All About Rabbits

Rabbits are highly intelligent and social animals, who are full of personality. They make wonderful pets and are increasingly popular in households around the world. However, they are not like dogs or cats and need special considerations. They are prey animals, grazers and have delicate body structure. Since the concept of a house rabbit is a relatively new idea, there is much misinformation about the proper care of these beautiful animals. ​ Below is some basic information about rabbit care. If you have any further questions, please contact us!

Are you Rabbit Ready?

Bunnies are adorable, but are you ready for one?

Most people do not spend a great deal of time thinking about rabbits. One may be surprised to know that these are intelligent animals who show a wide range of emotions and personalities. Let’s point out some facts about bunnies to help you decide if they would suit your lifestyle. Remember, a rabbit depends on you for food, shelter and companionship. Can you provide for him?

Rabbits live on average 10-years.

Most people think bunnies just live 2 or 3 years, and are surprised when they learn rabbits can live a long time. This makes rabbits a long-term commitment. What if you move, get married, have children, go to college? Will your bunny stay with you during all this time? Of course, a bunny’s longevity is not a bad thing. It means you can enjoy the company of your rabbits for many years to come.

Rabbits cannot safely live outdoors, nor should they live in a cage​.

As previously mentioned in Rabbit Care, domestic rabbits cannot live outdoors because of environmental conditions and the presence of predators. Nor should they ever be released into the wild. Domestic rabbits do not have the same survival instincts as wild rabbits and quickly die. Cages and hutches are also inappropriate houses, since they are not big enough or designed well. Wire bottom floors can severely damage rabbit feet.

Rabbits are messy, especially unaltered babies​.

Many rabbit advocates will tell you that bunnies are clean animals. While this may be true in the sense that they will not run outside and roll in mud, or bring home dead mice and birds, you should not expect your home to remain clean. Since the majority of a bunny’s diet is hay, this means hay will be everywhere, (even if your bunny is confined to a section of your house). Hay is messy. Bunnies also typically shed 3-4 times a year. Other bunnies seem to shed daily. Be prepared for the presence of real dust bunnies. This means there is considerable work involved in keeping your home reasonably clean.

Unaltered babies can be particularly messy. As you wait for them to become old enough to undergo spay or neuter surgery, they will toss hay around and they may have deplorable litter box skills. They will also mark their territory, which involves spraying urine. This unpleasant habit diminishes when rabbits are altered, but they will still do this when introduced into a new territory or new bunny companion.

Rabbits are exotics​.

Although rabbits are increasingly popular as pets, not every vet will see them and even if you do find one, they may not be very experienced in treating them. They are still classified as exotics​, which means that vet visits are typically more expensive than for a dog or cat. See our Recommended Vets for the one nearest you.

Rabbits hate being picked up & cuddled. They are fragile and are not suitable for children​.

Bunnies, especially babies, are irresistibly cute. They look like they’re just begging to be picked up and cuddled. In actuality, the bunny is terrified. Rabbits are prey animals, and the act of being picked up and held is a frightening experience for them. If you insist on picking them up, they may bite and scratch – both which can be extremely painful. Children can be unintentionally rough with rabbits. With mishandling, they may break a rabbit’s back or legs. They prefer to sit next to you or if you happen to be lying on the floor, they enjoy climbing on your back and checking out the view from there.

Since rabbits are prey animals, it is important to establish a level of trust between you and your bunny. This involves an investment of time in getting to know your rabbit. Once a bunny trusts you, a rewarding relationship will develop.

So why should I consider a rabbit as a pet?

There’s more to rabbits than meets the eye. They are intelligent, social and passionate animals. They can learn their names, be trained to learn what’s acceptable and what’s not, and they can even learn tricks.

They enjoy company, but can be selective about who they spend their time with. Just as you have your preferences who you have as friends, so do rabbits.

