What Do Rabbits ACTUALLY Need? (+printable list!)

So you want to get pet rabbits! You’ve done your research and decided bunnies are the right fit for your lifestyle. So, what do rabbits need? In this article, I break down the basic supplies you’ll need to get ready before your new bunnies come home.

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What do rabbits need?

What do Rabbits Need?

Before you bring your new pet rabbit home, you want to make sure you have everything ready and set up for them before you bring them home! I’m going to cover all the supplies you’ll need, as well as a few other things you’ll want to be aware of that will impact how much you’ll spend on your rabbits.

One thing I do want to make sure to mention is that bunnies are social animals. In most cases, they need to live in at least pairs in order to live full happy lives. Be aware that you’ll need to get more than one bunny if you’re wanting to add them to your family!

I also want to mention that I highly recommend pet rabbits be kept inside. Domestic rabbits are not as suited to the possible extremes of outdoor temperatures as wild rabbits. It’s much easier to keep indoor rabbits healthy and safe!

Cage

First up, you’ll need some type of pen for your rabbits. You want to make sure your rabbits have enough room in their pen for a litter box, water dish, food bowl, hide, a few toys, and still have room to move around! The general rule is a rabbit should be able to hop 3-4 times in a row and have room to lay out flat.

Pet store cages are way too small for rabbits. Better options are a large dog cratex-pen, or C&C cage. You also have the option of free-roaming your rabbits, where they don’t live in a cage at all!

Regardless of what type of pen you create for your bunnies, they need several hours of playtime on a daily basis. This gives them time to stretch their legs, explore, and get their daily exercise. Rabbits cannot live in cages or small areas full time. Providing a large exercise run or a bunny-proofed room are great options that will provide plenty of space.

One thing to note – rabbits should never live with guinea pigs. Not only do rabbits and guinea pigs communicate in completely different ways, but a rabbit can very easily injure a guinea pig on accident. There are also pretty serious diseases that can be passed from rabbits to guinea pigs. It’s not worth the risk!

Read more > Rabbit Housing Basics

Litter Box

Rabbits are smart little creatures and one of the benefits of this is that they can be easily litter box trained! You will need a good-sized litter tray for your rabbits to use that has enough space for the number of bunnies you have. If you have two bunnies you might want to provide multiple litter boxes. A cat litter box or shallow plastic bin works well. You never want to use something that has a mesh or wire floor, as this is very hard on a rabbit’s feet and hind legs.

it’s a good idea to place your rabbit’s litter box under their hay rack (which we’ll cover in a minute!). There are a lot of great litter box/hay rack combination options you can find on Etsy!

Litter

There are a lot of different options you can use for litter in your rabbit’s litter box. The most common options are paper-based bedding, wood stove pellets, or aspen wood shavings. I have used wood stove pellets in the past and they work great, but my rabbit’s preference is Small Pet Select paper-based bedding.

You could use cat litter as long as it isn’t clay-based, is unscented, and won’t clump. I personally recommend staying away from cat litter altogether as there are much better bunny-safe options.

Quality Hay

Providing high-quality grass quality hay to your rabbits is one of the most important parts of owning them. Rabbits need unlimited amounts of hay available 24/7 to keep them eating constantly. The most common types of hay fed to adult rabbits are Timothy and Orchard Grass. Alfalfa hay should only be fed to growing baby bunnies under 6 months old.

When looking for good hay, you want it to be green, pretty leafy, and smell fresh. You’ll be able to smell moldy hay right away. If your rabbits don’t like their batch of hay they likely won’t eat it or will pull it all out of their hay rack. Some great hay brands are Oxbow and Small Pet Select.

We feed Orchard grass from Small Pet Select and very highly recommend it! They are a great company with fast shipping and consistent quality.

Hay Rack

While you can easily feed your rabbits hay just by putting a pile down in their litterbox for them, this can result in a ton of wasted hay. Hanging a hayrack over the litter box on the side of the cage will give your pet easy access, reduce hay waste, and keep the hay mess to a minimum.

There are a ton of different options for hay racks. You can buy one or there are a lot of different ways to DIY them as well. You can use a metal hay rack like this one, or a nice wooden one like this one.

Water Dish

Having fresh water available to your rabbits at all times is very important. Rabbits drink a lot of water – a 6-pound rabbit can actually drink as much water in a day as a 20lb dog!

