Rabbits are exceptional pet, and even more when it is possible to build a relationship with them.
It is fundamental to remember that rabbits are surely not like dogs or cats: they are not better or worse. They are simply different. For example, they are really delicate, and in consequence are not appropriate for unattended children, nor for those people who are seeking for a life partner which wants nothing more than make them happy.

Bunnies recognize their human friend both with smell and sight: it is not usual, coming back home, to see these little furry animals looking for us, or waiting for some cuddles… Yes! Because, when the bunny knows you, and feels you love him, he can love you back. And the easier way to let him know you love him… is through cuddles. But where to cuddle a rabbit? They love being caressed on the head, nose, cheeks… anyway it is important to remember that, as humans, bunnies are different from each other, so rabbits may prefer the pampering at one point or another!

If a rabbit is accustomed to be called by his name, he will recognize when someone is calling him: as a matter of fact, bunnies are smarter than one actually believes!

Rabbits, as represented in the common thought, are really curious animals and adore to explore what surrounds them. They also love to play: the euphoria in this activity and its frequency depends on the temperament of each individual and on his age, too. The liveliest bunnies have euphoric peaks, in which they start running and gambolling fast (a really funny show, which is “technically” called bink): we can participate in this game, chasing him without scaring… bunnies are quarry, and so everything can be seen as frightening! Usually, right after this spurt of life, rabbits enjoy to stretch and completely relax.

Bunnies are animals who love their freedom. Keeping them in cages is a wrong idea, which is based on the past, when rabbits were considered only “food”, and they had to get fat in little time. As pets, rabbits need to move; as social animals they need to have the company of their similar: a lonely rabbit is a sad rabbit.

As all the other animals, rabbits grown up in captivity are not able to survive if they are “freed” in a park, or in the countryside. As all the other animals, buying rabbits will just increase the horrific business of those who see animals as money-machine: that is why the adoption of these animals can save lives. The lives of the animals which have been abandoned.


The easiest way to understand the better alimentation for a bunny is thinking about his natural life, where the lawn is his natural food. In our homes, the alimentation should be retracing as closely as possible the natural one, in order to avoid obesity and health problems, which may occur even after years and years of seeming wellness.

Bunnies are tight herbivores: this means that their alimentation must comprehend exclusively vegetable origin food, and every single animal origin food must carefully be avoided. Ideal alimentation for bunnies must include: herbs, hay and vegetables. No packaged feed. The hay should be the staple diet.

  • HAY

The best food we can offer to our rabbits is definitely the polyphyte lawn with particular preference to grasses. Lacking in fresh grass, the principal food is the hay, id est dried grass, which has to be left permanently available in unlimited quantities.

The importance of the hay is due to the fact that no other food alone is able to provide a quantity of fibres long enough to maintain a good intestinal function: the long fibres contained in the hay stimulate the contraction of the muscles of the intestine while maintaining a good motility and preventing gastrointestinal stasis, one of the major problem in which the rabbit can incur.
Another advantage of the hay is its abrasive function on the teeth. In fact, the teeth of rabbits are continuously growing but they regularly consume them, chewing the hay.

What kind of hay has to be preferred? The major part of the hay sold in animals’ shop is hay of polyphyte lawn, then composed of a great variety of different herbs. The quality certainly depends on the brand but also by a multitude of factors (harvesting and drying method, weather and temperature at the time of cutting, the production area, the collection period, the composition of the meadow and the method of preservation).

A great solution, even from the economic point of view, is to supply from a known farmer. The idea that the store-bought hay is better and more controlled than the one intended for farmed animals is in fact completely unfounded. Anyway, make sure that the packages are undamaged and the smell is of cut grass. Other important criteria to choose the best hay are the freshness of the product and the bunny’s preferences: a desirable hay for a rabbit can be refused by another.

The alfalfa is a leguminous herb, very nutritious, rich in protein and calcium. It must not be considered as a normal hay and so must not always be available to the rabbit. On the contrary, it may be given (along with other food) to cubs, females in gestation or lactation and angora rabbits, but it must be very limited, if not completely eliminate in adult rabbits or in those with a particular predisposition to the development of kidney or bladder stone.


Pellet is the type of fodder based on products or by-products of vegetable origin shredded, possible additions of vitamins or mineral salts and other substances, for example molasses, necessary to compact it under the form of small green or brown sticks.

