Checklist for Outdoor & Indoor Pet Rabbits

This checklist is perfect for you if you are thinking about getting a pet rabbit, or if you have just bought one, or even if you are thinking about a rescue rabbit.

If you are thinking about getting a rabbit, or have recently added rabbits to your life, everything on this page is very important and is a very helpful place to start.

Pre-Considerations

Rescue Center Reports

People have all sorts of problems when they first get their fluffy bundles home.

The House Rabbit Society (HRS) reports that many people give up their rabbit in the first few weeks after getting them home. Why? They are unprepared for bringing such a special creature home with them. This page is designed to help you with your rabbit preparedness so that your new pet doesn’t become one of the thousands of rabbits surrendered to rescue centers, or worse – just turned loose into the neighborhood, every year.

Before you bound off for your bundle of bunny, and before looking at the rest of this rabbit checklist, please take a moment and consider the following questions.

How Many?! How many rabbits are abandoned every year to various animal rescues? 

Estimates are in the tens of thousands, but those are only the ones that can be counted. The true numbers are much higher.

What about all the rabbits that die because of their owner’s actions?…

  • Dehydration (lack of water)
  • Sunstroke (no shaded, cool area offered)
  • Fatal Food or Accidental Poisoning
  • Broken Backs (incorrect handling)
  • Fatal Heart-Attack (frightening situations)

Common Pitfalls

Other problems that make most new rabbit owners give up are small in comparison to the list above but are enough to make new bunny owners throw in the towel quite early on.

New rabbit owners experience all manner of “teething” problems when they get their new rabbits home such as having wiring and cables chewed, furniture eaten, plus having clothes and shoes destroyed, (if they have indoor rabbits), to rabbit Houdini tricks under the fence or eating their prize Petunias, and aggressive territory defending (if kept outside).

Stomping about, being territorial and grouchy, going off their food and even biting are also common initial problems reported by distressed new rabbit owners.

HOWEVER – ALL OF THESE PROBLEMS AND A LOT MORE BESIDES CAN BE EASILY AVOIDED WITH A LITTLE BIT OF CAREFUL PREPARATION.

 Bunny Comes Home…

What Happens Now?

If you have already got your rabbit home, you could be wondering, “What on earth do I do now!? This is just not as simple as I thought it would be”.

Would you bring a new baby home if you hadn’t read a new baby book, got some experienced advice or been to some kind of preparation or information class at least?!

NO, of course not and pets, like cats, dogs, hamsters, guinea pigs etc, including rabbits, are exactly the same.

You are their caregiver and they rely on you for food, shelter, exercise, a safe environment, stimulation, and companionship. They don’t have a warren of adults helping them, it’s all down to you.

Basic New Rabbit Checklist

Some Things To Get You Started…

Here’s a very brief new rabbit checklist of things you should have and must know before considering getting a pet rabbit. This list is not in any particular order of importance as they are ALL equally important!

 Fresh Greens & Veggies

Leafy greens such as Romaine lettuce, kale, collard greens, beet tops, mustard greens, and carrot tops should make up about 12% of a rabbit’s diet.

Herbs such as mint, parsley, cilantro, basil, and sorrel, are all excellent too. As are wild flowers, weeds, and grasses.

Veggies such as carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower should be limited due to their naturally high sugar content.

NEVER feed corn, peas, beans, potatoes, rhubarb greens, onions or garlic.

For a more detailed discussion on what to feed your rabbit, click one of these links:

What do Rabbits Eat:

Pellets & Hay

Rabbit Diet

Rabbit House & Home

The modern day view of a rabbit’s home has changed a lot since Victorian times and fortunately, there are only a few people left that think a small hutch at the bottom of a garden is still acceptable for a rabbit.

Modern size recommendations are only a guide but if your rabbit can’t stretch up without his ears touching the top or stretch out fully in any direction with some room to spare, then this is bordering on cruelty.

As far as accommodation is concerned, the larger the better, especially if rabbits are to spend many hours a day confined to the prison of an old fashioned hutch.

Click one of the following links to be taken to a more in-depth discussion of rabbit homes.

Rabbit cages

Rabbit hutches

Litter & Litter Boxes

These are especially important for indoor rabbits. It is also good to have at least two – one for inside the cage or living area; and the other for the exercise area.

Litter is the material used inside the litter box to soak up urine. This should preferably be an organic or paper-based litter.

The following links will take you to a discussion about litter and how to train your rabbit to use a litter box.

How to litter box train a rabbit

Feeders & Waterers

Most rabbit owners choose to give their rabbits pellet rabbit food either by a heavy, ceramic crock bowl or heavy plastic dish, either which can be made safe by attaching to the cage or secured by sheer weight alone.

Their water supply can be given in a heavy dish but remember the average rabbit consumes between 50 and 150 milliliters of water per 2.2 pounds of body weight per day so a bottle attached to the wall or cage is often better.

These links will take you to discussion pages on both of these topics.

