Rabbits’ needs are different from cats, dogs, and other pets, and you can spend a small fortune stocking up on everything your new friend needs. However, if money is tight, you can make due with a lot less if you’re careful and creative: find a used pen on Craigslist; make toys instead of buying them; use old sheets and towels rather than expensive mats; use shredded paper instead of store-bought litter. You can stock up on the more expensive items over a period of time.
Here is an overview of the bunny supplies you’ll need.
- Cage and or x-pen: The cage should have a solid or thickly slatted base, because wire floors will cut into your bunny’s delicate feet and can cause serious damage. At a minimum, the cage should be tall enough for your rabbit to stand up tall, as well as wide enough for him to hop a couple of times. If your rabbit spends a lot of time out of the cage, the cage need not be huge, though the larger it is, the better off and happier your bunny will be. Top openings are good when you need to lift out your bunny, and side doors can be left open for the rabbit to hop in and out when loose. A 3″ lip at the base will help keep hay and pellets from falling out of the cage. We love exercise pens (x-pens), because you can make them larger or smaller, shape them to fit unusual areas, and collapse them for easy storage. A linoleum remnant from the hardware store makes a great floor covering, and an old sheet can be clothes-pinned over the top to keep the bunny from hopping over and escaping.
- Water bottle or crock: We recommend crocks, because though water bottles take up less floor space than crocks, they’re more difficult to keep clean. On the other hand, some rabbits like to toss their toys into their water bowls (presumable to make soup or marinade), which may ruin the toy and/or foul the water. In this case, you might prefer the water bottle. Bunnies also enjoy throwing their crocks, so if you do get one, make it a heavy one.
- Food crock: It should be heavy enough so your bunny can’t throw it!
- Hay rack: Some people like to hang a hay rack over the litter box, though we’ve found that rabbits usually just pull all the hay out, making the rack unnecessary. It’s up to you.
- Plastic litter box: Get the largest size that will fit in the cage or pen, and make sure it’s big enough for your rabbit to get his whole body in comfortably. You want your rabbit to enjoy hanging out there, so it should be big enough for him to lie down inside it.
- Litter, such as Carefresh or Cat Country: Bunnies nibble on everything, including their litter, so it must be digestible. You will need something made from paper products, wheat grass, or other edible components. Clumping litters will clump in their bellies and kill them. Clay litters won’t work, either. Experts disagree about which wood litters are ok for rabbits, so we recommend staying away from all types of wood litters, too.
- Pet carrier: A cardboard box will work in a pinch, though you’ll want something nicer eventually. We like carriers with hard plastic sides that won’t collapse on the rabbit, and we suggest that you make sure you can open and close the carrier easily and firmly. Top openings make it easier to get the bunny out of the carrier, and side openings are easier to get the bunny to hop in.
- Timothy pellets for adults; alfalfa pellets for babies and aged bunnies who can’t keep their weight up. Just look at the first ingredient on the packaging to see whether it’s timothy or alfalfa. don’t get the food with the extra nuts, seeds, dried bananas, and such; they’ll just go directly to his butt. Straight pellets are the best. You won’t need a big bag, either, unless you’ve got babies, because adults get only and 1/8 cup or so, a couple of times a day.
- Unlimited grass hay: timothy, oat, orchard grass, brome. The hay sold in pet stores is high quality, but very expensive, and you want to give your rabbit all the hay he can eat, so grab a big plastic bag and find a feed store or horse barn that will sel you flakes of hay for a few bucks each. Get lots, because hay will make up most of your bunny’s diet, and you don’t want to skimp. Again, don’t get alfalfa unless you have babies or an older rabbit who can’t keep his weight up. Alfalfa’s got too many calories and too much calcium to be anything but a treat for most rabbits.
- Fresh vegetables: See attached list
- White vinegar (diluted with water 3:1)
- Spray bottle
- Scrub brush
- Comb or brush
- Nail clippers, though you may prefer to have the vet do it.
- Styptic powder, if you’re doing the nails, yourself.