caring for your pet rabbit

Top Tips on Caring for your Rabbit

Whether it’s those gorgeous long ears, twitchy noses, or quirky personalities, there’s just something about rabbits that makes it no surprise that they’re such popular companions – with around 900,000 of these long-eared beauties currently kept as pets in the UK.1 However, a recent survey found that almost 1 in 4 new rabbit owners admitted that they found owning their bunny stressful­­1, and while sharing our lives with these highly intelligent animals can be a wonderful experience, looking after them properly is not always as simple as it seems. But help is at hand…so read on for some top tips to help keep your bunnies hopping happy!


Two’s Company

Rabbits are naturally very sociable, and pet bunnies need at least one other rabbit to hop around with to make sure they don’t get lonely. A neutered female and neutered male are a great option! Neutering helps reduce the chances of fighting, and also ensures you don’t end up with more bunnies than you’d bargained for- rabbits aren’t the symbol of fertility for nothing, after all!

Rabbits can form really close bonds with their two-legged family members, too, but as prey animals they can be, understandably, wary of new people. When you’re first getting to know your newly-arrived bunnies, it’s best to sit quietly and allow them to come to you; this way they can take things at their own pace.

caring for your rabbit

Home Comforts  

Hopping and jumping, running and digging, stretching out in the sunshine and nibbling on fresh grass; it’s all in a day’s work for a rabbit, and to engage in all these natural, joyful, bunny behaviours, they need a decent amount of space! The RSPCA advises that a home for two medium sized bunnies should be at least 2 by 3 metres, with a height of 1 metre, so they can stand up on their hind legs, too.2 Traditional rabbit hutches are often too small to meet these requirements, and many people use children’s playhouses, or even small sheds, as rest areas for their bunnies, attached to a large secure exercise area. Your bunnies’ abode should have separate areas for:

  • Sleeping, resting and taking shelter. Straw bedding keeps this area cosy and warm, and allows your rabbits to hide from any unwelcome visitors likes dogs or foxes, as well as snuggle up safely at night. 
  • Food and drink (more on the best diets for bunnies below)
  • Exercising
  • Toileting. This area should be away from their food and rest areas. Rabbits can even be litter trained, which has the added bonus of making it easier when cleaning day comes around!

Ideally these areas should be interlinked, giving your rabbits freedom over how they spend their time. Their home should be well-ventilated, dry and free from draughts, and a predator-proof roof is also a must!


Hop to it

You might not be taking your rabbits out on a daily walk, but your long-eared companions still need a good amount of exercise every day, to keep those sprightly paws and inquisitive minds active. In addition to a decent amount of space to leap around in, there are lots of fun elements you can add to enrich their environment  even further:

  • Tunnels to run through and hide in
  • Platforms to leap onto (as prey animals, being able to suss out their surroundings from a height helps them feel safe, plus it’s great jumping practice!)
  • A sand box to dig in
  • Rabbit-safe toys to play with and chew
  • Shredded paper to fling around
  • Cardboard boxes with holes in to hop into and hide in

As well as being wonderful to watch your bunnies enjoying themselves, this physical and mental workout has huge benefits for their health and well-being, too. 


Hay, Hay, Hay….

Contrary to every cartoon you’ve ever seen, the mainstay of your bunnies’ diet won’t be carrots, although they do love them as a treat now and again! Rabbits have unique digestive systems, and as natural grazers, hay and/or grass needs to make up the bulk (around 85%) of their diet. They will munch on this throughout the day, and for good reason, as this constant nibbling not only helps keep their guts in good working order, it also helps prevent their teeth from overgrowing (rabbits’ front teeth grow at a rate of around 2 mm every week!3). Check out our lowdown on the types of food your bunnies need to stay in tip top shape:

  • Good quality hay  and/or grass is the number one requirement- a good rule of thumb is to give a rabbit-sized bundle to each bunny once daily.
  • A handful of different leafy greens every day (e.g. cabbage, kale, broccoli, parsley).
  • Fruit and root vegetables can be given as occasional treats (e.g. apples/carrots).
  • A small portion of commercial rabbit nuggets can be provided, but not as a substitute for hay (as a rough guide, the RSPCA suggests 1 egg-cup full per kg of rabbit per day2).
  • Muesli-type diets are best avoided, these are quite high in sugar and if rabbits fill up on these they can miss out on other essential nutrients.
  • Access to clean, fresh drinking water, check this daily, and make sure it hasn’t frozen in the colder months! 


Bunny Health

To help keep your bunnies bright eyed and bushy tailed, we’ve included a handy checklist of things to look out for; your vet is your best port of call if you have any concerns.

  • Check their teeth regularly. Dental problems are very common in rabbits, and the resulting pain can put them off their food, which can be life-threatening for our small furry pals.
  • Keep an eye on their droppings; if you think they’re producing less than usual, it might indicate that they’re not eating, or there is an issue with their guts.
  • Check their ears and skin for any scale, redness or sore patches, which could indicate parasites.
  • Check the fur around their bottoms. If any droppings stick to their fur, they can attract flies, which can lead to a potentially fatal condition called fly strike.
  • Look out for any behavioural changes that could be a sign of pain or stress, for example hiding more than usual, sitting in a hunched position, or over grooming.

If you suspect your rabbit may not be eating, contact your vet straight away. Unlike dogs and cats, who can usually skip the odd meal without too much of an issue, rabbits need to graze continually for their guts to keep working, and a bunny who is off their food should be viewed as an emergency.


Pesky Parasites

Like all pets, rabbits are at risk from creepy crawly parasites. Skin parasites, like fleas and mites, can cause a lot of irritation to bunnies; and can make them itchy and sore. Fleas can be picked up from wildlife that visit the garden, or even hop onto your bunny from your dog or cat! Rabbits can pick up mites from other infected pets, or from infected bedding, but keeping them in a clean environment helps lower the risk.

Rabbits are at risk from internal parasites too, including pinworms and a parasite called E.cuniculi. This parasite is spread via the urine of infected animals, and can cause serious symptoms including a head tilt, wobbly back legs, and urinary problems; it can even be fatal. Treatment is available and is more effective the earlier it’s given, so if you’re concerned your bunny is showing any unusual symptoms, always speak to your vet. 

Vets don’t usually recommend routine prevention of parasites in rabbits, but treatments are available if they do get an infestation. Imidaflea, for example, is licensed for use in rabbits and kills fleas, it comes in a simple-to-apply spot-on format, helping you to easily banish these pests if the need arises!

flea treatment for small cats and dogs








Preventative Care for Bunnies

There are some additional proactive steps you can take to help your bunnies stay fighting fit.

  • Vaccinating against myxomatosis and viral haemorrhagic disease – these diseases can be fatal, protecting our bunnies is crucial.
  • Regular grooming helps you spot any skin problems or pesky parasites, and is also a lovely way to bond with your bunny.
  • Neutering is advised from 3-4 months of age.
  • Pet Insurance helps cover the cost of any unexpected veterinary fees.

There’s no mistaking the fact that caring for rabbits is a big commitment; these intelligent, curious animals need a carefully planned environment, and the right food and care to allow them to thrive. But if you’re willing to put the time into giving your rabbits everything they need, seeing them display their natural behaviours and unique personalities will be a reward that’s well worth it!


  1. PDSA Paw Report 2021
  2. RSPCA Guide: How to take care of your rabbits; 2019.
  3. Wyss F, Müller J, Clauss M, Kircher P, Geyer H, von Rechenberg B, Hatt JM. Measuring Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) Tooth Growth and Eruption by Fluorescence Markers and Bur Marks. J Vet Dent. 2016 Mar;33(1):39-46.