Pet Care Guides Small Pet



Iberian Peninsula & Southern France

Approximate Size

Dwarf: 6-9in. | 2-4 lbs.
Mini 9-12in. | 4-6lbs.
Standard: 12-18in. | 6-12 lbs.
Flemish 24-36in. | 25+lbs

Approximate Lifespan

5-10 years, depending on breed

Rabbits & Children

Rabbits may not prefer to be handled by children like some other pets.

Having a rabbit as a pet can be a very rewarding experience! Before purchasing, do plenty of research to understand their behaviors, proper handling and care requirements. Help them live a long and healthy life in your care.

Most rabbits will have a friendly personality, but every rabbit is different-just like us. A happy rabbit has relaxed body language. They enjoy playtime, exploring, jumping, digging, and climbing. Most enjoy other rabbits, often two rabbits are better than one.

Many are gentle and relatively non-aggressive when young. However, at approximately 3-6 months of age, they become sexually mature and more aggressive. Bonds may not form in every case. Special precautions must be taken when introducing one rabbit to another as any two animals may not get along, even if they were together when young. They should be separated if there is any sign of aggression, and some may never want to be housed with another rabbit. That Pet Place cannot guarantee that any animal will get along with any other animal, even if they are purchased from the same cage.

We recommend rabbits be spayed or neutered at 6 months old. Spaying prevents unwanted litters of babies and prevents female rabbits from developing uterine cancer. Unaltered, same-sex animals may fight unless housed separately. Unaltered, males and females left together, will result in baby rabbits. That Pet Place cannot guarantee the sex of any animal of any age, especially young rodents, since they are very difficult to sex.

Housing Your Rabbit

A large cage and plenty of additional room for essential exercise are a must when caring for a rabbit properly. We recommend a solid bottom cage or part wire bottom cage. For 1 dwarf or standard rabbit, provide a cage 47”x 20”. As they grow and become adult sized, upgrade their cage to an even larger size. The length of the cage should be about 4-6 times the length of the adult rabbit. Bigger cages are always better. For 2 adult rabbits, provide a cage that is a minimum of 72”x36” or 12-20 sq ft. Again, bigger is better. Add a 36” tall or covered pet playpen to give them plenty of room for required exercise. Any rabbit 8-10lbs or over requires daily indoor free roam activities.

We recommend that you keep your rabbit in the controlled environment of your home. Keep them safe, secure and away from outside dangers that could include excess heat, debilitating stress and predators.

Ideal indoor conditions for your rabbit are 60-75 degrees, normal household humidity of 40 to 70%, and away from drafts. Temperatures above 80 degrees are too high. Rabbits are very susceptible to heat exhaustion. If it is too hot, provide your rabbit with a frozen water bottle, fan or “chinchiller” to lie next to and cool off.

Line the tray of wire cages or the entire bottom of solid bottom cages with small pet paper bedding to absorb waste and odors. If it is a long-haired rabbit, we recommend using a pelleted bedding. Change the bedding daily or at minimum once every 2-3 days. Soiled wet bedding can lead to health issues with breathing and sore feet. Rabbits tend to use one corner of the cage as a bathroom. Add a litter pan filled with a different bedding than you use in the rest of the cage. Also, the cage itself must be cleaned at least once a week with pet friendly disinfectant.

Use a hay rack to keep hay relatively contained and a ceramic food dish for the pelleted food. Provide unlimited, clean, fresh water in both a bottle and bowl, not one or the other. A water dish can get dirty and younger rabbits can have a hard time moving the ball bearing in a water bottle to get water flowing. Use spring water.

Rabbits drink a little water at a time, but drink frequently! Drinking plenty of water keeps them hydrated and it also helps excess calcium leave their body through their urine. Ridding themselves of this excess calcium helps prevent the development of urinary stones.

Provide hiding places to help your rabbit feel more secure and calm. Plastic or wooden hides, timothy bungalows and nylon play tubes can all provide safe places to spend time and escape potential stressors.

Lastly but VERY importantly, rabbits’ teeth continue to grow throughout their lives. Provide required wooden and other chews to keep their teeth worn down and healthy. 

Feeding Your Rabbit

Your rabbit's diet should be:
• 70% Hay
• 20% Pellets
• 8% Fresh Produce (after 3 months old)
• 2% Treats

As grazers, rabbits eat a little at a time and do so frequently! Their gut and intestines must stay in constant motion by providing unlimited hay and water. Provide a pile of hay at least 1-2 times the size of the rabbit themselves. Provide unlimited timothy hay and NEVER let your rabbit run out of hay.

Alfalfa hay is great for young rabbits, nursing mothers and undernourished rabbits. However, healthy adult rabbits should be given alfalfa hay only as a treat. Pelleted food contains the remaining nutrients and minerals they will not get from hay alone.

  • Provide young rabbit food until 12 months of age.
  • Transition to adult rabbit food at 12 months.
  • Transition to senior formula at 5 years of age.

Follow the instructions on the food packaging. Typically, it will suggest what amount of food to feed based on the weight of the rabbit. Provide fresh food in the morning, no need to top off or refill dish at night.

