Things you need before adopting a rabbit - BC SPCA
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Things you need before adopting a rabbit

July 11, 2023

Before adopting a rabbit, it is important to know the amount of effort and work that goes into these furry friends on a daily basis. Regular care, attention and enrichment is key to a rabbit’s life, so read below on all the items you’ll need!

Space & Enclosures

Rabbits need lots of space to roam and explore either in a large, fenced area or a free-roam, in-home lifestyle. This is key to their happiness and comfort as regular exercise helps your rabbit enjoy the space they live in.

You’ll need a large enclosed ‘playpen’ style set up with collapsible fencing that is high enough to prevent your rabbit from jumping over. There should be  enough space for the rabbit to run around and it should include hiding areas, water and a litter box. For free roaming rabbits, it’s a good idea to have fencing if there are areas (like the front door) that you don’t want your rabbit to have access to and possibly escape.

Rabbits need soft surfaces to roam on, so placing softer rugs (without large loops so they don’t get their nails caught) or softer mats around your home or enclosure is important. Some rabbits like to dig or chew carpets, so a lower pile rug is a great option.

  • Free standing collapsible fence.
  • Soft mats or lower pile rugs

Litter box

An open top cat litter box is a great option, as again they need room to both go to the bathroom and munch on hay. The larger sized ones are more efficient because they don’t get full quickly, so you can change the litter every couple of days and it gives the rabbit enough space to be able to fully turnaround.

The best options for litter bedding are either paper pellets or wood pellets. These soak up the smell of rabbit urine, aren’t full of dust and are easy to remove.

Fill the litter box with 2-3 inches of bedding and then add a lot of grass hay in a feeder or at one end of the litter box. Rabbits eat most of their hay in the litter box, so it’s important to always have hay there; it should be refreshed two to three times a day.

  • Cat-style litter box – no lid
  • Litter bedding
  • Hay (Timothy, Orchard)

Food, Water & Treats


Rabbits eat a diet that is 80% (or more) hay. The most common hay for rabbits is Timothy hay, but some enjoy orchard or other grass hays. Having a large bag of hay around at all times is important, as you’ll be topping up their feeders a few times a day.

Hay is eaten in their litter box and can be spread in various ways around their space. Either simply in a small toilet paper roll, or a fun, safe hay feeder. Most pet supply stores carry bags of Timothy hay, or you can search a local rabbit group to find out different sources. Just make sure it’s grass hay as alfalfa isn’t suitable for most adult rabbits. Different hays are also good to help keep rabbits from getting picky, and it gives them a variety of tastes and textures.


Rabbits only need a small amount of pellets a day (5% of their diet) – one-quarter cup per six pounds of body weight of good quality rabbits pellets is recommended. There are pellets for adult rabbits and young rabbits in most pet supply stores. Rabbit owners can also wean their pet off pellets if they need to for health reasons and as advised by their rabbit-savvy vet.


Vegetables are also a smaller but important part of a rabbit’s diet. They should make up ten per cent of their diet per day or around one cup per four pounds of body weight. Leafy greens are the best option for a rabbit and provide nutrients and extra hydration (never give a rabbit iceberg lettuce). Keep green lettuce, romaine lettuce, carrot tops, parsley or other simple greens on hand to add to your rabbit’s meal.

  • Timothy and/or orchard hay
  • Pellets
  • Leafy greens


Drinking water is best offered in a heavy, low ceramic dish, like dogs or cats, so they can easily access the water and it can’t be tipped over.

  •  Ceramic water bowl


There are a variety of treats for rabbits, both fresh and dried. Rabbit owners must treat sugary vegetables or fruits as treats and only give them in small amounts. A teaspoon of low sugar fruit per day is a good idea. Strawberries, blueberries, bananas are great options. Similarly, veggies like carrots are high in sugar and should be treated the same as most low sugar fruits.
Dried treats that have healthy ingredients and are approved by your veterinarian are a fun way to train or add to toys for enrichment.

  • Fresh berries
  • Veggies
  • Dried hay treats – on advice from your veterinarian

Clean-up and care

Rabbits require a good amount of clean-up and care, so having some efficient ways to attack the mess is important.

Daily clean-up

To help with dust or allergies, have a bin to store your hay in an enclosed dry area. This helps with allergies and the hay mess that can spread into your living area. As well as the hay bin, having a hay and poop-specific garbage bin is a good idea when you are cleaning hay in various spots of your home.

Dustpan and broom – great for cleaning hay easily. Additionally post-sweep, a dust buster is a super great add to pick up extra hay, dust and fur daily. Vacuum the entire space 1-2 times a week for a more intense clean.

For general cleaning of their litter tray (every 1-3 days) or any harder surfaces, white vinegar (mix with part water) into a spray bottle works great. A full wash of their area should be done one to two times a week. (Give your rabbit an enrichment toy or fresh hay in another area to keep them out of the cleaning process!)

Fur clean-up

Rabbit coats do not require cleaning – they are self-cleaning animals (like cats). Some rabbits molt two times a year, and some year-round, so a rabbit brush is an important item to have on hand. This will make sure they do not consume fur when they are grooming themselves and it doesn’t take over your home! *Long-haired rabbits need more attention as their coat will mat easily.

Nail trim

Nail trimming usually needs to be done every four to six weeks as rabbit’s nails can overgrow easily. Depending on the owner’s comfort level and knowledge, a trip to the vet to get your rabbit’s nails trimmed is a good option. Another option is to have a helper hold your rabbit while you trim, understanding exactly where to trim so you don’t clip past the quick. If you are unsure, have your vet review with you.

  • Hay bin
  • Hay/litter garbage bin
  • Dustpan, broom
  • Dust buster
  • Vinegar/water spray bottle
  • Gentle rabbit brush
  • Nail clippers

Boxes and toys

Rabbits need places to hide and relax in. Since they are prey animals and scare easily, they need areas where they can feel comfortable and safe. Reusing larger boxes and cutting out small doors or building mini castles are a fun way to add enrichment to their enclosure or your home space.

Enrichment toys are fun to purchase or make at home. Toys such as cardboard mazes, stacking cups, fabric tunnels and foraging mats can be purchased or even made from general household items, adding fun to your rabbit’s day. Simply put little hay treats in these toys and watch them enjoy!

  • Various size cardboard boxes (tools to add a door)
  • Chew toys, treat mazes, hard plastic baby toys (like key rings, stacking cups)

Love, time and affection

Spending time with your rabbit, especially if they are solo, is part of the responsibility of having a rabbit. With time your rabbit will bond to you and rely on you for companionship, so it’s important you spend time with them daily so they don’t get lonely. Of course, the best way to avoid loneliness is to have two rabbits!

Whether you sit on the floor and pet your rabbit while watching a movie or cleaning up their hay with them bouncing around you – all these things will create a more lasting and loving bond and make your rabbit happy. Some rabbits are on the shy side, so in a lot of cases it takes time for them to be comfortable enough to be pet and cuddled.

  • Time
  • Love
  • Affection

Medical care & sitters

Having a good vet that understands small animals is essential. If you ever find your rabbit isn’t eating or is acting out of the norm, having access to a small animal vet who is well-versed in rabbit issues is key.

We all go on vacation but with small animals it is hard sometimes to find the right person to care for our rabbit. Depending on your rabbit’s temperament, the options will vary. You can either have someone stay at your home or you can board your rabbit. Do your due diligence when searching for the best option and always try to get a referral.

  • Small animal vet
  • Rabbit sitter

If all this sounds good to you, visit our adoption site to take a look at the rabbits we have available.

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