Bunnies are unique pets, so adorable. They require special needs in terms of care and handling to live long, happy, and healthy.
Bunnies can be great companions; as a matter of fact, bunnies will sometimes jump around and flip their heads and feet, especially when they have the freedom and opportunity to show their beautiful personalities.
Another adorable thing about bunnies is their ears which can rotate almost a full circle to 270 degrees. They not only use it to listen, but they also use it to regulate their body temperatures. When they feel hot, their ear’s blood vessel swells, and it contracts when they feel cold.
More so, they can make a lot of sounds like chattering their teeth, growling, and even screeching, though they may seem like a quiet pet and can jump very high, about 3 feet high.
Because their eyes are positioned on the sides of their heads, bunnies can see an almost perfect 360 degrees.
In the wild, this helps them know when a predator is nearby. Their one blind spot is right in front of their little twitchy noses! How funny is that?
Bunnies are very social creatures that live in groups. Most people might be confused about certain things about bunnies, like what are bunnies? Is a bunny a baby rabbit? How to keep and care for backyard bunnies? What do backyard bunnies eat? How to feed bunnies? And so on are questions that will be answered in this article.
However, Because of how social rabbits are, they always want other rabbits around for companionship, so consider adopting a bonded pair! If you already have a bunny but want to add another to your brood, talk to your vet about the best way to introduce bunnies to each other.
What are Bunnies?
Bunnies are another name for rabbits but are usually referred to small or baby rabbits. Though, baby rabbits are called kittens. All bunnies are mammals with fur and tail.
Some bunny has tremendously long ears while others have small and upright ears, such as Lop and Netherland Dwarf.
Bunnies move on four legs with a hopping gait and stand upright by raising their front legs and sitting on their haunches. Bunnies are generally not just brown, white, or black.
Some breeds come in more than 18 different colors, with numerous patterns added to the variety. Eye color also varies, which includes blue, ruby, brown, and blue-gray iris colors.
How To Keep and Care for Backyard Bunnies
If you choose to keep a bunny in your backyard, you must apply caution to keep them happy and healthy. Domestic bunnies need an outdoor home that is very secure, clean, vast, dry, not too hot or cold, well-stocked with food and water, and most importantly, not isolated from regular contact with humans and any rabbit friends. Here are seven ways to keep and care for backyard bunnies.
- Keep Their Home Clean
Bunnies are incredibly hygienic animals, and they can typically establish 1 or 2 litter areas in their enclosure. You can let them decide where and then place a bunny litter box there, but keeping the area clean in general is very important for their health and happiness.
You can do some general clean-up daily or remove soiled straw daily and then perform a more thorough cleaning at least 1 to 2 weeks, thereby removing and replacing bedding materials and so on.
Note that soiled or damp bedding will certainly encourage flies, and that can bring on maggots that may infect them and even cause flystrike which is a potentially fatal illness to them.
So, it will be honorable of you to ensure that their home is always kept clean since you wouldn’t want them to be infected.
- Brush Up Your Bunnies
Like I earlier, bunnies are wonderfully clean and hygienic animals who will happily spend a great deal of time bushing themselves to perfection. While this means they do not generally require bathing, consistent brushing will ensure that their cony is in excellent condition to prevent hairballs.
If your bunny is short-haired, ensure you brush it at least once every week (except when they are shedding or when regular brushing is recommended). It is ideal to use a fiber brush that is mainly designed for bunnies or a fine-toothed comb- be sure to be especially careful, as their skin is quite delicate.
But, if you have a long-haired bunny, there is a need for daily grooming and regular coat trimming because they are particularly prone to matting and hairballs.
However, if your rabbit develops mats in its coat, gradually work it out by gently separating and combing the hair out a little bit at a time, being very careful not to pull on their sensitive skin. More so, never try to trim them out with scissors because it is so easy to cut their skin mistakenly.
Washing is mostly unpleasant for a bunny, so try to keep them away from dirt. It is best to clean only dirty spots on their body instead of putting them through the unpleasant experience of a bath.
But if by any circumstance you bath them, also bear in mind that rabbit’s body takes a long time to dry, so use a blow dryer on a warm setting to make their body dry faster.
Rabbit’s nails develop rapidly, so trimming them consistently should be part of their grooming routine. You can use either human nail trimmers or nail scissors made specifically for small pet animals. Making this a regular practice will always ensure your rabbit looks adorable and attractive.
- Bunny Bonding and Love
Perhaps the most important thing you can do to keep them very happy, healthy is to give them lots of love and attention. Bunnies are very sociable creatures and crave companionship from both their kind and their owners.
If you think you cannot provide enough company to keep your rabbit content, it is best to get a pair because they are known to form strong and powerful bonds with one another; that will be evident when you catch them cuddling up close together grooming.
