Thursday, January 22, 2015

Keeping a House Rabbit

Caring for a House Rabbit is quite simple and brings such happiness to your home!
This is my adoption story and how Oliver came into our lives and how we care for him at home.

Oliver is a Giant Flemish Rabbit and weighs about 15 pounds. I can’t believe how wonderful it has been to share our home with this rabbit! I was on the Brother Wolf Animal Rescue’s page one day, searching for a dog, when I found Ollie and fell in love with him and his incredibly kind eyes. We went and picked him up the next day and our lives have been so blessed ever since.
He is nothing but a big ball of love, and he teaches me so much on happiness and kindness and adventure everyday.

The day we brought him home we also brought home:

A large dog cage built for a golden retriever/labrador size
Cat litter box
A large bag of timothy hay
A bag of VitaNature Rabbit food
Some wooden toys for chewing
Dried papaya treats
Oxbow barley biscuits
And last, being so large, he often will tip over your average bowls for food and water, so Ollie came from the shelter with his own specially crafted wooden food and water container his previous family had put together for him.

The cage can be divided in 2 for two smaller dogs. Instead of setting up the
divider vertically, Brian set it up horizontally in the middle so that Ollie could have a “loft”to hop up to and would expand the square footage.

 In the loft he has a hay dispenser I cut from a cardboard box, a rug to serve as a protector from the wiring of the divider, a small stuffed toy to keep him company, and yes, this might be a little much for a rabbit, but there is also a memory foam pad for him to sleep on. The memory foam pad and the rug are tied off around the cage so that they do not fall down into the main area.

Below is the larger area, it contains another hay dispenser, his litter box,  filled with a cat litter called “Yesterday’s News” which is made of recycled newspapers, his food and water, and a straw rug (a bristled straw doormat) he uses to entertain himself when he is in his cage. We had bedding, but him being so large, it didn’t seem to work out as well as this mat does.

(this photo is pre- memory foam and pre- straw mat. You can see how the bedding doesn't really work out for him or this cage.)

Ollie has free reign of the house during the day. It was very easy to “rabbit proof” the home. The main thing to worry about is electrical wires. Wires that were out and accessible were tucked away where he cannot reach, taped at certain angles, or if they had to be out and can’t help but to be exposed, we just covered them with pvc piping or another form of plastic tubing.
The second concern I have read is the chewing of the furniture.

We however, do not really have this problem. It could be that Ollie is amazing, but I have tried to go out of my way to make sure this does not happen. It is important for a rabbit to explore, to test things out, to sharpen their teeth, and just to be a little adventurous. This often leads to biting things in the home you do not necessarily want to be chewed!

When we first got Ollie, I observed him closely to see what he liked and didn’t like. Every time he would nibble on something that I did not want chewed, ( mostly exposed wood at his level) I would clap my hands, then directly after I would take him to an area of something that was indeed alright to chew. A rabbit is going to chew SOMETHING and this technique seemed to work. I leave out objects for him that I don’t mind him chewing on, for example, instead of an iron magazine/book holder I placed out a basket to store these items. When he would take a small bite out of the leg of our old chair, I would clap my hands, then take him to the basket and he would go and nibble away at its straw. After taking him outside to play one day, I noticed he had a favorite piece of driftwood that was out in the yard. So I cleaned it off and brought it inside for him. If he feels the need to chew or play or sharpen his teeth, he only uses these  items.

I find it is important for me when having a house rabbit to really share your home with them. They need to have items that are special to them around the house just like you have yours. Once your rabbit has his favorite chewing items, perhaps any problems you might have with chewing will dissappear. At least, I hope so!! This is just what worked for me.

As well with a litter box in the cage, we also have one in the laundry room next to the cats’. If you have another animal in your home, this might be a good idea as well! Ollie would only use his cage litter box, without a single dropping outside of it, but when he would explore the laundry room, there would be little rabbit droppings all around the outside of our cat’s litter box. To remedy this I put a litter box for him just next to hers. Every dropping I found, I would pick up with tissue paper and place into his litter box ( also filled with “Yesterday’s News” litter) and washed the floor to get rid of any odor he could sense. Rabbits only go where they can smell they have gone before, just like a cat, so immediately after he was only using his litter box and there was no more mess ever again!

Since Ollie only stays in his cage at night when we are asleep, I laid out some old antique candy trays filled with food and water in our main room of the house so that he can help himself throughout the day. I believe he likes the different location options. We feed him greens and vegetables from the garden and raspberries from the fridge ( his favorite) . All in all he seems like a happy bunny! I put out more rugs for him so he does not slip and slide as much on the hard wood and when I come home from work at night he waits at the door and binks and bounces all over the place.

Sometimes he stays with me in bed until I fall asleep, sometimes he hops up on my lap when I am sitting on the couch or the chair, and if I am at my desk painting, he is almost surely right underneath me. He is such an incredibly loving creature! I make sure to keep a good relationship with him by respecting his space and not to pick him up unless it is necessary. As a pray animal I think this might be scary and stressful for him. I just let him do what he feels he would like to do. And after a bad response to a harness and leash test run, I will respect him as a non leash bunny, and just keep a close eye on him when we go outside instead of leashing him.

He loves and gets along with our cat wonderfully, wherever she goes, he wants to go to. He could be outside having the time of his life, but if his sister goes inside, he’ll go inside too. She, being the only animal for 16 years, was not so keen on Ollie in the beginning, but after a few months they have developed a better relationship. She has stopped hissing at him and will even let him sleep next to her.

To sum it up, a house rabbit is an extraordinarily wonderful animal to share your home with! I hope any information I put up will help you in your adventure to adding a new family member!

Thanks for stopping by and please let me know if you have any questions!!


  1. That was a wonderful informative post and really wonderful . How interesting you were looking for a dog and then found this wonderful rabbit. . I am sure he has s fantastic life with you

  2. What a lovely rabbit! You have certainly figured him out, and you're being repaid for your efforts.

  3. Hi I'm Sara I'm in the UK Love you're blog. We have a house rabbit too, called Stuart. We haven't had him long,we got him from breeder who was retiring him. He is wonderful, he is very affectionate in a rabbit way. Being a prey animal he doesn't like being picked up but is happy to sit with us and he likes to sit under the table when I sew. He has free roam of our house when we are home and is in the lounge at night and when we are not home. He does a Happy dance around my feet when I come home and in the mornings which is so sweet. Luckily for us he has never been interested in chewing the furniture. Like you we had to sort out the cables in various ways.He is litter trained which was fairly easy. Sharing our lives with him has so far has been wonderful, we love him to bits and would not have it any other way.


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