Hopefully by now you are comfortable with your bunny and they are comfortable with you! This is also a good time to check their nails to make sure that they aren’t too long. If they are too long, it can hurt your bunny. There’s a chance they can rip out a nail if they aren’t careful! To prevent this, you need to have your cat nail clippers as well as the styptic lotion. I tried many different ways to cut Piko’s nails, but the one that works the best is I hold him and I get someone else (my boyfriend) to cut his nails. It’s awkward, but it’s better than trying to chase him around a table and doing it myself.
When you pick up your bunny, please make sure that you support their tummy as well as their back legs. Try to talk to bunny and massage their head (I do this with my cheek and chin) or get the other person to pet them first to try to get them to relax a bit. The other person can then lift up some fur from the fuzzy feet and begin trimming. Another way is to dip a finger in some water and push the fur out of the way so it’s easier to see the nails. Please don’t submerge or get the entire foot of your rabbit wet, just a few drops from your finger will do. You will see white nails with some pink lower down. Place the clippers ABOVE the pink to ensure you don’t cut your rabbit and snip. It’s best to complete one front foot and one hind foot first before setting your rabbit down. I usually do this in the bathroom and set a towel down for Piko. I set him down and give him a treat, pet him and talk to him. Let him settle down for a bit, then I pick him up again (with him facing the opposite way this time) and finish off the other two feet.
It will take time getting used to this, your rabbit may struggle as well. For the first year it was a huge hassle trying to get him to cooperate to get his nails cut and it took a LONG time because he was so squirmy. However, over time I found that Piko got used to me picking him up and now lets me hold him in my arms when I am standing up and not moving. He will allow me to do this for a while, but will eventually squirm when he wants to get put down, which is why I cut one side first and set him down before I pick him up again. That way he has some time to rest and eat a treat, it’s less stressful that way. I always reward him with another treat when we’re finished cutting his nails and play with him. It’s a good idea to associate cutting his nails with happy things like treats and some snuggle or play time afterwards.
The first few times my boyfriend cut his nails, as soon as I put Piko back in the xpen, he flicked his back feet at us, letting us know he wasn’t happy about it. Treats fixed that 🙂 Now he doesn’t flick his feet at us when we cut his nails.
The last important thing to do is to book an appointment with your local bunny savvy vet. It’s important to find one close to you or easily accessible and they have to specialize in smaller critters like guinea pigs, rabbits, birds, etc. I was lucky enough to find a vet in the city that my parents live in and even though I don’t live there anymore, I still drive all the way out there to take my rabbit to that vet. So please book an appointment just for a general checkup. Your vet will take a look at your rabbit to make sure they are the right weight, their ears are clean, teeth are okay, and this is a good time to ask the vet any questions you might have about your rabbit’s behavior/eating habits, etc. as well. Always keep a book with your questions or write them down in your phone so you don’t forget to ask the questions you have.
After this visit, as long as nothing happens to your rabbit health wise (ex. stops eating, pooping, or peeing, sitting in a strange position and doesn’t look well, etc.) you won’t have to visit the vet for a year now. There were a couple of times I had to call a different vet to talk about what was going on with my rabbit (he wasn’t eating very much and his poops got really small) and she gave me some advice to keep a close eye on him for the next few hours and feed him something like papaya or pineapple or fresh veggies to help with his stomach. Low and behold, a few hours later, a stringy poop was found in his box. This is why it’s important to brush your rabbit. Even when you brush them, there’s still a chance that they will get stringy poops because they are always grooming and cleaning themselves. If you’re not sure if your rabbit is pooping, wait until bunny goes in the litter box, if you don’t hear anything dropping, the next thing you can do it get a glove-or do it barehanded, whatever, and grab a few poops where bunny was sitting in the box and squish them. It’s gross, I know, but it’s for your rabbit. I use my bare hand because I can feel if it is slightly warm or not and then I give it a squish between my fingers to see if it’s hard or soft. If it’s warm and soft, that means it’s fresh. The older the poops the harder they’ll be. Don’t forget to wash your hands after. Haha.
Two months after I got Piko, it was Christmas. I bought a few things for him that I thought he’d like and I wrapped them up and put them in a stocking I got from the dollar store. On Christmas day I unwrapped the gifts for him, and let him sniff his stuff. If you haven’t noticed this yet, a rabbit will rub their chin on something after smelling it (if it’s new or they’ve never seen it before). He rubbed his chin all over the stuff I gave him because he was claiming it as “his.” For some bunnies it’s a status or territorial thing, bunnies like to chin because they have a “scent gland” (submandibular cutaneous gland) in their chin and it sticks their scent on it. Spayed or neutered rabbits might chin less as it’s also associated with their hormones. It’s a way for male and female rabbits to communicate that they are looking for a mate. I think my rabbit does it because he is territorial. He isn’t neutered and I already talked to my vet about this. You will find a lot of people debate this topic all over the internet. I have my own reasons for not doing it, which you might not agree with, but that’s totally your own opinion. You do what YOU feel is best. I haven’t gotten him neutered because he’s not urinating everywhere or leaving territorial poops everywhere and I’m not planning on getting a mate for him. I live in a townhouse and there are “rules” here that I can only have two pets. My boyfriend and I have been discussing getting a dog, so we are preparing for that next stage. As it is now, Piko gets A LOT of attention from me and my boyfriend when we are home. Most rabbits from the SPCA or local animal shelters are already neutered and spayed, so you won’t have to worry about that. There are also some bunnies that are already bonded and they are only adoptable if you get them both.
**FYI Those papaya treats in the picture are discontinued from Petland. 🙁 I’ve looked everywhere for them, but they are no longer available. I loved giving them to Piko because he loves them and they help with the digestive enzymes in his tummy. Now I’ll have to hunt for some papaya in the stores without any added sugar. Pineapple also works as well.