Some bunnies are easy-going and readily accept anyone, other bunnies prefer the company of a particular rabbit or human. Still there are other rabbits who will make their preferences very obvious and will do anything in their power to let you know their opinion.

They are curious and love to explore and play, and some bunnies will readily engage in a game of toss with you. Others will figure out what will soften your heart enough to hand out treats. They can be mischievous. They can be determined and may take on the task of establishing themselves as the head of your household – much to the dismay of your other pets. They display emotions such as contentment, happiness, love, anger, jealousy, fear, and will often grieve deeply at the loss of dear friend.

​ They are anything but boring and dumb.


​Rabbits have delicate body structure. Their bones are light and can break their own backs from flailing about if not properly supported. That is why it is important to learn safe handling techniques, and to prevent the bunny from leaping from any great height (such as your arms while you’re standing up). Always support the rabbit’s back legs and hold him securely against your body. When you need to set him down, make sure you’re close to the ground before releasing him. Never hold a rabbit by the scruff of his neck or pick him up by his ears. Rabbits do not react to scruffing the same way as cats. Rabbits will not go limp and relax. Scruffing rabbits increases the chance the bunny will panic and seriously injure himself, while lifting him by the ears is incredibly painful.​​


Indoor vs Outdoor

Traditionally rabbits have been kept in gardens or barns. However you can only discover their cleverness and wonderful personalities if they live indoors as a fully integrated member of your family. Inside, they are protected from the elements, intense heat, parasites such as fleas and predators. A determined predator can easily get around wiring and other barriers to attack the rabbits. If the indoor bunny becomes ill, you are more likely to notice than if the bunny lives in a hutch outside. Want to learn more about indoor vs. outdoor? Check out this article from the House Rabbit Society.

So you now understand the importance of keeping your rabbit indoors. Now what? If you have visited pet stores, you have seen a variety of cages. How do you choose? Unfortunately most cages and hutches sold are inappropriate for rabbits. They are much too small for a rabbit (even the dwarf breeds) to live in. Even worse, there are those cages with wire floors, which can severely injure a rabbit’s feet. A rabbit’s housing should allow ample room to stretch out, stand up and move around comfortably.

That is why we recommend at minimum a 4’x4′ exercise pen for 1-2 bunnies, (see picture above-right). It fits a litter box, a place to hide, water and food dishes and some toys. It also allows a bunny to stretch out and move around.

Check out our housing brochure with some great set-up examples for inspiration.

Litter Box Training

Bunnies take to litter boxes quite naturally. However they do not use litter boxes the same way as cats. Rabbits will frequently lounge in their box and may nibble on their litter. This makes it essential that the box is kept clean and that the proper litter be used. Make sure you have a box size appropriate for your rabbit(s). The bigger the better. Be sure it is at least twice as large as your rabbit. Please avoid those triangular corner boxes. Line the box with an appropriate litter. Never use clay or clumping cat litter! These products can potentially kill a rabbit! Instead, use a recycled paper product such as CareFresh or Yesterday’s News. Litters made from pine or cedar shavings are to be avoided as well. This type of litter can cause respiratory and liver damage. You can also use newspaper (as long as the ink is soy-based). The disadvantage to regular newspaper is that it doesn’t absorb urine odor well.

Rabbits tend to relieve themselves in corners. Litter box training involves little more than observing which corner your bunny prefers and placing a box in that corner. To encourage your bunny into the box, place hay inside the box. Bunnies are grazers, which means that they eat continually throughout the day. It also means that bunnies eat and defecate at the same time. Rabbits do not eat the soiled hay, as long as they have access to fresh hay. Think of the litter box as their “meadow” not just their toilet.

Some bunnies like to lounge or sleep in their litter boxes, so keeping the box clean is of utmost importance. Top off the litter box one to two times a day with a shoebox-size amount of hay so that your rabbit’s feet are always on top of clean, dry hay. The rabbit should never have to sit in its own waste.  Every other day the whole box should be emptied, cleaned with white vinegar (soak if necessary), wiped dry and refilled.

