Thinking about a Rabbit...

eds48

Hello all!
I'm thinking about potentially getting a rabbit sometime in august... I want to do showmanship with my rabbit and as well for my rabbit to be a good family pet I love Flemish Giants along with Lops! I'm planning to build 2 big custom cages.... One for the inside and one for outside... So can anyone give me tips about these types of rabbits?
 

lollipopkiller

rabbits in general are messy little creatures so I suggest a mat that is half a foot bigger than the size of the cage. I have a lion head rabbit and he requires being brushed once every 2 weeks. if u get a long hair rabbit be prepared to brush it
 

MJDuti

We have a mini-lop. I wouldn't consider him a mess. He just gets excited by hay and can spread that around. He may drop a random poop somewhere, but that's rare. If anything, when he decides to shed there may be hair Everywhere.

Flemish Giants are awesome, but HUGE. That's like being new to fish and starting with an arowana. As long as you have enough room, why not. They can also jump insanely high from what I've seen.

A few things we've learned the past 2 years (only inside), that you can find online most of the time:
*rabbit proof everything! They will chew wood, wires, plastic, etc. Also are curious so may jump on things too.
*have a litter box inside their cage And outside their cage. it just amazes me that they can be litter trained. ours basically picked a general area, we put the box there and he started going into it.
*make sure they always have hay. they have insanely sensitive digestive systems and this helps with their digestion. Also check on the foods they can and can't have. I would also learn a little about GI stasis, just in case. See if you can find some Oxbow-Critical Care to keep on hand.
*Some like to be picked up, some don't. Ours usually does, but sometimes does Not, especially if he knows he is going back in his cage. Get yours young and handle it as much as possible.
*they are like a hybrid between a cat and dog. they can be stubborn but also extremely affectionate. Ours loves getting pet. If you stop, he sort of looks at you and says, "hey!", and will even follow you. You can also teach them tricks!
*spay or neuter as soon as you can. Our boy was spraying (marking his territory) quite a bit before hand, but we actually had to wait till his little boys got a little bigger before we could clip them.
*you will need to clip its nails occasionally and brush it. also keep an eye on their teeth. The hay also helps keeping them trimmed. They will dig and chew things. We found the best solution, throw a big cardboard box in a corner and let him go at it. It gives him something to hangout in as well as chew and dig/scratch for his teeth and nails. Sometimes it doesn't last long. We also use tubing for him to run through. BinkyBunny.com is a good site that my wife uses too.
*just a side note. a "binky" is when they will just randomly jump straight up in the air. Supposedly they do this when they are happy. It may catch you off guard at first, but it is hysterical.

Best of luck, keep us updated. They are fun.
 

garikapc

We had a Holland Lop buck for eight years before he passed suddenly. MjdutI has awesome advice. Somethings I would add for the OPENING

Research a vet. A real rabbit vet and not just someone who dabbles or will give it a try. Rabbits can live 10-12 years. Out vet had a patient rabbit who was 18!

Avoid carrots. You mentioned this being a family pet and younger kids may want to go nuts with carrots but they are really not that great for buns. Too much sugar in them can upset the GO track

Choose good pellets with a hay base (first ingredient) but always stress hay hay and more hay. Ours got really fussy in his old age and would refuse hay and dig at just the pellets.

Have fun. They are wondeful but are no way the easy/child pets people think they are. At least if you want them to be healthy and happy.

 

jreinhart

My wife and I have two mini-lops. We've had them for four years and got them from a nearby farm when they were babies.

Litter training bunnies is essential but requires a lot of patience. If you choose to have more than one bunny it is incredibly important, cannot overstate this, to slowly introduce them to each other and to always supervise them. Bunnies can be very territorial (towards other bunnies but also you) resulting in fights, bites, and even death.

I'm not trying to scare you off the idea of a bunny. I love the two that we have. They are highly affectionate animals. But, they are not an easy nor an introductory pet.

We started our bunnies in separate cages (bigger is better). Now they live in a gigantic dog playpen, situated in our living room, while we're at work and then they come out and play with us afterwards.

They love to find places to hide under and dig into and things to chew on. One day we thought we had done a solid job of proofing things when our boy discovered a Macbook charger and killed it. He's fine. In fact he loves to hide behind our couch. The girl likes to hop onto the couch or go under it and try to dig up into it. She is more adventurous than the boy.