Once they are 3-4 months or older, offer fresh vegetables daily. Introduce greens gradually and in small amounts to avoid upsetting their stomachs. Selections may include romaine lettuce, chicory, collard greens, turnip greens, mustard greens, parsley, and dandelion leaves. Eventually, up to 1 cup of leafy greens per 2lbs of body weight can be offered daily. Add up to 1 tbsp of mixed vegetables per 2lbs of body weight. Spread the total amount fed over the entire day. For example, give them a 1/3 in the morning, 1/3 in the afternoon and 1/3 of it in the evening. Wash their veggies, and remove seeds, pits, and stones. Other treats can be given a few times a week. Avoid whole seeds, excessive amounts of sugars or fats, and dairy products. If a vegetable or treat causes digestive issues, discontinue its use.

Some supplements that can be provided to your rabbit, if an issue should arise and as they age, include joint support, urinary tract support and skin and coat supplements.

It is important to know that rabbits eat some of their own poop, called cecotropes. Cecotropes, or “night droppings”, are softer, pasty, and darker than normal poop pellets. Don’t confuse them with diarrhea. Rabbits typically eat the cecotropes poops overnight. It is NORMAL NECESSARY and a GOOD THING. Lastly, guinea pigs poop as much as 200-300 times a day!

Habitat Maintenance & Care for Your Rabbit

Pet rabbits require attention and care every day. You will need to:

  • Provide fresh food, hay and water daily.
  • Spot clean their bedding daily or change it a minimum of once every 2-3 days.
  • Wash dishes and bottles once a week or more if necessary.
  • Clean the cage itself at least once a week with pet friendly disinfectant.
  • Replace toys and chews as needed.

Grooming Your Rabbit

Brush and remove loose hair that can cause hair balls. Inspect them for bumps, and scratches. Brush long-haired breeds daily and short haired weekly. Trim sanitary area of long-haired breeds every 2-3 weeks. Do not bathe unless medically necessary. Small pet wipes are best as a stress-free, dry bath if need be.

Trim their claws with a small pet nail clipper and clean their ears every month or as necessary. As mentioned previously, a rabbits’ teeth never stop growing. Overgrown teeth are painful and can cause loss of appetite, drooling & weight loss. Provide required wooden and other chews to keep their teeth worn down and healthy. 

Enrichment for Your Rabbit

Enrichment, exercise, and fun are required! Provide toys, chews, and mats to encourage natural behaviors essential to a rabbit’s health and happiness.

Give your rabbit access to a “play” area. Create different levels for them to enjoy jumping on and provide tunnels for them to run through or hide in. Rabbit-proof wires, carpet and baseboards in your home to protect from their chewing.

Can't rabbit-proof a room? Set up a pet playpen with a cover. Put them in there a few hours a day and make sure they have access to water, hay, food, and their toys.

Bringing Your Rabbit Home

Allow your rabbit time to get used to their new surroundings. Put their cage in a quiet area for the first few weeks and limit handling for the first 2-3 days.

We recommend that all rabbits younger than three months of age be given only water and hay for the first 2-3 days, then introduce pellets. Avoid giving them treats at first, feeding only hay and pellets for at least the first few weeks. Check on them often for signs of illness such as lack of appetite or loose poop. Their eyes, ears, and nose should be free and clear of any discharge. Treat any sign of illness immediately.

Very commonly, the stress of bringing a new rabbit home can cause an upset stomach or affect their pooping in 1 of 2 ways. They will have loose poop (diarrhea) or they may not poop at all (GI stasis). You must act immediately.

1. Stop feeding pelleted food and continue to provide unlimited hay and water.
2. Provide herbivore critical care and benebac. Follow instructions on the products.
3. Encourage exercise in an open area to help expel gas.
4. Monitor closely. If poop is loose or no poop after 8-12 hours, seek veterinarian care.

Handling Your Rabbit

Wash your hands with warm, soapy water before and after handling any pet animal. Help prevent the spread of germs and prevent accidental bites by washing away smells that may entice them (like if you recently handled food or treats).

Handle your rabbit with easy, calm movements; loud noises and quick movements can startle these animals. Any animal, even a friendly one, will bite or scratch if it feels threatened. To pick up your rabbit, grasp it firmly between its front legs with one hand and slide the other hand under its back feet, bringing the animal to your chest quickly.

If your rabbit falls or is dropped, they can become seriously injured. They should be seen by a vet, as not all injuries are visible to the naked eye.

If you are selecting a pet for a young child, rabbits may not prefer to be handled like some other pets. Young children should always be supervised by parents when interacting with their pet. Not only are these animals fragile, but they can, if frightened, bite or scratch. Parents are encouraged to handle the animals first to get them used to contact and to teach children the proper way to hold or carry their pet.

Rabbit Care Summary

1. Provide a large cage with hides and a playpen for exercise
2. Provide unlimited fresh clean water.
3. Provide unlimited timothy hay 24/7/365. (70% of diet)
4. Provide a balanced rabbit pellet food. (20% of diet)
5. Provide fresh greens daily. (8-10% of diet)
6. Provide a chew for good teeth health.
7. Provide clean, fresh, dry, paper bedding every few days or daily if necessary.
8. Handle carefully on or near the floor for lots of supervised daily exercise.
9. Provide a brushing weekly and nail trimming monthly.
10. Provide love, care, and company. Rabbits are social. They like having a friend.

Thank you for taking the time to learn about your new family member. We recommend having a veterinarian check-up soon after you bring your new pet home. It is helpful to keep a medical record about your pet should an emergency ever occur.

Pet care is always evolving & changing- if you have any questions or concerns, please contact our small animal department at 717-299-5691 ext. 1274 or