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.
Busybunny.com 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!