Preparing for Your New Bunny
Transitioning Your New English Angora Bunny Rabbit To Its New Home
The first seven days and even weeks can be confusing for you and your bunny.
Learning what to expect and what your bunny needs this first week can help ease your worries.
Here is our top 10 list of what you need to prepare for your new bunny.
Making sure you have safe housing for your bunny that will allow enough room for hopping and relaxing. English Angoras are not small bunnies. They may be a medium breed but with all that hair, they can look fairly large! Imagine what a 7 pound fluffy dog looks like and go from there.
Don’t underestimate the space you need for a bunny. Some hutches are so cute, but so tiny! The average size hutch we have used is 30”x 36” and these are the smallest cages. The hand crafted cages all had shelves in them for the bunnies to hop up on and they loved them! However, note that some rabbits will go to the bathroom on a shelf and that is not good for them to sit in! For those bunnies, we removed the shelves and eliminated that problem. Another thing we tried that works wonderful is to add a litter box.
You can visit Our Rabbitry and see pictures of our different cages we have used. One of the cages we are currently using is called Wabbitat by Midwest.
- The things I do not like about these cages is that they are not tall enough for shelves and the trays are too close to the grated floor. The trays are more flimsy and very shallow as well. After a few winters in a non climate controlled environment, they seem to easily crack or break.
- We use U-posts to stack them and move the trays further from the floor which works much better for us. If we did not do this, we would need to clean the trays every two days. With them attached to the U-posts, we can clean trays every 5-7 days depending on if there are single bunnies or an entire litter in the cage.
- The Wabbitat cage does not supply you with enough urine guards for each cage and we have had lots of urine spray out as well.
- Last, it is not an ideal cage for kindling in. There is no baby saver wire in these cages. If you do not breed, they will work fine. However, with all the baby bunnies we produce here at CBB, we need safe cages for our baby bunnies. These have been the easiest to clean and have definitely served their purpose while we finish construction on our new Binky Barn. Our remedy is to shelve bunnies until they are bigger and do not injure themselves by falling out of these hutches.
Just remember, if you use a hutch or cage that has a tray to be emptied, keep a close eye on how often it needs to be cleaned. Rabbits soil the same areas daily so it can build up in one spot very quickly and make it difficult to pull the tray out without making a mess. Do NOT use wood shavings for angora rabbits as bedding or to sit in. This must be mentioned multiple times so no one misses it. You will cause stress to your rabbit when you have to pick out hundreds of pine shavings from their wool.
Bunnies LOVE hopping. They require exercise, so if their cage is smaller than necessary, you will need a safe exercise/play area to let them out daily. Below you can click on photos or links to where you can purchase them. We are Amazon Affiliates and really appreciate you using these links if you are going to purchase anything that we recommend.
Make sure that your bunny has enough space to stretch out completely when resting. Also, if you do not have a solid floor as it is difficult to do this with the angora breed, a shelf or a resting mat is okay for them. We use resting mats in our cages and those work great! Sometimes we use two per cage.
We send transition food home with your bunny and require that you feed it for the first few days THEN start mixing slowly with the new feed. Choose whatever feed you want to feed your bunny. Make sure it is something easily accessed and the store always has it in stock. We have changed our brand of feed a few times because of stores (multiple) not keeping up with our quantity demand. We have fed Nutrena NatureWise 18% for several years now without any complaints. When transitioning off of the feed we send you, do so over a few days by adding more of the new feed and less of the old feed each day.
We use different kinds of feed dishes. My favorite food dishes are feeder bins that hold a good three plus days worth of feed at a time. Some bunnies are stinkers and like to dig their food out so we limit how much we put in theirs each day. So we free feed but a lot of breeders do not do this. So far, we do not have any problem with free feeding. The feeder bins need to be cleaned about every two to three weeks just to make sure they are not harboring any bacteria from any water or urine that gets in it. If you have a rabbit that likes to spray, check these feeders often. Kits like to sit in feeders as they eat so those would need to be cleaned more often as well.
I recommend free feeding if you can when growing out a junior. Why would you limit feed with a bunny that is growing? It is not as important on a senior rabbit but we “free feed” (unlimited pellets) all of our rabbits to know everyone is getting enough to eat. If you find some rabbits overeating, you can address those individually.
