Lessons learned from a rabbit newbie

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Lessons from a rabbit newbie

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.

Litter matters

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.

Lessons from a rabbit newbie
Look at that cute SHORT HAIRED rabbit right on the package!

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.

Lessons from a rabbit newbie

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).  True, it does make them look like they are always just coming from a big bunny party, but 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.

Lessons from a rabbit newbie

For the rabbit’s sleeping area, we also got a small rug at a local discount store.  It fit 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.  We also like to add some straw on top of the rug for them to nest into.  It’s cozy, affordable, and in the winter months can help provide insulation.

Lessons from a rabbit newbie

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 have a 10×15 picket fenced yard they are allowed to play in during the day.  We installed 4 foot wide hardware cloth wire on the lower portion.  2 feet buried down to prevent predators from digging in and rabbits from digging out and 2 feet up the fencing.

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 wire portion and squeeze through the picket fence.  The garden herbs and greens just beyond their yard are too tempting!  We installed a 4 foot wide layer of chicken wire over the hardware cloth that went from the ground to the top of the picket fence and the escape attempts have stopped.

lessons from a rabbit newbieGOING

lessons from a rabbit newbieGOING

lessons from a rabbit newbieAnd she’s gone!

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 to 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 days so they never get the chance to become “smelly”.

Rabbits are quite similar to cats in that they spend much of their day grooming, and they prefer to keep their waste contained to 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 less rabbit droppings to clean up!  And their poo is so tiny and inoffensive 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

lessons from a rabbit newbie

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 that loose hair.  Unlike cats, rabbits don’t have the inner mechanism to throw up hair balls.  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

lessons from a rabbit newbie

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 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 everyday 🙂

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  1. Liz says:

    Such helpful hints. Thank you for this post. Couple of questions: Can the bunnies just keep climbing and climbing or is there a height that is high enough so the bunny yard doesn’t need to be completely enclosed (like an aviary)? Wondering if I could have a bun yard without human-height walls and a wire ceiling. Also, if the edge of the yard is bordered by an asphalt driveway would that eliminate the need for burying wire on that side? thanks!

    1. The bunnies won’t climb up wire, so a 4 foot high fence is plenty to keep them in. The reason to have the yard completely enclosed is to protect from predators (like hawks). The driveway should stop them from digging under – they are good diggers but they won’t be able to get through asphalt! We have our bunny yard bordered by our house on two sides so that kept the fencing cost down a lot.

  2. Those fluffy little bunnies are so darn cute! Love the confetti bedding pic. Thanks for sharing your lessons!


    Your blog is amazing! We just adopted 2 adult French lop bunnies and want an English Angora to add to our family.

  4. Nicole says:

    I loved reading this post. I just brought home three French Angoras. I previously had a lop eared for over 10 years and missed the bunny affection. So now three deep, and the possibility for more :), I am diving into the fibre world. I love them. I love the crazy things they do. Always puts a smile on my face. Your post made me chuckle a little, as having previous experience with rabbits, I knew some of this already. That being said, I strongly believe that there is no one size fits all with rabbits. What works for one person and their little fluff balls will not work so well for someone else. It is a matter of trial and error and eventually you find common ground with your furry friends.

    1. I absolutely agree! Every bunny is different, just like people! 🙂

  5. I appreciate all your advice on how to take care of rabbits. Especially making sure they are groomed and clean seems like a hard part of owning a rabbit. My kids really want a pet and I think that a bunny might be a simpler one than a dog. I will have to do some more research and maybe find a grooming service in my area as well.

    1. Rabbits are a lot of fun! If you opt for a bunny with short hair the grooming really isn’t going to be that bad 🙂

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