Fall is the perfect opportunity to take some time to make sure your bunnies are happy with their setup in the garden. After a scorching summer, the more comfortable temperatures of fall will be warmly welcomed by us and our floppy-eared friends. The change in season brings a cooler breeze, beautiful crisp leaves, and plenty more exciting sights and smells for bunnies to explore around their homes. Before the real winter chill hits, now is the perfect time to upgrade your rabbit run. So, how exactly can you transform your pet’s summer hideaway to a cosy rabbit retreat?
First of all, take a good look at your run and assess if it is good enough for your beloved bunnies, or if there is room for improvement. Whether they have an Eglu Run, Outdoor Rabbit Run or Zippi Run, you can make it larger with practical and easily assembled extension panels. That way your bunnies have more space to run around on, and you can add more fun accessories that will keep them busy in the colder months.
Leftover food and treats lying around the run not only makes it look a bit sad and untidy, it can also attract rodents and other pests, and if you’re not vigilant with your cleaning your rabbits might accidentally ingest something that has gone mouldy.
A great way of upgrading your run, and feeding your pets yummy and nutritious treats, is to get a Caddi Treat Holder. Fill it with fresh grass, allotment veg or some chopped up fruit, and hang from the top of the run. The rabbits will love the swinging motion of the holder as they try to grab a delicious mouthful, and the spillage will be minimal. Additionally, you will be able to keep track of when you gave your rabbits which treats, so you can alternate between different ones and make sure nothing that has gone off is still in the run.
Everyone knows that rabbits love to hop! Adding platforms to your rabbit’s run is a great way to let your rabbit bounce to their heart’s content, whilst you make the most of the usable space that you have in their Zippi Run. Platforms will provide your fluffy friend with more places to explore, which in turn will help to strengthen their muscles as they jump up and down on their new adventure playground. The Omlet platforms are also suitable for use all year round, so you can still get the most out of this feature for when the weather gets cooler over fall.
The Zippi Shelters will be a great addition to your run this fall, as they provide both (surprise surprise) shelter and an invitation to stimulating play. Rabbits have a natural instinct to seek a hidey hole, and in the wild they create ‘rooms’ in their warrens where they can come to relax and have a nap. The Zippi Shelters will provide exactly this, but in your pet rabbits’ run. They will also love running in and out of, or jumping on top of the Shelter to survey their surroundings.
Although the rabbits will always have their hutch to retreat to when it gets wet or windy, it’s great to have another spot where they can get away from the inevitable fall showers. The shelters are sturdy and waterproof, and your rabbits will love hopping in to relax.
As it gets colder your rabbits will use more energy to stay warm, so it’s the ideal time to stock up on treats for the cupboard. Make sure you find a good balance between fresh fruit and veg and shop bought treats to put on the run.
If you’ve ever needed to get inside your Zippi run to refresh food and water, or pick up your pet, you will likely have noticed the smaller openings make it difficult to reach inside, and removing a whole panel is rarely worth the hassle. The Easy Access Lock for Zippi Runs have been designed to solve this problem.
How do the Easy Access Lock for Zippi Runs work?
Available in varying pack sizes to suit your needs, the locks allow you to replace clips between mesh panels on three straight edges of any panel you wish to open up.
The Easy Access Lock for Zippi Runs encases the edge of two mesh panels and secures them together in the same way as a run clip, however, once unlocked both mesh panels are still held in position until all locks are opened to lift open the panel you wish to use as an entry point, without it collapsing into your run and endangering your pets.
Can I use multiple Easy Access Locks for Zippi at once?
You can even use multiple Easy Access Lock for Zippi Runs to convert adjoining panels of larger runs so you can open up a larger door or run roof. Simply follow these handy diagrams to see how many locks you need to create your desired run opening.
How will the Easy Access Lock for Zippi Runs help me and my pets?
The locks are durable, predator resistant and super simple to operate – even little hands can do it! The integrated safety button requires you to push and turn simultaneously in order to open the lock, making it harder for unwanted visitors to gain access.
Watch the Easy Access Lock for Zippi Runs in action in this YouTube video…
The new Easy Access Lock for Zippi Runs are now available online, from $3.00 each.
For more rabbit and guinea pig products, shop the Omlet website to ensure that your furry friend has everything they ever need!
Why should you forage for treats to give your rabbits?
Well, even if there are plenty of great pre-made treats for your pets, it’s sometimes fun to know exactly what you’re giving them. Wild plants are nutritionally balanced, high in fiber and really yummy. Apart from that, they’re also free!
Things to know before foraging for rabbit treats
Before we get going, here are some things to think about:
If you’re not completely sure that you have identified a plant correctly, don’t pick it. It’s useful to have photos of the plants you’re looking for at hand and compare what you find with them.
Try to avoid collecting treats for your rabbits by busy roads with lots of emissions from cars. It’s best to find spots where you’re relatively confident no pesticides or other chemicals have been used, and where cats and dogs will not have peed or pooped on the plants.
If you want to you can wash your finds when you get home, but in most cases, this is not necessary. If you’re introducing something new to your rabbits, start slowly and give only small amounts of the new food at the time. Some treats can upset the rabbits’ very sensitive stomachs. Also remember to only feed these greens in moderation, as a treat on top of the rabbits daily amount of pellets and hay.
Now we’ve got that done, here are 6 plants that most people will be able to identify, that can easily be found on most park walks, and that rabbits of all sizes and ages will love!
6 plants you can forage
Images above from top left to right.
Most people will be able to recognize this very common plant. Lion teeth leaves, thick, hollow stems and yellow flower heads that turn into spherical clocks after flowering. Rabbits can eat the whole plant: leaves, stems and flowers, and they are great for drying if you want to keep them for winter.
2. Stinging Nettle
The less pleasant aspect of the nettle, the sting, doesn’t deter rabbits from this lovely green. Although you will need gloves to pick the nettles, the rabbits don’t feel the sting, and will munch through both leaves and stems. Stinging nettles can be found in most woodland areas, and you will recognize them by the serrated leaves and the tassel-like flowers at the top. They also dry well for your winter supply.
Blackberry bushes flower from early May with pale pink flowers that turn into small green berries that then become shiny black. Brambles grow high in hedgerows and ditches, and have prickly thorns, so be careful when picking. Rabbits can eat the stems and leaves, you don’t even need to remove the prickly bits.
4. Plantain (Ribwort)
Plantain grows low among grass and has broad or long light green leaves. The leaves have three or five parallel veins running through them, and if you tear it apart it’s stringy, almost like celery. Plantain is a hit with most rabbits and can be served both fresh and dried.
This is another common weed that is often found in lawns and other places with slightly moist soil. It has sleek stems that can grow up to 1.3 ft. in height, and small while flowers. The whole plant can be given to your rabbit in moderation.
Goosegrass is the long hairy plant that sticks to your clothes and is one of many types of grass that rabbits love. It spreads incredibly quickly, so shouldn’t be difficult to find, even in your own backyard or garden. Although maybe not the easiest to pick, it’s both nutritious and delicious for rabbits.
How to give your rabbits fresh treats
Now that you’re done foraging, you’ll of course want to treat your rabbits with the delicious plants that you’ve found! Using a rabbit treat holder is a great option for giving your rabbit fresh treats, ideal for not only feeding your floppy-eared friends but fantastic for enriching their environment too! Simply fill your Caddi Rabbit Treat Holder with the plants that you have foraged (or fresh fruit, vegetables, or hay), and hang from your rabbit’s run or rabbit hutch.
One of the most commonly asked questions from pet parents of smaller breeds of animals is whether or not rabbits and guinea pigs can live together. They are both small, cute and cuddly, live in hutches (or a super stylish Eglu Go Rabbit Hutch!) and like vegetables but that is pretty much where the similarities end.
It used to be fairly standard practice for Guineas and Bunnies to live together, this was because neutering smaller animals wasn’t seen as a safe option. Things have most definitely changed since then and this is no longer a concern. The other reason behind this cohabitation is that the saying “breeding like rabbits” is very true! It was thought that by keeping guinea pigs and rabbits together it would prevent mass breeding.
A rabbit’s reproductive cycle is pretty fast, almost immediately after giving birth they can conceive again, and even though the average litter size is 5, it could be even higher! The largest recorded rabbit litter is 24, born to two New Zealand rabbits! So, if a plethora of bunnies is not for you then your option would have been to let them share the living space with a guinea pig. It’s company after all, right? Wrong, in an ideal world, it would be perfect, however, it is not always meant to be.
Rabbits and Guinea Pigs are not really recommended to share their living quarters. Here, we look into the reasons behind why this seemingly suitable match made in heaven and lifelong friendship, won’t always be ideal.
They have different diets
Many consider these small pets to be similar in many ways, however, their dietary needs are quite different. Even though both mammals require hay, vegetables and fruit for a balanced diet there is something fundamentally different about how they process their vitamin intake. Guinea pigs need Vitamin C to ensure they have a healthy diet because just like humans, they are unable to synthesize the vitamin alone, due to a gene deficiency. Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits and is necessary for survival. Rabbits, on the other hand, can synthesize this particular vitamin, and if they are given too much then it could make them sick.
Housing them together and allowing them to share a food bowl, may only be meeting the needs of one, which could cause health problems down the line for the other.
Rabbits bully Guinea pigs
This may seem like a bold statement, but it is a possibility and one to be wary of. Our floppy-eared friends are bigger and somewhat stronger than their smaller counterparts. When it comes to food, especially if they are sharing, Peter Rabbit could quite easily push little Mini Guinea out of the way and assert their authority over them. This would result in a tempestuous relationship, especially if your guinea pig is being deprived of food! Rabbits also love to bounce and hop around as they are very energetic creatures, so playtime could be slightly one-sided and maybe a little rough for your guinea pig who is a little more docile.
They communicate differently
Picture this, you’ve got your feet up, you’re comfortable and have a cup of coffee on the side and are ready to read the Sunday papers, and all of a sudden, your housemate decides to throw a Hawaiian themed party and invite the whole neighborhood. That’s a little bit like living with a rabbit (from the perspective of a guinea pig!). Despite both being quite sociable little creatures, guineas do like their own space and time to relax, whereas rabbits tend to thrive from attention, either from regular mating or huddling together with their companions, grooming each other. This type of behavior can be quite stressful for a guinea pig.