Rabbit Food

How to Take care of a Rabbit

Carriers & Transportation

This is a very important part of a new rabbit’s kit as it will be needed quite a lot in the first few months as you safely transport your rabbit home, to/from the vet and even to evacuate in case of emergency.

Handling rabbits that are nervous, scared, shy or even aggressive make having a carrier the best way to move them from one area to another without causing them too much stress.

Rabbit cages

Rabbit hutches

Grooming Equipment

Most rabbit breeds, except for the Rex, need to be groomed daily, or weekly with some long-haired breeds and show rabbits needing extra attention.

As rabbits very rarely show signs of illness or injury, grooming time is a great opportunity to check for any signs of cuts, lumps, bumps, fleas, mites, fly-strike or overgrown teeth, and nails.

Click these links for pages dedicated to rabbit grooming and rabbit health.

Rabbit Grooming

Rabbit Healthcare

Diseases and Illness

Grass & Hay

This is probably the most important, especially if you intend to keep indoor rabbits or outdoor rabbits that don’t have access to a lawn, etc.

Rabbits need a continuous supply of hay, at all times.Avoid the cheap hay that is short and very dusty as these types of hay can cause respiratory problems.

Pellet Food

An adult rabbit should have a pellet food with a high fiber content of at least 18-20% and a protein content of around 12-14%. They should also have plain pellets, without mixed in additions, such as muesli or grains.

When you are shopping for rabbit food, make sure to take a look at the ingredients and nutritional breakdown on the side of the box or bag.

We’ve reviewed some of the best rabbit pellets on the market today.

Pellets

Rabbit Toys & Games

Your new rabbit will need plenty of toys and stimulating games! Toss toys, noisemakers and hiding spaces are excellent for keeping your rabbits amused. The more toys your rabbit has, the less likely he is to use his natural instincts to dig/chew on inappropriate items like furniture, cables, plants, trees, etc.

These links have some great suggestions for safe toys your rabbit will love.

Rabbit Care

Rabbit Behavior

Play Mates & Companionship

Rabbits are extremely social creatures, being with another rabbit is vital to their health and happiness, that’s why a companion rabbit or other animal is so important. 

In rabbit bonding, the new rabbit will either be “lumped” or “humped” in most situations, but some pet rabbits have been on their own for so long they have no idea what it is they’re supposed to do and this is where the trouble starts. Rabbits must have friends, they provide stimulation, grooming, companionship, and security.

Here is some bonding advice:

Rabbit Bonding

Rabbit Behavior

Guide/Reference Or Care Book

While the Internet is a great source of information, guide and reference books are vital to the new rabbit checklist. There are many books available but you need one that can be quickly referred to, especially in the case of an emergency. You also need one that is appropriate for your pet rabbit situation. Here are a few books we suggest:

The Everything Pet Rabbit Handbook
The Everything Pet Rabbit Handbook
The Everything Pet Rabbit Handbook

this book is your 1st step towards caring for and understanding your bunny..


The Bunny Lover's Complete Guide
The Bunny Lover's Complete Guide
The Bunny Lover's Complete Guide

Whether you’re a first-time rabbit owner or a veteran bunnY.


Storey's Guide to Raising Rabbits


Storey's Guide to Raising Rabbits
Storey's Guide to Raising Rabbits

The fifth edition of this best-selling handbook features the same detailed approach that has made it the trusted source for raising healthy.


More Important Information

Children

Showing children the importance of care before their new rabbit comes home will pay dividends in the long run.

Language & Terms

If you’re new to rabbits, you may be surprised to know that they can communicate with you. You may also want to learn the lingo. Rabbit fans, owners and rabbit husbandry people all have their own terms to express all aspects of rabbitry. Here is a link to help you understand what your new friend might be trying to tell you:

Rabbit Language

Rabbit Behavior

Be sure to check out the other pages on our site for more detailed information, product reviews, and helpful hints to guide you on your journey to becoming the best pet rabbit owner. 

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Miranda Hawkins
Miranda currently lives just outside Colorado Springs, Colorado with her husband, 8-year old son, and what she lovingly calls her “zoo.” Miranda grew up in the Midwest and always had animals around while growing up. After graduating from college, she married her husband Sam and they moved to the mountains of Colorado where Miranda became very involved with the regional rabbit rescues.

Currently, her “zoo” includes two dogs, one rambunctious cat, and three indoor rabbits. Oliver, a delightful Black Otter Holland Lop, and Juniper, a gorgeous Opal Satin Angora, are a bonded pair and have been together for three years.

She had the pleasure of adding an energetic Fawn Flemish Giant to her family one year ago, named Sir Gregor. He had been abandoned outside a pet store and was put up for adoption. Miranda feels very blessed to have this lovable lagomorph living amongst her family and is a strong advocate for educating people about rabbits and how special they truly are.

Miranda has put together a team of rabbit lovers and breeders from across the country and hopes you will find the information and resources on the JustRabbits.com site beneficial. She loves to hear from her readers and looks forward to seeing many more people become loving responsible bunny parents.