Our New Year’s resolutions often focus on bettering ourselves, but what about ones that might benefit your rabbit companion? Just as life changes for us and we must adjust, rabbits’ lives change due to aging, relocation, health, weather, bonding and many other factors. We might want to think about what resolutions we can make for our bunnies to keep them healthy and happy. And, we might find, our resolutions are not the ones they had in mind:
(Sorry guys, minor revisions....)
The Easy Ones
There are many easy resolutions you can make that have a high probability of success, including:
Feeding your bun healthy hay and hay-based pellets and treats. No yogurt drops and no sugary treats, except appropriate fruit that is no more than a teaspoon per day. Treats can be very dense so give them in moderation to avoid weight gain.
More freedom! Freedom promotes health and joy in our rabbits. If they are not already free-roam in the house, be sure to let them out of their enclosure at night and in the morning so they can get at least 3 hours of running around time. It is good for their gut, their muscles and their mind.
Sitting on the floor and playing with them during exercise time. It will help you bond with your companions and allow you a closer look at them to check their health and determine any needs for care beyond food and water.
Researching the right greens for your specific rabbit. My buns get green leaf lettuce only because they have bladder sludge. No herbs because of too much calcium. Know what is right for your bun’s tum.
Extra pats on the head, extra time on the floor, talking to them when you are home. All these things make them comfortable in their home and closer to you.
The Hard Ones
Some of these resolutions can cost money. If you can’t do them, seek help from your local rescue, vet, ASPCA or animal shelter.
Get them spayed or neutered. Contact us if you need information about lower cost programs. It is important for their health and yours. If they are altered, you will have a well-trained litter box bunny that will live much longer and be better behaved.
Get them vaccinated against RHDV immediately. If you let your rabbit out of the house or do not protect the inside of your home from the disease by having people take off their shoes, you need to do this now. This website provides a list of vets with the vaccine by state.
Learn how to execute biosecurity in your home right now. The virus has been found in PA, NJ, NY – and across the US -- it’s here and you need a plan. Washing hands and clothes after being outside, keeping outdoor animals away from house rabbits unless they are vaccinated, and always take your shoes off outside the house. The virus can live on surfaces for days.
The Best Friendship Resolutions
Spend more time with your rabbit. Whatever way they are comfortable.
If that means sitting on the floor or in an accessible chair and letting them hop around you, that’s great. They will learn your smell and that it is a safe smell to approach.
Find a toy they like and you play with it first. They will catch on quickly and then you can watch them have fun. Joy will equal joy for both parties.
Make finding treats a game using treat puzzles, treat balls, and so on. Don’t just hand it to them. This makes treat time into play time.
Allow time for patting and snuggling if they like it. On the lap or in the arms, some rabbits fall asleep while others want nothing to do with being picked up. But if they do, please do.
My Resolution for My Three Rabbit Companions in 2024
To be more attentive to the changes in their behavior so I can identify discomfort or happiness quicker and act accordingly.
Our six-year-old little Lena has problems with cecal deposits. It can be messy to clean up. But if I watch her diet, supplement her gut with balancing organisms and make sure not to shame her when she has an accident, we’ll get through it.
Always be looking for new padding, new materials, new houses and new bowls that help them live their best lives as junior or senior rabbits.
Wishing everyone in our Safe Haven Rabbit Rescue community
a Happy New Year and better bonding with your buns.