fresh vegetables, and some rabbit feed pellets. It is important to provide your rabbit with a balanced diet to prevent serious health issues from occurring.  

(Overall, owning a pet rabbit can be a very rewarding experience, but it is important to be aware of the challenges that come with it. With proper care and attention, your bunny can thrive and bring joy to your life for years to come.)

Benefits 

Rabbits are becoming increasingly popular pets. They offer many benefits and challenges to their owners, like their quiet nature and their litter box training. 

Here are some of the top benefits of having a rabbit as a pet:

Quiet Nature

If you live in an apartment or have close neighbors, having a pet like a dog that makes a lot of noise can be a big problem. Rabbits are a good pet choice because they are very quiet animals. In fact, rabbits are perfect for those who want a pet without the loud noise. 

Litter Box Training

With some patience and good training on your part, rabbits can be litter box trained. So, they are really a low-maintenance pet. In fact, they can be trained to use a litter box just like a cat, which means you don’t have to take them outside for potty breaks. Plus, this makes cleaning up after them so much easier.

Indoor Living

Rabbits can be kept indoors as housepets. This means they can be protected from predators, extreme weather conditions, and common parasites. Indoor conditions offer stable temperature control, ensuring that your rabbit remains comfortable and healthy throughout the year.

Allergy-Friendly

Many people who are allergic to dogs and cats are not allergic to rabbits. This makes them a great option for those who want a pet but have certain pet allergies. However, some people may unknowingly be allergic to rabbits so it’s important to find out before adopting to make sure you’re not allergic.

Companionship

Rabbits are social animals that make great companion pets. They love to play and can be trained to do tricks. They also enjoy being petted and groomed.

Best Pet Rabbits

We’ve attempted to guide you to the best pet rabbit breeds, based on their size, personality, and care needs.  We’ve listed the top five breeds suggested for first-time pet rabbit owners and gone over the many things you’ll need to do in order to become a good pet rabbit parent.  

The bottom line is that rabbits make great pets for a lot of reasons. From their quiet nature to their funny antics. Rabbits give many benefits and, yes, many challenges to their owners. But, they also take a lot of work and come with a unique set of challenges. Please make sure you are prepared for what caring for a rabbit will entail as they will be with you for the next 8 to 10 years or so.

If you do want to bring a bunny, or two home, we encourage you to check your local shelter firsy as there are many bunnies out there waiting for their forever home.

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