Q: My daughter is getting two rabbits, and she wants to keep them in a cage in her bedroom and train them to use a litter box. My husband wants to build a hutch outside. What do you advise?
A: Your daughter has done her homework. Rabbits thrive with proper care and attention, providing quiet companionship punctuated by periods of delightful silliness. They can and do use a litter box, and indoor living is safest and best for them.
Visit the website of the House Rabbit Society (rabbit.org) for the best information on caring for rabbits. These tips will get you started:
Housing. Rabbits need a small indoor pen or large cage containing food, water, toys and a litter box. Fill a plain cat litter box with a shallow layer of recycled paper or wood pellets covered with a layer of fresh grass hay. Change it completely, every day. Broken woven baskets, cardboard boxes and other items make good chew toys.
Nutrition. Bunnies need fresh water available at all times. While commercial pellets are fine, it's just as easy and often less expensive to feed your rabbits yourself. Grass hay (cheaper by the bale, if you have a dry space to store it) should always be available, complemented by green vegetables such as bok choy, broccoli greens, kale, mustard greens, romaine lettuce and carrot tops.
Health care. Get your rabbit spayed or neutered. In addition to keeping your rabbit from reproducing, you'll have a better pet. Unaltered rabbits can have behavior problems such as aggression and urine spraying. Your rabbit will also need a wellness check, just as a cat or dog would, and a good rabbit vet will help you catch little health problems before they become big ones.
Do you have a pet question? Send it to email@example.com or visit Facebook.com/DrMartyBecker.