During the COVID-19 pandemic, the sale of rabbits surpassed that of cats and dogs, a whopping 212% increase compared to the previous year1. While this may sound good on paper, the harsh reality is that rabbits are one of the most abandoned pets, so it begs the question…how many of these pandemic adoptions ended up becoming abandoned?
If you’re considering adopting a rabbit, you must ensure you’re committed to providing it with the best life possible. If welcoming a rabbit into your home feels right in your heart, you must familiarize yourself with their specialized care. We can help!
Keep reading to find our list of essential supplies you’ll need before bringing your bouncing baby rabbit home.
The 15 Essential Rabbit Supplies
There is much misinformation about what type of enclosure pet rabbits need. Most chain pet stores will encourage you to buy a cage or hutch much too small for most rabbits as they can sell them for a high price and earn a commission.
The best type of house unit for your rabbit is actually not a cage or hutch at all but a pet playpen. These enclosures provide much more space for your pet to move around and are cheaper than the cages at your pet store.
We like Frisco’s Wire Small Pet Playpen with Door as it can be set up in several different configurations to suit your needs. The playpen comes with eight panels made with sturdy metal wire. The design is collapsible so traveling with your rabbit is easy, too. If you find this particular product doesn’t provide enough space for your rabbit, you can buy another kit to expand it.
2. Cage Flooring
You’ll also need to invest in a floor surface for your playpen or enclosure.
Some companies manufacture playpen mats, so check if the manufacturer you buy your playpen from has a matching mat to go along with it.
Vinyl flooring is a cheap option that can be cut to the size you need and is stain-resistant. You’ll have to keep a close watch on your rabbit, though, as if it starts eating the flooring, you’ll need to replace it with something more natural.
Rugs and mats also work well on the floor surface. They’re simple to wash if they get stained, but you should choose one made with natural materials and avoid any with rubberized backing.
Jigsaw puzzle mats are affordable, easy to clean, and easy to cut if you need them to be a particular size for your enclosure.
Bedding serves two purposes in your rabbit’s enclosure: to keep it warm and comfortable and for litter training. But unfortunately, there is a lot of harmful and downright dangerous information about rabbit bedding, so we’re here to set the story straight.
Most rabbit owners find that they don’t need to use bedding in their pet’s habitat so long as they have access to soft flooring. However, bedding will be handy when you’re trying to litter-train your rabbit. Outdoor rabbits need bedding as it is essential for keeping them warm, especially in the winter.
Soft straw is an excellent choice for outdoor rabbits as the hollow strand can trap warm air. However, we recommend putting hay on top of the straw to discourage your pet from eating it, as it provides no nutritional value.
We prefer using paper bedding as it’s highly absorbent and non-toxic as your indoor rabbit’s litter filler. Sunseed Fresh World Small Pet Bedding is a great pick that can offer up to seven days of odor control. The bedding is 99.5% dust-free and doesn’t contain any potentially harmful ingredients like baking soda or bleach.
Steer clear of pine and cedar wood shavings, sawdust, and clay cat litter. Phenols released from pine and cedar wood shavings can potentially cause liver problems in rabbits. Sawdust was once commonly used in rabbit sleeping areas, but it’s dangerous as the oils in the wood can irritate your pet’s skin and lungs. Clay cat litter is dusty, which can cause respiratory issues in your pet, and the clumping nature can cause digestive problems if your rabbit eats it.
4. Litter Tray
Rabbits naturally choose one or two places in their enclosure to do their bathroom business. Placing a litter box in the areas your rabbit eliminates will encourage them to continue to use that area to pee and poop instead of all over their enclosure. This can control strong smells and make enclosure cleaning a lot easier for you.
We like the Frisco High-Sided Small Pet Litter Box for rabbits as the high sides keep litter in its place, and the lowered entry makes entering and exiting easier.
To encourage your rabbit to use the litter tray, place bedding inside the tray and cover it with a handful of hay. Change the hay every day since your rabbit will nibble at it. This will encourage better litter habits and healthy hay consumption, too.
You’ll need something to carry your rabbit home in, and a cardboard box from the pet store just won’t do the trick. A carrier serves other functions besides transporting your new pet home, so buying a good one is worthwhile. You’ll need a carrier if you plan to travel with your rabbit and when you need to take it to the vet for check-ups.
We like the Frisco Top Loading Small Pet Carrier. Its hard-sided top-loading design is easy to get your pet in and out of. The top is transparent so you can see your rabbit and allows it to see out so it can be comfortable on its travels. There is plenty of ventilation to allow for fresh airflow, too.
Food & Feeding
A pet rabbit’s diet should consist primarily of hay with some fresh vegetables and pellets. You can offer timothy pellets at around 1/8 to ¼ cup per 5 pounds of body weight. However, overfeeding pellets can lead to obesity and gastrointestinal issues as they’re low in fiber and high in carbohydrates.
We recommend Oxbow Essentials Adult Rabbit Food as it’s made with a timothy grass meal and has been specifically designed to meet the nutritional needs of adult rabbits. It’s made with all-natural ingredients and is straight from the farm, so it’s something you can feel good about offering your pet.