Angoras really should be fed an 18% protein pellet. However, you can give enough extra protein in their treats (BOSS) to make up for a lower percentage. We have never noticed a difference in the quality of coat on our fiber rabbits when we did feed a lower protein percentage of feed so this did work for us.
Besides water dishes, we also recommend these Water bottles! Some angora rabbits like to dip their face and feet in the dish and that makes it unsafe for them to keep dry and clean. These rabbits then require a bottle rather than a dish to drink from. We have also included the link to the cleaning brushes for our water bottles.
We generally use water bottles. However, we do live in the midwest where temperatures in the cooler months can drop below freezing. We add a water dish under the water bottles for the freezing days. It is much easier to pop out an ice cube from a dish than it is to thaw out frozen water bottles. It doesn’t stay below freezing here for longer than a day or two normally, we keep the water bottles in the cages (only taken out to clean).
When we are raising a litter of kits, we make sure that there is both a water dish and water bottle with mom and babies. We used to use the Lixit bottles that are no-drip and top fillers so we did not have to remove them to fill. We have found that many of them started leaking. This very well could have something to do with them freezing on the few cold nights we had. I read that they will drip or leak if frozen so we have tossed most of the top fill Lixit bottles now and replaced them with the cheaper water bottles.
Now we have a variety of different types of water bottles. So far, we are not using an automatic water system…YET. This has been by choice because I worried about there being a clog or system malfunction and not knowing it. We clean our water bottles thoroughly every week to two weeks. This all depends on the individual rabbit as well. They are rinsed daily when filled up. However, in our new Binky Barn, we will be using an automatic water system that I will just be checking daily to ensure that they are working properly. We have auto waters for our chicken brooders and quail cages and love them. I do have to check them daily and have found problems, but was able to fix them quickly. We will post more on the auto water system after it is in place and being used.
Keep in mind if you are a breeder with intact working bucks and use stacker cages, we have some bucks that will pee outside the cage. The urine will drip down the water bottle and it must be cleaned daily (the main reason I do not like stacker cages). We wash water dishes a few times a week unless there is urine on them. Urine has a tendency to crystallize and become extremely difficult to wash off unless tended to daily. Make sure your bunny has clean, fresh water at ALL times.
We also highly recommend a small salt and mineral block. Lots of people say that they do not need this. However, most of them love this and you will find it rare for any rabbit to turn its nose up to a salt and mineral block! My only complaint is that the wire it hangs on (comes with the block) can get wet and rust. I replace the wires often with regular wire purchased from our local hardware store when necessary.
We use three different kinds of rabbit treats that are easy to find. BOSS (black oil sunflower seeds), Old fashioned oats (uncooked), and Calf Manna. These are helpful as toppers on their feed when they aren’t eating well. You will find more details on these items in our Bun Shop.
We use a mixture that all of our bunnies get no matter what age. It is BOSS (black oil sunflower seeds), calf manna (for nursing moms) and old fashioned oats (raw). They get a little bit of this every few days in the winter/colder months. We also have bins of these treats that are separated and we give it to our bunnies as we feel necessary.
BOSS stands for Black Oil Sunflower seeds. Make sure when you purchase these, they are not the seeds with a white stripe down the center. BOSS are solid black and the bunnies will eat them shell and all! We also sell these in smaller quantities in our Bun Shop. Stores do sell BOSS but typically in very large quantities and they could go bad if not kept properly.
Watch the bunnies treat intake as they can get too much and become overweight. We are not precise but we try to be careful and watch their weight. If the buns expect these treats, they may stop eating their pellets or dig their feed out and spill (waste it all) it looking for the treat.
We used to give papaya pills (chewables) that we purchase in the vitamin section at WalMart about once a week/one per bunny. This is something they all love but it also is supposed to help prevent wool block. The pills are mostly sugar and we decided this was not the best thing for them when we decided to go a more natural route. Now we make our own “wool block” prevention pills and offer them in our Bun Shop if you want to check them out there!
The oats can be purchased from any grocery store. I buy both the Quaker brand and off brand. As long as they are the old fashioned and NOT the quick oats, they are all the same to the bunnies.
Calf-Manna can both be found at farm supply stores like Tractor Supply and Rural King. We also sell Calf Manna in smaller quantities that do not spoil so quickly in our Bun Shop.
