The Complete Rabbit Care Checklist for Happy House Rabbits


Rabbit supplies checklist

Many people think of rabbits as easy beginner pets, not knowing everything that goes into their daily care. There is a lot to think about when bringing your first rabbit home, so you may end up forgetting some supplies.

To make sure you have everything you need to keep your rabbit happy, you need to think about the obvious factors, such as their habitat and feeding needs.  You’ll also want to make sure you consider other aspects of rabbit care, such as litter training, grooming, rabbit proofing, and toys for your rabbit to play with.

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rabbit playpen
I always recommend using a pet exercise pen for your rabbit’s enclosure. This gives your rabbit a lot of space and it’s a lot easier to clean.

Enclosure

1. Pet playpen

Instead of purchasing an expensive rabbit cage or hutch, I recommend getting a pet playpen for your rabbit’s enclosure. Most of the cages that are marketed towards rabbits are actually much too small for them. They’ll lead to an unhappy rabbit who loudly rattles on the cage bars and will never want to go back into their enclosure after exercise time.

A rabbit playpen, on the other hand, is large enough to give rabbits space to hop around and sprawl out. They are also much easier to clean. All you need to do is move the gates aside and run the vacuum. The best part is that this type of enclosure is one of the cheapest options out there. Instead of paying hundreds for a rabbit cage or hutch, you can usually get a playpen for less than $50 (check out the current price).

2. Hiding house

Rabbits are prey animals, which means they survive in the wild by finding places to run and hide. For our pet rabbits, this means they’ll feel a lot safer and more comfortable in their environment if you give them a hiding house.

You can get nice looking hiding houses online made of wood or woven hay. I have the WARE Den for my bunny because it’s a good sized hiding house for most small and medium sized rabbits. But you can also simply use a cardboard box. If you have a large cardboard box that your rabbit will fit inside, you can cut an entrance for your rabbit and use it as a hiding den.

3. Food and water bowls

A lot of rabbits like to play with their food and water bowls by grabbing onto the edge and flipping them over. This can end up making a pretty big mess, so it’s best to try to find heavy ceramic bowls to use for your rabbit so that they can’t be flipped. 

A water bowl is better for rabbits than a water bottle. Bowls are a more natural way for rabbits to drink and encourage rabbits to stay better hydrated.

rabbit in a carrier
A rabbit carrier should not be too big, so that the rabbit won’t get injured if you have to make a sudden stop in the car.

4. Carrier

You might receive a small cardboard carrier when you first bring your rabbit home, but you’ll want a more permanent carrier for when you need to take trips to the vet or travel with your rabbit. Most cat carriers are a good size for rabbits. I like the carriers that open at the top because these can make it easier to get a rabbit inside.

5. Hay bin (optional)

I used to use a hay bin for my rabbit, but I found that it was easier for me to put the hay directly into the litter box instead. This works for me because my rabbit only uses one end of the litter box to do her business, so I could put the hay on the other end and it would stay mostly clean.

If you decide you want to get a hay bin, get one that has large holes for your rabbit to pull the hay out of. Something like this hanging hay bin is best for keeping your rabbits hay clean and also making it easily available.

Food

6. Hay

Hay is the most important part of your rabbit’s diet. You want to make sure they have hay available for munching all day long. Timothy hay is best for adult rabbits, since it is rougher and will help grind down a rabbit’s teeth to keep them from overgrowing. Rabbit’s that are 6 months or younger should get alfalfa hay (learn more about a young rabbit diet).

You can get hay at a pet store (and if you do I recommend getting Oxbow brand hay), but I actually prefer to get hay for my rabbits online at Small Pet Select. This is an excellent online store that I always trust to have high quality hay. It’s greener and fresher than what you’ll find on the pet store shelves making it much more enticing for rabbits to eat. And you can get 15% off your first order if you visit this link!

7. Fresh leafy greens

Rabbits need one to two cups of fresh leafy greens on a daily basis. You can get these at your local supermarket, farmers market, or even by keeping a garden in your backyard. Most leafy greens are safe for rabbits, but you do want to avoid iceberg lettuce (other types of lettuce are fine). Iceberg has a small amount of a chemical called lactucarium that can build up in a rabbit’s system over time and cause health problems.

treat dispenser ball
You can give your rabbit their daily pellets in a treat dispenser. This will encourage them to move around and forage for their food, to get a little more exercise.

8. Pellets

Pellets should only be a small part of a rabbits diet. They really only need about a Tablespoon per pound of body weight in a day. And it’s completely okay, even expected, that they’ll run out before the day is over. Instead of having a dish with pellets always available to rabbits, it’s much healthier for them to be munching on hay all day.

I recommend getting Oxbow Garden Select pellets for your rabbit. This is a brand that is known for having high quality food that has a good balance of fiber and nutrients. My rabbit loves eating them. She’ll gobble them up like treats!

9. Critical Care

Critical care is an emergency food formula for your rabbit. Rabbit health depends on the constant movement of their digestive system. If they stop eating for long periods of time, they may need to be syringe fed this Critical Care formula.

Learn more about critical care in this article.

10. Treats (optional)

Rabbits don’t absolutely need treats, but they are a fun way to gain the trust of your new pet rabbit by giving them something yummy. Just make sure to only give your rabbit treats in moderation. About 1 teaspoon of treats per pound of your rabbit’s body weight is the maximum that you should give your rabbit.