They are a different species after all and will not speak the same language. If they cannot communicate with each other then they could suffer from boredom and loneliness. Whereas if there are lots of rabbits and guinea pigs, they will feel happier being with their own kind.
There are health risks
Both animals can be affected by Bordetella bronchiseptica which is a bacterial infection that can lead to bronchitis. It is more severe for guinea pigs, whereas rabbits display very few symptoms. Another potential threat is Pasteurella which is passed through saliva, for example biting. Again, this is less of a threat to rabbits but more dangerous to guinea pigs. If rabbits and guinea pigs are living together, it could cause health risks which could be detrimental to a safe environment.
How to keep them safe if they do live together
Despite the recommendation that rabbits and guinea pigs should not house share, there may be some exceptions. Introducing them to each other when they are kittens and pups means they may grow to love one another and see each other as friends, not foes. Bringing in a new guinea pig into an environment with an older bunny could lead to a hierarchical imbalance.
You might find that they share a bond or have become the best of friends, or you simply can’t house them separately. If that is the case then there are ways you can accommodate their differences.
Create a safe space for your guinea pig
If your guinea pig needs to retreat for a moment or two then having its own space is so important. Omlet has created products that can be extended, interconnected and upgraded providing you with a simple solution when it comes to creating a unique space for your animals. Start with the Eglu Go Guinea Pig cage which is super easy to assemble and clean. It provides that perfectly safe peaceful space for your guinea pig!
Feed your pets separately
Rather than sharing a food bowl, which we have discovered could be problematic, feed your guinea pig separately from your rabbit. Consider having a different area to feed your rabbit, like in their own enclosure.
Ensure your rabbit is neutered
Nowadays neutering small pets has become a lot safer and far more common, so it would be recommended if you plan to keep multiple rabbits or keep them with guinea pigs. Since we know that rabbits have the urge to mate constantly, this would not only be annoying for your guinea pig but it could also lead to back injuries, considering they are smaller in stature in comparison to a rabbit. By neutering your rabbit they will have less of a desire to mount their hutch-buddy!
Of course, there is no reason why you can’t have rabbits or guinea pigs. It is possible to create separate living areas so that they can sleep apart and have space for themselves (guinea pigs mostly), and an extensive play area (rabbits!) to keep them energized and entertained. To improve on this architectural masterpiece, provide them with a communal playpen, with an interconnecting tunnel system. It’s not as though they can’t live together, it is possible, though it is not recommended and hopefully this article has provided enough information as to why. If you have experience of rabbits and guinea pigs living in harmony together or perhaps not, then please share your stories in the comments section below.
Is your rabbit a happy bunny? Of course, any pet parent only wants their beloved furry friend to be happy and healthy, so how exactly can you fulfil your rabbit’s needs? Here are our top tips for how to make your rabbit happy!
Good Diet and Fresh Water
First and foremost, to ensure your rabbit is happy, they’ll need a good, balanced diet and a constant supply of fresh water. Just as we feel our best when we’re eating well and staying hydrated, so do our pet rabbits! In fact, a large cause of illness in these animals can be traced back to dangerous or wrongly proportioned feeding.
Therefore, a rabbit’s diet should consist of around 80% high-quality hay, and they should always have an unlimited supply available to them. However, hay alone will not provide your pet with all of the nutrients they require. They should also then be given pellet food with ideally a 20-25% fiber content. Muesli style foods should be avoided when choosing a feed for your pet rabbit. This can unfortunately lead to complications with a rabbit’s digestive system and cause issues with a rabbit’s ever-growing teeth.
Your fluffy friend should also be supplied with greens as part of their diet. However, just be mindful that leafy green vegetables such as spinach, chard and cabbage, whilst nutritious, must be given in moderation. To find out more about the best diet for your rabbit, read our previous blogWhat Should Rabbits Eat? which will tell you everything your rabbit needs to consume to stay happy and healthy!
Water Bottle or Bowl?
When it comes to giving your rabbits water, there are two options – a bottle or a bowl. Therabbit bowls and water bottles section will help you to pick a suitable choice to suit depending on your circumstance. Ultimately, what it comes down to is that giving your rabbit water from a bowl is a more natural way for a rabbit to drink. Bowls, however, can be knocked over and wet your rabbit’s bedding. On the flip side, a water bottle helps to reduce water waste and helps to keep your rabbit’s water supply at one temperature.
Give Your Rabbit Yummy Treats
As well as providing your rabbit with a healthy, balanced diet, giving your rabbit a few yummy treats will go a long way too! There are a wide range of rabbit treats that can be fed to your pet (in moderation of course!). Most rabbits also love fresh vegetables so you can even offer these as a treat too. To find a list of what vegetables are suitable for your rabbit to remain happy and healthy, read our blogWhich Fruit and Vegetables Can I Feed my Rabbit?for some further clarification.
Protection From Illness, Injury and Disease
None of us like feeling under the weather, including our floppy-eared friends! Your rabbit’s health is paramount to keeping them happy! It’s important that as a responsible owner, you stay on top of everything they need to protect them from illness, injury and disease.
Rabbit health and hygiene products are designed to keep your pet rabbit in top condition or help them recover from minor ailments. A mini grooming kit is a great rabbit care product, which will not only mean your rabbit’s fur will be looking great but will also help the both of you to build a bond.
If you are concerned that your rabbit’s normal behavior has changed, or you suspect they are unwell at all, do not hesitate to take them to their vet.
They Need Somewhere Suitable to Live
There’s no place like home! Rabbits need a secure and suitable place to live, whether you’re keeping a rabbit inside your house, or they are in a hutch like Omlet’sEglu Go Rabbit Hutch outside. TheEglu Go Rabbit Hutch is a great choice for pet rabbits, perfect for all year round and suitable to house up to two happy rabbits.
Rabbits also of course need rabbit bedding to stay happy! Rabbit bedding is suitable for either yourEglu Go Rabbit Hutch or any other bunny home. Dirty bedding increases the chances of them developing horrible conditions such as myiasis, also known as flystrike for a start. Also, your rabbit won’t be happy staying in an unclean environment. In general, these pets like to stay clean and will look after themselves by licking away dirt.
YourOmlet Eglu Go Rabbit Hutch can also easily be extended to offer your rabbit more outside space. Rabbits need to be kept on their toes and with such powerful hind legs that can reach 50 miles per hour, they need space to run! TheOmlet Zippi Playpen is ideal for making sure your rabbit has enough room to hop around to their heart’s content, while keeping safe. Similarly, theOutdoor Rabbit Run will keep rabbits secure when exploring, and since it’s extendable in width, length and height, it’s suitable for rabbits of all sizes! Find out about all the possibilities of how you cangive your rabbits more space with Zippi.
House Rabbits Too!
If you opt to keep domestic rabbits as house pets, then the same applies in that your rabbit’s home still needs to be somewhere they feel safe and comfortable. You’ll need to rabbit proof your home for one, if you do decide to go down this route. This means that you will need to consider all potential hazards e.g. electrical cables, furniture, and house plants to ensure your home is suitable. Furthermore, if you are planning on litter training your rabbit, might want to consider neutering them. Neutered rabbits are a lot easier to litter train. In fact, an unneutered rabbit is almost impossible to litter train completely!
Give Your Rabbit Lots of Attention
Rabbits love attention from their owners once they’re comfortable. And just like any other pet, you should interact with your bunny to continue building a long-lasting bond. You can do this via play, training, or simply speaking to them! Talk to your rabbit in a soft tone, and they’ll soon get used to your voice. You should be able to tell if your rabbit is enjoying your company with a few tell-tale signs that we’ll go into shortly.
Respect Your Rabbit’s Boundaries
As with any animal, it’s important to respect a rabbit’s boundaries to ensure they live a happy life. While rabbits are sociable animals who love showing their owners affection and make for great pets, the average rabbit is also naturally nervous, being prey animals.
One way to respect your rabbit’s boundaries is by reading their body language and responding based on this. For example, a happy rabbit will do ‘the bunny flop’ when they’re feeling happy and relaxed, whereby they will roll on their back with their legs in the air. However, a nose nudge could mean your rabbit wants to be left alone. If you’re new to keeping rabbits, you might be a bit unfamiliar with reading this language. Take a read of ourLearn to Read your Rabbit’s Body Language so that you are able to identify when your rabbit is, or isn’t, in the mood to play”
What Noise Do Rabbits Make When They Are Happy?
A rabbit will also communicate vocally to let you know how they’re feeling. The sound of low grunting and grinding of teeth means that the rabbit is content and relaxed. However, if your rabbit lets out a scream, this is their way of telling you that they’re scared or in a lot of pain. As you develop a bond with your bunny, it will become easier to identify how they’re feeling and their likes.
Do Bunnies Like Being Held?
Generally speaking, rabbits do not like being held. Even more so if they have not become accustomed to it from a young age. Therefore, for this reason, some rabbit breeds don’t fit in well with households with small children. This being said, breeds like the French Lops and Dutch Rabbits are renowned for getting on well with young children who will be tempted to touch the new pet! For a bit more breed information on what would work best, readOmlet’s rabbit breed guide.
Create Fun Play Areas
Healthy rabbits need to be kept entertained to remain happy and in the best condition they can be! You can do this by creating lots of fun play areas in their outdoor run space or make your house rabbit happy by introducing accessories to the home. Outdoors, theZippi Rabbit Playtunnel andZippi Rabbit Run Platforms are great ways to make sure that your rabbit is mentally stimulated. Platforms also prevent the risk of obesity and injury. Both of this are to be avoided if you want to keep your rabbit happy! Read about more of the benefits of exercise across multiple levels with platforms with our blogPlatforms: Benefits of Exercise Across Multiple Levels.
Omlet’s Zippi Rabbit Shelter is also great way to add to your rabbit’s environment. Since rabbits have a natural instinct to seek a hideaway, theZippi Rabbit Shelter provides this desired protection from the outside elements, as well as being somewhere your pet can sit safely in, while observing their surroundings.
Did you know that rabbits love massages?! So much so, that rabbits who have regular massages are said to be calmer and less stressed than pet rabbits that don’t! You should always be gentle and move slowly when massaging your rabbit and use a long gliding stroke. Start from down your rabbit’s head, following on to their neck and back. Eventually, end at the top of your rabbit’s tail. It goes without saying that you should gauge how your rabbit is reacting and of course stop if you sense that they’re not relaxed or enjoying the massage. However, if they are, continue to gently massage around their neck and ear base.
