What are the basics you need when you first bring home a bunny?
Bringing home a new bunny can be a really exciting time, but bunnies aren’t just pets that you put in a hutch and leave outside to play with every now and then. Bunnies are extremely intelligent and loving pets, and with the right care can live up to 12 years, so are a big, but worthwhile commitment. Though they aren’t extremely demanding pets, they do have specific needs and shouldn't just be brought into a home without prior research and appropriate preparation.
I’ve created a checklist covering all the main essentials you need when you first bring home a new bunny, as well as provided some tips and considerations for making your purchases.
1. Pet carrier
A pet carrier is extremely important for bringing home your bunny both safely and comfortably, as well as transporting it to the vet and other destinations. Taking bunnies from their usual environment can be particularly stressful and overwhelming, not to mention all the potential sounds and disturbances they may encounter on the journey. A good carrier provides a safe and comfortable space for your bunny to snuggle in and rest and helps calm them when they may be feeling a little stressed.
There are numerous basic pet carriers available, however, I would recommend investing in a carrier you see yourself using long term, especially if you intend to get a second bunny down the line.
Look out for the following:
- A soft lining at the bottom
- Enough space
- Numerous areas to open/close the carrier
- Strong handles/fastenings that won't break easily
- Has pockets/compartments to house some bunny essentials such as treats
You can see some of my recommendations here.
While having an enclosure for your bunny isn’t a necessity, especially if you intend to free-roam your bun (which you can read more about here), I still think a pen is really helpful to have when first bringing home a new bun. A pen gives a bunny a safe enclosed space they can call their own, where their food, water and toys etc are all in one area. Additionally, it provides somewhere they can retreat to if they are feeling stressed or threatened.
Beyond providing a space for your bunny to call their own, having an enclosed area can really help with litter training at first and make easing into free-roaming your bun a lot more manageable. A smaller space means less area to clean up after your bunny in, making the process a much less overwhelming task and reducing the time taken to successfully litter train your bunny. Once your bunny has developed some good litter habits, free-roaming them becomes much easier.
Here you can purchase the enclosure I used for my buns before they were fully free-roam. It still comes in useful if I ever need to separate the buns or section off areas in my home.
3. Litter box
If you don't already know by know, bunnies love to eat while they do their business. Having a good-sized litter box where your bunny can move around comfortably is very important for good litter habits. Many litter boxes marketed for bunnies can often be pretty small; hence, cat-sized litter boxes are usually better options to explore. You can also use a large plastic storage box as a DIY alternative. I prefer hooded litter boxes or keeping the litter box inside of a covered storage bench/unit, as this provides a litter box and a hidey-house in one. Moreover, it really helps to keep the surrounding space clean as there is less carry out of hay or poop.
While rabbit’s pee and poop aren't as smelly as other pets, having a good absorbent and safe litter is also important to keep them clean and avoid their feet getting soiled. Different options include pine pellet litter, paper litter or even just plain old hay. Try to avoid plastic-based litters (always check the ingredients) and any litters with strong scents as these aren’t safe for your buns! I use a pine pellet litter with a layer of newspaper underneath as this prevents the litter tray from getting too messy and reduces clean up time.
You can see some of my recommendations for building the perfect litter set-up here.
4. Food & Dishes:
Despite what is commonly seen on TV, eating carrots all day is NOT healthy for your bunny, primarily due to the high sugar content. You can read more about what you should feed your rabbit here.
When shopping for rabbit essentials it's likely you'll see water bottles for sale. Water bowls, however, are much more hygienic options and allow your bunny to work less hard to remain hydrated throughout the day. Just make sure you clean the bowl daily and choose a bowl with a good capacity.
While toys may not seem 'essential', they are actually really important for your bunny's mental health. Rabbits experience a wide variety of emotions and can even suffer from depression. Therefore, providing suitable enrichment is key to preventing boredom and keep them happier and healthier long-term. Since rabbits teeth continue growing their whole life, providing them with toys that they can chew on (and not your furniture!) is very important. Different options include willow balls, grass mats, bunny safe wooden sticks, and loofah chews to name a few. Moreover, you can buy larger items such as tunnels or hidey-houses in these chewable materials to place in your bunnies space. There are also lots of interactive toys you can hide treats in which are great options to keep your bunnies brains active.
You can see some examples of good bunny-safe toys here.
Is that everything?
So you now have a basic overview of the main items you'll need when you first bring home a rabbit. Of course, this list doesn't cover everything that you may need and there are many other items you are likely to purchase in the future, whether based on necessity or desire. However this list will provide you with all the basics that will ensure your new bunny is safe, happy and healthy, without overwhelming you and your bank account all at once. You can then slowly start to add other items as you learn more about rabbit care. Keep your eyes peeled for a post coming soon on everything you may need/want when having a pet rabbit!
Any Amazon links are affiliate links and I may get a small payment from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you.
All linked Amazon items are ones that I truly recommend, and if I have personally purchased these items in the past, these will be listed first and have a comment on them.
All information is based on my personal experience and research, however, I am not a trained specialist nor a vet, so please consult your vet on anything you may be unsure or worried about.