new owner resources

We have another great post from guest blogger Randi, this one on the importance of finding a bun (or buns) who is the right fit for you/your home/family.

One of the most important things that you can ever do is pick out a house rabbit (or they pick you). Not only do you have to think about what level of maintenance you can handle and have time for, but also the fact that the rabbit(s) that you pick are the ones that will stick with you for 5-14 years. I remember how difficult it was for me, because I was deciding between three different bonded pairs and I was terrified of making the wrong decision.

Here is some advice that I think you should keep in mind, because it definitely helped me to make the right choice. The main thing that I remembered was to look for personality and my connection to the rabbits rather than the breed I wanted, or how cute certain ones were. I have heard a very inspiring story on the Howcast YouTube Channel as well, where a lady went into a rescue and was only interested in adopting a holland lop. She picked out one that she liked and was in the middle of signing the adoption papers, meanwhile another bunny of a different breed was jumping up against the side of the cage trying to get her attention because he/she knew that they wanted to go home with her. The lady ended up going over and spending some time with that rabbit, and that was the one she ended up taking home, so stay open minded.
When I was trying to decide what buns to adopt, I was between Ron and Hermione, Citris and Ellie, and Mira and Arthur. Ron and Hermione were the ones that I had wanted pretty much from the beginning, but when I got to the foster home, after spending some time with them, I could tell that I just did not have a connection with them. Citrus and Ellie did not play that much, which when you think about it, made my decision a little easier. In the end, I knew that Mira and Arthur were the buns that I was meant to have because they were all over me the whole time, and I knew that I would be the happiest with them.

Now that you know what to look for when adopting a house rabbit, your life might be made a little bit easier if you think of these important tips.

Romeo & Juliet, snuggle bunnies

Romeo & Juliet, snuggle bunnies

Sleepy bunny!

Sleepy bunny!

Bunny on a bed!

Bunny on a bed!

We have a very special Easter-themed post from Randi this week, and we can’t thank her enough. This is an excellent post well worth reading!

There are so many rabbits out there who have been neglected, dumped, and forgotten about. And there are quite a few reasons (excuses, cough cough) for this awful occurrence, one of which is Easter. Most rescued bunnies end up in their position because people get their kids a rabbit for Easter and don’t realize the commitment that it takes. Therefore the rabbit is too difficult for them to take care of and the kids lose interest, so the poor little rabbit is dumped outside to fend for himself. Also, don’t forget that it is very easy for an un-spayed female rabbit to become pregnant, which will only add to the over-population of neglected house rabbits. So please help take the dread out of this holiday, and don’t adopt a rabbit if you aren’t serious or entirely sure.

Another problem is people choosing breeders over rescues/shelters. This is a MAJOR idea to keep in mind when deciding to get a house rabbit. I must warn you that you will become very tempted by all of the cute pictures of your favorite rabbit breeds from rabbitries. I have been in this position before, so please take it from me, that rescues are the way to go. Adopting from a rescue will save you the $200-$500 that you would’ve spent to get your rabbit spayed/neutered plus you won’t have to figure out what your bun’s personality is yourself. There are a lot of popular rabbit breeds in shelters too, but more so, you must keep personality and your connection to the rabbit in mind (which is a whole other topic). Hopefully you have an idea about why to get rabbits from rescues, and a fun-fact for when you’re on the internet looking for adoption centers is to always stay away from the words FOR SALE, BREEDERS, RAISING, RABBITRY, and SHOWING.

Now that you know the benefits of adopting rather than buying rabbits, I must ask, what is the point in buying from a breeder? If everyone stops buying from breeders and adopts instead, then breeders will eventually get the message that we’re not going to support them anymore. Then they won’t breed as much and many rabbits in shelters/rescues have a better chance of finding their forever homes, not to mention you won’t miss out on getting the rabbit(s) that you were meant to have.

So now you have seen my point of view as to why you should get your rabbit(s) from rescues/shelters, and as Easter rapidly approaches,
we have to think of the rabbits so that we remember not to put any of their lives at risk. If we all work together, hopefully this year we can reduce the size of “Easter bunnies” and rabbit breeders.

Now, please enjoy some pictures of Randi’s buns, Romeo & Juliet!
Pretty bunny
Bun in a tunnel!