A rabbit’s digestive system is always moving. A single rabbit can produce approximately 300 pills (the hard feces) a day. Most of those pills will be deposited in the litter box, however, there are usually a few that are deposited around the litter box and pen. Your rabbit doesn’t necessarily have terrible bathroom habits. Your rabbit is marking his territory. This frequently happens if you introduce a new bunny friend for your rabbit, or if you move into a new home.

​ If your rabbit is frequently urinating and pooping outside of the box, there may other factors involved. Unaltered rabbits (those not spayed or neutered) are particularly messy. If you have an adult, your bunny may have bladder issues. Seniors may have arthritis. If your neat bunny is suddenly missing his box, it may be time to visit your vet.

Want to learn more about litter box training? Check out this article from Binky Bunny.

Bunny-Proofing Your Home

Bunnies are incredibly destructive. Among their favorite things to do in the whole world are digging and chewing. That means they love to chew furniture, baseboards, doors, books, plants and power cords. Digging means they may enjoy pulling up carpet fibers. Unfortunately such destruction is not only exasperating and expensive for the owners, but it can be dangerous for bunnies. Rabbits can be fatally shocked if they bite through a power cord. Ingesting certain plants can also be deadly. If they swallow the carpet fibers, the fibers may cause a blockage, which can lead to a painful death.

The key to bunny-proofing is to either move valuables or power cords out of reach, or blocking access (such as placing a bookshelf in front of the baseboards). Access can be blocked by the use of baby gates or removing temptations such as shag rugs. It is also important to give your bunnies a suitable distraction. If your bunny is a digger, you can take a box and fill it with something safe (such as shredded paper) and let the bunny toss it all out.

Check out this great article on Binky Bunny for additional information.


Although a pen is a suitable enclosure for a bunny, he still needs time outside of his pen. Rabbits should get at least 4 hours of exercise time daily. This allows a bunny to run, jump, do binkies and explore his surroundings. Letting your rabbit explore the house is an enriching activity for him. Of course, there are many people who allow their rabbits partial or even full access to the house. If this is something you can do, that is fantastic. Just make sure your home is adequately bunny-proofed.


No rabbit habitat is complete without toys to relieve boredom and give them something to chew on (instead of your furniture, shoes and other valuables).  Favorites include untreated willow, cardboard boxes and tunnels, untreated apple wood, wire cat balls, baby keys (make sure they’re made out of the hard plastic), wooden rattles and toss toys. Check out the House Rabbit Society​ for ideas on making your own homemade bunny toys.

Two rabbits eating greens


Many people think a rabbit should be able to live on a constant supply of carrots. Unfortunately Bugs Bunny is not a credible source for information on what a proper rabbit diet entails.

​ Since rabbits are grazing animals, it is important to realize how different they are from dogs, cats and even us humans. If a dog gets into the garbage and has an upset stomach, he may be off his food for a day or two. When we’re sick with a cold or flu, we don’t eat very much. Rabbits eat throughout the day. If they stop eating for more than 12 hours, it becomes a serious medical problem which can quickly lead to death.

Unlike dogs or cats, rabbits are physically unable to vomit. This means rabbits need a high-fiber diet to keep their digestive system always moving. At least 75% of a bunny’s diet should consist of hay.

For babies, pregnant or lactating bunnies, alfalfa hay should be fed in unlimited amounts as it is rich in calories, protein and calcium. As  young rabbits mature and enter adulthood (at approximately 6 months of age) they can be introduced to other hay such as timothy, orchard grass, and oat blend. Once the young rabbits reach 8 months, they should stop eating alfalfa hay. It’s important not to keep adults on alfalfa hay because it is too rich in protein and calcium. Too much calcium can damage a rabbit’s kidneys.

