In the last six years, I’ve prepared for eight new rabbit’s first day in a new home – my home, to be exact — and made sure I had everything they needed before they even arrived. That’s because, whether the new rabbit I got was a rescue bunny, had been bought from a pet shop or was given to me by a friend, before I brought them home I wanted to be sure the bunny would not only be fed and housed correctly, but would also feel comfortable and secure in his or her new surroundings. Right from the very beginning.
If you too are preparing for a rabbit’s first day in his new home, here are the things I always buy or prepare before I physically bring a rabbit home with me. Having them ensures the first few days of a new rabbit’s residency in my house are as stress-free and pleasant as they are possible to be.
A rabbit cage – I no longer buy a rabbit cage when I’m about to welcome a new rabbit into my home, but that’s because I own three already. If you don’t own a rabbit cage, however, that should be the first thing you go out and buy. Just make sure it’s large enough for your new rabbit to stand up on his hind legs in, and that it’s long enough for him to stretch out full length and still have a lot of room to spare.
Rabbit bowls – Don’t forget you’ll need at least one bowl for food and one for water before your new rabbit arrives in your home. You can buy ceramic or plastic, it’s entirely up to you, but I tend to buy ceramic most of the time as they are easier to clean and far more difficult to be knocked over by bunny and his gigantic back legs.
Rabbit pellets – If you are going to feed your rabbit pellets, make sure you have a new unopened bag of pellets at the ready for when he arrives. There’s no need to buy the most expensive one in the shop either. Any bag of a good brand name rabbit pellet will do. Just don’t feed him too many of them or he will get fat.
Fresh vegetables – I feed all my rabbits a mainly vegetable-based diet. That means I must have fresh vegetables, and some fruit for the occasional treat, in the house at all times.
If you’ve never had pet rabbits before, start off with some kale, cilantro, basil leaves, Chinese celery with all the leaves intact, parsley and some Romaine lettuce. You can feed just one or two veggies to your rabbit at every meal until you make sure he likes everything that you’re giving him and nothing is upsetting his stomach. Then include all veggies in every meal – he’ll love them.
Hay – Most veterinarians recommend something called Timothy Hay for your rabbits, as hay keeps their digestive system working correctly. I always have a huge hay container full of it within easy reach of my rabbits at all times, as well as use it as the top layer of the litter box filling, so my rabbits can eat the hay while they’re pooping.
Hay is inexpensive, yet it should be a huge percentage of your rabbit’s diet. Always make sure you have some in the cupboard as your rabbit could get sick quickly without it.
Toys – Your rabbit may love toys or he may have no use for them (four out of my current six rabbits never play with toys, they’re just completely disinterested), but you should have at least a couple of small ones to start with so you can test him out.
I buy mine at the pet department of a local supermarket here in Bangkok, or in a children’s department as rabbits who like toys tend to love the fluffy little toys and tiny rattles babies love. Plus, if they’re safe for your child, they’re likely to be safe for your rabbit as well.
Rabbit proof your home – Just like if you had a baby and you baby-proofed your home before letting her crawl around, with a new rabbit you’ll have to rabbit proof your house as well. That means making sure wires are taped up out of sight so your bunny doesn’t bite into one and go up in a puff of smoke, getting rid of poisonous plants and protecting your furniture and beds from dirty little feet.
The House Rabbit Society has an excellent article on rabbit proofing your home, and includes all things you will want to do before bringing your new rabbit home.
Remember, all these things are just the very beginning of preparing your home for a new rabbit. As time goes on, you’ll realize you forgot a few things, your rabbit doesn’t like a few more, or you’ll need to add even more items to make his little bunny life complete.
These things, however, will get you through the first week or two of new rabbit ownership without needing much of a financial outlay for anything else.