We’re back with another edition of Randi’s Rabbit Tips, and we have a feeling this one will be very popular – we get so many questions from people all over the world about what kind of housing/habitat is best for buns, and we love Randi’s approach to figuring out how to make her lovebuns as comfy and happy and safe as possible. :)

It can be a real challenge to find the perfect cage for your rabbit(s). There are plenty of options out there, but most may not meet your bun’s expectations. If rabbits could tell you their reactions to cages, they would probably say things like “too small, I can barely move, or I’m claustrophobic.”

I know we all want to make our buns happy, and a tiny cage isn’t the way to do it. I’m sure most of us have been through the dreaded “age of cages” (or at least that’s what I’m calling it, LOL), which is the long period of time that you cannot find the right cage, and you start to get really irritated. When I was first looking for a cage I personally wanted to give my buns lots of room to run and play, but there aren’t many cages that you will come across having these qualities. And if you will only settle for these requirements then I’d suggest an ex pen or letting your bunny(s) go free range (in a safe environment of course), because it’s important that your bun gets the right amount of space and exercise.

I’m sure some of you have been curious about my rabbit cage experience, ever since I said that Romeo and Juliet were little masterminds who would try anything to get out of their cage at night. Well I personally think that the story is kind of amusing. The first rabbit cage that I tried was an IRIS plastic pet pen that was made for dogs, so it was obviously large enough for my rabbits to live in. I was happy with the cage itself, but Romeo and Juliet are REALLY smart so they were able to hop over the side at night and when I was at school. I knew that this was NOT going to work, so we got a mesh roof to velcro over the top of the cage. I was so excited when it came in the mail because it was SUPPOSED TO make my life easier. But Romeo and Juliet somehow un-velcroed the mesh roof and still got out. I ended up improvising and layered a bazillion sheets over the mesh roof, plus the side of a large wooden baby crib to hold the sheets down. By now you have might have guessed that even this couldn’t keep my rabbits from getting out of the cage. Well… You guessed right!

As annoying as this cage was, I had to live with it for a while and get woken up every night. Also it was a pain to clean. But luckily one day my mom went out and bought a new cage that would keep the buns in once and for all. (It was the Living World Deluxe Habitat from Petsmart, and it works amazing for one rabbit, but is also really good for two. Don’t worry, this time it actually did:-)

The cage that I have now might be smaller than the other one, but the bunnies are free ranging my room most of the time anyway. Also this cage provides a sense of security for the buns so that they know that they have to control themselves. The buns seem happy with it too, which is the most important thing out of this process.

I do have some rabbit housing ideas for people if you don’t want to pay for an expensive cage, or even if you just want to get crafty.

* you could use baby gates or an ex-pen of some kind to close off an area for your rabbit(s) to run and play. This idea also allows you to have room to put in a litter box, toys, cardboard boxes, etc

*you can use NIC grids and zip ties to make your own cage of the right size, so that you bun(s) have some room at all times

* build a rabbit condo with ramps and a level or two, which will get your bunny(s) plenty of exercise (you can find these on YouTube)

* if you have the space, give your rabbit(s) free range of a room and just put a small cage in the corner with a litter box

* build your own cage or area out of wood, which allows you to add your own personal touches

* please remember to bunny proof their space for their safety as well as your stuff’s stafety :-)

It’s really important to find a good rabbit cage that not only makes you happy, but most importantly makes your bunny(s) happy. It can often be a long process, but the hard work really pays off when you see how happy your buns are:-)

Romeo & JulietRomeo & Juliet, snugglingSnugglebuns!

Let us know in the comments if you have any housing/habitat ideas and stories of your own to share!

We are starting a very fun new column here with guest blogger Randi, and we are kicking it off with her top five tips for new bun owners. Enjoy!

Hi my name is Randi, and I am 13 years old. I like to write, read, and draw, but the most important thing to know about me is that I love animals (cats and rabbits especially).

I am also the proud owner of two sweet, hay loving California bunnies who I adopted from the House Rabbit Network. As a young first-time rabbit owner, I can tell you that with great bunnies comes great responsibility. As prepared as I was for getting a house rabbit, there is nothing that compares to the first few nights with your bun. Well… that is if your rabbits are little masterminds who will try anything to get out of their cage at night (lol). This shouldn’t be a problem though if you have a cage/hutch that is more stable than mine was.