Most people recommend water bowls instead of a water bottle. This is just more natural for the bunnies and encourages them to drink more water. You want to use a dish that is large and heavy enough that you won’t be filling it up constantly and that your bunnies can’t knock it over! If you’re worried about the water getting dirty throughout the day, you could always provide both a water dish and a sipper bottle so your bunnies will always have something clean to drink.

I use a gravity-feeding dog water dish for my rabbits and it works great! It holds about a gallon of water so they definitely can’t knock it over. It also ensures that they have clean water at all times since it refills as they drink.

Healthy Pellets

Making sure you’re feeding a healthy diet to your bunnies is important. You will likely want to give your rabbits a limited amount of good quality rabbit pellets every day. Not all pellets for bunnies offered by pet stores are actually healthy for them.

I have a full article that goes over the top 5 best pellet brands for rabbits! Pellets should be a small part of a rabbit’s diet, but they should still be healthy.

Some owners choose not to feed pellets to their rabbits at all because they believe a lot of the ingredients, even in healthier pellets, are unnecessary for bunnies. Others choose to feed pellets in small quantities. Make sure to do your research and decide which diet is right for you and your pets!

Veggies

An important part of a rabbit’s diet is daily fresh vegetables! Your rabbits will need fresh veggies every single day to keep them happy and healthy. In general, rabbits need about 1 cup of veggies a day per 2 pounds of body weight. So my 6-pound rabbit should get about 3 cups of veggies per day!

The majority of a rabbit’s veggies should be made up of leafy greens like green leaf lettuces or romaine lettuce, cilantro, radicchio, bok choy, arugula, and dandelion greens. You can also feed smaller amounts of other veggies like carrots, bell pepper, broccoli, celery, and zucchini. There are a ton of other safe veggies you can feed your bunnies as well. 

Toys And Enrichment

Rabbits are very curious animals who love to play and explore. Giving them toys and other enrichment will help keep them happy and interested in things around them.

Toys are a great way to give your rabbit some entertainment. Chew toys are important because they help wear down your rabbit’s teeth. Chew toys can also distract your rabbit from chewing on your furniture or other things in your house!

Enrichment toys are things that give your rabbit something to do. A lot of them involve hiding a treat for your bunny to find, or making your bunnies work for the treat. My rabbits love this treat ballThis play table is also a good option. And honestly, cardboard boxes or packing paper are a fantastic cheap option – especially since your bunnies will likely love destroying their toys!

You can also give your rabbits free roam time out of their cages. Just make sure to bunny proof – cover cords, block off access behind furniture, and keep your bunnies away from anything else that could hurt them or they could chew up!

Hide Out

Bunnies are natural prey animals, so it’s important to give them a place to hide where they feel safe and secure. There are so many options for this. You can get as simple as a cardboard box with a door cut out, or as fancy as a wooden house shaped like a castle.

Whatever you choose, you want it to be large enough to fit your rabbit comfortably. Just be aware that rabbits are chewers, so you may have to replace their hide after a while!

Grooming Supplies

There is some basic grooming that you’ll have to do with your rabbits on a regular basis. This includes brushing your rabbit and clipping their nails.

It’s important to get in the habit of brushing your rabbit on a regular basis to get all the extra fur off. Rabbits shed 3-4 times a year, and during these times it’s especially important. Rabbits are self-cleaners like cats, but unlike cats, they are not able to cough up hairballs. Brushing your rabbit keeps all the extra fur out of their digestive system. The hair buster is my all-time favorite rabbit brush!

Rabbit’s nails are constantly growing and will need to be clipped every few months. You’ll need a good pair of nail clippers for this – I like this pair. If you aren’t comfortable with clipping your bunnies’ nails yourself, you can also have your vet do it for you.

Vet Fund

Part of being a responsible rabbit owner is being prepared for vet visits and health problems. All animals will need to go to the vet some time or another, so planning ahead for these costs is really important. Check out vets in your area and see how much a good exotic vet charges for things like health checks and vaccinations.

You also want to be aware that pretty much all rabbits need to be fixed. Female rabbits especially can have a high risk of getting uterine cancer if they aren’t spayed. Male rabbits can be a lot more aggressive and destructive if they aren’t fixed. If you adopt bunnies that are not fixed, be aware that you really should do this – and that it’s going to cost you money!

It might seem like a lot for such small animals, but these are the basic items you’ll need to keep your pet bunnies happy and healthy! Make sure you’re prepared with everything you need to bring your bunnies home – it will save a lot of stress on both you and your new pets!

Learn more about rabbit care:

What Do Rabbits ACTUALLY Need?

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