Info on Rabbits

Info on Rabbits: Answers to many frequently asked questions about rabbits in general. There might be some rabbit information here that you need to know.

Occasionally we get specific questions from visitors about rabbits. Here are some of these questions and answers, which we think might help others as well.

For questions about pregnant does, baby bunnies or giving birth, please see the Info page on rabbits and bunnies.

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

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Q: "Do rabbit noses ever get tired?"

Answer: Great question! No, we don’t think a rabbit’s nose gets tired, because the rabbit gets a lot of chances to give it a rest. The rabbit wiggles its nose a lot while it is on alert. But when it is in its cage or burrow, and resting, the nose is at rest as well.

Q: "How long do rabbits in captivity usually live?"

Answer: I take it that the operative word here is 'usually.' Rabbits are already approaching "middle-age" by 3 years of age. Pet rabbits usually live to 4-7 years. Some may live to be 10 years of age. Then there are the rare reports of rabbits living to 14 years old or more. I can count on one hand the number of 14-year-old rabbits I've heard about.

Q: "I need an easy guide to caring for a rabbit"

Answer: Maybe our Rabbit Care Checklist will help? Plus the pages of helps make caring for rabbits a lot easier than it used to be.

See also Rabbit Raising Problem Solver, a 300+ page question and answer book on everything about taking care of both pet rabbits and livestock rabbits.

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Q: Bunny Fur: "When does rabbit fur start coming in?"

Answer: Kits are born furless, and the fur starts growing immediately. By 7 days the kit can keep itself warm in all but the very coldest of temperatures. By 4-5 weeks, the first baby-coat should be fully grown, and by 6-7 weeks, it is already beginning to molt out in favor of the first junior coat.

Q: Carnivore: "Can rabbits be carnivores?"

Answer: No, according to our info on rabbits. Rabbits are herbivores. That means no meat. That said, I’ve heard a report or two of rabbits eating carrion. This may take place in the dead of winter in the wild when food sources are scarce.

Q: Carrying Hay: "My rabbit is carrying hay around the hutch in its mouth."

Answer: Uh oh... This could mean one of two things:

  • Your rabbit is pregnant and wanting to build a nest (see Pregnant Rabbit)
  • Your rabbit only thinks it is pregnant - it’s in the middle of a false pregnancy.

If this is simply a false pregnancy, her hormones will settle down soon, and she will return to normal according to our info on rabbits. But, if you at all think there’s any possibility of a pregnancy, now is when your rabbit could use a rabbit nest.

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Q: Cecotropes: "I need to know cecotrope sources..."

Answer: Cecotropes come from the hind end of rabbits. If you need cecotropes for bunnies or sick rabbits, whether wild or domestic, you can collect them from healthy rabbits. If necessary, you can forego the cecotropes, and use Bene-bac. Bene-bac can supply the friendly bacteria that can help restore the correct bacterial flora for rabbit health. Learn more info on rabbits and cecotropes at Feeding Wild Rabbits.

Q: Diarrhea: "Is my baby rabbit dying? It has diarrhea -- how can I take care of it?"

Answer: I’m so sorry. Rabbit diarrhea (enterotoxemia) in baby rabbits can become fatal. It needs veterinarian care right now, but the chance is good it might die before you get there, if our info on rabbits is good.

At Aurora Rex Ranch, if a mild bunny diarrhea strikes our recently weaned bunnies, we immediately remove all pellets and food. We give only grass or timothy hay, all they want, and all the water they can drink. The loose stools pass in 24 hours usually. (Because we don’t do much bunny-heroics, we have developed a herd of very healthy rabbits.)

For answers about medicating your baby rabbit, please consult with your rabbit-savvy vet.

Q: Droppings: "Do rabbits have more than one kind of droppings?"

Rabbit cecotropes

Answer: Yes. They drop their usual ‘marbles,’ the hard, round rabbit-feces. But they also pass what are known as "night-droppings" or more properly, cecotropes (pictured here. See Cecotropes, above). These are soft, mushy, raspberry-resembling clusters that are longer than they are wide.