Introduce Your Rabbit to a Companion
While your pet rabbit can live a happy life as an ‘only rabbit’, they’ll also appreciate another rabbit friend for them to live with. Getting companion rabbits is a good idea because whilst this desire for having a friend can partially be met with their human pal i.e. you, rabbits can potentially get lonely without a rabbit friend of their own.
Again, because rabbits are a prey species, they enjoy the presence of and find comfort in a friend. One reason for this is because it means not having to look out for predators by themselves. This can then cause a rabbit to be anxious. However, do note that if you do get rabbits of the opposite sex, you will need to spay or neuter them to prevent baby bunnies. There are also other advantages to this, such as reducing the chances of female rabbits developing uterine cancer for example.
Use Positive Reinforcement Training
While training a rabbit might not exactly be the same as training a dog, rabbits do require mental stimulation. Training is a great way of doing this! You can even train a rabbit to do a few tricks like how to give you a high 5! Find out how with thisHow to Teach Your Guinea Pigs and Rabbits Tricks blog, but the key here is to praise your pet when they’ve demonstrated the behavior that you have asked for and never to shout at them when they have done something you don’t want.
Give Them a Variety of Toys
Finally, give your rabbit a variety ofrabbit toys to play with! There’s a wide range of rabbit toys available, designed to enrich your pets’ environment! As a rabbit owner, it’s your job to find out what your rabbit likes best.
Don’t forget that getting a rabbit is a long term commitment. It’s essential to do your research to ensure you can offer them a fulfilled happy life! If you have a rabbit already, hopefully, after these expert tips, you can get the spring back in their step!
Bringing home any pet is an exciting time for the whole family. But just like any other animal, rabbits require your full dedication and the right tools to make sure that they get off to a great start and live happy and fulfilled lives! So, to help you out, here is our new rabbit checklist, so that you can cross off everything you’ll be needing for your new furry addition.
Hay/Bedding – A Must for Your New Rabbit Checklist
A great place to begin before getting your new pet rabbit is by making sure you have plenty of rabbit hay/bedding. Not only is fresh hay an important part of a rabbit’s diet, but they also require plenty for their bedding. Omlet’s ownEglu Go Rabbit Hutch also ensures that your new pet gets the comfiest night’s sleep!
Hay is also ideal for encouraging a rabbit’s natural instinct to forage, whereby in the wild, they would search for wild food sources. Foraging also helps to keep rabbits mentally stimulated. You’ll find that a rabbit who is only fed pellets from their food dish, as opposed to a balanced diet including hay, can end up eating too quickly, which can, in turn, make them unwell. Furthermore, a balanced diet for your rabbits will keep their teeth in good condition as well!
Rabbit Food and Bowls
A rabbit’s diet should consist of dry food, fresh food, and hay. Offering nutritious and balanced options is key so that you can pick the right food to suit the needs of your new pet rabbit.
Most rabbits love fruit and vegetables, so it’s a good idea to include these in their diet too. While you might associate rabbits with gnawing away at carrots, this type of vegetable can actually cause constipation in rabbits and make sugar levels rise dangerously if over consumed. TheCaddi Rabbit Treat Holder is the perfect way to feed your rabbits fruit and veggies. Not only will it provide your bunny with entertainment but will benefit you too by improving run cleanliness and reducing food waste. So, if you plan on feeding your rabbit with nature’s very own treats, make sure to read our previous blogWhich Fruit and Vegetables Can I Feed my Rabbit?where you can find a list of the fruits and vegetables that are suitable for your furry friend to be fed.
As well as food and an unlimited supply of fresh water, you should also make sure that your rabbit has a food dish alongside either a water bottle or water bowl. Some owners opt to use a bottle over a bowl, but this really is your decision to make. While bowls can easily get knocked over and wet your rabbit’s bedding, they are more of a natural way for a rabbit to drink. This being said, a water bottle reduces water waste and is usually better than a bowl when it comes to keeping your rabbit’s water supply at the same temperature.
While rabbits need to be fed a healthy diet, the occasional treat won’t go amiss! Treats are a great way of rewarding your rabbit. Your new pet rabbit will also absolutely love a little afternoon snack from their doting owner.
A Rabbit Hutch That’ll Last
Your new rabbit will of course need somewhere to live! Add theEglu Go Rabbit Hutch to your new rabbit checklist – ideal for any prospective rabbit owner and will keep your bunnies safe from the outside elements and any predators. Even better, theEglu Go Rabbit Hutch comes with a hay rack, feed bowl and water bottle, making keeping rabbits hassle-free! Furthermore, theEglu Go Rabbit Hutch has a removable bedding tray, which means you won’t have to purchase a removable litter box for cleaning up after your pet.
If you opt to have a house rabbit, you’ll need to make sure that wherever they stay, they are in a bunny proofed room. You’ll find it helpful to read our guide onHow To Rabbit-Proof Your House for some more information on this topic.
New Rabbit Checklist Essential: A Safe and Secure Run!
As well as your rabbits having a hutch or home to live in, they’ll also require a safe and secure run to provide them with some extra freedom and time for hopping around, so this definitely should not be missed off of your new rabbit checklist! One of the leading causes as to why rabbits dig, therefore potentially escaping from their run, is because of boredom. We wrote about this topic on our previous blogRabbits and Digging if you’d like to find out more information on this area.
Fortunately, theOmlet Walk in Rabbit Run not only offers plenty of room for your rabbit to hop to its heart’s content but will also keep them secure and safe from any other pets or predators. The run has a stable style door, which means that the top and bottom of the door open independently so that you can throw in some treats for your rabbits without the worry of them making an escape! Alternatively, you can create the ultimate rabbit adventure playground with theOmlet Zippi Rabbit Playpen, which can connect to their run and hutch for more space.
Within your rabbit’s run, you’ll want to provide them with plenty of stimulation. Omlet has everything you need to keep your rabbits bouncing around with joy, from theZippi Playtunnel designed to mimic a rabbit burrow in the wild, toZippi Rabbit Platforms, that will provide you rabbit new places to explore!
Something else to tick off your new rabbit checklist is toys! Just like our other pets, rabbits need to play, which means they’ll need plenty of toys to enrich their environment and keep their minds ticking! TheOmlet Zippi Rabbit Tunnel System connects your rabbit’s run to their hutch but also doubles as a fantastic toy that your rabbit will love. You can also opt for hanging toys that can be attached to your rabbit’s run.
Somewhere to Hide
Your new rabbit will also need somewhere to hide. Although it might sound odd, rabbits actually have a natural instinct to hide in order to stay protected. In the wild, this is done so that they can keep safe from predators such as foxes. Hiding is also a rabbit’s natural response to fear, if they feel stressed, are in pain, are unwell, or just want a break from social contact!Omlet’s Rabbit Zippi Shelter is ideal for rabbits to carry out this behavior, providing them with a safe space where they can retreat to relax.
A rabbit’s nails should not go neglected, so you’ll need to make sure you have nail clippers at the ready! In fact, nail clipping is an essential part of rabbit care, and you’ll need to do so approximately once every two months due to the remarkably quick rate they grow at.
While nail clipping isn’t too long of a process, if you’re not confident doing so, you can always make a visit to the vet, and they will be able to give you a helping hand.
New Rabbit Checklist Conclusion
So, whether you’re getting a new baby bunny or rescuing an adult rabbit, hopefully, you will now be prepared for what is to come when your new pet arrives home!
We all know that dogs have been man’s best friend for centuries, but have you ever thought about friendship with a pet rabbit? Just like dogs, rabbits are highly social animals. This means that they enjoy the company of others, be it of their own species or ours! In fact, evidence even suggests that rabbits who bond with their owners live longer and happier lives! With so much love to give, these sweet natured, fluffy creatures can make for the perfect pets. So, could rabbits be your new best friends?
Why Should I Get a Rabbit?
First and foremost, rabbits are very loving pets and will show their owners affection in a number of ways. So, rest assured, you could be on your way to becoming your rabbit’s bestie in no time! If you’re considering getting a rabbit, you’ll grow to learn his or her specific body language. However, generally speaking, a rabbit that loves their owner will display this by purring, running around your feet, or even grooming you!
Putting aside just how irresistibly cute these animals are of course, they’re also incredibly amusing and will provide you with plenty of entertainment. So that your rabbits can become your new best friends, they need plenty of play time with you! Rabbits love playing with a wide array of rabbit toys, which not only helps them keep active, but will provide them with plenty of mental stimulation. And after a hard day’s work of hopping around, you can treat them to a few tasty rabbit treats – the perfect bonding experience!
Rabbits are also particularly appealing to those who would like a furry friend in their life but might not be ready to take on a cat or a dog just yet, that need that extra bit of time being walked or trained. This being said, rabbits still very much require your full dedication as an owner.
What To Consider Before Getting Rabbits
As with taking on the responsibility of any pet, you need to consider whether a rabbit could fit into your lifestyle. Rabbits might not require as much time or training as say a dog would. However, they still do desire companionship and stimulation to live the happy, fulfilled lives they deserve.
Something to consider before getting rabbits is your family dynamic. Although rabbits are commonly associated with being ‘starter pets’, they’re not suitable for young children in some circumstances. This is predominantly for the reason that many rabbits are naturally nervous and don’t like being handled. If your rabbit does have to be picked up, it should be done very gently, which unfortunately doesn’t often go hand in hand with very young children! This being said, some breeds are known to get along well with younger members of the family. The French Lops for example love socializing and won’t mind being handled.
Could Rabbits Be Your Pets’ New Best Friends?
If you’ve also got other pets, this will be something else to think about before bringing home your new addition. Fortunately, many of our other favorite pets do have the ability to get along with rabbits. However, this isn’t to say you should simply put your pets in one room at the same time and leave them be! Instead, slowly introduce your animals in a neutral space, with a barrier such as a crate or fence.
If you’re introducing your rabbit to your dog, keep your dog on a lead at all times. Regardless of whether you’re introducing your rabbit to a cat, dog, or chicken, you should never leave them unsupervised during this stage. Keep a close eye on their interaction. You should watch out for whether your rabbit or other fluffy friend acts in an aggressive manner or seems anxious. You can read more about keeping rabbits and chickens together on our previous blog. Please note that rabbits should not be kept with other small animals such as rats or guinea pigs.
