Have You Tried Taking Care Of A Rabbit?

Discussion in Pets started by sidney • Mar 2, 2015.

  1. dawnolsen

    dawnolsenMember

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    My son owns two pet rabbit and we love them. Our rabbits do not live inside the house. We live on a small farm and the rabbits have their own hutch inside the barn. My son can take them out and play with them anytime he wants. We created a hutch that has a wire bottom making clean up very easy and quick. I have several barn cats and they pay no attention to the rabbits so we don't have to worry about that.
     
  2. sidney

    sidneyWell-Known Member

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    @dawnolsen@dawnolsen, That's quite interesting. I wonder how rabbits interact with humans. Do they like to chase and be chased like dogs? Or they also run after and catch moving things like cats?
     
  3. Feneth

    FenethActive Member

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    Some common interactions:
    • Rabbit hops up next to me or onto my lap for me to pet or looking for a treat.
    • Rabbit twines between my legs like a cat in a friendly way.
    • My flemish giant and my standard rex both liked to chase and be chased by humans as well as other rabbits. My smallest rabbit would interact that way with other rabbits but became scared when humans joined the game.
    • Ball rolling. If I rolled a ball *slowly, gently* towards any of my rabbits, they would box at it with their front feet or nudge it with their nose to roll it back. Some would actively chase/nudge the ball.
    • Obedience training with a clicker - rabbits are a bit harder to train than dogs or rats but with patience, they can still be taught tricks such as "go back to your cage", "come to me", and "follow the target stick" There are even rabbit show events where owners send rabbits through obstacle courses and/or over jump courses.
     
  4. sidney

    sidneyWell-Known Member

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    @Feneth@Feneth, What kind of ball are you using? A tennis ball? Do most rabbits like to play chase? Like they immediately get it when someone chases them? Because I notice that cats don't get it, with the exception of this 1 cat that I had.
     
  5. Feneth

    FenethActive Member

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    We had three balls that they liked - one was a baseball size but very light dog squeaky ball dog toy, another was made of twigs and actually designed to be a chew toy for rabbits and looked like a wicker ball, the third was originally a baby toy, hard plastic with holes to put objects in. With the twig ball and the hard plastic one, they would actually grab it in their teeth at an opening and THROW it sometimes but mostly they hit them with their paws or nudged it with their nose.

    For chase, because rabbits are prey animals, you have to be SURE they are not afraid of you and understand it's a game. If not, you can scare them. Rabbits naturally play chase with each other though. I usually start by standing next to the bunny and running a few steps away to see if I can get them to chase me. If they seem willing to chase, I try running sort of towards them but past and see if they'll run with me. I don't try to chase them back until they seem enthusiastic about chasing me. My bigger two bunnies were both very well socialized and pretty fearless. They bullied and chased the dog. I could chase them and they'd go zooming down the hall, then turn and come charging back at me, expecting me to run. My smaller bunny would play chase with the other bunnies and would chase the dog (he wasn't permitted to chase them back though) but if a human tried to chase her would just retreat to her cage. She could be called back out with a treat so she wasn't too terrified but she didn't want to play with people that way.
     
  6. sidney

    sidneyWell-Known Member

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    They bullied and chased the dog? lol Is your dog the same size as the bunnies or smaller? Yeah I think you have to test it first to see if they want to play. My cat usually seems to run and hide and look at me to see if I would follow her as I'm walking. Would you say that a pingpong ball would be too soft and easy to damage for a rabbit?
     
  7. Feneth

    FenethActive Member

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    Nope. The smallest bunny who chased the dog weighed only 3.5 pounds fully grown. My largest bunny ever, the white one in the picture, finished growing at 18 pounds. The others were in between those extremes. The dog weighs 30 pounds BUT he has pretty much zero prey drive. He's the type of dog that will freeze in surprise if a squirrel runs past him in the yard and will watch curiously but will not give chase. He was mildly curious about the rabbits when we first brought him home (we had the bunnies first). I kept him leashed while they were loose for almost a full year. I rewarded him for ignoring them and for calm behavior. Eventually, I trusted him off leash while they were free too as long as I was home and awake.

    One day, my standard rex (11 pounds) was chilling under the coffee table and he reached under there to get one of his toys. He was several feet from her and not interested in her but bunnies are territorial. She boxed at him with her front feet and then ran at him, full speed when he didn't retreat far enough away. He ran down the hall with her chasing him; I would guess being hit in the nose is somewhat surprising.

    After that, they discovered they could chase the dog. And I think he must have enjoyed it because he seemed to annoy them intentionally instead of going back to ignoring them. They often treated him like part of the furniture, jumping on and over him when they weren't harassing him.

    A ping pong ball is probably fine for them to nudge with their noses. It's smooth enough that they wouldn't be able to grasp it to throw it but that also means they couldn't chew it. If you have hard plastic cat-toy balls those can work too.

    I have seen youtube videos of large bunnies nudging those large plastic children's toy balls that are 12-18" in diameter but I suspect they had already learned to nudge smaller balls. Rabbits are fairly strong for their size because they are very densely muscled.
     