We feed grass hay and it is purchased from a local farm by the bale. We have several rabbits so we buy about 4 bales each month. The hay is very important at all times because it is something for the bunnies to chew on continuously and keeps their GI tract moving. It is not putting weight on them and works as a teeth grinder too.
Bunnies teeth continue to grow so they must have something to gnaw on to file their teeth down. Besides toys, blocks of wood and other things as options, hay works great too! We will feed other types of hay as well but we do not feed Alfalfa hay ever. Alfalfa hay is only okay to feed to rabbits under 6 months of age. If we find ourselves in a bind and running low on hay, we have bought our hay from Tractor Supply in a compressed bale that has been running $20 a bag…so I thought. I did look up the current price and it has increased to $30 a bag so you will have to check on that since I will not update this section any time soon! I want to mention that the compressed bales of hay from tractor supply stores equals a regular square bale amount. There are smaller bags of hay that can be purchased in the small pets area of these types of stores, including Walmart.
It is recommended that you should feed your bunny Timothy hay but it is safe to feed other grass hays like Orchard hay and even peanut hay. Please just refrain from feeding adult rabbits Alfalfa hay. There are lots of other hay options that I haven’t listed as well.
Fruits & Veggies
Bunnies LOVE their fresh food. We provide everything our bunnies need with their pellets and hay daily. However, they absolutely love natural food that was meant for them from the beginning. We are careful in feeding veggies because some of our rabbits will get diarrhea because not everything agrees with their digestive system. Each bunny seems to be a bit different so we do not feed veggies daily. Our bunnies get veggies a few times a week. We only feed what is listed as safe.
Also, it is recommended that you start to introduce veggies no earlier than 6 months of age and only one at a time.
Please read up online about what natural plants rabbits can and cannot have. I have an awesome book that I refer to all of the time when I start to work on my Carrot Patch. It is my rabbit garden. Here are a few pages we found online to help you out with what bunnies can safely eat or not have:
We are never going to stop feeding pellets but I am going to start foraging more for our bunnies to give them a more natural diet. The book I have is called “Beyond the Pellet” and it gives wonderful ideas on plants to grow just for the bunnies!
If your bunny stresses and you catch it not eating its pellets, one of the quickest ways to entice it to eat is by putting it in the yard with grass, clover, plantain, and dandelions at his/her leisure! You will be surprised how fast it will put that in its mouth! Unfortunately the time of year can have a great effect on this option. Some people don’t have it at their fingertips but if you do…it is the best thing! HOWEVER, before you disrupt his new setting, let’s try a few other things first. Do not try all of these things at once. Start with the first option and if that does not do the trick, move on to the next. If none of these options work, then try taking the bunny outside in a safe area, enclosed like a playpen or fenced in the backyard and see if the bun will graze. Watch for large birds of prey flying overhead. Make sure your lawn has not been treated with anything harmful to the bunny.
- Top off feed dish with some oats or sunflower seeds
- Add hay to cage if not done already
- Offer bunny some romaine lettuce, parsley, or cilantro
Google some things that are okay to give your bunny and you will find that there is a lot that you might walk outdoors and find easily. Stay away from gassy foods like light green leafy veggies. The darker the better but always double check to see if it is safe. Same thing for fruits. Our bunnies love apple and willow branches! Dandelion leaves and flowers are absolutely one of the best things for them. If you have none of this available, we have found this product that works awesome for our bunnies and it has dandelions in it. Our bunnies love it and we offer it in our Bun Shop for a better price than below. I have read about others using it when their rabbits won’t eat their feed. It is the Rosewood Naturals “Nature’s Salad”.
Probiotics in the water are nice when transitioning as well. We use Bene-Bac powder and have always had great results but there are several brands out there. Farm stores like Tractor Supply carry probiotics for animals (chickens, goats, etc…) that all work the same.This is a must have in my opinion. It seems to keep really well on the shelf and it is a powder so you have lots to go a long way when needed. Just add to water and change out as directed. This product (Bene-bac) comes in gel form as well.
For adding probiotics to water, it is recommended by our vet to discard it after 8 hours because it will spoil. If you choose to not mess with water or to administer the gel form, there is one other option. We offer a homemade treat that the bunnies love in our Bun Shop, check it out!
Stress That Warrant a Vet Visit
Messy stools, diarrhea, not eating, not drinking, then the obvious signs like not moving or being able to stand, head tilt, loss of proper use of a limb(s). Please include anything that you feel should be a reason to see the vet!