Though it may not be immediately, if you work with your two rabbits regularly as the case may be, it won’t be long before it is impossible to catch them apart.
As well as having another cuddly companion, you too need to show your bunny a lot of love. Bond with your bunny by playing with them, snuggling, and patting them, or letting them follow and bounce about while you potter about the house or garden- you will both equally delight in the adoring companionship.
Rabbits are such delightful little pets, and while they do require a certain amount of care to keep them happy and healthy, if you provide them with it, they, in turn, will give you an endless supply of love and affection and also a lifelong companion.
- Give Them Space to Rest Their Feet
It is vital for you to provide a place for your bunnies to rest their feet. For instance, you were standing on the wire all of the time. Indeed, your feet would hurt badly. Well, that is to say, that bunnies are the same way.
They get actual sores on their feet from standing on the wire for too long. Not only is it uncomfortable for them, but it is also cruel.
Bear in mind that animals being raised for meat need and deserve a healthy life. Not only does it provide better nutrition for your family, but it is also the right thing to do. Keep that in mind before raising any animal for meat.
To prevent a rabbit from getting sores on its feet, you need to place a piece of wood for them to rest its paws on. This is also a good thing for them to chew on because a rabbit’s teeth can grow so long that they’ll grow through its head. So, keep these things in mind when considering the care of your meat or pet rabbits.
5. Your Bunnies Should Be Protected
Rabbits are highly preyed upon by other animals. You should consider everything from birds of prey to dogs. Even though they are in hutches, you need to be sure they are safe. Be certain that their hutches are in a safe location.
Placing them inside an outbuilding or even inside a fenced area is a great way to offer them a lot of protection. You’ll also want to make sure that your hutches are lifted a decent way above the ground so they aren’t easily accessible for creatures that would like to harm them.
Beyond needing to protect these creatures from other animals, you’ll also need to protect them from the elements. Make sure their hutch stays dry, and during the winter, be sure they have a windbreak.
Also, make sure they are in the shade during the summer. Rabbits struggle worse with heat than they do cold. So, keep that in mind when considering rabbit care.
- Aspect of Nutrition
Your bunnies should be fed a well-rounded diet. Feed them on pellets; this is because they do get pellets for protein. So, if you try to skip this, surely their growth will take a little longer.
It would be best if you also fed them a healthy serving of hay every day, which means you have to make provision for hay feeders, so you can refill them as needed.
However, it’s recommended to give your rabbit a ball of hay the size of its head. You can or should also feed your bunny’s fodder. They love the fresh green every day, and it gives them a lot of water as well.
- They Should Be Given Daily Exercise and Play Time
Give your bunnies daily exercise and playtime. Bunnies are meant to be active creatures, running and hopping about, and need at least 3 hours of free time or range per day for exercise.
Free time does not generally mean loose and unsupervised in the yard unless you want your lip balm to become lunch for your neighbor’s cat.
Your bunnies must either be supervised or placed in a secure “bunny run” that allows plenty of room for horizontal and vertical movement. Rabbits, as you know, are very curious, friendly, and intelligent and thus benefit you from playtime.
Games like “bunny bowling,” which the rabbit will be knocking over plastic pins, “fetch” (with you doing the fetching!), and “cardboard castle” (which is inevitably destroyed) are among the many play options.
Bunnies love playing with paper, cardboard, or untreated wood toys too. Keep them away from treated wood and some wood like cherry, redwood, and peach, as these might be very toxic to them.
What do Backyard Bunnies Eat?
Bunnies eating pattern is not the same every season of the year; their meal changes per season, but the good part is that they maintain a plant-based diet each time.
In winter, they eat primarily wood-based diet like gnaw tree bark, twigs, and pine needles which I may generally say for the wild rabbits, but they mainly feed on green plants during the rest of the time (clover, forbs, and green weeds, dry and green grasses, shrubs or tree seedlings).
While it looks like they eat almost any kind of vegetables and flowers found in the forest, wild rabbits are selective about food. Rabbits prefer fresh foliage to stems or dry plants.
Most wild rabbits are known for climbing tree trunks to get to new leaves or dew-loaded vegetation. They like to eat plants that are succulents before they overgrow and become hard.
Bunnies feed on various vegetation, including grass, weeds, seeds, flowers, and leaves. They can’t eat any meat-based diet, which makes your trash unattractive than other wildlife.
Bunnies can easily eat vegetables and fruits any time they have access to it, even though these high-sugar food are bad for them. Bunnies stay alert while eating to avoid predators; that is why they eat on the move and prefer mostly food that is not difficult to access.
