Are you thinking about adopting a pet rabbit or have you recently adopted one? If so, it’s important you know how to take care of your little furry friend to keep it clean, healthy and happy!
As you know, maintaining the health and welfare of a rabbit, or of any other pet for that matter, is really important. In your quest to provide the best for your long-eared pal, here are some important things to remember:
Never Submerge Your Rabbit In Water
One of the first things you should remember is that you should never, ever bathe your bunny rabbit! While you can use a clean, damp cloth soaked in lukewarm water to wipe your rabbit (their skin and hair) you should never place a rabbit in a bath. They are not comfortable having baths, so do not try to submerge them in a bathtub or sink.
It’s okay to have a very shallow, open “pan” with barely enough water to cover the feet (never past the bottom of the tail) to help get your rabbits feet and/or bottom clean. And if you feel like you need some soap, make sure it is mild, hypoallergenic, gentle soap and even then only use the tiniest amount on your lukewarm, damp cloth and make sure to “rinse” every bit of it off. It is also imperative that your rabbit be dried thoroughly.
Beware that rabbits tend to be so uncomfortable with the idea of a ‘bath’ in water that their fear can cause serious harm (as in shock and death).
Try a Dry Bath
Rabbits are pretty good at self-cleaning and if you’re keeping up with the rest of the grooming needs below, they shouldn’t really need a bath. You can also try a waterless shampoo (like this one) or some baby cornstarch, but avoid using talc (regular powder).
Clean Their Genital Scent Glands
Yep, you’ll need to clean their genital scent glands. Thoroughly. Rabbits have scent glands on either side of their genitalia (both males and females have them) that excrete a strong smell. Rabbits do not always clean themselves properly and those glands can become impacted. It is your job to clean out that “waxy buildup” very, very gently. How often? Check when the smell is undeniable, or about once a month, to avoid any issues or infections.
Rabbits also have scent glands under their chins, so if you see them rubbing the corner of your couch, a toy, or you – they’re marking their territory. There’s nothing to DO about those scent glands.
Routinely Brush Their CoatsAdult rabbits need routine brushing, especially during shedding. All adult rabbits really need regular brushing, but the actual frequency depends on the type of rabbit you have. Long-haired and short-haired rabbits benefit from a weekly brushing but consult your vet if you’re at all confused as to how often you should be brushing your bunny.
How you go about brushing really does depend on the breed you have. Some long-haired rabbits (think angora) need a daily brushing. Be sure to learn all you can about specific breeds before you get a rabbit. If you’ve already got a pet rabbit, learn what your rabbit needs when it comes to brushing and commit to taking good care of your little buddy.
Routinely Clip Their Nails
You’ll also need to clip your bunnies nails about once a month. It’s not good to let their nails grow because they have such sensitive skin that they can cause injuries just by scratching.
Clipping a rabbit’s nails is pretty much like clipping a dog’s nails. It’s not easy, but once you and your pet get the hang of it, it’s also not too bad – especially if you compare it to cleaning out those scent glands.
Clean Their Ears Regularly
A rabbit’s ears are very tender, so a gentle hand is key. The ears are susceptible to mites and bacteria, just like a dog or cat’s ears can be. Keeping them clean helps your rabbit stay healthy and happy. Rabbit ears are awesome, right! Protect them.
A clean cloth and cotton balls are useful for cleaning the ears. There are over-the-counter solutions, like the one pictured here, that can help you remove or dissolve wax build up. Just be sure it says it’s safe for rabbits, too, and follow the directions carefully.
If you suspect an infection or your bunny seems off-balance, see a vet. A vet can also help you clean your rabbit’s ears and teach you what to look for when you’re keeping them clean at home.
Provide Mental StimulationPlaytime is essential for a happy rabbit. You should be just as concerned with their mental well-being as you are with their physical well-being. All animals need amusement – some exciting exercises or activities. Playtime helps them avoid boredom and if you can remember back to being a bored child, you know how tedious boredom can be. Rabbits are quite susceptible to depression and they depend on you, entirely, to help keep them busy and happy with new, exciting things to explore.
Keeping Their Cage Clean
This could go without saying, but it’s always important to keep your pet’s cage clean. All of the grooming and care in the world won’t do you or your rabbit any good if its house is dirty and unkempt. You should clean the litter box every day since rabbit urine has a pretty strong odor.
Rabbit hygiene is important!
It’s important to ensure you are providing the best care for your pet rabbit. Rabbit hygiene may be a bit difficult and confusing if you are new to having rabbit, but you’ll learn and grow as time passes and you get some practice and find your groove. Do not forget to ask your vet if there are things you’re unsure of. It is always best to follow your vet’s advice because it’s specific to you and your pet.