Despite coming out the rectum, these should not be thought of as feces, but more as vitamins. Rabbits eat cecotropes directly from their hind end, getting lots and lots of additional vitamins and minerals. This allows it to thrive on poor forages in many kinds of environments. There's more info on rabbits' cecotropes, including pictures, at Feeding Rabbits.

Q: Eating rabbits: "Our cat kills and eats raw rabbits!"

Answer: I know that might be horrifying to you, but in all honesty, your cat is simply being a cat.  Cats are "obligate carnivores," meaning they should always be killing and eating raw meat. Rabbits are actually the perfect menu item for a cat - rabbits give carnivores a perfect dietary balance between meat, bones, and organs. See Raw Cat Food.

Q: Eating rabbits: "Can eating rabbits make a dog ill?"

Answer: Well, are the rabbits in question wild or domestic?? Eating rabbits raw by itself will make your dog healthier, according to our info on rabbits. But, if the rabbit is wild and sick, say, from tularemia, myxomatosis, or coccidiosis, then perhaps it could make your dog ill. See Raw Dog Food. See also Rabbit Diseases.

Q: Furniture: "Do rabbits eat furniture?"

Info on Rabbits Answer: You betcha! They don’t mean to be destructive, but the drive to chew is hard-wired into their DNA.  If you let your rabbit roam the house, be sure to protect the furniture legs, and supervise the rabbit closely until it learns proper rabbit etiquette in your home. See Pet Rabbits for more info on rabbits and furniture.

Q: Genetics: "Do rabbits take after mostly the dam genes or the sire genes?"

Answer: Rabbits get exactly half of their genes from each parent. The process is completely random, and always 50-50.  But, maybe you’ve noticed that some bunnies look more like one parent than the other. This is because some colors and traits are dominant and some are recessive. If one parent has a recessive color, and the other parent has a dominant color, the bunnies might all look like the parent with the dominant color.

But, they still got half of their genes from both parents. Get more info at rabbit genetics.

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Q: Meat rabbits: "Can you raise meat rabbits indoors?"

Info on Rabbits Answer: Yes, of course. Wherever you can set up a hutch or cage will work. The only thing is: if you let the droppings and urine pile up for very long in an enclosed space, the ammonia odors will damage the rabbit’s lungs, they’ll get sick, and then possibly die.

So yes, you can raise meat rabbits indoors, as long as you are prepared for daily cleaning and carrying the manure outside to the garden or compost pile.

Q: Pasteurella: "Does pasteurella kill rabbits?"

Answer: Yes, it can. Rabbits seem to be very susceptible to the germ Pasteurella multocida. Pasteurellosis drains the immune system, and if the rabbit doesn’t die from snuffles (pasteurellosis caused by P. multocida), it can die from related or opportunistic infections, such as pneumonia or staph infections. In our opinion, rabbits with chronic yellow or white snot are candidates for humane euthanization.

Q: Pet Store: "What should I know about raising bunnies from a pet store?"

Info on Rabbits Answer: Don’t assume pet store bunnies come from "rabbit-mills." They don’t. The vast majority of the time they come from reputable breeders. But, there's always a chance that pet store bunnies (and rescue bunnies) might not be healthy if you aren't personally familiar with the rabbit's breeder.

Some of the best advice on this Info for Rabbits page is - check for health issues before you purchase a bunny from a pet store - or any other source.

  • Make sure the top rabbit teeth overlap the bottom teeth
  • Make sure the nose is completely dry (if the weather is cool - noses can get damp in very hot weather). Make sure there are no snotty mats on the front forearms
  • Make sure that the bottom is completely clean (no sign of rabbit diarrhea

By NOT buying a sick bunny, whether from a pet store, rescue organization, friend or breeder, you’ll save yourself a lot of headache and many dollars further down the road. 

Raising pet store bunnies is no different than raising any rabbit, as long as you have acquired a healthy rabbit. 

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Q: Plants: "Plants for outdoor rabbit hutch to repel flies"

Answer: If this isn’t a typo for ‘plans,’ then the news is not good. Flies don’t care a bit about plants, according to our info on rabbits, and they love the rabbit manure. The best way to be rid of flies is to remove the manure on a daily or near-daily basis. The best outdoor rabbit hutch plan would be one with longer legs, giving you more room to maneuver around and under the hutch as you shovel, pitchfork and rake. Allow enough room to get a wheelbarrow within shovel distance.