The earlier you catch a problem, the better off your bunny is. If you do not pay attention, the bunny can only go so long before you find yourself with a lifeless bunny.
We are not responsible for the loss of a bunny, but we will do our best to help you out. If you do not pay close attention the first week to two weeks, you won’t know how your bunny is. Just remember this, a bunny can stress and you may not even know it. To make you feel more safe, we highly recommend you keep in touch with us the first 7 days of getting your bunny home and we will guarantee the bunny.
Stress symptoms can show up an entire week after the stressful situation! A good example is bloat which is another thing to be watchful of and read up on. When bunnies cannot pass gas, it builds up to bloat and is a very painful death for a rabbit! Try to avoid this happening by making sure the bunny has food moving through its GI tract!
When a rabbit doesn’t eat, the digestive tract is not moving. This will cause a build up of gas which can lead to bloat. If you notice your bunny has a tight, bigger than normal abdomen, this is a sure sign of bloat and it is in a lot of pain. Grinding teeth is a sign of it being in pain. Please try to have a veterinarian on hand or reachable who is familiar with your bunny so you can rush the bunny to the office immediately if you suspect anything harmful is going on with your rabbit.
- Critical Care is something to always have on hand as well. You never know when you will need it and it has a good shelf life. If you must, force feed to keep the bunny from becoming more sick.
Gripe water and gas relief drops are items that lots of breeders use for symptoms of bloat in bunnies in order to relieve their gas and soothe the tummy. I have used them successfully once. Remember to always discard after use because they both have a short shelf life.
We keep all of our babies together until they leave here for their new homes. Sometimes they are 4 months old already. Once they leave here, it is up to you as to whether you keep them together or separate. If they are pets, we highly suggest bonding them and keeping them together. If they are not going to be altered, then you need to be sure to separate males and females around 4-5 months and up.
- Some bunnies get along great and then one day they wake up and get in a fight. There is no rhyme or reason to this madness other than maturity and hormones. Play it by ear if you need to but always know that there is a chance that they can start fighting. Be very watchful and careful with two males.
- Two bunnies kept together really need to be spayed or neutered before they try to harm each other!
English Angoras do not need bedding. It will only stick to their fur and make for long periods of grooming for you! The best thing you can do if your bunny is not supervised is to give them a fleece blanket. A messy alternative is a big pile of hay. If you use a litter pan, make sure it has a grate on it. In this case you can use horse pellet bedding which is in a link below. This is for a litter pan.
There are some bunnies that can behave and not tear up their bed if you choose to buy an actual pet bed for them. Please supervise them so you know if it needs to be removed before they proceed to eat it! Look for bunny beds in the near future in our Bun Shop!
Litter box Training
Bunnies are pretty easy to train to use a litter box. You don’t want to give them full run of the house and expect they know where to go to the bathroom but if you set them up in an area or hutch with a litter box, put it in the corner and they will use it! We always suggest the kind of litter box with a grate on the top so they keep their body out of the wet and soiled litter. It is always a great idea to put their food and hay above the litter box. Rabbits go to the bathroom while they eat most of the time. This makes it an easy way to train them
This is one of the litter boxes we have. They come in different sizes. We use the large size for our English Angoras.
We have also purchased cheap cat litter boxes that do not have lids on them. We fill them with hay and let the bunnies train by sitting in them while eating their hay. We have had a lot of rabbits that use this strictly as a litter box and we just change out the hay every day.
It works great as well. The hay does not get in the coat and cause problems like pine chips would. We have also used pine pellets and made grates from hardware cloth and bent to fit in the cat litter pans. This works like a charm and is a much cheaper route as well.
A word of caution: (font in a different color or put this section in a box to stand out)
Watch out for predators with your bunnies! Even a pet dog or cat might like to get a hold of your cute bunny and they can hurt them quickly! Outside hutches can be broken into by stray dogs and lots of other wild animals such as opossums and raccoons. Never assume they are 100% safe.
We keep our entire herd inside a closed building. We can open it up during the day to get a nice breeze but always close up at night! Remember, even friendly dogs who love to chase and play, can easily give a rabbit a heart attack from the chase or barking. Stray dogs, coyotes, or foxes will attack rabbit cages and get them open in some cases so it is best to be very cautious of these possibilities.