The best types of treats for rabbits are actually fresh or dried fruits and vegetables. You can cut them up into little pieces to make sure you don’t give your rabbit too much. I like to get dried fruit treats at Small Pet Select because I know they don’t include any added sugar or preservatives that wouldn’t be good for rabbits to eat. (and don’t forget to take 15% off your order by following this link)

Fun

11. Toys

Rabbits need lots of toys to keep them occupied and to keep their teeth trimmed down. You’ll want to get (or make) toys that let your rabbit use their natural instincts to chew, dig and forage. Natural wooden and hay-based toys are great for rabbit teeth. While grass mats are good for digging. Puzzle toys with hidden treats are great for rabbit foraging instincts.

To figure out what kinds of toys your rabbit likes to play with, you’ll need to give them a wide variety. Find out more about where to find toys your rabbit will love to play with!

cardboard rabbit toy
Instead of tossing out cardboard tubes and boxes, they can be used as toys for rabbits.

12. Cardboard 

Cardboard is a versatile tool that can be used for rabbit proofing and as a toy for rabbits. You can make a lot of your own DIY toys using toilet paper tubes and cardboard boxes.

Try making these DIY toys for your rabbit, or if you need more ideas try out these toys too!

13. Cat Tower (optional)

Many rabbits love to hop up and view the room from different levels. A cat tower with platforms is a great way to give your rabbit some fun and encourage them to get more exercise. I recommend getting a short cat tower so you don’t have to worry about your rabbit falling off. I got this Trixie cat tower since it also has a little hiding house on the bottom.

14. Tunnel (optional)

Since domestic rabbits come from a species that dig tunnels underground as homes, many of them enjoy racing through toy tunnels. Cat tunnels can be fun environmental toys for rabbits to dash through and they can encourage better exercise habits.

Tools for litter training a rabbit.

Litter training

15. Litter box

To encourage your rabbit to use their litter box, you’ll want to make sure you get them a box that’s large enough for them to fit in. Those small corner litter boxes are not big enough to be comfortable for rabbits and many will ignore those boxes altogether. Instead, get a large cat litter box.

16. Pooper Scooper

Any typical litter scoop will work for rabbits. Just be sure the holes aren’t so big that your rabbit’s poop will fall through.

17. Paper-based litter

Normal clay cat litter is not safe to use with rabbits. Rabbits will often eat pieces of their litter, and that kind can clump up in their stomach and cause a dangerous blockage. Instead, get a paper based litter. I like to use Yesterday’s News because it’s a recycled paper litter that’s safe for rabbits, and it does a good job at controlling the smell from rabbit urine.

DIY pet safe cleaner
To make a pet-safe cleaner, simply add equal amount of water and vinegar to a spray bottle and shake it to blend them together.

18. Pet-safe cleaning spray

Inevitably you will have to occasionally clean up messes around your rabbit. To avoid your rabbit potentially licking up or breathing in harmful chemicals, you’ll want to have a pet-safe cleaning spray on hand. These cleaning solutions are available online, such as the puracy brand of cleaning sprays.

However, you can also make your own cleaning spray by using a cup of white vinegar with a cup of water. Shake them together in a spray bottle and use it to clean up messes.

19. Lidded trash can (optional)

If you want to save a little bit of plastic, then get a lidded trash can. This way you can avoid going through a plastic bag every single day when you scoop out your rabbit’s litter box. Instead, you’ll only need one plastic bag a week, and the lidded can will keep the room from starting to smell.

Rabbit Proofing

20. Wire covers

Rabbits like to chew on wires and run the risk of getting electrocuted if they bite into a live wire. To protect your rabbit (and your wires) you’ll want to get split loom wire covering so your rabbit won’t be able to do any damage.

bed with gates to prevent rabbits from getting underneath
Stop your rabbit from nesting under the furniture by setting up gates.

21. Fencing or pet gate (optional)

A pet gate or fencing can be used to keep your rabbit out of areas that are dangerous to them. I use a pet gate at the door to the rabbit room, because my rabbit was so good at slipping past me out the door.

I also use DIY storage cube fencing (zip tied together) to block off other areas such as bookshelves and underneath furniture. This can also be used to line up against the wall to prevent your rabbit from chewing on the baseboards.

22. Plastic mats (optional)

The plastic mats that are normally used under desk chairs are great for rabbit proofing large areas of the carpet. Many rabbits like to dig into corners, entryways, and underneath furniture. So these are a great way to prevent them from doing any damage.

cat scratcher and plastic mat
Rabbits prefer to dig and chew at corners. Use a flexible cat scratcher to cover the baseboards and a plastic mat to cover the rugs.

23. Cat scratchers (optional)

Cat scratchers can be hung in the corners of rooms to block access to the baseboards. Many rabbits like to chew on baseboards so these flexible mats can prevent your rabbit from doing any damage even in difficult to reach spots. They can also be used around furniture legs, to keep rabbits from chewing on wooden furniture.

Grooming items

24. Nail clippers

Rabbits need to have their nails clipped about every 2 months. If you plan on clipping their nails yourself, you’ll need to have a pair of nail clippers available. I prefer to use the manual nail clippers since they give me more control, but some people prefer to use the spring loaded nail clippers instead.

For more information on how to clip your rabbit’s nails at home, check out this article.

rabbit grooming tools
Possible rabbit brushes include: flea comb, fur-buster, fine-toothed comb, glove brush, rubber brush, lint roller

25. Brush

The hair buster comb is the best solution I’ve found for grooming a rabbit. It does a great job at getting the loose fur out of a rabbit’s undercoat to help shorten their shedding season and help them lose their extra fur.

However some rabbits absolutely hate to be brushed, so you might have to try out different grooming tools to see what your rabbit will tolerate. A grooming glove is often a good option for rabbits who won’t sit still for a brush or a comb.

Amy Pratt

Amy Pratt is a lifelong rabbit owner who has been specializing with rabbits at the Humane Rescue Alliance. She helps to socialize the rabbits and educate volunteers on the care and behavior of these small mammals.

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