​Don’t know which hay to use? Oat blends are high in fiber and tasty (due to the oats) to rabbits. Timothy hay is similar in nutrition to the oat blend, and usually more easily found in pet stores. Orchard grass is also suitable, and recommended for bunnies who have had teeth removed or for those owners with severe hay allergies, as orchard grass is much less dusty than either the oat blend or timothy hay. It’s recommended to feed them more than one type. Just avoid the alfalfa hay.

​ It’s important to realize that bunnies will not eat every single piece of hay in their box. They will typically waste a large portion of the hay given to them – up to 25%. To make sure they are consuming enough fiber, it’s essential to feed a shoe-box size of fresh hay twice a day. You will know when your bunny is getting enough hay, when their feces is consistent in shape, size and crumbles easily.

20% of a rabbit’s diet should consist of  leafy greens. Examples include lettuce (any kind except for iceberg), parsley, cilantro, basil, dill, mint, dandelion and escarole are all suitable. Check out House Rabbit Society’s list of suggested vegetables for more information on what and what not to feed your rabbit.

​How do you know how much greens to feed? The rule is approximately 1 cup to every 6 lbs twice daily. If the bunnies are being fed greens just once a day, the portions should be doubled.

​ The last 5% of a bunny’s diet should be treats and pellets. Treats can be a small piece of fruit or carrot. This is because fruits and carrots are high in sugars. A treat the size of your thumbnail is a suitable portion for a bunny. A diet high in sugar creates an overweight bunny and/or possible digestive problems. Do not buy store bought treats like yogurt drops.

​ There are many commercial pellets available. Unfortunately many brands are not appropriate for rabbits. Any brand that contains nuts, seeds, corn or dried fruit should be avoided. Rabbits cannot digest these ingredients. Young rabbits and those pregnant or lactating should have an alfalfa-based pellet (unlimited access), while adults should have a timothy-based pellet. The general rule is 1/4 cup of timothy-based pellets daily for a 5lb adult bunny. It is advisable to feed less if the bunny is overweight, conversely you can feed more to an active rabbit. By keeping the portion of pellets controlled, it encourages more hay consumption.

Never feed chocolate or avocado which are poisonous! Cookies, crackers, bread, chips, popcorn, yogurt, pasta or anything else that has been processed. It does not matter whether it is organic or not. Rabbits will eat these things – and may attack a bag of corn chips with enthusiasm – but they cannot digest these items and these foods can cause serious health issues.

If your rabbit has “poopy butt,” it indicates improper diet or your rabbit may be obese; please change to a high fiber diet that includes Timothy pellets and Timothy hay. If the condition persists, see your vet.


Baby bunnies should stay with their mothers until they are at least 8-weeks-old. Babies nurse twice a day, usually late at night and around dawn. They will start to nibble on alfalfa hay around 4-weeks, and may start to take an interest in pellets around this age too. Greens can be introduced slowly around 8-weeks of age. Frequently pet stores and other places will sell unweaned babies who may be only 4-weeks-old or younger. If you find yourself with an unweaned baby, you can bottle-feed them with KMR (Kitten Milk Replacer) formula, found in major pet stores. Check out the ​House Rabbit Society​ for further details or contact us directly for advice.


Part of rabbit ownership entails making sure your rabbits are healthy. The first part is finding a rabbit-savvy veterinarian, since most vets will not see rabbits. Check out our list of Recommended Vets.

​ Problems can arise quickly, so it is important to interact with your bunnies daily. If your normally sociable rabbit hides and doesn’t want to come out to eat, you will know you have an issue that needs to be addressed immediately.

Currently, there is no FDA-approved vaccinations for rabbits in the United States, and so there are no yearly vaccinations to be administered. You should, however, take your rabbit to see the vet annually just as you would a dog or cat.

