Care & Litter Training Tips
Tips & tricks to get you starting with care for your bunny
Cage or Hutch
Water bottle/or bowl (your bunny will be used to a water bottle)
Food Dish - we like ones that can attach to the cage to prevent tipping
Rabbit pellet food
Timothy or Orchard Grass Hay
Bedding - pine pellet (NO cat litter!)
Litter Pan (optional)
Slicker brush for grooming
Pet nail trimmers
We have provided you with a small bag of the rabbit food that we use (Kalmback 16% Best-in-Show). If you have picked a different brand, please transition them using the food we provided. Avoid the “colorful” rabbit food found in many pet stores. This food looks more appealing but generally contains dyes, flavor enhancers and preservatives that can be harmful to your bunny. It is also likely too high in carbohydrates and too low in protein. Pet stores charge a small fortune for Hay. If you can purchase hay from a local farm or feed store you will save some cash and get more hay for your buck.
Feeding your rabbit
Holland Lops 8 weeks to 5 months of age feed them ½ to 1 cup of rabbit pellets every day. Hay can be given in unlimited amounts, at least a handful. Avoid giving young rabbits any fruits or veggies until they are at least 5 months old. Treats you can offer young rabbits (on occasion) include oats, parsley, dandelion leaves, clover and grass. Of course only if your lawn/yard is pesticide-free.
Cheerios make great training treats and can be used to help bunny become more familiar with you. Give occasionally not in an abundance.
For Holland’s 5 month and up feed no more than 1 cup a day. Max weight for a Holland is 4 pounds. You want to try and keep them from being overweight. Continue to give hay. At this point you can gradually add in a veggie or fruit treat once or twice a week – a small slice of carrot or apple is a good place to start. Some other safe treats include spinach, banana, and kale.
There are many types of cages, none are wrong. Cages that have wire floors are easily kept clean. Plastic resting mats can be used along with wood and grass mats to give a place to rest off the wire. Many outdoor hutches have wire. Plastic bottom cages can be used also but some may prove more work to keep clean. As if a litter pan is not used, the entire cage could become bunny’s bathroom. I highly recommend litter training regardless of the type of cage as it makes cleaning much easier for the average pet owner.
More than one rabbit?
Baby bunnies usually get along very well with each other. It is adorable to watch them snuggle, groom and hang out together. However, we do not recommend housing two (or more) rabbits together over the age of 3-4 months unless you plan on having both rabbits fixed. Despite their cute, friendly personality around humans, mature rabbits are territorial and prefer to have their own space when it comes to other rabbits. If you want to try bonding two bunnies, it is best that you pick siblings or bunnies the same, sex and age (within a few weeks) and seek out a local veterinarian to have your bunnies both fixed. Even if both are fixed, it may still not work, and you may end up needed two separate cages/spaces for them.
Indoor VS Outdoor
The benefits of keeping rabbits indoors include year-round climate control and the fact that indoor rabbits typically receive more attention. However, rabbits can be messy and oftentimes it is easier to keep them outside. Rabbits tend to do great in both settings. If you plan on keeping your bunny outside, pay special attention to summertime. As a general rule, you should avoid sunny area’s as rabbits don’t deal with extreme heat. Ice bottles and cold tiles can be given to help keep them cool. They do better in colder weather than Hot. For colder months, block winds, have a place they can go to get out of the elements and stuff their area with plenty of hay.
Holland Lops typically do not require daily brushing. But when they shed their coats it can be needed to brush them. Use a slicker brush designed for small animals and rabbits, you can find these at many pet supply stores and Chewy.com.
Rabbits love to chew on things, bump things around with their noses, and carry things from place to place. Make sure your rabbit has always at least one toy in their cage. Some great toy ideas include paper shopping bags, cardboard boxes, toilet paper and paper towel rolls, untreated wicker or willow baskets, tennis balls, hard plastic cat toys, wooden blocks (untreated) and of course toys made just for rabbits at the pet store.
Cleaning a rabbit cage is not as a big deal as you may think, especially if you use a litter pan or a cage with a pull-out tray. Since the cages we use have pull out trays to catch the droppings and urine, we collect the droppings and use them in a compost pile. That maybe not be an option for you, but just so you know, rabbit droppings make a great source for gardening and can be placed right in with your plants. You can empty the litter box or pan into a trash bag, hose the tray/pan, scrub it with a little bit of cleaner. Replace the bedding, and that is it. Make sure to use an absorbent litter (do not use clumping cat litter) we like pine pelleted bedding. (See our litter training page for more tips)
Ideally rabbits should be allowed out of their cage to exercise daily for at least 15 mins, if not for an hour or two. If you do this in your home, be sure the room or house is bunny-proofed (they may chew, have bathroom accidents, or try to get underneath furniture). Be wary of allowing your rabbit on the carpet unless it is litter trained, exercise pens work great also in giving them a safe are to move around. For outside be sure to watch for digging. It is instinct to burrow. We would never recommend just setting your new bunny free in your yard, a fenced in area or exercise pen should be used to insure safety so bunny does not run off.
