Posted Feb 23, 2015
We had two rabbits that were given to us by people who did not take care of them. The female had an eye infection, and the male was very skinny. They had been kept in garage. Rabbits need natural light, like to be clean, and need to be able to run around to keep them happy. We built them an outdoor hutch that was like a three-bedroom condo. The “living room” had chicken wire sides for fresh air. The “dining room” had a skylight and air vents near the roof. The “bedroom” where they slept was completely enclosed with solid walls. The top unhinged so we could remove the rabbits or clean it out. The hutch was also on 4-foot legs to keep them above the fog that settled in the grass in the morning. When it got cold, we brought them into the house for the night. We frequently took them out to play in the yard, and often let them hop around house most of the day. The male rabbit (Peter) loved to cuddle and would hop into anyone’s lap who sat down. The female (Snowball) was very independent and explored every new thing she saw.
We fed the rabbits fresh grass, carrots and commercial rabbit food pellets. A healthy rabbit will develop a “double chin” of fat. This is where they store up for the lean times. Most rabbits kept as pets won’t experience lean times so you have to be careful about letting a rabbit eat too much, but a little double chin is good. Our vet said rabbits don’t fully digest their food so some rabbits will eat their own droppings. We headed this off by cleaning their cage out every day. Rabbit droppings don’t smell or stain carpets. Ironically rabbits droppings look very much like the rabbit food pellets that went in! Rabbits are very clean and clean themselves similar to the way a cat does – by licking their paws and rubbing the sides of their face. Both our rabbits chewed on the plywood rails in their hutch. Rabbits have sharp teeth that keep growing so they need something hard to chew on. Rabbits rarely bite but will if stressed out. Excessive noise is a stressor for them. In general, they are very calm animals.
Our rabbits met with an unfortunate end when a pack of wild dogs came into a yard late one night and destroyed their hutch. Peter was killed instantly. We didn’t find Snowball until the following day. She managed to escape through the woods but got caught on a wire fence. She was still alive but her eyes were fixed and she was panting heavily. The vet told us that rabbits can die of fright, and that’s what happened to Snowball. Rabbits make great first pets, but keep them safe from predators.