  8. Renee

    ReneeNew Member

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    Rabbits are wonderful pets. I had house bunnies. they had cages but usually just for sleeping at night .and using their litter box.My home was bunny proofed. No electrical wires on the floor. Bunnies do like to chew.lol I fed my bunnies lots of raw veggies. They especially enjoyed kale. Also foods like cereal and fruits are fine also. Since rabbits have a different type stomach they must also have a commercial pellet food so they are able to digest
    the food they consume. Hay is good also. Also rabbits will eat their first morning poop. it is different from their normal poop. although this sounds gross it aids in their digestion. The best way to trim a bunnies nails is to put your bunny in what I call the ' bunny trance". Place him gently on your lap on his back. pet his head and he will immediately go into sleep like state, then quickly trim his nails. Do not cut ' the quick" this is the red vein in the nail. if you do it will bleed. bunnies love to interact with people. they will snuggle up next to you. Even give you little kisses. they are also very smart. There's no such thing as a "dumb bunny" either. These are actually very smart little guys. lol I had two dogs and two cats. they all got along great together. My bunnies especially loved the cats and they would actually nap together. All in all they make wonderful pets. I had many different kinds. My preference though is the Mini lop ear. I find them to be especially affection and they really love lots of attention. I hope this helps answer you questions.
     
  9. sidney

    sidneyWell-Known Member

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    @Feneth@Feneth, I think your dog wants to have a playmate. Our dog also tries to annoy our cat so that it will chase him. Your rabbit is huge! I bet he eats a lot. Do they respond to a moving string like a cat? Right now my cat has ear mites, so I can't take in new animals as long as he's not cured.

    @Renee@Renee, Come to think of it, we have a lot of electrical wires over here, the tv, the ref, the electric fan, the pc, etc. The future bunnies probably ought to be in a cage or and just let them loose in the garden.
     
  10. Feneth

    FenethActive Member

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    She does eat a LOT, though she slowed down once she was an adult. Flemish Giants grow really fast. Sabriel went from 3 pounds at 8 weeks old to 18 pounds at around 8-9 months old. I swear, we could practically SEE her growing. It was amazing. Small bunnies don't have such dramatic growth but the giant breeds and the ones intended as meat rabbits (like Rex) are pretty impressive.

    I have never seen one chase string. That's sort of based on predatory behavior in cats and rabbits aren't predators. They chase each other in play as part of their social structure and that can be translated to humans. As far as I can tell, the playing ball is based on territorial behavior. If I roll it towards them, it invades their space so they 'chase' it out.

    Ear mites are definitely a problem that can also attack rabbits. If you have animals that go outside and come inside, including yourself, you also have to watch the rabbits for fleas and ticks. Our dog has frontline so he doesn't really get either thing but the humans sometimes bring those things in on our clothing. There isn't frontline for rabbits that I know of but they can get those small pests. We dusted the carpets, yard, and occasionally the bunnies themselves with food-grade d-earth, which kills small pests (including ear mites!) without harming mammals.
     
  11. sidney

    sidneyWell-Known Member

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    @Feneth@Feneth, I'm not aware that they chase the ball because of predatory behavior, I thought it was still part of their play. So when do they stop chasing the ball then? Until it's quite far from their territory already? Or when they get tired? Yeah I think I should go get Frontline to treat my cat's earmites. It's an over the counter drug, right? Luckily, our cat doesn't have fleas or ticks. Our caged outdoor dog has ticks though.
     
  12. Feneth

    FenethActive Member

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    My bunnies will 'play ball' in that when I roll it towards them, they hit or nudge it back in my direction. This is over only a few feet of distance, like rolling a ball with a toddler, but it amuses me to do it because it's a way to interact with them other than just sitting around and petting. I've also trained them to follow a target stick or to roll the ball on a predetermined path (like a maze), again, because training them amuses me.
     
  13. sidney

    sidneyWell-Known Member

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    I assume training them is like training dogs, right? We just have to give treats when they get it right so that they won't forget it. I think rabbits are very interesting pets. If only there was a "rabbit wheel" that's similar to a hamster wheel then I'm sure rabbits would love playing with it.
     
  14. Feneth

    FenethActive Member

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    My best success with rabbit training has been with clicker-style training (sometimes called bridge training, think Pavlov's dog). When training my dog and the rabbits, I used a standard clicker for the dog and a metal snapple cap as the bridge-sound for the rabbits. Mostly we used lure style (lure with treat to desired position, click, give treat). I found that the rabbits did okay with that, only a little slower than my poodle-mix dog or rats) but were much slower to respond to shaping. I suspect that rabbits are a little less trainable than dogs or rats but they CAN learn. Mine could all respond to 10 different verbal cues "bedtime" (go into their cage) "come" (come to me) "nudge" (nose touch to my hand) "toes" (nose touch to my toes, usually when I had dropped food they could have) "target" (touch the target stick and follow it) "follow" (follow behind me, like a line of ducklings) "get pets" (hop into my lap) "up" (jump up on indicated object) "off" (get onto the floor) "freeze" (hold still for me to take a picture, not like my dog's stay though, just for a minute or two). A few of them could do more. Teaching them was SLOW in comparison to teaching the same things to the dog but it was fun for me anyway.
     
  15. SarahWorksAtHome

    SarahWorksAtHomeActive Member

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    Initial start up for having a rabbit isn't very cheap. Cage, bedding, toys, chews, food, etc.... it adds up. After initial items are gotten, it's not so bad.
    As far as getting along with other pets, it's hit or miss. I've seen some awfully surprising cross-species best friends and then I've seen sterotypical predator-prey situations. My cat and rabbit just stayed out of each other's way.
    Do LOTS of research. Youtube, google, pinterest, forums, talk to pet owners and pet store employees, vets and vet techs before making your final decision to eliminate mistakes and regrets!
     
  16. sidney

    sidneyWell-Known Member

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    Thank you guys for your tips. I didn't know that training a rabbit was slow. I had to google how to train an animal using a clicker. Since rabbits chew everything like wires, then I will certainly place them in a cage and just let them out if I can keep an eye on them.
     
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