Spay And Neuter

Spaying and neutering your rabbits is one of the most important things you can do to ensure a long life for your rabbit. Approximately 50% to 80% of unspayed females will develop uterine cancer in their lifetime. Males can also develop testicular cancers, although they do not tend to have as high a rate of occurrence of cancer as unspayed females. Along with preventing unwanted pregnancies and eliminating territorial-behavior, spaying and neutering is an essential part of owning bunnies.

Common Health Concerns

The following is a list of the most common rabbit ailments. Some may be easily handled with a quick trip to the vet, while others need surgery and several months of post-op treatment.

Gastrointestinal hypomotility (“stasis”):​ This is the most common health issue in rabbits. The bunny stops eating and pooping, and looks uncomfortable. There may be a variety of reasons why a rabbit stops eating. It can be as simple as bad diet, or it may be a result of something else – infection, teeth issues, etc. If your rabbit hasn’t eaten or passed feces in 12 hours, this requires veterinary care. If you feel the bunny’s stomach, and it is hard (like a rock or a water balloon), there is a blockage somewhere in the digestive track. This is bloat, and it can kill your rabbit in 6-12 hours. Bloat and stasis require immediate action!! Don’t wait, take your rabbit to the vet right away!!

Malocclusion: ​Rabbits have 28 continually growing teeth. Normally the teeth wear themselves down through chewing. However, if the jaw is misaligned, the teeth do not line up and cannot wear each other down. The teeth continue to grow, and can grow into the lip, nose, cheek or tongue of the bunny. This situation requires veterinary care, so the vet can safely trim the teeth or remove them entirely, if necessary.

Abscesses: ​Abscesses are pockets of pus, and they can occur anywhere in the body. The cause may be obvious – the result of bad teeth, a bite wound, etc. A bunny with an abscess needs to undergo surgery to have the abscess removed. After care includes antibiotic treatment to ensure the abscess does not return.

Fleas and mites: ​Fleas are not common in house rabbits, unless the home also has other pets which go outside (dogs and/or cats). Mites are found in the ear and/or fur, and they will usually present themselves when a rabbit’s immune system is compromised. Ear mites can start in the inside base of the ear and work itself up, forming crusts which bleed when scraped. Fur mites are usually found at the back of the neck or around the rear. It can look like dandruff, and if left untreated, can leave bald patches. Both forms of mites can be treated with a prescription of Revolution, available through your vet.

Urine scald: Bunnies urinate by pushing back their hips, lifting their tail and urinating away from their body. Sometimes this does not happen, and the urine ends up being soaked up by the fur surrounding the groin area and burning the skin underneath. This may be the result of an infection, obesity, or – if the bunny happens to be older – arthritis. It can also be caused by living in an unclean environment where a rabbit is sitting in its own urine soaked bedding. A vet can determine the cause and decide on the appropriate treatment.

Coccidiosis: This is a protozoan infection which can cause severe diarrhea. This is a particular concern for very young rabbits, as they can become quickly dehydrated and die. A simple fecal float can determine whether a bunny is infected and needs to be treated.

Pasteurellosis: This is a bacterial infection, which normally affects the upper respiratory area. Symptoms can include thick, white or yellow discharge from the nose and/or eyes, sneezing, difficulty breathing and coughing. The bacteria can travel to other parts of the body and cause pneumonia and abscesses. Infections in the ear can cause head tilt – a situation where the head is bent as much as 90 degrees. Severe infections require veterinarian treatment, however, it is difficult to eliminate the bacteria completely and the infections frequently return. There are numerous strains of Pasteurella and they can be easily spread. In fact, most rabbits in the United States already have the bacteria, although many may never show symptoms.

Encephalitozoon cuniculi (E. cuniculi):​ This is a protozoal parasite extremely common in domestic rabbits. Many rabbits are born with it – infected by their mothers – and may live out their lives never showing any symptoms. Others may not be so lucky. This parasite affects the nervous system, and may cause the following: head tilt (may be caused by either Pasteurella or E. cuniculi – you need to treat for both), rear-end paralysis, incontinence, and rupture of the lens of the eye (creating cataracts). Lesions are deposited in the brain, kidneys and sometimes the liver. A bunny experiencing symptoms needs to be seen by a veterinarian. Despite such situations as head-tilt or rear-end paralysis, a bunny can learn to adapt to his new situation and still live a happy life.


