A bunny's a delightful habit, no home's complete without a rabbit
(Clare Turlay Newberry, from "Marshmallow")
We brought our first bunnies home to a backyard hutch, fed them on cheap rabbit chow from the farm store, and though we enjoyed their company very much their little lives were too short. We didn't know better, but now we do. House Rabbit Society and Etherbun have taught us how to keep our little hoppers happy and healthy. If you own a rabbit, or are considering it, please check out these wonderful sources.
Here are a few important things we learned:
1) Contrary to what Bugs Bunny might say, rabbits should eat mostly hay, not carrots. Even commercial rabbit food is not the best diet: it is designed to put on weight quickly for purposes we would rather not think about!
The rabbit's digestive system functions best on a diet with huge amounts of fiber. That means that hay or grass should be freely offered, available at all times. Supplement the hay with greens such as leaf lettuce, unsprayed dandelions, with only tiny bits of high sugar treats like carrots (just a tiny section) or fruit.
2) Pet rabbits should be spayed or neutered, even if you never plan on having them hang out with other rabbits of the opposite gender. Males will spray and be smellier if not neutered. Unspayed females often develop uterine cancer. Rabbit savvy veterinarians can do this procedure.
3) A cage in the back yard or in the garage is no place for your pet. Too many dangers, too little attention.
Indoors is the healthiest, safest place for them. The more space, the better. Rabbits are happiest with a bunny buddy they can bond to. If you must have a single rabbit, you must commit yourself to being their best buddy, and that takes time.
4)Rabbits can be litter trained. Like a cat, they will choose a favorite spot to use. Never use clay cat litter or pine or cedar shavings, which can make them ill. Instead, use a newspaper based litter or hardwood stove pellets. Gardener's bonus: this makes excellent compost!
We have been honored to live with some very fine house rabbits over the years: Cicely, Speedwell, Flopsy, Loppet, Woodruff, Sweet Pea, and Lupine. We try to give them a good life and they in turn keep us smiling with their sweet little faces, soft fur, and calm personalities.
Resources manager Thomas J. Witt has given permission for placing this cache on Consolidated Water Power Company land. No motorized vehicles are permitted. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO DRIVE DOWN THE DIRT ROAD! It looks good at the beginning but it gets worse and worse with no turnarounds.