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I think I need a few words of advice about house rabbits

(9 Posts)
MinkyBorage Tue 02-Oct-12 22:09:42

We acquired a couple of beautiful 12 week old rabbits about 6 weeks ago. We decided to keep them indoors, and they now have their own room. We also have a cat so the door is kept closed.
I was letting them out of their hutch for a couple of hours in the day, but it wasn't enough so they are now let out in the morning, and they have perked up a lot. However, I like to have them shut in their hutch over night for a few reasons (door not shut properly, damage to furniture, cat etc etc) but they don't like it and it's becoming harder and harder to catch them at bed time. It's resulting in them becoming s bit scared of me as they seem to be associating me with catching them. I was giving them a little rabbit snack treat thingie, but they don't really seem to help, and whilst they like the reward afterwards, it doesn't help with tempting them in to their hutch.
I have three DC, the DS is 3.5, and he loves them quite heavy handedly, which is a bit of a challenge. I simply can not supervise all the time, although I know I am supposed to, but he does know he is not allowed to pick them up.

Ok, so how do I get them back in to their hutch at bed time? Or should I just get my head around them being out overnight?
Also, I was told by the lady giving them to us and the man in the pet shop that they shouldn't have any fresh vegetables until they are 6 months old. It was already too late when I was told this and I had already given them some things. I gather they shouldn't have lettuce, but the man in the pet shop says no cabbage also. They have had loads of cabbage and carrots and raspberry leaves etc etc and they seem fine, and no diarrhoea etc.
Any advice on any aspects of rabbit care or house bunnies would be brilliant.

MinkyBorage Tue 02-Oct-12 22:11:00

Just to clarify, the room they have is soon to be my work room/office so it will be a more used room, but at the moment, it is not used much.

FernieB Wed 03-Oct-12 20:32:40

I'm on my second house rabbit and I wouldn't be without one, having said that, they are devious things and quite clever. Yours are still only young - rabbits tend to be very silly until they are about 12 - 18 months old when they calm down. It would also help if you get them neutered asap (for health reasons as well as calming them down).

Having house rabbits is like having naughty toddlers around all the time. They will not want to go to bed and they know you want them to go to bed. They will also enjoy the chase. My first bun was awful at bedtime initially - she had us running round for ages after her and I know she enjoyed it as she would wait until we caught her up before dashing off in another direction. When she was one, she calmed down and just went to bed when the TV was turned off. They will learn, you need to persevere and be patient. They are probably not scared of you, just enjoying winding you up grin. I would keep putting them to bed so they get used to it. Sometimes when ours was particularly annoying, I would leave her for a bit and then go back down and try again. I found that eventually, she got tired and would let us catch her. Our current bun is a so and so at bedtime (he's older and should have got over the silly stage but obviously did not read the book) but he has learnt to go to bed when he hears the GP's being fed. They are creatures of habit and will learn a routine eventually.

Is there any way they could get in and out of their hutch themselves (if it's in the same room) as this would make it easier? They would be more likely to go into their hutch for fresh food themselves. BTW you're right about the no lettuce, but very dark green cabbage is okay, as are carrots (and carrot leaves) and broccoli. You may find other things, your rabbits like - ours used to like a bit of apple. But only give veg in small amounts as it can upset them.

If their room is to be your office, make sure you put cable cover on any wires etc as they will chew through them. It doesn't matter how many chew toys you give them, they will still want to chew whatever they shouldn't have.

Sorry for the essay! Good luck with bedtime (rabbits and children)!

piratecat Wed 03-Oct-12 20:38:12

Fernie said it all really. I had house bunnies, they weren't allowed to run free at night, i would have had no furniture/carpet left.

We put ours in the kitchen, where their pen was about 9, and into the pen when we went to bed.just kept persevering. They are only young and are enjoying the skitty game!!

headlesshorseman Wed 03-Oct-12 21:13:21

Our bun free ranges the house, but her hutch is in the utility room with the guinea pigs. So each evening, the dog goes out, the the pigs get dry food and eating hay, then bun gets dry food and eating hay. After about 2 weeks with this routine she starting taking herself to bed when she heard us coming. It is a lot easier to tempt them in than catch them, but it does take a lot of time!

We feed fresh veg in the morning, mainly kale or spring greens, carrots and tops, tomatoes, chard and bits and pieces of fruit spoilt

MinkyBorage Wed 03-Oct-12 22:18:04

Brilliant! Thank you. They are super cute. They are both female (hopefully!), and I haven't taken them to the vet yet, although I know I need to do so soon. The cage we inherited is not huge, certainly not big enough for them to be in full time, but they can get in and out themselves.
When I do end up chasing them around at bed time, they thump their feet, which I think is a sign they are scared, and I often end up grabbing them in a way they can't enjoy. It all feels a bit stressful, but if I thought they were enjoying themselves it would take a bit of pressure off.
We've had a lot of building work done recently, which was finished before the rabbits arrived, but the room they are in is not used at all, apart from for storing loads of furniture for them to chew and hide behind. It doesn't currently feel part of the home. I think I may get one of those retractable stair gate thingies for the door so I can leave it open and they will feel more part of the home, and the kids may feel more inclined to use the room, rather than making a special trip to 'the rabbit room'. I need to check out stair gates as I suspect they could sneak underneath anything flexible.
Thanks for tips re food cables etc etc. they don't touch broccoli, and I have been giving them light coloured cabbage, but I will stop doing that.
Thank you thank you.
Does anyone have experience of cats and house rabbits getting along well?

FernieB Thu 04-Oct-12 14:57:08

The thumping could just be part of the game for them or else they are cross with you but probably not scared. Previous bun used to thump every evening to let us know the hedgehog was walking across the patio. She would then go to look at him through the window (they would be nose to nose), so she wasn't scared. Thumping doesn't always mean they're frightened.

No experience of cats and rabbits together - I wouldn't risk it. Although our neighbours cat does feel free to wander in from time to time and she's never caused any issues, but then our bun is bigger than her!

midori1999 Thu 04-Oct-12 22:40:19

We have just got our first house rabbit, from a friend who is a vet nurse. I was a bit reluctant to have him tbh, but my DS, who is almost 12 was really keen, so I agreed. He is wonderful and I am so glad we got him.., he is so friendly! He's around 3 years old, so quite 'established'.

We do have a cat and as our rabbit lives in my DS's bedroom and only comes out in the evenings for a few hours when my DS is in his room, I have kept the door shut so far except for small introductions when the rabbit has been in his cage. However, the friend I got him from has a cat and had had the rabbit for over two years and the top storey of his cage was left open 24/7 (he can't get out this way) and there was never any problem with the cat. He's a dwarf rabbit and her cat is big, but she says the rabbit saw the cat off if it annoyed him no problem at all. That might not be the case for every cat and every rabbit, but it's obviously possible if you introduce carefully and it suits that rabbit and cat.

Apparently you can clicker train rabbits and ours has come with his own clicker. You can also apparently teach them agility. Who knew?!

FernieB Fri 05-Oct-12 10:39:41

Check out youtube for videos of showjumping rabbits - my kids love it. It's amazing how high they can leap.

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