Rabbits undergo a heavy shed approximately 3-4 times a year with a light shed in between. Rabbits should have their coats combed out frequently (daily if they’re going through their heavy shed). Bunnies should NEVER be bathed, as this can be very stressful for a rabbit. They are self-groomers, just like cats. They should have their nails trimmed about every 6-8 weeks. This is important because rabbits can get their nails caught on carpet, or on other surfaces which can cause an open wound subject to infection. ​​


Rabbits have their own unique language which humans need to understand. When you learn how to speak “bunny” it will help you build a trusting bond with your friend, catch signs of life-threatening illness early, and you’ll both have more fun!

Binky (Dancing and hopping madly). A sign of pure joy & happiness!

Biting. A light nip is your rabbit telling you they don’t like what you’re doing. Give her a break from whatever it is. If your rabbit frequently nips at you for no apparent reason, try letting out a shrill scream to indicate pain. Chronic biting is a behavioral issue. Please reference the House Rabbit Society website for guidance.


Chewing cords. There are several theories as to why rabbits are attracted to cords. One is the vibration. Another is that they make a noise audible to the rabbit. Or, it could be that it tastes good. Regardless, it is unsafe, so wrap the cords, and thoroughly. rabbit-proof to prevent a tragic accident.

Chewing wood. Bunnies get immense pleasure from chewing on wood, and it is necessary to keep their constantly growing teeth under control. Provide safe options to distract them from your delicious wooden furniture.

Chinning. Their chin contains scent glands, so they rub their chin on items to indicate that they belong to them. Same as a cat rubbing its forehead on people and objects.

Clucking. Sounding like a chicken, but very faint (usually females), she is saying that she is enjoying her food.

Digging. Rabbits are natural burrowers. They may dig on the floor before sitting down to “make it more comfortable,” or they may dig to play. Provide your rabbit with a box and some old newspapers as a digging outlet. If she ”digs” on you, let out a quick shrill scream to let her know it hurts.

Head shaking. If your rabbit smells or tastes something unpleasant, or he wants you to leave him alone, he’ll shake his head. However, frequent ear shaking can be a sign of a medical problem and should be assessed by a veterinarian.

Feet circling. Usually indicates sexual or courtship behavior.

Flattening. When your rabbit gets low to the ground, puts her ears back against her head, and bulges her eyes, she is tense and frightened. This is in contrast to the flat position where comfortable/secure and receiving pets

Flat on the ground, legs spread out to the side or behind. Relaxation, bliss

Grunts/growls. Usually angry, watch out or you could get bit!

Head butting. She wants something from you—maybe petting, food or water, or saying “Move!”

Hissing. Typically directed toward another rabbit, it’s an aggressive “back off” message.

Honking. A mating behavior, usually by an unneutered male looking to mate and is often accompanied by circling another rabbit or your feet.

Kicking. If your rabbit is on the ground, he is likely expressing excitement. If, however, you’re holding him and he’s kicking violently, he’s letting you know you’re not holding him securely. This is very dangerous, put him down immediately (gently) and research (or ask an AARR volunteer) how to hold him correctly.

Licking. If your rabbit is licking you, she’s saying “I love you.” This is most common between rabbits, and more rare between a human and a rabbit, so don’t worry if your rabbit is not licking you.

Lunging. This is frequently a form of attack used against another rabbit or to chase an invader from their territory.

Playing. Rabbits like to push or toss objects around. They may also race madly around the house, jump on and off of the couch and act like a kid that’s had too much sugar.

Pulling out hair; collecting hay. This could be a pregnancy or a false pregnancy. Usually just unspayed females may build a nest & pull hair from their chest & stomach to line the nest. They may even stop eating as rabbits do the day before they give birth.

