Life with a pet rabbit isn’t always easy. They chew on everything, get fur and poop everywhere, and can be really picky about what they eat or which toys they’ll play with. Sometimes it seems that rabbit care is almost as difficult as taking care of a dog!
I’ve learned many little life hacks over the years of caring for rabbits. Some of these tricks I’ve figured out on my own while living with my bunnies. Others I’ve learned from the animal shelters I’ve volunteered at. They always have money and time saving tricks that they’ve learned by working with so many animals at a time. Use these hacks to make your life a little easier and help your rabbit become a happy and healthy bunny.
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1. The special daily treat
Sometimes it can be difficult to tell when a rabbit is sick. They have a tendency to hide any weakness or illnesses because in the wild that would prevent them from being picked off by predators. This means we might not notice that our pet rabbits are sick until they have symptoms that are more severe.
When rabbits don’t feel well, one of the first symptoms you’ll see is a decreased appetite. This is where a special daily treat comes in handy. When your rabbit is healthy, you can get them into a daily routine where you give them their absolute favorite treat once a day. Rabbits thrive on routine and will quickly learn to expect the yummy treat and come running for it (they’ll even let you know when you’re running late).
For example, I give my rabbit a little piece of banana every night before bed. If one day she doesn’t come up to me for her daily treat, I’ll know immediately that something is wrong and I need to get her to a vet.
2. DIY pet-safe all purpose cleaner
Chemical cleaners are not safe to use around pets that like to lick and chew on everything (like rabbits!). Even many cleaners with all-natural products have ingredients that aren’t good to use around rabbits. You could go out and get an all purpose cleaning product that is specifically made to be used around pets, but these products are almost always much more expensive than other general cleaners.
To save money, why not make your own DIY cleaner that is completely safe to use around rabbits. To make this DIY product, all you’ll need is white vinegar (you can get big jugs of this from your local grocery store), a spray bottle, and some water (tap water works just fine).
Add 1 cup of white vinegar with 1 cup of water in the spray bottle. Screw on the top and shake up the solution to make an effective and rabbit-safe all purpose cleaner!
The one problem with this cleaning solution is the smell. If you’re anything like me, you absolutely hate the strong smell that vinegar gives off. But luckily, there is a solution for this too! You can simply add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to make your vinegar solution stop smelling so bad.
Safe scents to use around your rabbit include:
- Citrus scents (lemon, orange, grapefruit, etc.)
3. Grow rabbit grass
Grass is great for rabbits to eat. It’s high in fiber and great for keeping rabbit teeth healthy. Unfortunately not all of us have lawns to pull from. And even if you do, sometimes you’ll use fertilizers or pesticides that are dangerous, so you don’t want to feed it to your rabbit.
Luckily, grass is actually pretty easy to grow! You can get little grass growing kits for pets that give you everything you need to get started. I got this kit from Small Pet Select to try for myself since I know I don’t have a particularly green thumb. Within days I was seeing little blades of grass poke out from the dirt.
As soon as the grass was long enough, I’d snip off a bunch to give to my rabbit and she loved it too! It cut down on the amount of fresh greens I had to purchase from the grocery store for a few months!
This is from the store where I also get my rabbit’s hay and toys. It’s just another product that’s really high quality and difficult to find anywhere. I recommend checking them out! You can also get 15% off your first order if you visit this link.
4. Reuse an egg carton
If you purchase eggs in one of those cardboard egg cartons then you’re in luck. These make easy and excellent chew and forage toys for rabbits. This was a trick that I learned from the staff at the animal rescue I volunteer at. They’re always looking for cheap toys that can keep the rabbits and small animals occupied and happy, so they came up with a way to use discarded egg cartons.
All you have to do is hide your rabbit’s greens and maybe a few treats in the compartments of the egg carton. Then close and latch the box and give it to your rabbit. Your rabbit will smell the greens and find ways to chew through the cardboard to get to their prize. Some rabbits even find ways to open the carton completely.
5. Use masking tape on baseboards
Rabbit proofing the baseboards has proven to be a difficult task for my rabbits. It seems no matter what I do, they’d eventually find a way to get through the barriers and chew on the baseboards. I decided to just try covering up the edges of the baseboard (where rabbits chew) with a thick strip of masking tape. The idea was to change the texture of the surface so the buns wouldn’t find it so appealing.
I was shocked at how well this worked. Just adding this strip of masking tape along the baseboard completely stopped my rabbits from chewing on them. I was able to divert them to chewing on cardboard, wooden, and hay toys instead.
If your rabbit doesn’t stop like mine and continues to chew on the baseboards through the tape, then you’ll want to remove it and find a different method of rabbit proofing. You don’t want your rabbit to ingest too much tape.
6. Use command hooks to rabbit proof
The other useful tool I’ve found to be incredibly useful for rabbit proofing is simple command hooks. You can get a box of these online to use as needed. Command hooks are made to come off of any surface cleanly so you can also use them in apartments that don’t allow you to put nails in the wall.