Another very good idea is to raise worms directly under the cages. The worms will digest the droppings quickly, reducing both odor and flies.

A third excellent fly solution is Fly Predators. Fly predators destroy fly eggs; your fly population plummets within 2 months.

Q: Rabbit types: "What about mating bunnies of different types?"

Answer: It all depends on why you’re doing the breeding. If it’s for fun, it will be safer if the doe is the bigger of the two rabbits. And, it would be good to have homes ready for the offspring before making the breeding, unless there is no chance the babies will end up in rabbit shelters.

Meat breeders sometimes breed together different breeds of rabbits, such as New Zealands and Californians, but they do this carefully, knowing ahead of time what to expect. If they were to breed willy-nilly, they likely would not get the kind of meat rabbits they were hoping for.

Show breeders definitely stay away from mixing and matching rabbits.

Broken French Lop show rabbitFrench Lop Show Rabbit

Q: Show: "Can you show a rabbit after you breed it?"

Answer: Yes, as long as the rabbit has regained her conditioning and her mammary glands have shrunk to normal. See Conditioning Rabbits for Show for more info on rabbits and showing.

Q: Show: "How to raise rabbits for show"

Answer: You raise show rabbits the same as other rabbits, except you start with excellent quality rabbits. You pay more attention to keeping the rabbit in excellent condition. About a month before a show, you might want to top off the show rabbits’ feed with a special blend of conditioning mix. You’ll find an excellent recipe at Conditioning Rabbits for Show.

If you've purchased the best quality rabbits you can afford but they aren't winning on the show table, getting the opinions of several rabbit judges (by entering shows) will help you identify where the weaknesses are in your rabbits. You can then selectively breed to strengthen the weak points. You can also befriend a top quality breeder of your chosen breed, get pointers and info on rabbits from this breeder, and ultimately, when you can afford to, purchase a rabbit from this breeder that is strong in the qualities your rabbits need. This will speed your progress tremendously.

Pamper your rabbit's fluffy feet with chew-safe Resting Mats

Q: Snore: "Is it normal for dwarf rabbits to snore while they sleep?"

Answer: No, snoring is not normal at all. Without knowing the situation, I’m guessing that your bunny might be sick with snuffles, or worse, pneumonia. If so, you might want to take it (soon) to a rabbit-savvy vet.

Q: Teeth: "Can you breed off a rabbit with genetics in its teeth?"

Answer: Let’s think this out:  Bad rabbit teeth (buck teeth, or malocclusion) can be caused by pulling the teeth on cage wire. But more frequently (and since the question specified 'genetics'), bad rabbit teeth is a complicated, recessive genetic trait according to our genetic info on rabbits. Therefore, it takes two rabbits - a sire and a dam, both of which carry at least one bad-tooth gene, to make a rabbit that has bad rabbit teeth. Which means that if you breed a buck-toothed rabbit, EVERY ONE OF ITS BABIES will get at least one bad-tooth gene. And if the mate has a recessive bad-tooth gene, then half the babies will have bad teeth. Is that what you want for your bunnies?

Learn about the mechanism behind inheriting recessive problems at Autosomal Recessive Disorders.

I’d be sorry to hear that someone would purposefully breed a rabbit with buck teeth. To pass on malocclusion (buck teeth) to baby bunnies is really a bit of a heartless thing to do.  Better to enjoy it as a pet, and locate a completely healthy rabbit to use for breeding.

(Honest and reputable rabbit breeders put rabbits with bad teeth out of circulation, and don't sell them to anyone.)

Rabbits Need  to Chew - Get Them Apple Infused Chew Stix.

Q: "Why does my pet rabbit scratch at the corners of her cage?"

Answer: Rabbits like to dig. It might be trying to dig a burrow. Not to worry, once it learns that the wire is too strong, it’ll chill out. 

BUT: if your rabbit is a female, scratching could be a big clue to a pregnancy. Discover all 5 big clues at Pregnant Rabbit.

Find even more answers and info on rabbits, bunnies and pregnant rabbits at Info on Rabbits and Bunnies.

Seems like there's always another angle of info on rabbits that can be considered.