Bunnies’ regular diet changes via season. In spring and summer, they’re bound to eat flowers and vegetables. In fall and winter, they feed on woody plants like twigs, stems, or even bark. Most feed on tree trunks, hedges, and shrubs that are a couple of inches above the ground.
They usually don’t dig so deep to get to the food, but they will eat uncovered roots and roots of some vegetable plant. One good thing about rabbits is that they do not cause harm to backyard gardens but nearby woody plants instead. So, for backyard bunnies, I will suggest you feed them this important diet below.
1. Provide Your Bunnies With Hay
Rabbit’s diet consists mainly of hay. It is advisable always to provide them with hay because it contains fiber which helps move waste through their digestive organs to prevent intestinal stasis (‘gut stasis’).
Hay also gives your bunny something to chew on, which also helps in filing down their teeth.
Additionally, hay can keep your bunny engaged since it can filter it and move it around its enclosure. Grass hay is higher in fiber than alfalfa or clover hays and is thus the ideal type of hay to feed your rabbit.
Alfalfa and clover hay is high in protein and calcium, which can cause kidney and bladder issues in older rabbits. Rich quality hay is green and fragrant and is not contaminated by mold and dust.
Consider purchasing your hay from your local feed store. You can also purchase your hay from pet stores, but hay from a feed store is preferred because it will probably be fresher and contain more of the nutrient your bunny needs.
Fresh vegetables keep your rabbit’s intestines well hydrated, which helps with overall digestion. You can feed your bunny celery, collard greens, green peppers, and radish tops.
Vegetables with a high level of vitamin A, like broccoli, spinach, parsley, watercress, and mustard greens, are essential to feed your rabbit.
People are so concerned about rabbits having diarrhea after feeding them these vegetables, but this happens mainly when you feed your rabbit with multiple vegetables at a time.
To avoid Rabbit diarrhea, feed them with vegetables one at a time. Starchy vegetables like carrots should be fed to rabbits in moderation.
Also, fresh fruits are good additions to your rabbit’s diet but should be fed only as treats due to their high sugar content.
3. Feed Your Bunnies Carrots
As stated earlier, feed your bunnies carrot, but it should be in a moderate amount. Not all rabbits can cope with a single-veggie diet; even if Bugs funny does, others may not.
But normal rabbits require lots of hay and diet varieties. The staple of your rabbit’s feed should be hay which you can easily purchase at a local pet supply store in your community.
Hays should make up about 70% of your rabbit’s diet. Feed them with hay consistently. Pelleted food should be incorporated into your rabbits’ diet.
Your bunny should get 1 ounce of hay-based feed per 1 pound of their body weight once per day. Every day, you can add leafy greens as a treat and a small bunch of rabbit pellets, which offer significant nutrients.
How To Feed Backyard Bunnies
Rabbits should have a daily diet of mostly hay, a smaller number of fresh vegetables, and a limited number of pellets. Hay is the most essential part of a rabbit’s daily intake.
Unlimited, high-quality grass hay, such as Timothy, orchard, or brome, should make up the bulk of a rabbit’s diet. More so, they should be fed two times per day because they appreciate a regular schedule for the rest of their meals, but it should be at a fixed time.
A bunny should eat at least 150 g of hay, 100 g of vegetables, and 30 g of rabbit feed per day. However, feeding your pet rabbit a healthy and balanced diet is essential to keeping him happy and healthy as he grows older.
Rabbits have a very sensitive digestive system—nutritional imbalances can quickly lead to severe intestinal problems that can have fatal consequences. Knowing how to feed your rabbit correctly will help you keep it in optimal health throughout its life.
The Lifespan of a Rabbits
Generally, rabbits, like other domesticated animals, have an average lifespan which can help an owner keep their bunny in optimum health in every stage of life. Unlike their wild relatives, who live for an average of one to two years, domesticated rabbits can live between eight to 12 years.
There are many breeds of rabbits. Just like with dogs, each has a different lifespan. In general, larger rabbit breeds live shorter lives than dwarf breeds, and purebred rabbits have shorter lives than mixed breeds.
But each rabbit is different; a large purebred rabbit may live up to 10 years, while a mixed-breed dwarf rabbit may only live eight.
In summary, rabbits need a lot of space and mental stimulation, but unfortunately, many people think they are happy being kept in a cage their entire lives.
Rabbits, while able to live indoors or outdoors, need large areas, such as a bedroom, to call their own, as well as toys, things to chew on, and items to play on.
Rabbits that don’t get the proper space and enrichment aren’t usually as healthy as those that do and therefore may not have as long of a lifespan as they should. It is also essential to provide a calm home for your rabbit.
Extreme amounts of stress can cause your rabbit to die. Being taunted by a cat or dog, grabbed by a child, or being hurt can result in your rabbit going into shock and dying.
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What Do Backyard Bunnies Eat?