This page contains what we believe are the essentials of bunny care. There are many opinions on how to best care for rabbits and not all of them are incorrect or perfectly correct either, they are just different than what has worked for us and our rabbits.
We suggest you read and practice from various sources until you find what works best for you and your bunny. We just want to start you off right and help you along the way.
We at Sunshine Lops can’t stress enough that you house your rabbits indoors. By adopting this one philosophy, you will always be in close proximity to your rabbit. This one commitment will help ensure your bunny gets plenty of attention, plenty of water and hay, healthy doses of socialization and ultimately, the best care possible.
For Holland Lops or Netherland Dwarfs we recommend a habitat (often referred to as a cage) that is no less than 30” wide by 24” deep and 18” high. Please pay close attention to given dimensions of hutches online as these are usually external dimensions and your rabbit may be cramped. Getting the largest hutch on the market isn’t the solution, but don’t get the smallest one either. Click here for are a few we have tried and tested for different breeds and living arrangements.
Rabbits born in the wild are much different than the domesticated rabbits you are going to raise in your home. Although there are breeders and some pet owners who prefer to raise rabbits outdoors, Sunshine Lops does not wish for any of our rabbits to ever be raised outdoors.
A visit to your patio or yard is great, however your rabbit needs to live indoors away from extreme temperatures and other potential dangers. Rabbits are delicate creatures and as such are not capable of flourishing in any extreme hot or cold temperatures. Rabbits need constant attention, water, food, socialization and care. Because of this belief, we ask for all adopting rabbit owners NOT to buy a Sunshine Lop rabbit unless they agree to house their rabbit(s) only in a proper, temperature controlled indoor habitat.
Rabbits need more activity than what they can get inside their habitat or hutch they live in. Your rabbit needs free-time daily to roam, explore, run and exercise. Your rabbit needs a bunny-proof area to play in away from where they sleep at night.
For baby bunnies over under 8 weeks of age we suggest an exercise pen for pets. Not the metal kind we suggest for adult rabbits as babies can squeeze through those too easily but instead a plastic panel pen with very small holes or none at all. Modular playpens give your pet of any age room to run while allowing space for their litter pan, food, water, toys and even room for his or her favorite human (you) to sit and bond.
If your home doesn’t quite have the space for a playpen, any room that has been bunny-proofed can be used as a spot for your bun to get some well-needed exercise. In the event that you decide to allow your rabbit outdoors to roam, make certain to bunny-proof those areas and always supervise your furry friend as many dangers exist like cats, dogs, other wild predators and birds of prey such as hawks who can all easily injure or even kill your rabbit.
Be mindful that rabbits do not tolerate heat well (over 80 degrees Fahrenheit) so be sure they have access to plenty of shade and water at all times while active outdoors.
A rabbit’s diet should consist of a mixture of 90% hay (timothy or orchard variety), 5% pellets and 5% leafy green vegetables. Sunshine Lops only feeds our rabbits Modesto Milling Organic Non-GMO pellet feed containing a wholesome timothy and alfalfa hay blend without any grain or soy fillers for better digestion and premium health.
For rabbits under 12 weeks of age, we suggest Modesto Milling Organic Non-GMO pellet feed. Our rabbits get ¼ cup of pellets daily (2 tablespoons for breakfast in the morning and two more tablespoons for dinner at night).
Rabbits under 12 weeks of age may have an unlimited number of pellets since they are still growing and maturing. Rabbit appetites vary so you may find that your bunny needs more or perhaps fewer pellets to stay within a proper weight range for their breed.
We don’t consider any treats you might give your rabbit as part of his or her complete diet. Remember, it’s a treat people! Treats should only be given in small, small amounts and we suggest only healthy, natural treats such as oats, an apple slice, a slice of carrot, a small amount of banana (not the whole thing) or maybe a strawberry or two. Don’t feed you rabbit yogurt raisins or many of those so called “treats” you see in the pet stores. Your rabbit has a delicate digestive system and it works best on hay and water and then, more hay and more water.
Food bowls, much like water bowls are a matter of pairing the right bowl with the right cage or what we like to refer to instead as your rabbit’s habitat. Some hutches have less space than others and require a hanging bowl for food (and water) and others can simply be in a tip-resistant bowl. We use both types in our rabbitry and there are few drawbacks to either.