Where to Get Rabbits
As with getting any animal, it’s important that rabbits are purchased/rescued from a reputable breeder or center. Take time to do thorough research. Some rabbit breeds are better suited to owners with a little bit more experience than others.
Because of the misconception that rabbits are ‘easy pets’, there has been a surge in unwanted rabbits in shelters. The House Rabbit Society headquartered in Richmond, California. They ask that those interested in rabbit ownership consider fostering for a short period of time. This is so they can ensure that rabbits are being properly taken care of. It’s also so that prospective owners can see if a rabbit will suit your lifestyle before making the commitment. To find more information about the House Rabbit Society, visit their website at Our Programs | House Rabbit Society
If you’re unsure of where to start when it comes to picking what rabbit breed would be best suited to you, take a look at our a-z Rabbit Breed Guide. Once you’ve narrowed your options down, have a read of our How to Choose the Right Rabbit Breed for You blog, so that you can find your match and new best friend! So, could rabbits be your new best friends?
Do rabbits dig out of boredom, fun or general mischief? We look into the behaviors of our floppy-eared friends and dive deeper down the rabbit hole to discover why they dig. There are some simple Omlet approved hacks that might just do the trick!
In the wild
Wild rabbits live in burrows, a network of underground mazes where they feel safe and protected from predators such as foxes and dogs. Digging is a necessity, a matter of survival. Without it, they would be left open to attack, which is why rabbits have evolved into these digging machines!
Have you ever noticed just how big their paws are? All the better for pounding away at the dirt as well as their sharp claws and teeth, perfect for scraping at the earth. Maintaining their burrows is a big job too, no one else is going to do it!
All rabbits have their own behaviors and personalities, but females tend to be the most determined diggers because they instinctively prepare themselves for nesting. Certain traits like this will be apparent in our domesticated bunnies as often this behavior is innate in them.
Fun & Exercise
Digging is not just instinctive though, it is a fun activity and also great exercise (think Zumba for rabbits!), so rather than trying and eliminate it completely it’s a good idea to give pet rabbits ways that they can use this natural behavior without destroying areas of your home.
At Omlet we developed theZippi rabbit tunnel system, so that our pet bunnies can feel at home and comfortable, while also keeping your garden intact! The tunnels provide an extensive playground of interconnecting tunnels that keep rabbits entertained, similar to the burrows their wild ancestors would be used to.
Play is fundamental to the well-being and mental health of all animals and it’s a good sign when they play, though some are more mischievous than others.
Constant digging and disruption will not only cause havoc and be a general concern to you, but it could also be a sign that your rabbit is bored or lonely. These bunnies are naturally very sociable little creatures and love company, whether it’s from other rabbits, guinea pigs or even cats and dogs (this will depend on the nature of each animal, don’t take our word for it!). We do, however, recommend giving your rabbits a housemate or two, because they really do thrive in this environment. If you do only have one rabbit, then they will need more attention and entertainment than those who cohabit.
Space to explore
If you start to notice some aggressive and disruptive behaviour in your rabbit it could be due to lack of space. Just because they are small mammals, they can still outgrow their living environment and will thrive from more space and stimulation. The Zippi Rabbit Playpens will provide your rabbit with more room to grow and explore in a safe environment.
They are simple to install, move and maintain and they can be easily extendable, offering endless possibilities and endless fun!
“The devil makes work for idle hands”, which can easily be applied to rabbits! The idler they are, the more trouble they will cause. So, keeping busy equals less digging. Provide lots to do to keep your rabbit busy! Listed below are a few tips, or as we like to call them, bunny proofing tactics.
Place a cardboard box or a plastic box (which may last longer) in the hutch and fill it with soil, paper, twigs, anything that will provide a little resistance, so that the rabbit can satisfy the urge to dig while also burning some excess energy!
Scatter your rabbits’ favorite treats around a designated “digging spot” to reward their burrowing efforts and hopefully sway them from digging elsewhere. It may not work the first time, but over time, they should get used to the new routine, while being rewarded with some tasty rabbit snacks.
Indoor and outdoor rabbits enjoy organizing! In other words, they like to pull, bite, tug and scratch the materials around them. This is called “bunching”. Not only is this a great source of entertainment, it also keeps them physically and mentally busy. Use some old bath mats, rugs or towels and let them “bunch” as much as they want, providing a good distraction from creating a huge hole in your flowerbed. Be careful with the type of fabric though, if anything shreds too easily it could become a choking hazard so keep an eye on it and be sure to change the fabric if it becomes too thin.
Some rabbits will dig out of frustration and the need to escape and find a mate. Spaying your rabbit will mean that it won’t have this impulse which could also lead to behavioral problems. It is also recommended that rabbits are spayed if they are living with other rabbits, even same-sex ones.
The Omlet Eglu Go Rabbit Hutch, is made from a strong steel mesh that deters predators! It also comes with an underfloor wire that can be placed in the run. This will not only prevent your rabbit from relentless digging, but it will also stop them from burrowing under the run and escaping. It is still recommended to have grassy areas for your rabbit to enjoy, but if you are really worried about escape then this is the ideal solution. It is more hygienic than a solid floor, with big enough gaps in the mesh so that it still provides the comfort of grass rather than uncomfortable hard ground or metal.
At Omlet we dedicate our time to developing products with the animal and the owner in mind. For ease of use, comfort and safety and they are great to look at! A perfect addition to any pet lovers’ home. View all our rabbit related products and join the Omlet family!
Compared to a one-level play area, having an additional floor height in your rabbits’ enclosure boosts exercise opportunities, helping your rabbit activate muscles that they would use in their natural environment to climb up and down underground mazes and burrows. Jumping on and off a platform helps to keep muscles and bones strong, which is why platforms are recommended as an essential rabbit accessory by vets and pet charities.
Providing rabbits with a fun environment
As a rabbit owner, it is your responsibility to provide your rabbits with everything they need, and that includes a safe enclosure, where they can play, exercise, eat, and clean themselves. Providing a range of toys for play and exercise will help keep your rabbit happy and healthy, and Zippi Platforms are a great way to give your rabbits a playground they will love.
How can I give my rabbits more space?
Platforms are also an easy way of giving your rabbits more space to move around and explore. By positioning a platform in your rabbit’s enclosure, you can make better use of the height to give an even bigger area for toys and exercise. The platform gives a look out for rabbits to examine their environment from a height, plus a more exhilarating way to exercise. The area beneath feels safe for rabbits to relax and graze on hay, or if they need to shelter from bad weather.
What are the Zippi Platforms from Omlet?
The Zippi Rabbit Runs and Platforms from Omlet are designed to offer a modular system that you can adapt at any time. The platforms fit securely to the Zippi rabbit enclosure, so they feel safe underfoot, and are waterproof so they are easy to clean with just a garden hose and pet-safe disinfectant. Start small, and add more extensions and platforms at any time to build an amazing play area for your rabbits
5 Ways to Use the Zippi Rabbit Platforms
Need some inspiration on how you can use platforms with your pet? Take a look at our ideas below to create a fun and safe area for your rabbits to exercise.
Take shelter to new heights!
The Zippi Platforms offer shelter below for bad weather days, but your rabbits can still make the most of the second level in their enclosure during wind and rain, with the Zippi Shelters and Play Tunnels.
With a 3 panel wide rabbit platform, you can even position a Zippi Shelter at either end and connect them together with a Play Tunnel. Or position one Shelter on the platform and one below. Don’t forget to pop some hay inside the Shelter on the platform so your rabbits can nibble away on a snack while they wait for the storm to pass!
The Corner Platform for rabbits with a multi panel platform pack can be used to create an L shape mezzanine area with 2 ramps. Depending on the length and width of your Zippi enclosure you can either position both ramps in the same direction, or create a slight spiral effect like in the image below.
In a longer Zippi run, around 4 or 5 panels in length, you can position Zippi Platforms opposite each other so your rabbits can run straight down one ramp, and back up another for a loop-the-loop circuit! Don’t forget the Zippi Platforms are strong and sturdy so your rabbit will feel safe to jump and hop up and down the ramp.
Lunch on the balcony, sir?
Position Caddi Treat Holders to hang over the platforms so your rabbits can enjoy their lunch with a garden view. Mix up the ingredients in the slow release feeder to keep rabbits excited, and ensure a 5 star rating for your new bunny bar! These feed toys can also be used as a hay rack to keep the floor of your rabbits’ house or play area clean.
Zippi Tunnel to the first floor!
Combine the Zippi Platforms with our popular Zippi Rabbit Tunnel System by positioning your Zippi Tunnel entrance up on the platform level. This means your rabbits can hop up and down the Zippi Tunnel to get from one enclosure to their platforms, down the ramp and into another Zippi Run.
Whether you’re buying a present for an animal loving child or for your own little pet, we’ve got the perfect gifts, big and small. Check out these top tips, now at an amazing price in the Omlet Black Friday Sale!
Shelters and Play Tunnels
Give your rabbits or guinea pigs something fun to play with on their run this winter with Zippi Shelters and Play Tunnels. Available in green or purple, the shelters are a great way of providing a safe and secluded place for your pets to hide, or as a platform they can jump onto and watch the world go by.
The play tunnels can be placed independently anywhere on the run for your pets to chase each other through, or be connected to the shelters to create a maze that mimics their wild burrows. Entertainment and safe spot all in one!
The Caddi Treat Holder is the perfect stocking stuffer for chickens, rabbits or guinea pigs, or their owners. The Caddi can be filled with a range of pet appropriate treats, and will swing as the animals peck or bite the treats. It’s the ideal both mental and physical challenge, with the added bonus of a tasty reward!
Hung from the roof of your hutch and run, the height of the Caddi can easily be adjusted, and it’s super easy to remove it for refilling and cleaning.
Qute Hamster and Gerbil Cage
The Qute allows hamster and gerbil owners to get closer to their pets. The modern design means you will be happy to display the piece in your kitchen or living room, and the large, crystal clear bedding tray makes it easy for pet owners of all ages to see what their pets are up to. The bedding tray also offers a convenient way of getting your hamster or gerbils out of the cage for playing, socializing and exercise.
Geo Bird Cage
Upgrade your parakeet/budgie or other small birds’ home this winter with the stunning Geo Bird Cage. The Geo has got everything your bird needs to become a natural part of the home, and you can accessorize with baths, mirrors and toys for your pets to enjoy.
