UPDATE: This article was written in 2015 when we first added our bunnies to the farm, we have learned a ton since then! Click here to check out our full rabbit care catalog of articles!
Anytime you add a new animal to your family, there is a lot to learn! It’s always best to read & research as much as you can before you get a new animal, but there are just some things you can only learn from experience. Check out these lessons we learned from our first month as bunny owners.
Before bringing our babies home, we researched online the best kinds of litter to use in their litter box and for bedding. After many searches, we settled on natural paper bedding as being safest for rabbits & providing great odor control.
Now, I’m sure this bedding is wonderful stuff for mice, hamsters, and other small pets. After just one day we knew this was a horrible choice for English Angoras.
All those little bits of paper get stuck in their fur! If you don’t pick them all out, mats can start to form around them (and you don’t want paper bits in your fiber). While I appreciated how it made them look like they are always coming from a big bunny party, picking paper bits out of their fur is not something I want to add to my bunny chore list. For their litter box, we have switched to a paper pellet type litter. It is heavy enough that it doesn’t get tangled in their fur, and I haven’t noticed any difference for better or worse with odor control.
Rugs & other cozy things
For the rabbit’s sleeping area, we got a small rug at a local discount store. It fits perfectly in the sleeping area of the hutch like it was meant to be! Yes, they chew on it, and occasionally we have to replace it, but it’s a great option. On top of the rug, we like to add some straw for them to nest into. It’s cozy and affordable, and in the winter months can help provide insulation. Instead of straw, many rabbit owners will add fleece blankets or towels. We tried that for a little while but found that they got gross quickly (either from dirt/mud or urine/feces) and it was more sanitary to use straw or hay. Once a week we toss the straw into the compost pile and add fresh.
Rabbits are smart little escape artists
I had seen the wild rabbits in my yard squeeze into impossibly small holes to get under the fence, but it didn’t really dawn on me that my domestic rabbits would do the same. Admittedly, we were a little slow in finishing the rabbit’s yard. They had a 10×15 picket fenced yard they are allowed to play in during the day. We installed hardware cloth wire on the lower two feet of the fence. We also buried hardware cloth 2 feet down around the entire perimeter to prevent predators from digging in and rabbits from digging out.
Within the first week, they proved they were smarter than us by figuring out how to squeeze through the small gap in the gate. Once we fixed the gate, they immediately figured out how to scale the 2-foot wire portion and squeeze through the picket fence. The garden herbs and greens just beyond their yard are too tempting! We installed 4 foot tall chicken wire over the hardware cloth that went from the ground to the top of the picket fence and the escape attempts have stopped. click here to read more about our initial rabbit set up. click here to read about our current set up as our rabbit family has grown!
Rabbits are not smelly
Having never owned rabbits, I could only rely on other people’s reports when researching this one before my rabbits came home. The consensus – rabbits poop a lot and they poop everywhere. Now, I can’t argue with the first half, they do poop a lot. But I was surprised to find they have contained their poop for the most part in their litter box. click here to read more about litter box training rabbits
We got them a litter box and put it in their hutch, not expecting much. They were baby bunnies, after all, we figured eventually we would teach them to use it. We didn’t have to do much to “teach” them. I would say 90% of their droppings are in the box and the rest are easy enough to sweep up with a little dustpan. It’s super easy to take the box out and dump it in the compost every couple of days so they never get the chance to become “smelly”.
Rabbits are quite similar to cats – they spend much of their day grooming, and they prefer to keep their waste contained in one area. Gross as it sounds, rabbits will eat some of their own droppings, known as cecotropes, to better digest them – gross, yes, but win for fewer rabbit droppings to clean up! And their poo is so tiny and inoffensive that it is a million times better than scooping out the cat box. click here to read more about what is normal and what isn’t with rabbit droppings
English Angora rabbits don’t just shed once a season
Of course, before diving in with a breed like English Angoras we were prepared for the grooming chores that would come along with their care. We had read that 3-4 times per year they would “blow” their coat and that is when you can collect the fiber. We have had many long-haired cats so we were familiar with grooming techniques and were ready for the grooming tasks. When you groom a cat, it’s mostly to keep the coat tangle & mat free. You usually don’t end up taking much fur off her at all, so this was what I was expecting with the buns.
Rabbits are constantly shedding in small amounts, however, which is one of the reasons frequent grooming is necessary. You don’t want your rabbit to be ingesting all the loose hair. Unlike cats, rabbits don’t have the inner mechanism to throw up hairballs. The fur will sit in their tummies and can cause a deadly condition called GI Stasis. click here to read more about GI Stasis I was surprised by the amount of fur that comes off with each brushing! I thought I would have to wait until their first shed to begin collecting fibers but the fiber collection is growing every week. click here to read about grooming angoras
Rabbits make great pets!
Ok, so this one I had kind of already guessed at, but they are so much fun. They are adorable and affectionate and have their own sweet little personalities. They enjoy sitting on our laps for grooming. We have set up benches in the rabbit yard so we can sit and watch them frolic in the grass, which is endlessly entertaining. But the best way to interact with them is to get down on their level. click here to read more about playing with your rabbit
I have the luxury of working from home full-time. When I need a break I like to take a towel outside and sit in the rabbit yard for a bit. The bunnies will come to flop down next to me, nibble the grass, and enjoy ear rubs. It is a perfectly relaxing way to take a break, but it’s tempting to spend the whole day with them! There is something about their peaceful demeanor that relaxes you and makes you want to slow down and smell the flowers. We first added our bunnies to the farm family in 2015 and I just love them more every day 🙂