The two main purposes I have for these are to keep wires up and out of my rabbit’s reach, and to secure rabbit proof fencing to walls and furniture to keep my rabbit out of trouble.
For wires, you can move them out of reach by placing a few command strips on the wall between the electrical socket and your appliance. Then lift the cord and let it rest on the command hooks instead of dangling toward the floor.
For rabbit proof fencing, I use DIY storage cube fencing. I’ll zip tie these cube pieces together in a line and then use them to block off areas I don’t want my rabbit to have access to. Then I’ll use the command hooks to secure the fencing to a wall or piece of furniture so my rabbits won’t be able to shove them aside.
7. Use an air purifier to control strong smells
Most of the time rabbits don’t actually smell very much. As long as your rabbit is healthy and they are kept in a clean environment, their poo shouldn’t have any strong scent and they’ll have very little body odor. However, sometimes rabbit urine can have a strong smell.
Rabbit urine has a relatively high level of ammonia compared to other common pets, so the odor can make its way into some rabbit’s pee. For those of you dealing with this strong urine smell, then instead of using candles and scent diffusers to cover it up, it’s best to use an air purifier.
Many essential oils and other scents that smell pleasant to humans can end up irritating a rabbit’s respiratory system. So it’s much better to clean the air to get rid of the scent instead of just trying to cover it up. I recommend using an air purifier with a HEPA filter since these are safest to use around pets and do an excellent job of controlling odors.
8. Give your rabbit multiple types of hay
We all know that hay is vitally important to a rabbits health. It keeps their gut balanced and their teeth trim. Timothy hay is always my recommendation for caretaker getting started with a new bunny. It’s easy to find, and the high fiber hay is excellent for rabbits.
However, as you become more comfortable with caring for your rabbit, getting multiple types of hay for your rabbit is best. Giving your rabbit two or three different types of hay means that they’ll be getting a wider variety of vitamins and nutrients from their everyday diet. Overall, it’s better for helping rabbit’s stay healthy for the long term.
Other grass-based hays to try giving your rabbit include:
- Orchard hay
- Oat hay
- Meadow Hay
- Ryegrass hay
- Cattail hay
You can find some of these types of hay at my favorite online shop, Small Pet Select. They even have a Sampler Hay Box, so you can get a few different kinds to see what your rabbit likes best. (and you can get 15% off your order if you visit this link)
You want to avoid alfalfa hay unless you have a very young rabbit (less than 6 months) or you are directed to give your rabbit alfalfa by a veterinarian to help your adult rabbit gain weight.
9. Groom your rabbit with a lint roller
Some rabbits absolutely hate to be brushed. In fact, I’ve met more rabbits who will dash away from a brush than those that will enjoy it. While you can try to use many different types of combs and brushes to try to find one that your rabbit will stay still for, sometimes our rabbits just won’t cooperate.
This is when I have to turn to a lint roller. I’ll use the lint roller while I’m petting my rabbits to help remove all that excess fur that they’re shedding. This won’t be able to get at the loose hairs from a rabbit’s undercoat, but it can help to remove surface fur to keep your rabbit from ingesting it. Combined with a technique I call butt plucking (where you pluck those loose tufts of fur off of your rabbit), a lint roller can actually do a decent job at keeping a rabbit well groomed.
10. Keep baby gas drops around
Rabbits can get a gas buildup in their stomach or intestines. Sometimes this kind of issue will resolve itself quickly, but it’s nonetheless an uncomfortable experience for rabbits.
If you notice your rabbit is sitting in an unusual position, as if they are trying to press their stomach against the floor, it’s usually a sign that they have gas that they need to let loose. Here’s where you can use a little bit of simethicone (baby gas drops) to help your rabbit feel better.
You can give your rabbit 1mL of these baby gas drops every hour for three hours (3mL total). You’ll have to syringe feed your rabbit by putting them in a bunny burrito. Then pull back their lip, place the syringe in the rabbit’s mouth in back of their front teeth, and push the end up the syringe to give them the baby gas drops.
If your rabbit has not recovered after about 4 hours, then you might need to take them to the animal hospital. Continue to monitor their eating and pooping. If your rabbit is refusing food and hasn’t used the litter box for more that 10 hours then you’ll want to bring your rabbit in for an emergency appointment.
Bonus: Use a pet playpen instead of a rabbit cage
I recommend this in a lot of my posts because of how useful it is, so I didn’t want to make it part of the official list, but I figured it’s still worth mentioning. Instead of getting a rabbit cage that is small, expensive, and difficult to keep clean, you can use a pet playpen for your rabbit’s enclosure.
Most cages marketed for rabbits are actually much too small. Pet playpens give your rabbit a lot more space to play and sprawl out when you aren’t able to supervise them. They are also easy to clean because you can just move the gates aside and vacuum. (and they’re cheaper too!)
Even if you already have a cage for a rabbit and you don’t want to get rid of it, you can get a playpen and attach it to the outside of the cage using twisty ties of zip ties. This will instantly increase the amount of space your rabbit has without costing a fortune.