Feeding the rabbit exclusively on pelleted fodder (or worse, various seeds) is a mistake made by many people, primarily caused by poor or incorrect information provided by shopkeepers, farmers or inexperienced veterinarians (and feed manufacturers who care about more of their profits than the health of the animals).

First of all, it must be clear that pellet is not part of the natural diet of the rabbit, who absolutely need not packaged feed. More generally, even dried fruits and oil seeds (too much rich in fat and calories), and flaked cereal (barley, wheat, oats, rice etc. that can cause the development of “bad” bacteria and toxins in the intestine of the rabbit), animal by-products or animal fats (which certainly does not fall naturally in the diet of a herbivorous animal!), seeds or coloured agglomerates (green, yellow, red … it seems that some of these dyes are carcinogenic, and in any case it is artificial and unnecessary products).

The reasons for which the pellet is not a healthy food are different:
– It is too nutritious and tasty, and the rabbit is entice you to eat more than necessary and could easily run into problems of obesity.
– After eating the pellet, the rabbit is satiated, leaving apart hay and vegetables            , less tasty but essential for the good intestinal motility and the abrasive action on the teeth


Vegetables are fundamental in the rabbits’ alimentation, particularly if fresh grass is not available, for its provision in vitamins and minerals, which the hay lose in the exsiccation process.
Most of the vegetables present on our table are also welcomed by rabbits, with few exceptions (for example zucchini, which is usually ignored)

A list of the more common vegetables appreciated by bunnies can be summarizes as follows:

  • asparagus • broccoli • thornless artichokes        • Carrots also green leaves              • catalonia
  • cauliflower • kale • kohlrabi, leaves                • green beans or croissants             • coasts
  • pumpkin • chicory • fennel                                 • Belgian endive                                 • spinach
  • tomatoes • zucchini • topinanbur                         • Curly parsley is normal                   • rocket salad
  • radishes (the leaves) • bell peppers all colours  • celery and celeriac                          • turnips
  • Radicchio / Treviso / Chioggia • Green cabbage and black


  • eggplant;
  • sprouted potatoes and all green parts of the plant;
  • stalks and leaves of tomatoes and peppers;
  • beans and legumes in general;
  • garlic and onion bulbs in general;
  • rhubarb;
  • hot pepper;
  • mushrooms.

The daily ration usually reaches about 300 grams per kilogram of the animal and the only thing to look after is to vary as much as possible the vegetables, choosing seasonal vegetables, richer in vitamins and grown with lower quantities of herbicides and pesticides (even if, obviously, the best choice is to choose vegetables from organic farming).

Four kinds of vegetables, always appreciate by rabbits, are easy to find: catalonia, celery, fennel and chicory. All vegetables should be washed as if they were intended for human consumption. It is important to dish out the food at room temperature, absolutely not cold from the fridge, nor frozen vegetables.

If the rabbit is not yet accustomed to vegetables, it is important to introduce just one vegetable at a time, in order to observe and evaluate carefully his reaction: in this way, if intestinal problems should arise, it is possible to identify, with reasonable certainty, the cause of the disturbance and immediately eliminate that vegetable from the usual diet.

It is also important to pay particular attention to the choice of the vegetables, in the case the animal is suffering from particular diseases: for example, if he has a particular predisposition to the formation of kidney and bladder stones, some plants, containing particularly high levels of calcium and oxalate, should be limited or eliminated from the diet.

N.B. fruit as a prize: even if fruit is not directly dangerous, it has to be considered something “more”. It has to be given occasionally and in very small portions, to avoid overweight rabbits. Since sugar can cause fermentation and diarrhoea, especially in case of very watery fruits such as watermelon or cantaloupe. Moreover, always remove the fruit seed (especially from apples and peaches, cherries, apricots, plums) because it contains toxic substances. To narrowly avoid: coconut and avocado, which are fruits too fat.


Rabbits, in the wild, are quarries, and in “the food chain occupies the step immediately above the grass”: because of this, a rabbit knows that showing his sickness means to become food for a predator in an extremely short time, that is why he will demonstrate its malaise only when absolutely unable to keep it hidden.

If he does not eat, if he remains in a corner, if he changes his usually behaviour, if he is too “passive”… It is not possible to apply the same principle one could apply to a dog or a cat, and so waiting one or two days before deciding that it is a serious thing and to make him visit by a veterinary. A rabbit who is ailing must always be regarded, unless proved otherwise, in serious conditions.