7. Food & Water Bowls
There are a lot of food and water bowls for small pets on the market, but not all of them will be suited for a rabbit. Find one made of heavy plastic or ceramic material, as they’ll be more challenging for your pet to tip over. Some bowls are meant to sit on the enclosure’s floor, while others can clip onto the side. If you decide to buy a multi-level enclosure for your rabbit, we recommend opting for plastic, as ceramic can shatter if it were to fall down the ramp.
You already know your pet only needs a small number of pellets per day, so don’t buy a dish that’s way too big. We like the Kaytee Vege-T-Bowl Carrot Small Pet Bowl. This super cute bowl features a chew-proof ceramic material to prevent nibbling and is dishwasher safe for simple clean-up.
When offering water to your rabbits, you have two options: a hanging water bottle or a bowl. We prefer bowls as water bottles often leak, making a huge mess. The Living World Blue Ergonomic Small Pet Dish is excellent as it’s ergonomically slanted for easy access, and the heavy base will prevent overturning.
Hay is the most essential part of your rabbit’s daily intake, as it is necessary to keep the digestive system running as it should. Rabbits are grazing animals and should have access to fresh hay 24/7.
Grass hay like timothy, orchard grass, or oat hay is the best option for rabbits. You can feed one or a mixture of others if you prefer. VCA Animal Hospital does not recommend alfalfa hay for adult rabbits as it is too high in protein and calcium.
Buy the freshest hay you can get your hands on, and look for any mold or dust before offering it to your pet. We like Kaytee’s Natural Timothy Hay Small Animal Food as it’s the highest quality you can find from the pet store.
Buying hay from the pet store can get pricey, fast, though. Ask local farmers to see if they have any hay bales available to purchase. You can usually buy full or half bales for less than $20! You’ll just need somewhere safe to store it.
Treats & Toys
9. Healthy Fruits and Vegetables
Treats don’t need to be full of unhealthy ingredients to be enjoyed by your pet. The best treats for rabbits are naturally sweet whole foods like fruit or sweet vegetables. Some of our favorite natural foods to offer as treats include:
10. Store-Bought Treats
If you want to buy them something tasty from the store, we recommend treats made with hay, such as Kaytee’s Baked Apple Timothy Biscuits. These crunchy biscuits are made from timothy hay and have been baked with apples and other healthy ingredients like alfalfa meal and flax seeds. They’re more challenging to chew than regular hay, which can help keep teeth trim and satisfy your pet’s natural need to chew.
Like all other domesticated pets, Rabbits need a source of enrichment in their lives. Of course, playing with you is great, but toys designed for rabbits will encourage them to perform natural behaviors like digging, chewing, and chin rubbing. We’ve hand-picked a few awesome toys you might consider starting off with.
Naturals by Rosewood Trio of Fun Balls is a three-pack of engaging chew toys perfect for rabbits. Each ball is made of a different all-natural fiber, so they’re safe for your pet to chew and can help keep their teeth in tip-top shape. Try putting food or hay inside the balls for more enrichment and engagement.
The Oxbow Enriched Life Celebration Cupcake is excellent for rabbits as it encourages them to play and develop healthy chewing habits.
SunGrow’s Coconut Fiber Rabbit & Guinea Pigs Chew & Exercise Balls are made with natural coconut fiber to give your rabbit something healthy to chew on and support their dental health. The lightweight design is easy for rabbits to toss and nudge around and provides a great distraction when your fur baby has to spend time alone.
Rabbits are like cats in that they spend much time grooming themselves. You can help your pet stay clean by assisting them with their grooming habits.
Rubber brushes are best for rabbits as they’re gentle on your rabbit’s delicate skin. We recommend Mr. Peanut’s Right-Handed Grooming Glove Pet Brush as it is easy and comfortable to use and simple to clean. The rounded silicone tips can gently remove tangles and dust or dirt in your rabbit’s fur.
13. Nail Clippers
You’ll need to keep an eye on your rabbit’s nails to ensure they’re not getting too long. They should be about level with your pet’s fur unless you have a Rex rabbit, whose fur is much shorter. We like the SunGrow Rabbit Nail Clippers as they are designed to prevent any pet injuries and leave the nails smooth and trim.
14. The Basics
Most of the cleaning supplies you’ll need for cleaning up after your rabbit you’ll already have at home.
A floor vacuum will help suck up poops and stray hay pieces. A mini broom and dustpan are great for sweeping inside your rabbit’s enclosure, as its small size fits nicely inside your rabbit’s home. We like the set from Mr. Siga as its dense and durable bristles can pick up even the smallest pieces of hay.
Paper towels are great for wiping away any liquid messes, and a bottle brush is a must-have if you buy a water bottle for your rabbit.
15. Rabbit-Safe Cleaners
The safest and most effective cleaner for your rabbit’s enclosure is a solution of white vinegar in warm water. Commercial products often have strong smells and chemicals that can harm your pet. Though, if you absolutely must buy a commercial cleaner, we recommend Absolutely Clean Small Animal Cage Cleaner. This product is a natural enzyme cleaner with a fast-acting formula to remove any odors and stains in your rabbit’s enclosure. It doesn’t have any chemical or toxic ingredients, so it’s safe to use.
Now that you have all the essentials, you’re ready to welcome your new rabbit home. Check out our post on finding the perfect temperature for your rabbit so you can ensure its first night home—and every night after that—is comfortable and cozy.
Featured Image Credit: Frisco, Chewy