Eglu Go Hutch
Do your current pets need a home improvement? The Eglu Go Hutch is the perfect way of keeping rabbits or guinea pigs in the garden. The handy integrated hutch and run solution allows your pets to run in and out as and when they like during the day, and when it’s time for a nap they can curl up in the safe and insulated house. In winter you can move the hutch closer to the house, making cleaning and spending time with your pets even easier.
It’s that time of year again when we say goodbye to summer and welcome in the cooler, shorter days of Autumn. For many pet owners, Summer is a great opportunity to spend quality time with our animals, playing outdoors and enjoying the warmer weather. However, the change in season doesn’t have to mean that the fun has to stop!
It’s fundamental that you continue to keep your pets exercised throughout the year, and animal runs are great for this, giving your furry friends the freedom to roam within a safe and confined environment. Omlet supply a range ofruns for chickens,rabbits andguinea pigs, which are all predator resistant, so you shouldn’t have any concerns about safety in their run this Fall. Although runs are fantastic for providing your animals with more space, adding a few extras over the next coming months can help to keep both you and your pet/s entertained. Here are our top tips on what you can do to make your runs more fun this Autumn.
For Guinea Pig and Rabbit Runs
Set Up a Vegetable Hunt
Cavies and rabbits love their fresh veg, so why not make a game out of it! You can try hiding their favorite pieces of veggies around the run and have them go off to find it. This game will not only be an opportunity for you to spend some quality time outside with your pet, but they get to join in with the Halloween festivities of a scavenger hunt this autumn as well!
Get a Play Tunnel
Play tunnels can be attached to your guinea pig orrabbit’s run to give them a new way to exercise, designed with the natural behavior of these two animals in mind. In the wild, both guinea pigs and rabbits would live in burrows, a hole which they dig to take temporary refuge underground. Watch as your piggy or rabbit has fun bouncing around, in and out of their tunnel.
Use a Shelter
Shelters can be a great addition to your run this season. TheOmlet Zippi Shelters for rabbitsandguinea pigs are weatherproof, meaning that your pet will be protected from the elements of wind and rain. Both species have a natural desire to seek a hiding space in a hole, so you can be assured that they are having fun, while feeling safe. Furthermore, the Omlet play tunnels have connector rings, which mean these can easily be attached to the Zippi Shelters, creating a fun maze for your furry friends!
Guinea Pig and Rabbit Toys
Who said toys were just for cats and dogs? Try giving anew toy to your small animal, which will help to bust their boredom this season. Toys for guinea pigs and rabbits can simply be hung up in their run and will keep them active, engaged, and curious.
For Chicken Runs
Chickens can have toys too! A bored chicken can lead to flock bullying, so at this time of year it’s even more important to keep your chickens entertained. Naturally, as the weather drops, these animals get increasingly restless, with less grass and weeds for them to forage on, as they enjoyed over summer.A chicken peck toy is one option to keep your flock happy, also providing them with mental stimulation.
Make Use of Your Autumn Leaves
The fallen leaves of autumn in your garden or backyard may not mean anything to us but they can actually be a great source of entertainment for your chickens. Build up a pile of crisp fall leaves in your chickens’ run, and watch them have endless hours of fun pecking. You can even add some sunflower seeds to your pile to have your flock hunt for.
Provide Your Chickens With a Pumpkin For Their Run
It wouldn’t be Fall without pumpkins! You can place half a pumpkin in your chickens’ run for them to have as a special treat. Your flock will have no problems pecking at the pumpkin raw, so there’s no need for any cooking; simply slice the top of the pumpkin off and then in half, to place outside in their run. Something to be cautious of here however, is to make sure that you remove any pumpkin remains from the run once finished to avoid any unwanted visitors such as rodents at night.
Get a Chicken Swing
A chicken swing is another way to make your chickens’ run more fun.The Omlet Chicken Swing will have your chicken in their element, as they get to grips with their new toy. Not only will this run accessory provide them with plenty of entertainment, you’ll have just as much fun watching them hop on and off and swing back and forth.
Hopefully after a bit of guidance, you’ll have a few new ideas on how you can make your pets’ run more enjoyable this season! As the end of the season brings colder weather, don’t forget to have a read of the Omlet guides on keeping your guinea pigs,rabbits, andchickenssafe and warm when they’re outdoors.
Ever cleaned your pets’ run and found old bits of moldy cabbage or soggy feed that is nearly impossible to pick out of the grass? There is an easy way of keeping your pets’ treats fresh for longer, while also improving run cleanliness AND keeping your animals entertained!
The Caddi can be hung at any height from all pet runs, trees or other structures in your backyard or garden. It’s super easy to fill with whatever you want to give your pets, be it bits of fruit, or fresh hay.
At the moment you will get 50% off Caddi Treat Holdersfor chickens, rabbits and guinea pigs when you sign up to the Omlet newsletter. Take this opportunity to make your pets’ run more fun and more hygienic than ever before!
4 reasons Caddi will improve your pets’ run:
Improves run cleanliness
All pets will be happier if their living quarters are tidy and clean, but it’s also important for their health that both their coop or hutch and run are kept hygienic. Moldy food left on the damp ground can make a chicken, rabbit or guinea pig very ill, so having a Caddi to keep it in will make it much easier for you to spot anything that’s gone off, and to remove it in a second.
Reduces food waste
Food, treats or hay that is left on the ground on the run will go off very quickly, especially at this time of year when temperatures can vary dramatically between day and night and there is likely to be more rainy days. With the Caddi, the treats you leave your pets will keep fresher for longer as they won’t come into contact with the wet ground. They will also be kept dryer thanks to the waterproof top.
Keeps pests away
The end of summer means that there will be less food available for wild animals like rodents and small birds, and they are likely to approach your garden and your pets’ home in search for tasty morsels. By putting feed, hay or vegetables in the Caddi rather than scattering on the ground, you are making things more difficult for uninvited visitors!
Yummier tasting treats
As the treats, veg or hay you are giving your pets are kept contained in one place and won’t get stepped on by muddy feet, they will be crunchier, cleaner and better tasting. As the swinging motion of the Caddi offers stimulation and entertainment, your pets will truly enjoy snack time!
Buy now and get 50% off when you sign up for the Omlet newsletter!
Terms and conditions: This promotion is only valid from 09/28/21 – midnight on 10/03/21. Once you have entered your email address on the website you will receive a discount code that can be used at checkout. By entering your email you agree to receive the Omlet Newsletter. You can unsubscribe at any point. This offer is available on single Caddi Treat Holders only. The offer does not apply to Twin Packs or Twin Pack with Peck Toys. Excludes all other chicken accessories. Offer is limited to 2 Caddis per household. Subject to availability. Omlet ltd. reserves the right to withdraw the offer at any point. Offer cannot be used on delivery, existing discounts or in conjunction with any other offer.
If you have done your research and decided that a rabbit is the pet for you, you now have the task ahead of choosing which rabbit breed you would like to get. There are lots of wonderful breeds to choose from, and they all have their own specific features and characteristics. To help you pick the right rabbit for you and your family, we’ve put together a list of things to think about:
Rabbit breeds differ in size, from small Netherland Dwarfs to large Flemish Giants. Smaller breeds tend to be more skittish and nervous, whereas larger rabbits are generally more gentle and less aggressive.
Larger rabbits will naturally need more food, and more space. But don’t think that small rabbits will be fine with limited space, often littler bunnies run around a lot more as they have more energy.
Child-friendly rabbit breeds
While young children should never be given the main responsibility of looking after a rabbit, if you have children in the family it’s good to find a breed that is generally happy to be touched and handled.
A lot comes down to personality, but there are some breeds that are known to get along well with children, like French Lops and Dutch Rabbits.
Reason for getting a rabbit
Think about why you are getting a rabbit, and what is important to you in a pet. Are you happy to just watch them enjoy themselves in the garden, or would you really like to have a rabbit that is sociable and wants to come to you for cuddles? Would you like to breed for your bunny, or show it off in rabbit shows?
Rabbits come with various fur lengths, colours, ear types and builds. You probably have an idea of what you would like your pet rabbit to look like, but it’s worth exploring a few different breeds to see what’s out there.
It’s important to remember that different breeds require different amounts of grooming and looking after. Long fur, like that of the Angora rabbits, will for example need brushing daily or a few times a week, so you will need to consider if that is something you will be happy to do.
Meet the rabbit in person
While rabbit breeds have characteristic features and temperaments, a lot also comes down to breeding and personality. If possible, try to go and see the breeder or person you are buying your rabbit from, or the center where you’re adopting from.
If your rabbit is still small, watch how they interact with their surroundings and siblings, and if possible, see what the mother is like. Make sure the rabbit doesn’t have any obvious health problems, and try to get a feel for its temperament. If it’s important for you that the rabbit is happy to be picked up, make sure they have been around humans from the start and have regularly been handled.
Read up on specific breeds’ susceptibility to different health problems. Some breeds tend to have a higher risk of developing problems with their jaws, others with joints, or ear mites. With good care the absolute majority of rabbits will be happy and healthy, but it’s a good idea to research problems in order to prevent them.
The expected lifespan also differs somewhat between breeds. The majority of rabbits live between 5-8 years, but some breeds are known to often live for over 10 years. This is obviously a bigger commitment, so it’s worth thinking about.
Consider these things when choosing a pet rabbit. If you know what you want, here are some of our suggestions:
You want a gentle family bunny that is good with children
Estimates of the world’s domestic rabbit population vary wildly between 15 million and over 700 million. People have kept rabbits for hundreds of years, and traditionally they were farmed as a plentiful resource – after all, they do breed like rabbits! The larger population estimate includes all the rabbits that are still kept for meat and fur.
With this many rabbit owners around the world, and with the bunny’s rather inscrutable facial expression, it comes as no surprise that the question “is my rabbit happy?” has been asked more than a few times by anxious rabbit keepers.
There are several ways of telling whether your furry friend is content and happy, most of them centering on body language.
Happy bunny body language
Body language is the key way of telling how your rabbit is feeling. Simply by spending time with your bunny, you will learn some of the basic messages that tell you if they are happy and relaxed, or stressed.
These are some of the signs of a rabbit’s mood.
Twitching nose. Rabbits are constantly twitching their noses. Not only does this help them sniff the air around them, it also eases their breathing, regulates their body temperature and helps them relax. A contented rabbit will do a lot more nose-twitching than a stressed rabbit, so if you notice that your rabbit hasn’t twitched its nose in a while, there may be something distressing it.