Another point worth considering it the fact that rabbits have very low tolerance to pain and stress: whatever the initial cause is, in this condition they stop eating. Fasting triggers in turn a series of pathological reactions potentially more serious in respect to the initial problem.

“Blocks” are one of the most problematic situation in which every single rabbit deals with, at least once in his lifetime. These “blocks” are caused by food material accumulates in the stomach and intestines, often mixed with hairs that the rabbit licks, forming hard balls which, through dehydration, become more and more immovable, leading to death. In these cases, it is fundamental to maintain intestinal motility by imposing to the animal small and frequent food rations with the syringe, since he will not eat alone, and by administering subcutaneously fluids (or only by mouth, according to the seriousness of the situation). Pain and fermentation need to be controlled through drugs.

Due to the fact that, inexplicably, bunnies usually get sick when they should not (e.g. during holidays, when the vet is not available) it is important to keep a small pharmaceutical stock, to be ready to face everything.


It is possible (and advisable) to vaccinate rabbits for the two major disease, for which there is no cure:
myxomatosis and viral haemorrhagic disease. These diseases may be contracted not only by wild rabbits, of course more exposed because of their living conditions, but also by rabbits living in the apartment through the bite of infected mosquitoes. Both diseases are fatal, and because of this they both need prevention.

There are different types of vaccinations, but all need to be recalled at least every year. There are no vaccinations which, at the moment, can secure the rabbit for the rest of his life.


For the wellness of both male and female rabbits, sterilization is necessary. It helps preventing behavioural problems, which as well as making difficult the cohabitation with rabbit, ruin the quality of life. Furthermore, sterilization prevent, especially in females, serious illnesses, first of all the uterine cancer.


When the rabbit reaches the sexual maturation (between 3 and 9 months), he starts feeling the urgent need to mate, because of the hormones. Males started urinate and leave poop everywhere, completely forgetting his litter. They can become aggressive towards human and other animals, while it is assured it will become truculent over other male rabbits. Above all, male started mounting humans’ legs, other animals, objects… sometimes with an obsessive insistence. Behaviours such as chewing and digging are accentuated.

Females have fake pregnancies: their bodies behave as they are really pregnant, undergoing them to the hormonal modifications, typical of pregnancy. The rabbit tears her hair to build the nest, become more aggressive to protect it and even produce the milk to feed babies that will not born.

It is understandable how these behaviours are stressing, and all of these are due to the frustration to not satisfy his need to couple.


A non-sterilized rabbit is unhappy for another reason: he is condemned to live a solitary life. The possibility for two same-sex whole rabbits to cohabit is zero, even if they were raised together: sexual maturity makes them fight really hard, and in many cases these wrangles may be fatal.

Otherwise, it is impossible to bring together a male-female couple trying to avoid continues pregnancies: female rabbits are almost always fertile and they can have a pregnancy every month, remaining gravid 24 hours after giving birth. Every pregnancy will give life to 4 – 10 babies.

Anyway bunnies are social animals, such as human beings are: they need the company of their fellows with whom they share the language and way of thinking and behaving. Only a sterilized rabbit has this possibility

VETERINARY PROBLEMS, the health reasons why sterilization is fundamental

For female rabbits, sterilizations are undoubtedly fundamental, because it is a matter of life or death!

According to a US study, non-sterilized female rabbits have over than the 80% of the possibilities to develop an ovarian and/or uterine cancer by the age of three years. With the progression of the age, the risk is also proportionate. The most common among these tumours is the uterine adenocarcinoma (it is estimated that affects about 50% of females over the age of 4), which develops metastases throughout the body and for which there is no cure nor any hope for recovery, if not prevention, namely the sterilization. Other diseases which are subject to non-sterilized rabbits are pyometra, endometritis, the uterine aneurysm and cancer of the breast.
Males may incur in testicular cancer: even if this is not the major reason to spay male rabbits, it is important to underline that this risk is set to zero with sterilization.

The idea that making the couple having only one pregnancy to reduce these health problems is completely wrong. Conversely, due to the fact that female home rabbits are usually slightly overweight, this pregnancy expose them to pregnancy toxicosis, a very serious condition that can occur at the end of pregnancy or during lactation.

However, rabbits are classified as exotic animals, and so only a specialized veterinary, which has experience and really knows bunnies, is reliable to cure our little furry friends.