At first it was scary for me to know that all of the responsibility of having my two buns, Romeo and Juliet (originally Mira and Arthur), was on me. I think everyone gets scared that they might do something wrong when they first start caring for their rabbit. But even though your bun relies on you for most things, it will be perfectly fine as long as you do your research (believe me, I know :-D).

Don’t get me wrong, it did take some time to get used to life with rabbits, but in my opinion, after we got to know each other it became one of the most fun experiences that I’ve ever had. Which is why the five most important tips of advice that I would recommend to all new bunny owners are:

1- Research, research, research! I can NOT stress this enough. If you get a rabbit and you don’t know anything about taking care of him/her/them, the internet is your best bet if you don’t want to do anything that you will regret later.2- Plan your rabbit’s living space ahead of time. If you don’t have a cage, hutch, ex pen, etc ready for your bun(s) when you take him/her/them home, then they will have to roam around until you do have something. And let me warn you, rabbits do have a destructive side.

3- Bunny proof EVERYTHING you think your rabbit could get into and even things you don’t.  I went to charge my phone one day, and the charger was chewed in half! You still have a chance to keep your things safe.

4- Rabbits should live indoors! Out of all the information I have learned about bunnies, this is one of the most important. I can not tell you how many people that I have heard say their rabbit got killed or attacked by a predator.

5- I think the most important thing though, if you don’t already have your rabbit, is to get them from a rescue or shelter. There are so many poor neglected bunnies out there who need your help, and there is a very good chance that one of those bunnies is meant to have a forever home with you too. Plus rabbits in shelters and rescues are already fixed, which could save you a good $200-500 depending on where you live.

As you can see, being a rabbit owner definitely has its ups and downs, but I found that everything is all worth it for my little bunny friends. They certainly are one of my top priorities in life, and they make things so much less boring :-)
Juliet being beautiful.

Juliet being beautiful.

Romeo loves Juliet (left to right)

Romeo loves Juliet (left to right)

Oh, Romeo

Oh, Romeo

If you’ve recently become a first time bunny owner, congratulations! Bunnies make great indoor pets and companions.

You probably already have a cage, food dish, hay, etc. In addition to the daily necessities, here are a few extra supplies that are important to have on hand!

  • Bottle brush – if you’re using a water bottle, it will need to be cleaned with warm soapy water and a bottle brush on a regular basis.

 bottle brush

  • Nail clippers – your bunnies nails will need to be trimmed approximately every 4 weeks. Have a vet or groomer show you how the first time!

nail clippers

  • Simethicone or infant gas drops – can be used to treat gas or bloating in bunnies
  • Toys! – Bunnies need physical and mental stimulation. Get creative with things you have around house, such as paper towel tubes stuffed with hay, or a brown paper bag crinkled up with a treat inside. Bunnies also love cardboard boxes!

Picture 065       J16

For additional medical supplies that are helpful to have on hand, please check out HRN’s Bunny Emergency Kit article!

Have fun getting to know your new friend. Please feel free to leave a comment with other ideas!

I am always contructing bunny toys (as well as buying overpriced, expensive ones). My latest project involves 2 document boxes, 1 ebay small-medium shipment box, zipties, some newspapers, and hay!

First – I stuck 2 boxes together with zipties, broke down the middle barrier, ripped some holes on the ends for easier bunny entry.
Next, I attached a small box-tube thing above, and stuffed it with hay. Note – they got a hay-avalanche within 2 minutes of initial entry…

Last, I tossed the newspaper in. There is much shredding-goodness!

Many people who are adopting their first rabbits have questions about what cages to keep them in, food to buy, how to clean up “accidents” safely, and where to buy the best products to give their new long-earred friend the best life possible. In an attempt to help out with the sometimes dizzying process of bringing home bunny, here’s a list of some of the HRN fosterers’ favorite resources for rabbits:

PetEdge is a wholesale pet supply company that specializes mostly in cat & dog supplies for kennels, groomers, & vets. Because their warehouse is located in Woburn, MA, they are an easily accessibly place to purchase a cage, pen and some of the other overlapping supplies for rabbits. They have a cat cage with 2 shelves and a wooden base on casters which would be a wonderful bunny home. Pet Edge also carries Midwest, ProSelect, and General brand crates. (Stay away from the Edemco modular cages, which are meant for vet clinics and pet stores.) All of them can be customized with additional parts such as wheeled bases for cages, shelves, & floor grates. PetEdge also carries a great selection of exercise pens which can be a wonderful home for a bunny who needs more space to run around.