Chilling out. Another easy-to-spot sign of a happy rabbit is an overall relaxed body. Chilled bunnies will lie quietly, ears erect (unless their flop-eared bunnies), sometimes with their legs stretched out, noses twitching contentedly.
Crouching. Like us, when a rabbit is stressed, its muscles become tense as its fight-or-flight instincts activate and its body floods with adrenaline. If the bunny is in a crouching position, ears flat, pupils dilated, it is anxious, stressed or afraid. The cause could be another pet, a scary noise, or even a whiff of something unfamiliar in the air. This behavior is common in rabbits who have not been hand-tamed from a young age. Alternatively, if your rabbit is chilled out, lounging in the hay and not tensed up in any way, you can be sure that they are content.
Hopping. When most people picture a rabbit, they imagine a cute creature hopping around. Rabbits have evolved to be great jumpers, with very strong back legs to help propel them at high speeds. Hopping not only acts as a great escape mechanism, it also assists rabbits in their play. Bunnies like to hop around when they are feeling happy and mischievous. Your rabbits may perform the occasional playful leap in their enclosures, jumping in the air, twisting their bodies a little and then landing again, alert and playful. A rabbit showing this type of behavior is very happy with life. A bunny who is gently hopping around and exploring the world around them is also feeling playful and happy.
Running. A rabbit who darts for cover, usually stamping its back legs on the ground first, is not a happy bunny. Something has startled your poor pet, and the best thing to do is let it recover its composure and confidence in a safe area – usually a quiet corner of the hutch. A quick run to another spot, with ears flat, can also be a sign of anger.
Curiosity. Rabbits are naturally nervous and will only let their curiosity take the lead when they feel safe. In the wild, rabbits are at the bottom of the food chain, a source of food for many predators. Because of this, rabbits are naturally jumpy (pun intended) and on edge. Domestic rabbits are calmer than their wild relatives but still retain their natural wariness.
Angry bunny body language
These physical clues tell you that your bunny isn’t chilled or afraid – it’s hopping mad!
Sitting, front legs raised. If your rabbit sits up, front paws raised and flicking in and out as if trying to punch something, it means the bunny is angry – no matter how cute the behavior might look! The ears will be erect (although not in flop-eared bunnies) and facing outwards like radars. The posture may be accompanied by a growling sound.
Crouching and thumping. If your rabbit is tensed up and thumps its back legs on the ground but doesn’t bolt for cover, it’s angry. The tail will be raised and, in stiff-eared breeds, the ears will be erect. Everything about the bunny will look tensed up, and the pupils will be dilated.
Crouching with bared teeth. If your bunny is crouched with its front legs stretched in front of it and its head up, teeth bared, it’s angry and ready for a fight. The body will be tense, even quivering, and the mouth will be open, the tail raised, pupils dilated and ears folded back.
How to make rabbits happy
There are various reasons why a pet bunny might be unhappy or stressed. The commonest cause is poor environment. They need sufficient space in their hutch and run, and they don’t want to be harassed by nosy dogs, cats or loud parties. The rabbits will also need the company and stimulation that enables them to fulfill their natural instincts. Remember – rabbits are social animals and love having other bunnies to play with.
Giving your rabbits regular health check-ups and ensuring they are up to date with their vaccinations is also essential. A healthy diet will go a long way towards ensuring a happy bunny. A high-quality pellet mix and a lot of hay form the basis of healthy diets, with fresh veg as treats.
To summarize, if your rabbit is relaxed around you or shows signs of curiosity rather than fear when introduced to something or someone new, they are almost certainly happy and relaxed.
A chilled-out rabbit is a mixture of nature and nurture. They are naturally skittish animals, but if handled by their owners at an early age, they will come to treat you as part of their safe environment, and their happiness will be obvious in the fact that they love spending time with you.
Like all social animals, rabbits have a ‘pecking order’. Young rabbits who have grown up together will sort this out without you even noticing. However, if you are introducing rabbits to each other for the first time, they will have to size each other up and establish which one is going to be dominant in the relationship.
The rabbits will not usually sort out this hierarchy by fighting, but display physical behavior that is the bunny equivalent of two people showing off. They will chase, groom and bow, and one will try to mount the other (a sign of dominance in many mammals).
Why do rabbits groom each other?
On the surface, it may look as if a grooming session is an act of love and friendship. In reality, it is an act of subservience. The bunnies who do the grooming are letting the dominant rabbit know that they accept their place lower down in the social hierarchy. Mutual grooming will sometimes occur, but if a rabbit is licking and grooming another bunny’s ears, eyes and forehead, it means they are acknowledging the dominant rabbit’s place at the top of the pecking order.
The dominant rabbit will often request the grooming by approaching another rabbit and lowering its head. This may look like an act of submission, but it is the exact opposite. The rabbit with the lowered head is saying “here’s my head – get grooming!”
Why do rabbits bow to each other?
A bowing rabbit is asking to be groomed. The dominant bunny will approach its companion head-on, often touching noses. Its ears will be raised, and it will sometimes nudge the other rabbit’s chin to prompt the grooming.
Early in a bunny relationship, before the pecking order has been properly established, the rabbit being bowed to may not take the hint and, instead, will bow back. There will be several bows from each rabbit before the matter is settled, and it may even end in a brief tussle. A rabbit who wants to be groomed tends to insist on it!
Why do rabbits ‘flatten’?
Flattening involves crouching low on the ground, ears down. That latter detail differentiates it from a bow, as the flat ears indicate submissiveness. Rabbits will sometimes perform this action if they feel threatened by another rabbit in the run, and it will usually defuse any potential confrontation straight away.
A dominant rabbit will occasionally approach the ‘flattened’ bunny and lick its forehead. This is an acknowledgement of the submissive gesture, and it means the other bunny can relax.
Chasing has two meanings. It can be sexual behavior, with a male chasing a female, or it can be another sign of dominance.
Chasing occurs quite frequently when rabbits are first introduced to each other. When the hierarchy has been sorted out, it becomes far less frequent. However, an un-neutered male will often chase habitually to let the other rabbits know he is the dominant one. Some occasional bullies enjoy chasing, too. Unless one particular rabbit is being repeatedly targeted and is becoming stressed, or any individual is hurt as a result of a vigorous chase, you should simply accept it as part of the pecking order.
Sometimes the chase will manifest as a circling motion, with the dominant rabbit literally running rings around the subservient one. This will often culminate in mounting.
Why do non-mating rabbits mount each other?
Dominance is not automatically based on gender, and a female is just as likely to mount a male as vice versa. It’s a bit like wrestling, where the person who has thrown their opponent to the ground has won that particular bout. The rabbit that has been mounted will not always submit after a single mount, and the tables may be turned a few times before the dominance is formally established between the two bunnies.
Once rabbits have settled in together, the mounting will usually end, although some boisterous males seem to persist with the mounting habit. As long as the submissive rabbit accepts this as part of the social setup, it will not lead to further aggression. Occasionally, you might notice the dominant rabbit mounting just to remind the other bunny that they are the boss.
If the submissive rabbit appears to be distressed and is trying to escape, and is being pursued as a result, the animals may have to be separated for a while. Otherwise, it is best to let them resume this behavior and accept the mounting action as a fact of rabbit life.
Introducing new rabbits
New rabbits should be introduced to each other on neutral territory, if possible. If you simply lock a newcomer in an existing rabbit run, it will be bullied by most of the other bunnies, and the dominant one can sometimes inflict injury on the newbie.
If you can take your dominant rabbit with you when choosing the new pet, it will help enormously. You will be able to see how the old rabbit reacts to the new one, and if all is well, they can even travel home together in the same travel crate. This will also help the bonding process, as both rabbits will feel nervous during the journey.
When you get home, let the rabbits settle down together on neutral territory. If all goes well, they can be moved to the run later in the day, with two food bowls. This is the best-case scenario, and it will often be a more drawn-out process getting two bunnies used to each other. You should have a spare run ready for the newbie rabbit, within sight and smell of the established bunny or bunnies.
Let the rabbits cohabit each day for a few hours on neutral territory until they are completely happy together. This may involve several mounting, chasing, grooming and bowing sessions, but the pecking order will be established in the end!
Evidence suggests that rabbits that bond with their owners live longer and happier lives. Sometimes it can feel like our furry friends are in a world of their own, but as long as you take your time and have patience, there are lots of ways of bonding with your bunny.
This article looks at ten fun and exciting ways to deepen your connection to your pet, whether the rabbit is already part of the family or you’ve just brought a new bunny home.
1. Learn Your Pet’s Personality
Like people, all rabbits have distinctive personalities and unique habits. If you have decided to buy a baby rabbit, you may find that they’re very shy at first, but over time they will come out of their shell and begin to reveal their personality. We have a very useful article about Learning to Read your Rabbit’s Body Language, a great resource for identifying what makes rabbit tick. The article outlines the many different sounds your rabbit can make, as well as how its posture can give you clues to what your pet is thinking.
2. Create A Shared Space
It’s natural for your rabbit to feel nervous or even defensive if you interact with them by reaching into their hutch – after all, this space is their home, and all of their instincts tell them to protect it from potential predators. If you want to spend time bonding with your rabbit, try setting up a play area or run large enough for you to sit inside with the rabbit. This way, you can start interacting with your pet on neutral ground.
Rabbits feel comfortable when they have something over their heads, so don’t feel bad if the first few times they hide under any covered area you have set up.
3. Fill Your Shared Space With Toys
There are many fun things you can place around your rabbit’s play area or run, including Zippi rabbit tunnels and tubes, chew treats, shelters and platforms, hanging toys and a hay basket.
Once you have a shared space set up with toys and other gear, try sitting in there with your rabbit for half an hour every day without reaching out to touch your pet. This way, your rabbit will learn to feel comfortable in your company and begin to trust you. It is likely that after a few days of this close contact, your rabbit will approach you without fear and begin to show some curiosity. It’s natural for your rabbit to have a gentle nibble when you first meet – don’t worry, it’s not a bite!
4. Give Your Rabbit New Experiences
Although rabbits are creatures of habit, it’s still good for them if new things are introduced into their lives now and then. Your rabbit will learn to associate you with these new fun experiences, which will deepen your bond. Try occasionally changing the layout of their hutch or investing in a fun new toy for them to play with – you could even make toys for them out of simple household objects like empty kitchen rolls.
