Adopting a Rescue Rabbit

Photo Courtesy Tim Link| www.wagging-tales.com

Photo Courtesy Tim Link| www.wagging-tales.com

The month of February celebrates Adopt a Rescue Rabbit month. Rabbits can make wonderful furry companions for you and your family. If you have ever had a rabbit as a family member, you know the fun and love they can provide. If you haven’t, this is a perfect month to find the perfect rabbit to adopt.

I have had the joy and pleasure of adopting many rabbits over the years, including one that was released at a local school yard because someone didn’t want to care for her anymore. They are wonderful furry companions, but they are a full-time commitment that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

For the most part, rabbits are very easy to take care of.

  • They require a size-appropriate cage, food, water and a designated area in which to play. With our most recent rabbit, Ripley, we had a cage that opened from the top, was uplifted and on wheels. The cage was made of metal and the bottom tray was made of hard plastic. The bottom tray could be easily removed for cleaning. Inside the cage, we attached a hard plastic rectangular container for him to use as his bathroom. It was fastened to one side of the cage with a couple of twist ties and filled with about two inches of pine shavings to be used as litter.
  • Rabbits, much like cats, seem to instinctually know that the pan is to be used as a bathroom. Without training, each of our rabbits would hop into this container to “do their business”. Every couple of days we would replace the soiled pine shavings with fresh pine shavings and place the container back in the cage.

In addition, Ripley had a separate playpen in which to play each day. It was made of collapsible wire and was lined with a thick plastic mat at the bottom. Each day we would place Ripley inside the playpen for an hour or two of exercise and mental stimulation. There were grass hutches, grass mats and other rabbit-specific items in the playpen for him to play with and chew on. We also hung a water bottle on the side of the playpen just in case he got thirsty while away from his main cage.

I would encourage you to do your research to find the perfect rabbit breed and temperament for you and your family. There are around fifty different breeds of rabbits that can range from a couple of pounds to over 50 pounds. You will need to set aside time in your day to socialize with your new rabbit. This includes brushing him as needed, holding and petting them, and ensuring that their nails and teeth are trimmed as needed by a veterinarian.

  • Rabbits love to chew. So, make sure they have plenty of rabbit-specific items to chew on in their cage as well as fresh Timothy or Orchard grass to eat.
  • Limit their access to anything that is made of plastic or paper as they can become impacted if they ingest these materials.
  • If you allow them to roam freely in a dedicated room, or even your entire house, make sure to watch them closely. They love to investigate things and will sometimes chew baseboards, electrical cords and carpeting.

It is important to make sure that your adopted rabbit is spayed or neutered either by the rescue organization or by your veterinarian. Spaying and neutering not only controls the rabbit population but it will also keep your bunny much calmer and aid in extending their lives. It’s not uncommon for a domestic rabbit to live to 12 years of age if kept indoors. Two of our rabbits lived to just over 15 years of age.

Do your research and learn as much as you can about rabbits and the specific breed you’re adopting, provide him with a healthy diet including Timothy or Orchard grass and fresh vegetables, limit the treats, ensure they get plenty of exercise and a lot of love. You will be so happy that you adopted your furry long- (or floppy-) eared friend!


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Positively Expert: Tim Link

Tim Link is the host of the nationally syndicated radio show "Animal Writes" on Pet Life Radio. He is an internationally recognized animal expert, communicator, and consultant. As part of his passion for helping animals , Tim has also mastered Reiki - an ancient art of energy healing - which he uses on animals.


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  • Natty

    No no no. Any rabbit savvy person will tell you that you are not providing your rabbit with appropriate care by only allowing it 2 measly hours of exercise. Please ensure you correct your article to more than 6 hours so people reading this don't make their rabbits suffer too. Your poor rabbit. Thanks

  • Horsewoman

    This article is harmful on several points. The cages recommended are too small. 1-2 hours daily exercise is like locking up a dog for that long in a tiny crate. Pine shavings are not to be used as litter or bedding, as they destroy rabbits' livers. You do NOT put rabbits in a cage with a top opening, but one that opens onto the floor. They are terrified of being picked up, as they think you are a predator swooping down on them. This article recommends extremely cruel treatment to bunnies.

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