When it comes to how to provide enough hay for your bunny to eat, we advise placing a small amount inside your rabbit’s litter pan for starters and then using one of the many types of hay boxes available. Again, what you choose may depend on the space you have in your rabbit’s hutch, the size breed you have, how many rabbits you have in a cage or perhaps other reasons,
We love the Niteangel Pet Wooden Hay Manger for our big eaters and our hutches with two or more tenants. This hay manger ensures our bunz have plenty of hay all day or night long. For smaller spaces we chose Super Pet Natural Wooden Hay Manger and although it doesn’t hold near as much hay as the Niteangel manger, it works perfectly for bunnies with smaller appetites or who live alone.
Water is the most critical element a rabbit can have and the most destructive if it’s lacking. Never let your rabbit run out of water. Your rabbit’s entire diet, digestion health and overall well-being is driven by water intake.
Rabbits should have an unlimited supply of water...day, and night. If the container is half full, it is too low already. Refill those containers before you go to work or to bed and check them often just in case it has been leaking, turned over or is contaminated with rabbit poo.
As to the question about what to use to water my rabbit, there are varying ideas about which method is best, a water bottle or bowl. Both have their own advantages and disadvantages. Sunshine rabbits use various water bottles and water bowls but it mostly depends on the rabbit’s preference and sometimes the type of the habitat they live in. We do however see more water consumption with bowls with most of our rabbits. You should experiment and decide for yourself.
Always keep in mind there is more to “watering” than just refilling a container. The bowls or bottles should be cleaned by a human type (you) at least 1-2 times per week and depending on the design of the container, taken apart to remove any algae that will find a home in the small parts of these bottles or dishes.
Here are some of our proven options for you to explore:
Lixit Rabbit Feeder/Water Fountain, 48-Ounce
Great for portability and not too large
Lixit 32 oz Water Bottle for Rabbits
Great for hanging outside of cramped hutches
Cal Palmy Food and Water Bowl (2-Pack) for Rabbits
A great bowl you can mount inside a hutch
Ethical Stoneware Animal Dish 5 Inch Diameter
Simple, portable, variable sizes, easy to clean
Volumes of books can be written just on rabbits and their bathroom habits. This is one area we suggest you read as much as possible on; right, wrong or otherwise to learn how to control the madness that is known as your bunny’s poop and pee.
Our baby bunnies are provided a proper set up for potty training from month one and they have all learned where to pee and poo by default before they go home at 8 weeks of age or older. Potty training does not mean bunnies won’t pee or poo outside of their litter pan so please be patient, be ready with cleaning supplies, learn and understanding your rabbit's needs and more than anything, have realistic expectations of rabbit behavior and their bathroom habits.
Rabbits eat their hay and go potty at the same time so make sure you set them up for success. Our best recommended setup is one small or medium plastic litter pan, equine pellets and hay.
Watch our YouTube video on how to make a bunny pan here.
Equine pine pellets (aka. horse pellets) absorb urine and control odors from your rabbit’s pee very well. Never use wood shavings for litters as some contain processing toxins which can be harmful to rabbits. Stick with pine pellets. A bag of 40 pounds is $5.99 at your local Tractor Supply Company and one bag will last you a good, long while. We recommend only about 2 cups of pellets per small or medium litter pan when changing your bunz litter pan every other day or if need be, daily.
Please let me start with this warning: NEVER, ever bathe your rabbit. If your rabbit is dirty for whatever reason, use only a slightly damp, not soaked, washcloth to clean your rabbit. Rabbits are easily susceptible to hypothermia type conditions. Once a rabbit is wet to the skin, it takes an incredibly long time to dry its think coat of fur, often resulting in a core temperature drop that can be fatal.
Rabbits are incredibly great at grooming themselves. It is important to note, they will ingest an acceptable level of hair into their digestive track daily through daily self-grooming. Your responsibility is to brush them weekly or more to help further reduce the amount of hair they do ingest.
A simple thin wire grooming brush will do the trick. It is especially important to brush your rabbit when they are shedding, also called molting to keep their digestive track working smoothly. Watch for “ornamental” poops strung together by ingested hair which indicates your bunny is ingesting and passing hair. Work to keep those “ornamentals” poops to a minimum by brushing your bun more often and make sure they are getting enough hay (fiber) to eat.