On to Litter Training!
Rabbits usually take well to litter training, although some flexibility may be required by the owner. Rabbits naturally pick one or more toilet areas, and owners can take advantage of this in litter training. Please also have patience, your bunny may take a little to get used to it.
Litter training is a great way to make cleaning easy. You're not limited to a litter box made for a rabbit. We have used Rubbermaid bins (small ones) and dish tubs! There's no wrong thing as long as baby bunny can get inside your good to go. Let's get started!
First a suitable litter is needed. Your rabbit will probably like to lay in the litter box and may even nibble on the litter, so something absorbent and safe is necessary. Rabbit urine also has a strong odor, so something that absorbs odor is ideal. Do not use clay or clumping litters! Organic or paper-based pellets and litters are a good choice: brands include Critter Country, Eco-Straw Pellets, Gentle Touch, Cell-Sorb Plus and Yesterday's News. We use Stall Pellets purchased at Tractor Supply.
For litter pans, cat litter boxes work pretty well. You may also purchase a rabbit litter pan from a pet store (petsmart or petco carry them) although smaller pans such as cake pans may work for smaller rabbits. If your rabbit tends to back right up to the edge and deposit outside the box, some creativity may be required. A covered cat box is a good option, or a dishpan that has higher sides can work as well (a lower entry can be cut into one side). The larger size of corner litter boxes might work well for smaller rabbits too, as these usually have fairly high backs.
To start, confinement and supervision is key! If a rabbit is allowed to urinate and defecate wherever it likes from the beginning, it will be much harder to train. At first, keep your rabbit primarily in his/her cage. Place a litter box in the cage, and note where you rabbit eliminates. Placing hay in the box encourages bunny to go to the box. Bunny may start using the box, or may pick another corner of the cage as a toilet. If this is the case, then move the litter box to the area your rabbit seems to prefer. Flexibility on litter box placement may be necessary both in and out of the cage. Once your rabbit is using the litter pan in the cage, allow the rabbit out of the cage in a limited area. Provide a litter box within this area, and perhaps make it enticing by placing a treat or favorite toy in the box. Watch your rabbit for signs he is about to urinate or defecate (they usually back up and lift their tail slightly), and try to herd him to the box immediately (if your rabbit is very calm about being picked up it should be okay to place him right in the box). If your rabbit uses the box, give the rabbit a treat (food, toy, petting, or praise) right away. If you notice your rabbit tends to head to one area to do its business, consider putting the box here. Accidents will happen, and punishment has no place in training a rabbit. Your rabbit will absolutely not be able to make a connection with physical punishment and eliminating outside the litter box. If you catch your rabbit in the act calmly and gently take him or her to the litter box immediately. But, if you don't physically catch your rabbit urinating or defecating, it is too late for your rabbit to make the connection. Just clean up and watch your rabbit a little more closely next time (clean the spot diluted vinegar, or a commercial pet stain/odor remover). The key is to get your rabbit to the box before he goes, so a trip to the litter box every 10 minutes during playtime can be helpful. Over time, your rabbit will probably develop a preference for using the box, and amount of freedom you give your rabbit can be increased. You may need to provide more boxes as you allow your rabbit access to more space (rabbits may not go far in search of a box so have them handy). Again, if your rabbit repeatedly chooses one place in the room to eliminate, consider putting or moving a litter box there. Try to work with what your rabbit naturally wants to do, but if the location they "choose" is inconvenient, you can try putting a litter box there for a while and then gradually move it to a better spot. Sometimes, placing a bowl of food where you don't want them to go works too. The process sounds daunting, but usually goes pretty smoothly as long as the owner works with the rabbit's natural tendencies and provides undivided attention to the rabbit during it's free time in the beginning. Establishing a routine with your rabbit will also help. Sometimes a previously trained rabbit will get a little careless, and this usually means backtracking and restricting freedom until your rabbit is trained again.
BE SURE TO HOLD, PET AND PLAY WITH YOUR RABBIT DAILY! YOU ARE HIS OR HER BEST FRIEND AND CARETAKER, AND THEY NEED YOUR CONTINUED LOVE AND AFFECTION!
We hope these tips were helpful to you. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us or your veterinarian.
Enjoy your new friend!