5. Offer Healthy Treats
Rabbits can teach us a lot when it comes to healthy treats. They don’t like sweet things or junk food, and the most unhealthy thing you can give them is actually carrot or apple (as these are relatively high in sugar)! Offering your pet healthy treats can help you bond, as they help your rabbit realise you mean well. The rabbit will cautiously approach and take a nibble, and you’re a step closer to breaking down those barriers and properly bonding.
6. Pet your Rabbit
Once your rabbit is comfortable around you and doesn’t run away when you approach with your hand extended, it could be time to start stroking them. Physical contact with your pet is one of the most natural ways to form a bond, and although you may find at first that the rabbit doesn’t seem too keen to be stroked, this is totally normal, and nothing to worry about. It may take a few weeks before you have your rabbit sitting comfortably in your lap.
The most considerate way to approach your rabbit is to reach out with your hand low down, just to the side of their head. This way, they can see that it’s you who is petting them. Rabbits are naturally terrified of birds attacking from above and often run away when approached from a height (and a human standing on two legs is, as far as the rabbit is concerned, a height!). Rabbits also have a blind spot right in front of their noses – something common to most plant-eating animals – so you should also avoid approaching nervous rabbits directly from the front.
7. Teaching Rabbit Tricks
Once your rabbit is playing with you regularly, you can start teaching them some simple tricks! This can begin with reinforcing natural behaviour such as walking through a tunnel, with a treat waiting for them at the far end. Or, it could be something more complex such as teaching your rabbit to spin or do a roll. We have an article all about teaching your rabbit tricks if you want to go deeper down this fascinating rabbit hole!
8. Copying Your Rabbit
One slightly more unusual way of bonding with your rabbit is to behave in ways they would expect to see in other rabbits. This could include pretending to clean yourself the way a rabbit does, or having a little bit of your own food when you see them nibbling at theirs. Just make sure your rabbit sees you doing this, as the whole point is to make them see you as more rabbit-like! This may not be necessary if you already have a trusting relationship with your rabbit.
9. Choosing The Right Time To Play With Your Rabbit
As you begin to get to know your rabbit well, you will see that they have certain times of day when they are more or less active. It is natural for your rabbit to spend large amounts of time sleeping, and they are very habit-forming animals. Try taking note of when they are most active so that you can choose that as the optimum time to play – this avoids frustrating your rabbit by interrupting their nap with a trip to the playpen!
10. Learning To Hold Your Rabbit Safely
When your rabbit is fully bonded with you, they might let you pick them up and carry them around. If you are lucky enough to have a docile rabbit that lets you do this, always remember to hold them in the way that is most comfortable for them. Support your rabbit’s hindquarters in the same way you would support a human baby’s head. Hold them only firmly enough to keep them in your grasp – there is no need to hold them tight, as they are unlikely to jump to the floor.
Rabbits are gentle souls, so you need to be gentle in return. Be patient, give them time, and they’ll soon come to look on you as a true friend and companion.
This article is a part of our Pride of Omlet series, a collection of amazing stories which shine the spotlight on extraordinary pets and share their selflessness, bravery, talent and compassion with the world.
-Written by Anneliese Paul
It’s hard to describe how frightened Pixie the rabbit was when the RSPCA relocated her with an experienced rabbit owner. Eighteen months on, cheeky little Pixie lives in the lap of luxury and is learning to be loved by her adoring human, Wendy.
Wendy had two beautiful rabbits, which she adored. A jet black male Rex rabbit called Jensen and his chocolate brown partner, Havana. But in 2019, Havana died suddenly of pneumonia, and Jensen grieved so severely that he wouldn’t leave his bed. He was the most miserable, unhappy rabbit.
Wendy wanted him to bond with another rabbit, so she went to the RSPCA Canterbury and found Pixie, who had been severely neglected. Pixie was rescued with her partner, but sadly, this rabbit didn’t survive. Pixie was close to starvation, she was skin and bones and had to be fattened up before she was ready to be relocated to a new home. Wendy wanted to give her the loving home she deserved.
Thinking she would be a perfect match for Jensen, Wendy took Pixie home. She had divided the rabbit house so that she could slowly introduce them. After about a month, they were lying next to each other, separated only by the wire, so Wendy decided it was time. However, Pixie was traumatized and her fear presented in aggressive behavior. She couldn’t handle it and bit Jensen. She was agitated and frightened of everything. For a while, even putting food down for her was tricky. She would lunge at the hands that fed her. It was a terribly sad time for Wendy to see Pixie so distressed.
Wendy kept Pixie on her own, and slowly slowly, Pixie began to trust her. Now, 18 months on, she puts her nose up to be stroked, and she’ll hop alongside Jensen. Their Omlet runs, run parallel, so she’s got her space, and he’s got his. They also have a shed divided in two with three levels, windows, balconies, and a flap to their outside Omlet runs, which are connected with tunnels to the conservatory. The gate system on the Omlet runs means Wendy can let them both have time in the house. What was once Wendy’s dining room is now a rabbit playroom with a box, some steps and tunnels so they can just mess around and do bunny stuff. They take turns to come in, and Wendy leaves the door open, so they don’t get too warm.
Before she starts work in the morning, she makes the rabbits a little salad. Kale, Cavalo Nero or Spring Greens are the staples, mixed with herbs like parsley, mint and basil. And in the Summer, she’ll pick fresh leaves and rose petals. They have 3 or 4 different kinds of hay to choose from in their runs, and for a treat, Wendy likes to give them bunny biscuits, or strawberries which they absolutely love.
From her sad beginnings, Pixie has blossomed with a loving owner who understands her past, builds up her confidence and feeds her a delicious diet. Jensen has a new partner, Tinker-bell, a blue-eyed white mini Rex. Wendy simply adores all three of her beautiful rabbits, but especially Pixie. She’s a survivor.
“Almost every day, she could reduce me to tears. She’s so loving and responsive. I’m just absolutely amazed that this little rabbit found it in her heart to actually forgive humans.”
Some animals, such as rabbits and guinea pigs, are herbivores. Others, like hamsters, are omnivorous. Finally, there are also carnivores like cats that cannot survive without meat.
All animals need to have their nutritional needs satisfied. However, this does not mean you can’t have a vegan dog. Vegan cats, though, are a lot trickier.
Can my dog have a vegan diet?
If you were to meet a species of animal for the first time and had to make an accurate guess about its diet, you would get lots of clues by looking at its teeth. The teeth of a dog, like the teeth of a bear, proclaim loud and clear that this animal is an omnivore – that is, one that eats both meat and vegetables. If you think of your dog as a domesticated wolf, you get a good idea of its natural diet.
However, as the panda proves, a supposed meat-eater can sometimes get by perfectly well on a vegan diet. A panda’s teeth are similar to any other bear’s – long canines for meat-eating and molars for grinding vegetation. And yet pandas don’t eat anything other than bamboo. So, if a bear can be vegan, does that mean you can have a vegan dog?
The answer is yes – but it’s a yes with lots of small print! A dog requires a diet that contains the fats and proteins it would get from meat. It is dangerous to ignore this basic need and simply feed your pet with whatever you please. Some dogs have delicate stomachs. Also, a low-fat/high-fibre diet can cause potentially life-threatening problems. A diet that excludes meat should never be fed to a dog without the advice of a professional pet dietician.
The collagen, elastin and keratin found in meat diets are not easily replaced by veggie equivalents. Your dog will also need the ‘long chain’ omega-3 fats found in animal products such as egg, fish and some meats. Vegan omega-3 fats are not the same as animal-derived ones.
All of which presents a headache for the vegan dog owner. There are, however, products available that claim to let your dog live a healthy, meat-free life. Before you take the plunge, it is essential to seek professional, scientific advice and guidance. Compromise is usually the best choice here – a vegan diet supplemented by some of the animal-derived essentials. Crickets, for example, can provide lots of the amino acids and keratin a vegan diet lacks, and they’re 65% protein.
Can my cat have a vegan diet?
The compromise approach is even more important for cats. These are amongst the planet’s true carnivores, obtaining all their dietary requirements from other animals.
The main challenge with minimizing the meat in a cat’s diet is that, unlike many mammals (including dogs), cats cannot produce certain proteins. They have to absorb these from the meat and fish in their diet. Amino acids are another issue – cats deficient in the animal-derived amino acid taurine, for example, usually succumb to a specific type of heart problem.
Even a fortified vegan cat food cannot be confidently recommended. Turn the situation on its head, and try to imagine weaning a rabbit onto a meat-only diet, and you will get some idea of the challenge – and the ethics – involved.
There are some lab-grown ‘meat’ products in development, with vegan and vegetarian cat owners in mind. However, whether these will arrive – and remain – on the market any time soon is hard to guess.
For many vegan pet owners, there is a huge ethical issue involved in feeding the animals they share a space with. Ethics, however, include the animal’s needs too, and it’s an almost impossible issue to resolve when it comes to cats. If you are able to reduce but not eliminate the meat in your cat’s diet, that’s the safer option.
Top 10 pets for vegan households
There are, of course, plenty of other pets that don’t eat meat, or that eat some meat but can still thrive on a meat-free diet. Here are our ten favorites.
1. Rabbits. No problems here – rabbits are happy vegans, with diets based on hay and vegetables. You could argue that the soft pellets they eject and then eat are animal products of a sort, but they are simply semi-digested vegetation.
2. Guinea pigs. Like rabbits, these wonderful little characters thrive on a 100% vegan diet.
3. Hamsters. Most hamster owners give them store food, you don’t always know what’s in it. However, hamsters, like rats and mice, can do without meat.
4. Gerbils. Like hamsters, gerbils are omnivorous. They have sensitive stomachs and need a quality pellet mixture. Too much fresh produce can harm their digestive system.
5. Mice. Although they will eat pretty much anything in the wild, mice can thrive on vegan diets; but it is still best to use a food mix prepared specifically for them. This ensures that they will not be deficient in any of the vitamins and minerals they need.
6. Rats. These are the most omnivorous of rodents, but as long as you feed them a vegan mix that has been fortified with all the nutrients they need, they will thrive. Be careful, rats who eat too much animal fat tend to become fat and die prematurely.