Another option, are the Leith Petwerks condo cage which can be ordered in one, two, and three floor sizes. Their cages are very well built and its wonderful to be able to order replacement parts if something gets chewed on or wears out!

Keeping a couple 12 inch square ceramic tiles cheaply purchased at Home depot is always a good idea because they are a cool place for a bunny to stretch out on a hot day.

Most bunnies have anywhere from decent to excellent litterbox habits by the time they are adopted. While they might do a little strategic pelleting around the house and new cage until their territory has been marked to their satisfaction, once that’s done they will likely use their litterboxes all the time. Most buns will show they want their litterbox to occupy in their cage by peeing and pooping consistently in the same place. All you have to do is put the box there once your bun has picked his or her spot. Some buns prefer litterboxes with a low side so they can easily step in and out, other buns prefer a higher sided box like those given to cats because they like to dig in their box or toss their hay around.

Most of our foster homes use wood stove pellets for litter because it is inexpensive to buy in bluk (50lb per bag typically). Wood stove pellets can be found as a seasonal item at many Home Depot, Lowe’s and Agway stores during the fall and winter months. We tend to buy a large number of bags when they are available to store in a dry corner of the basement for the summer months when they aren’t sold in stores. Another easy option for litter is to use a compressed paper pulp pellet such as Yesterday’s News, which can be found in the cat litter section of most local pet stores.

For cleaning up accidental messes outside the litterbox, I use vinegar and baking soda. Both are rabbit safe and clean spots on floors and carpet very well. You can sprinkle a little baking soda on a wet spot to absorb it then scrub it with some vinegar to break down the urine and remove it safely. Vinegar mixed with 4 parts water is perfect for cleaning a dirty cage as well. makes wonderful toys and treats for rabbits. And if you can find a plastic slinky for your bun, you will make friends for life!

Sweetmeadow Farms is a Massachusetts-based purveyor of high quality rabbit food and hay. While their products can be found in many pet stores, they are located in Sherborn, MA just beyond the Natick border and are within easy travel distance of many of our adopters and foster homes. We drive up there regularly to buy food from their self-service stand. Its well worth the trip and the owners Al and Patty are really nice, offering discounts to HRN fosterhomes and helping us purchase necessities via their wholesale discount.

A 35 gallon rubbermaid trashcan is a perfect way to store a bale of hay without too much mess. Just make sure to never close the lid tightly so the hay can be ventilated and not go moldy. With a single bun, you should be able to go 3-4 months on a single bale. Speaking of which, Container Store carries a whole line of plastic storage containers that are excellent for keeping bulk pet food. I recommend purchasing one with a screw on lid rather than the snap on lids because the snap on lids tend to crack.

Another option for buying bulk hay is to order from Bunny Bales which ships bales and flakes of hay for a very reasonable price. They aren’t quite as inexpensive as buying directly from Sweetmeadow, but they are reasonable and might be worth it if a trip to Sherborn is out of your way. I highly recommend ordering hay and pellets in larger quantities because it is much cheaper and won’t go bad if stored correctly.

Some rabbits like to dig or flip their food dishs. I would recommend getting a dish that screws onto the side of the cage. Something like the bolt on stainless steel dish sold by Drs. Foster & Smith would be a good choice because it is dishwasher safe and chew-proof. You’d want the 20 or 30 oz size so your bun doesn’t toss food out of the dish while eating. (a 10oz dish would just barely hold a 1/4 cup measure of food, hence it is too small for the average serving per day that your rabbit should be receiving.)

For water, don’t bother with the Quick-Lock “No Drip” bottles. Yes, they don’t drip, but many rabbits never adapt to their strange pin-tipped nozzles. Instead, look for something like Superpet’s glass bottles with the steel heads. They are dishwasher safe and very durable.

If at all possible, please avoiding buying Marshall brand products or shopping at Petco. Marshall is the company which is breeding ferrets and rabbits for sale nation-wide at Petco. They are being weaned and neutered/spayed too young both of which can cause serious health problems. Please support the national animal shelter system by boycotting both Marshall products and Petco.

Whew. I know that’s a ton of information to throw at you all at once. Like most adopters, I’m sure you want to get the best for your bunny. Most of this information is drawn from the trial and error experiences of myself and other fosterers and bunny-owners. You should get the benefit of our hard-earned experience and be able to start out with the very best for your new bun!