You will find that bunnies exhibit unique personalities. It is important to understand those personalities and work with them.

Some people may discipline a dog, for example, by bopping it on the nose with a newspaper. Never physically discipline a bunny with corporal punishment. They can tell by the tone of your voice if they've done something wrong. They may also respond to being squirted with a water bottle, like a cat.

Concerning diet bunnies need hay 24/7 (along with fresh water). They need fresh vegetables once a day (we usually do this at night for dinner). Things like romaine lettuce, green leaf lettuce, red leaf lettuce, parsley (both flat and italian), mint, cilantro, snow peas, dandelion greens, celery, baby bok choy carrot tops (NOT carrots) are common items we feed. You could feed bok choy, kale, spinach, and broccolI but they are high in calcium. Our bunnies don't do well with a lot of calcium so we avoid calcium rich vegetables.

I highly recommend Sweet Meadow Farm's (Google Sweet Meadow Farm in Sherborn, Massachusetts) hay and dry food. This farm is near us but you can order their stuff online. They're affordable and quality food. When bunnies are young they can have Alfalfa hay (or dry pellets with Alfalfa in it) but when they become adults they cannot have that. As your bunny becomes an adult you will also give it less of the dry pellets.

It is very important to keep their weight in check. Overweight bunnies have a lot of medical problems.

Let's see, the litter box needs to be cleaned out at least once a week. You can tell if you're doing a good job by looking at the bottom of your bunny's feet. If they look dirty you need to clean it more regularly.

I highly suggest NOT putting your bunny in your bedroom. Bunnies are diurnal meaning they are most active dawn and dusk. They will adapt, somewhat, to your schedule. For example, our bunnies are active at 6am so they can be fed breakfast, they nap while we're at work, they wake up when we get home so they can have dinner and they stay up until midnight or so.

Bunnies do not speak like a dog barking or a cat meowing. Instead they may toss things around (paper towel rolls, toilet paper rolls, toys) as a way of playing. They may also thump, a sign showing they are displeased or think there is danger. If a bunny is angry it may make a growling sound. If it is happy it may emit a "mmmm" sound or may grind their teeth.

In general they're adorable, affectionate, and smart. You can train them to do many things. In fact they need the intellectual stimulation to be happy. An unhappy bunny is a destructive one. Be sure to interact with them, play with them, provide them mental stimulation, and they'll love you back.

One final thing, please please please keep your bunny in the house. You can find more information as to why you should do that along with many other vital resources on rabbits by Googling the House Rabbit Network and House Rabbit Society. Those websites will answer all of your questions such as the importance of finding a dedicated bunny vet (harder than you would think).
 

Flowingfins

I have two lion heads also! I agree with jreinhart about everything. I have my bunnies in my barns tack-room (which is air conditioned) and put them in a stall during the day, and they LOVE to chew on things an they shed,a lot. good luck!
-guppybreeder
 

MJDuti

lol, I forgot about the lovely THUMP! talk about a fearsome defense mechanism. Oh, and the growl, or what we call a grunt is rare. That's just if he really doesn't like something. On a happier note, like Jreinhart said, if you hear a grinding of the teeth sound, they are happy. It's like a cat purring. Ours does that when you pet him behind his ears.

If it's going to be mainly indoors (ours is solely indoors) you'll probably want to change the litter more. Rabbit pee is potent! We change the litter(s) once-twice daily. We use the Petco paper littler. It's cheap and lasts awhile and is easiest to clean without making a mess. We also do very little pellets daily but also add a handful of "greens" seperately (usually the mixed bags of lettuce-NOT Iceberg-in the supermarket). And on top of constant hay should be constant water.

A bunny vet is tough to find btw. And one more thing that will help when you have to clip nails. If you put them on their back, say between your legs (some people wrap them in a towel first), they go into what I call a bunny coma, or trance like state. It's kind of weird. Just be careful, it sort of knocks them out for awhile but they may not like being that way for too long. We now just let him be (not on his back) and tag team him on our kitchen floor when we need to clip him. I will pet him and keep him still while my wife clips each foot and we just adjust our spots. This always ends in a treat btw.

