Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Basic Bunny Care 101 Part A

For those of you who are new to the rabbit world, this post is for you.  And all you older, experienced rabbit breeders.... well, you can skip this post.  I'm sure you'll see lots of stuff I'm missing! 

I'm just going to share some ideas and tips for taking care of your new bunny, nothing amazing, just the *basics* and things *I do* and *work for me*.  But I am not a professional at this stuff, and only have one year of raising rabbits under my belt, so take this all with a grain of salt!  LOL

I'm going to start with feeding for Part A.

Hotots only need 1/3 a cup of feed a day.  The exception, of course, would be nursing does, growing babies, etc., but this is more for those of you who are just getting started or have a pet.  You don't want to over feed them... a lot of people doe and obviously having a fat bunny is going to lead to..... problems!  They have a big appetite, but don't be fooled... 1/3 a cup of pellets a day is all they need.  Feed 18% (protein).  From what I have been told by more experienced breeders, 20% is too rich, and 16% is junk, so.... stick with the 18%. :)  I feed Heims rabbit feed, I get it in St. Cloud.  The only other good feed I have heard of is PenPals.  You can go to THIS link, type in your zip code, and find a dealer near you that sells this feed. 

If you only have one or two bunnies, buy small amounts and ask for the freshest stuff available when you pick it up.  Don't keep old feed for more than 6 months.  It will go "stale", so to speak.

The other main part of your bunny's diet should be hay, grass hay.  Don't feed alfalfa, it is too rich, feed grass hay.  It shouldn't smell moldy or musty and you can give your rabbit a handful every day.... pretty much as much as the rabbit wants of this. This is important, make sure they are getting hay daily! 

Obviously your rabbit needs fresh water daily, too!  My rabbits all get fresh water one to two times daily.  Especially when it gets really cold in the winter, make sure your rabbit is getting fresh, unfrozen water 2-3 times daily.  This can get challenging when the weather is below zero, trust me!  I've had time when the fresh water I just gave is already freezing over before I can finish chores.  :(  Not fun, but it's part of the deal!

And now for some variety in your poor pellets-hay-and-water-rabbit's-diet!  =)  I like to be feeding my rabbits one to two other treats every day.  Greens, veggies, grains, fruits, branches....the buns LOVE these things and they are SO good for them, or most of them are.... I'll talk about that in a minute.  But first, I just want to mention... whenever you are going to give your bun a new food, introduce it SLOWLY.  If they get a bunch of a new kind of food all at once, you guessed it, they will get diarrhea.  So start with tiny amounts, see how they do with them, and work up from there if everything is fine.
  Be careful when it comes to feeding greens (and other fruits/veggies, for that matter).  Do NOT feed greens that are high in water content.  They will cause diarrhea... not good, not fun!  But greens that don't have a lot of water in them are super good for your buns and they will devour them.  In the summer my rabbits get lots of dandelion leaves, plantain leaves, kale, parsley, and just regular ol' grass!  But a caution: DON'T COLLECT GREENS IN AN AREA THAT IS SPRAYED.  The sprays aren't meant for your rabbits to eat, so don't feed them to them. 

My buns also love oats... they gobble them up!  And they are super good for them.

You can also feed the buns some veggies, but avoid light green veggies that are, again, high in water content.  My rabbits favorite veggies would be carrots and sweet potatoes... SO good for them, and, for the 5th time, they LOVE it!  :)  Once introduced, I feed these pretty generously... a handful of chopped up carrots or sweet potatoes is a nice addition to boring pellets!

Fruit can also be given occasionally, although... I will say, I don't give it that often.  Just because I have other things on hand. But a slice of apple or banana is a nice treat.  And banana also works charms on getting a stubborn bunny back on feed!  It has worked numerous times for me.

Another thing the bunnies enjoy is branches.  They are good for their teeth to chew on and they strip the bark off them quicker than quick, it's pretty funny.  But do be careful, not just any branch.... obviously something poisonous won't be the best for them =(, so make sure you know what that stick is.  Fruit branches, such as apple or pear, are great.

So, that concludes Part A of taking care of your bunny.... hopefully I got everything, I may have to add things as they come to me later!  And now so I have at least ONE cute picture in this post, here is the latest.... one of Dolly's adorable little babies.  :)

Thanks for reading!  :)

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