Purring. Often heard during petting and grooming sessions, your bunny is telling you she’s content by lightly grinding her teeth.

Shrill scream. Extreme pain or fear.

Spraying. Males that are not neutered will mark female rabbits in this manner as well as their territory. Females will also spray.

Standing on hind legs. May be checking something out. Also used for begging. Rabbits good at begging, especially for sweets.

Tooth chattering. Loud grinding or chattering can indicate pain.

Tooth grinding. Indicates contentment, like a cats purr. However, loud grinding can indicate pain.

Territorial droppings. Droppings that are not in a pile, but are scattered, are signs that this territory belongs to the rabbit. This will often occur upon entering a new environment. If another rabbit lives in the same house this may always be a nuisance.

Thumping. He’s trying to tell you that there’s danger (in his opinion) or he is mad. If a rabbit believes there is danger, he will stand on all four feet, in a somewhat tip-top position with his ears alert, then lift his foot and thump. He may remain in thumping position until he believe the danger is gone, or dart away.  A rabbit who is exhibiting continual thumping can die from fright and should be comforted as soon as possible. If a rabbit is thumping in anger, it’s likely that she is displeased when you rearrange her stuff. They are creatures of habit and when they get things just right, they like them to remain that way.

Whimpering. Rabbits who want to be left alone may whimper. Give her space!



Rabbits are social animals. In nature, wild rabbits will live in large groups, so it is logical that a single bunny living in a pen by himself would be incredibly lonely. Pairs and groups of bunnies will frequently sit together, groom each other, and offer comfort to each other in times of great stress (such as going to the vet). They will play together (particularly if they are still young), and offer each other support when they’re older. They become attached to their bond-mate, and often fall into a depression after their bond-mate passes away.

​ That being said, you cannot bring home a second rabbit and just place her in the same pen as your current bunny. Rabbits are extremely territorial and can quickly injure another rabbit they are not familiar with. Rabbits must be spayed and/or neutered, and introductions must be made slowly under supervision in a neutral territory. This process of introducing rabbits to one another is called bonding.

Worried that your single rabbit won’t love you anymore if he gets a new friend? Just as you yourself can have different relationships with a variety of people, so can your rabbit. Your bunny will always love you, but will definitely appreciate another creature who can understand his language. Also if your current bunny is a little shy towards you, introducing a bunny who is confident around people can encourage your bunny to be a little bit more outgoing.

Dogs and Cats

Dogs and cats are by far the most common pet found in households, and many people own several different kind of animals. So can bunnies be friends with other animals? It can depend on the individual animal. Dogs and cats are predators, and sometimes rabbits are nervous around them. There are instances where the rabbit dominates the whole household and will chase the dog or cat, but this is not a normal dynamic. Generally speaking, cats and rabbits can get along very well, although individual personalities of both species determines the relationship. Caution should be used if the rabbit is a baby, as the cat may use them as a toy.

​ Dogs tend to be another matter. Many breeds of dogs have been specifically developed to hunt rabbits. Think of the Greyhound or Saluki – sighthounds – who have been chasing rabbits for centuries. Other breeds like Terriers have a high prey drive and will automatically chase down anything smaller than them. Although toy breeds seem safe because they’ve been bred to be companions, they may not be a suitable housemates as many can be high-strung and stress the rabbit with constant barking. The key to a successful dog-bunny introduction depends on the breed, age (a puppy will be more likely to injure the bunny through rough play than a senior who wants to sleep all day), and personality of both the individual dog and bunny (some rabbits will not tolerate the presence of a dog at all). Do not depend on your dog’s obedience training to leave a rabbit alone. Dogs and rabbits should not be left together unsupervised, as this may result in tragic results for your bunny. Please contact AARR or your local rabbit rescue to learn about safe, cautious procedures for introducing your rabbit to other pets.