You could also look into clicker training them if you want to teach them tricks. Mainly I would focus on getting them to know their name and coming to you. Sometimes they can be stubborn though. Ours can spin and stand but that's about it. Everything else is too much work for him.
 

garikapc

So many bunny lovers! I want another so bad but my wife is diehard on no more rabbits after all the adventures we had with our first and only. I have to accept that if I am to have multiple fish tanks.

Avoid any commercial treats like those yogurt drops and chew sticks. Veggies and hay are the best.

As for noises, bucks will make a pig like oinking (very nasal) that means they are ready to mate or spray. Neutering helps with this.

What space are you thinking. I agree indoors is best but will there be a rabbit room? Or a large (as large as you can!) cage it can hop out of. We tried both depending on when/where we lived at the time.

Also they shed like nobody's business. I mean tumbleweed of fur. I've had dogs and cats and theirs sticks but rabbit fur just floats and bobs and weaves.

Really they are wonderful indeed but do require work. Cat dog hybrid, which someone already mentioned, is the best analogy.

 

jreinhart

also add a handful of "greens" seperately (usually the mixed bags of lettuce-NOT Romaine-in the supermarket).

Am just curious why you say to not use Romaine lettuce. Is this just something you tend to not do or something that you believe should not be done?

The reason why I ask is that Romaine appears on the list of good bunny vegetables according to the House Rabbit Network and House Rabbit Society. Plus our bunny vet (along with the folks in Boston at the MSPCA) say it is a good vegetable for bunnies.

I know that Iceberg lettuce is supposed to be avoided as it has too much water in it and not enough nutrients. People should avoid Iceberg lettuce too for the same reason.
 

MJDuti

*whoops, I actually meant Iceberg. my bad, typed that late last night
 

bolivianbaby

We had a flemish giant. Kept her in a 4 x 4 x-pen with a top (she'd climb out-she was a stinker). She litterbox trained within a day or two and was a great girl. She was nippy sometimes and liked things on her terms, but from my research, that's not usual for the breed.

The biggest thing I could suggest is do your research, talk to several breeders or rescues if possible, and have fun!
 

MJDuti

We rescued ours when he was a little older. Maybe not that old, around 5-6 months. We love ours to death but if I had a choice I would get them as young as possible. Don't know what that age is btw. This way, like most animals, they will get used to social interaction, especially handling them, and you start that bond early.

I as well didn't realize there were so many rabbit owners on here!
 

jreinhart

We love ours to death but if I had a choice I would get them as young as possible. Don't know what that age is btw. This way, like most animals, they will get used to social interaction, especially handling them, and you start that bond early.

I as well didn't realize there were so many rabbit owners on here!

Can't echo that sentiment enough. Our two mini-lops are very trusting of us and tolerant beyond what I would normally expect. There's some things they just don't like (getting picked up despite being held a lot when they were little) such as getting their nails trimmed.

Otherwise they're patient and so friendly. They both give us kisses on our hands, the girl will groom my hair when it is cut short, and both will kiss our faces. They enjoy tickles on their tummy, under their chin, and their bums. A favorite activity is when I lay face down and they hop all over my back. That is like a little massage. Rubbing their cheeks, between their eyes, and behind their ears make them very happy.

Another poster mentioned the importance of doing research with books, reputable websites, and vets. Rabbits live a long time and make great companions.
 

MJDuti

Another thing that I think was not mentioned is that they LOVE to clean themselves...A LOT! It's quite humorous, especially with a lop when they drag their ear over their face to clean it with their paws and mouth.
 

jreinhart

Another thing that I think was not mentioned is that they LOVE to clean themselves...A LOT! It's quite humorous, especially with a lop when they drag their ear over their face to clean it with their paws and mouth.

The first time our two bunnies cleaned themselves my wife and I sat there for a long time watching them. They sit upright on their back legs. Pulling one ear over their face, then the other. Our two bunnies would also lick one paw and rub it up the side of their head (from back of head to front of face) like a cat. It is adorable.
 

MJDuti

does yours also just literally plop on the ground and pass out for what seems like forever?
 

jreinhart

does yours also just literally plop on the ground and pass out for what seems like forever?

Ours will do a big bunny flop on their sides. Then they may take a nap for a few hours or roll onto their tummies and do something else. Very amusing to watch.
 

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