7. Chickens. If you watch a free-range hen, it soon becomes clear that she will eat anything – grass, beetles, worms, and everything in your vegetable patch if you’re not careful! Most chicken feed emulates this mix of plant and animal products. However, it is possible to buy vegan chicken feed, and circumstantial evidence suggests that hens can thrive on it. However, they are likely to produce fewer eggs, and you will not be able to stop them scratching for worms and bugs, no matter how vegan the layers pellets are!
8. Parakeets and parrots. Vegans will have no obstacles to face with budgies and parrots, unless the birds are being bred. Egg-brooding female birds need a protein boost, normally delivered via an egg-based food or cooked meat. Vegan alternatives are available, though.
9. Finches. Many finch species enjoy bugs and mealworms as treats, but these are not an essential part of an adult finch’s diet. These birds thrive on a mixture of seeds and fresh vegetables.
10. One for reptile fans. When you think of pet snakes and lizards, you probably have an image of dead mice or doomed crickets. However, there are a few commonly kept pet reptiles that eat a 100% vegan diet, the most popular being the Green iguana. Getting the balance of vegetables just right is very important for the animal’s health, but meat is certainly something you won’t have to worry about.
There is no shortage of choice when it comes to vegan pets. Keeping a vegan cat or dog is a much trickier proposition, though. And with all these animals, a balanced diet that matches the pet’s nutritional requirements should be your primary goal.
Rabbits are usually peaceful creatures who love to play and socialise with their owners. But what do you do if your rabbit starts showing signs of aggression? It’s tough to see your pet stressed, and it’s natural to want to help them. Here, we outline a few ways you can minimise bad bunny behaviour and start enjoying the time you spend with them again!
What is aggressive behaviour in rabbits?
There are two major kinds of aggression in rabbits, the most typical being defensive behaviour surrounding their habitat. If your rabbit bites when you reach your hand into their cage or hutch, it’s likely to be territorial defensive aggression. Another kind of aggressive behaviour occurs between your rabbits – for example if they are fighting each other to the point of injury.
It can be upsetting to see your bunny get hurt, and hard to know what to do. A small amount of fighting is natural between your pets, but if you can see blood on their fur or in the hutch then it’s possible that the anger is getting out of hand and the bites are getting nasty.
How to help with territorial aggression and biting
If your rabbits bite your hand – or try to – consider how and where you approach your pet. The hutch is often a bolt hole and ‘safe space’ for a bunny and is where they spend most of their lives. If you reach in unexpectedly, it is natural that they might be scared and defensive. Rabbits are prey animals in the wild and are especially jumpy when ‘cornered’ in their safe space!
You may find that if you start to interact with your rabbit in a non-hutch setting – such as a run or play area – you have more chance of a peaceful and happy interaction. Try sitting with your rabbit in the run for a few hours every day, and then begin to slowly approach with your fluffy friend’s favorite rabbit treats. After spending time like this, you may find that your rabbit starts coming to you more and more, and if the rabbit is initiating the approach, aggression is much less likely.
By spending time with your rabbit in this non-hutch environment, you are teaching your pet that you are not a predator, and that you can be trusted to approach them. Once the trust is established, you should be able to approach the rabbit in its rabbit hutch with no problems.
How to stop aggressive behaviour between your rabbits
If you have noticed fighting between your rabbits, and if this seems to be more than just their normal play fighting, you may need to think about how much space they have in their hutch. It could be that your rabbits have grown since you bought them, and their once spacious house is now a little too small for two. It could be that they have spent little time in the run over winter, and so they’ve become a little ‘house-bound’ in their hutch. Cabin fever affects humans and pets alike!
Whatever the reason for the bunnies’ bad moods, it is important that your rabbits should feel happy and relaxed in their hutch. The fighting will likely ease off if they have more elbow room. Rabbits are territorial animals, and they each need their own space as well as a shared space.
Try distracting your brawling bunnies by clapping your hands. The noise will distract them and will hopefully teach your rabbit not to fight. A particularly aggressive rabbit can be deterred by spraying water on their nose – but this isn’t something you want to be doing too often, so if, after the first few sprays, it isn’t making any difference, it’s time for Plan B.
If you decide to invest in a larger hutch but your rabbits continue to show aggressive behaviour, you may have to separate them into two different hutches. That’s Plan B!
The benefits of spaying rabbits
Spaying (also known as neutering) is the term for stopping your pet from having babies and is accomplished via surgery. If your rabbits were from a pet shop, it is likely that they have already been spayed – but if you got your rabbits from a friend, it’s always a good idea to take them to the vet and ask about spaying.
If your rabbit has not been spayed, they are much more likely to exhibit aggressive behaviour to you and any fellow bunny who shares their hutch.
It is common for owners to keep male rabbits or female rabbits in single-gender pairs, and this can lock them into a mating-related feud that neither can win. Your rabbits could be fighting over who is the most dominant in their shared territory, but this fighting is much less likely to occur if they have been spayed.
Equally, if you have decided to keep a male and female rabbit together, it is a good idea to get them spayed, as rabbits can have up to fifty baby bunnies a year! Fifty bunnies may sound cute but consider how difficult it could be to care for and house that many animals!
There are other benefits to spaying your rabbit other than reducing their aggression, such as reducing their chances of getting mammalian, ovarian or testicular cancer. Spayed rabbits are also much easier to train, and are more sociable generally.
If you have only recently brought your pet rabbit home, they may need a little time to get used to their new space and become comfortable. It is natural for any new pet to be nervous and skittish at first, and this could lead to a few aggressive behaviours, including biting, early on.
It’s important to know that your rabbit is more scared of you than you are of it, and that just because it has bitten you doesn’t mean that you won’t end up being the best of friends! If you feel nervous about establishing contact with the rabbit, talk to a friend who has had rabbits for a little longer, or check out some of the reassuring ‘how to’ guides available online.
Just remember that having a rabbit is hugely rewarding and it’s worth spending time hand-training your pet from the outset. As long as they have enough space and no aggressive ‘mating rivals’, they should be every bit as calm and cuddly as you could hope for.
When considering whether or not to keep chickens, it’s important to take into account the pets you already have around your home. The most obvious examples are cats and dogs, who sometimes let their chase instincts get the better of them. However, all your pets can get along just fine, as long as you lay down a few ground rules.
Keeping chickens with dogs
If you’re a dog owner, the first thing to consider is the temperament of your pet. Does it often chase rabbits or deer when out on a walk? How does your dog react to birds in the garden? If your hound tends to lose control in these situations, this behavior is likely to carry over into their relationship with chickens. Equally, if your dog is of a more relaxed temperament, they may show little if any interest in your coop.
The likeliest scenario falls somewhere between the two extremes, in which case you’ll see your dog taking an interest in the chickens, and spending plenty of time watching and attempting to play with them, but not moving in ‘for the kill’. What’s important here is that your dog needs to understand that the chickens are part of the pack, and not something to be hunted. It’s also important that your dog understands that chickens are fragile, and that dog-style rough play is out of the question.
Teaching dogs to get along with chickens
You can teach your dogs that the chickens are part of the family by letting them watch you spending time in the coop – initially keeping them separated with chicken wire or fencing. Many breeds of dog are naturally cautious around small animals and will be protective of your chickens once they consider them a part of the pack. The behavior you want to see is your dog cautiously sniffing at the chicken, as opposed to adopting the head-down-bottom-up ‘let’s play’ stance.
One of the most important considerations when it comes to dogs and chickens is the temperament of the dog breed. Hunting dogs such as greyhounds and beagles will cave into their hunting instincts if the hens begin to flap around, and they should never be allowed to mingle with the chickens. In contrast, farm dogs such as sheepdogs have protective and herding instincts, and they will be less likely to harm your chickens.
There is no sure-fire way to guarantee your dogs and chickens will get along but spending plenty of time introducing them goes a long way. As with all dog training, this can be an extended process, so be prepared to spend a few weeks introducing your chickens to your dogs with a barrier before you let them meet face to face. When you do introduce them, it’s a good idea to keep the dog on a short leash at first, just in case.
Keeping chickens with cats
Cats are a completely different story to dogs – they are harder to predict and less susceptible to training. However, they are unlikely to view a big fat hen as potential prey. Many farmers concur that their farm cats have no interest in hunting poultry and are much more interested in the rats and mice that are inevitably attracted by birds. When keeping chickens, the occasional rat is standard, and having a cat around can greatly reduce their numbers.
Although most chickens are too large for a cat to hunt, this largely depends on the breed of chicken and the size of your cat. If you find that your cat is beginning to stalk your chickens, a sturdy and secure coop and run that your cat can’t access will deter trouble. This is good practice either way, as even if your cat is friendly with your chickens, your neighbor’s cat might not be! The ideal answer here is the Eglu, which is super-secure and comes with its own attached chicken run.
Keeping chickens with guinea pigs
You may already have a guinea pig hutch or run in your backyard or garden, and while this won’t be a problem for your chickens, it is not recommended for chickens and guinea pigs to share living quarters. This is for several reasons, one being that rats will be further attracted to your pets’ food, and they may attack your guinea pigs. Another reason is that when establishing a pecking order, your chickens will peck at each other and any other animal they live with. This can cause serious harm to guinea pigs, who do not have thick feathers to protect them.
Keeping chickens with rabbits
Rabbits can be great companions for your chickens if you introduce them to each other when they are all very young. You will also need to ensure that you care for their different needs within the same run, in terms of food and equipment.
Rabbits, for example, like to have a clean space to sleep in, so you may need to muck out your coop and run more regularly than you would if the chickens were alone. You will also need to ensure that the chickens and rabbits all have a safe space within the coop where they can have privacy and space. You can achieve this by separating your run into three areas, one to house the roosting chickens, another for your rabbits, and a communal space.
Photo by JackieLou DL from Pixabay
Having a large and secure run/enclosure will make your chickens feel safer in general, and plenty of space will maximize the chance of the hens getting along with each other and their rabbit and guinea pig neighbors.
Chickens and other pets
Chickens can also mix happily with goats, and with female ducks (males will tends to bully them). Ironically, they do not mix with birds in an aviary. They will eat anything that falls to the aviary floor, but they will also happily peck the other birds whenever they can and may attract rats and mice, which will cause problems for the smaller birds.
Small mammal pets such as hamsters and gerbils should never be kept in the same enclosure as chickens. The rodents will be pecked and killed.
By following these few ground rules, you will be able to keep the various members of your pet family happy!