To keep those beautiful coats shiny and clean we use the Glendan Grooming Brush from Amazon because of its super-fine brush pins. Brushing your bunny once a week is a great goal but brush them more when they are shedding, or molting cannot be ignored. Your bunny’s digestive health depends on it.
One other great solution for when you rabbit starts to molt is the SleekEZ Original Deshedding Grooming Tool in the 2.5 inch version to thin your rabbits fur super-easy and safe.
Rabbits are curious, adventuresome and mischievous creatures and as such will find their own “toys” if none are provided. Some of the victims will be furniture legs, computer and phone charges, your clothes or shoes, baseboards, books and anything else they find to chew. You have been warned!
Playtime is important for your bunz so here are some options to think about. Rabbits chew to keep themselves occupied but mainly they need to wear their fast-growing teeth down. Dental problems are one of the top reasons rabbits need vet care so a steady diet of hay, all natural apple sticks and other fun chew toys will keep your bun healthy, occupied, entertained and smiling!
Other free or inexpensive ideas are pinecones, haysticks, small, unpainted wood blocks or even plastic play cups to name a few. Just use good common sense when giving your baby something new to play with.
Toy stairs or something to climb homemade (think cardboard boxes) or store bought (think plastic igloo) are good for the bunz to climb, chin, dig on and explore.
Play tunnels are also fun, portable, washable and can be arranged in different ways for plenty of entertainment and safe places for your bun to hide, nap or just relax.
Finally, a new or old stuffed animal or a little blanket can also be comforting for new bunnies who travel from our rabbitry to your new home.
Although Sunshine rabbits are raised in a healthy environment with tons of hay, water and love, all rabbits are susceptible to disease and the stress that accompanies moving to a new home.
We always suggest you make an appointment with a rabbit savvy vet for a simple visit and consultation. Be prepared for them to check your rabbit’s stool, temperature, teeth and other basics to ensure your rabbit has been examined and is a known patient of the vet. In the event you do have any health issues, you and your vet will have a good baseline to work from.
It is also recommended that you spay or neuter your rabbit around 5 to 6 months of age. Around this age hormones begin to display themselves in your rabbit and he or she may become less affectionate and more territorial. This may also help you if your rabbit is still having litter box issues and displaying other unfavorable habits.
You will want a small pair of animal nail trimmers to groom your rabbit’s nails about every 4 to 6 weeks or as needed. Be sure just to trim the edge of the nails and not to cut too far up the nail into what is referred to as the quick. Cutting into your bunny’s quick is painful for them and can cause bleeding.
If your rabbit’s nail does bleed, there are home remedies you can try like dabbing flour or cornstarch onto the wound to stop the bleeding. There are also other remedies like syptic powder or a syptic pen which will not only help stop the bleeding but help shorten the healing time for your rabbit.
If your bunny has black nails, try using a flashlight to better see the quick inside the nail before you clip.
Before you pick up your bunny from Sunshine Lops, you should consider purchasing a pet carrier for your bun if you don't already have one. You will use your pet carrier not only to transport your baby bun to his or her new home but also to and from your future vet trips.
Whichever carrier you buy is mostly a personal preference, but we'll share one of our favorites with you to get you thinking. We like the Akinerri Soft Sided Collapsible Pet Travel Carrier with both a top and side access door. A handle to carry and a shoulder strap as well. Mesh sides help with improved airflow and a cozy, washable mat is perfect for bunz to relax on.
When Sunshine bunnies aren’t hanging out in their enclosed play patio, they romp in one of our 30” high collapsible playpen. Super affordable, easy to move, collapsible and easy to store. This playpen also comes in 36” and 42” high panels for those high jump champion bunnies. One other huge benefit is you can make the cage smaller and smaller and smaller for those hard to litter train bunz. Click here to view this playpen on our Amazon store.
Another option is to check your local Facebook Marketplace, Nextdoor App or local yard sale for children’s plastic playpens with 6 or 8 panels. You can pick these up for $30-$50 usually and they can be set up in different configurations. Note that these are only 26” high in most cases and good jumpers can bounce over them with no problem. We have had mommas together with the little babies in this type of playpen before and one hack is to simply stretch a twin-size fitted sheet over the top to keep momma inside.