That's why Karen wrote Rabbit Raising Problem Solver, published by Storey Publishing. I hope it helps you!

Questions and comments from other visitors

Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...

Rabbit Missing Bottom Teeth 
I have a DWARF/LIONHEAD rabbit, he is about 3 years old. He has no bottom front teeth so I have to get his top front teeth clipped at least once a month …

Rabbit Cage Location 
We want put the cage under our elevated deck,(8' above grade), will there be enough sunshine for the rabbit. Do they require direct sunlight? Jerry …

Winter living for wild cottontails 
Recently I found a little bunny living in my outdoor patio and have been feeding it greens and carrots. Wondering how it will survive the winter outside? …

Unpleasant Rabbit Behavior 
My dwarf bunny won't stop peeing and pooping on my bed. He knows how to jump onto my bed now and sometimes when I'm not looking he'll jump up and I'll …

"Nesting" type behaviour in male rabbit?? Help! 
My 1 yr old 'male' rabbit is scratching vigorously at his cage floor and gathering up mouthfuls of hay and seems quite frantic. he wont let go of the hay …

[Rascal & Smudge, the story of the inbred] 
I got my rabbits about a month ago.. I was told they were two boys aged around 4 months, I got them from Pets at Home in Scotland. I named them Rascal …

My rabbits back legs are all of a sudden not working well 
I have a mini Rex and her back legs have all of a sudden lost strength. She drags them around her bunny run, and doesn't move very fast. She's only a …

My mom and dad decided it would be okay for me to breed rabbits. And like the person I am I did research. But I'm not sure about when you can breed a doe …

How much water should a rabbit drink in 24 hours? 
How much water does the average rabbit (4 lbs.) drink in a day? Is it a sign of illness if they drink 32 oz. or more in 24 hours? ** **

Is a loud environment ok for a bunny? 
I want to get a pet rabbit, but my roommates are ALWAYS arguing/yelling (pretty much everyday) and I know rabbits are kinda skittish. Would it be ok to …

Do rabbits need shots? 
Do rabbits/bunnies need shots? If so what kind? Rabbits and bunnies don't need shots of any kind in the United States. Shots might be available …

Can you get sick from the ammonia in your rabbit's urine?  
I clean my rabbit's cage every 3 days but I went away and the person taking care of him only fed him and gave him water. I got home late so I fell asleep …

Roger the Bunny Not rated yet
Yesterday my husband adopted a little blue-grey and white bunny but of course he didn't bother to find out how old he is or anything. It doesn’t seem that …

Hyperactive Female Rabbit Not rated yet
We have a male and female (both neutered). The female had 2 female babies who are now almost 4 months old. We want to have all 4 of them living together …

My Rex has a huge change of habit Not rated yet
Hello, my Rex bunny Mittens is a female I bought from a pet store in August. Her approximate age was 4-5 months. It's now November, her litter box use …

Keeping a rabbit healthy Not rated yet
Is it normal for a rabbit to rest a lot and to lay in his litter box? How do I know if they are getting enough vitamins? And how often can I give pellets …

Lazy Bunny Not rated yet
Is it normal for a 7 week old Netherland Dwarf bunny to be constantly resting? I hear they are curious animals but mine just seems to always be tired, …

Rabbit Environment - Managing temperature Not rated yet
In Texas heat, I use frozen bottles of water to keep our lactating momma cool and comfy. She loves them and will lick as well as lay along side them. …

Very Old Rabbit Not rated yet
My Rabbit will be 11 in December and the vet says she is healthy (as much as she can be for her age). My question is what can I do to make sure she is …

Terrified New Pet Bunny Rabbit Not rated yet
I just got a month-old bunny for my daughter and have no idea where to begin. But for now I got him in my bathroom and he is messing all over the place. …

Do rabbits need baths Not rated yet
Does a rabbit need a bath? Glad you asked. The short answer is No. Here's the explanation: Rabbits are meticulous cleaners, will keep their coats …

A rabbit has how many teeth  Not rated yet
Do rabbits have more teeth than a carnivore has? No, rabbits, which are herbivores, have less teeth than carnivores. Rabbits have 28 teeth: …

(The ability to post questions to this page, Info on Rabbits, has been temporarily suspended, however you can still comment on any of the posts above.)

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