Grooming & Maintenance
Keeping your rabbit clean and comfy
While bunnies are usually particular about keeping themselves clean, sometimes they need help from their human!
Rabbits are very clean animals and do a fairly good job at keeping themselves pristine. One thing rabbits do NOT need from humans, except perhaps in extreme circumstances, is a bath. The trauma of a bath and being completely wet is not good for a rabbit and could potentially lead to shock and/or a heart attack. If your bunny is sick and cannot adequately groom herself, you can use warm, wet cloths or organic pet wipes to wipe her down.
It is important to keep your bunny's nails trimmed every 5-7 weeks. Not trimming them can lead to curling of the nails, where they could eventually grow into the paws and be very painful for your bunny. If nails get too long, they are more likely to break or rip and bleed. Below is video on how to safely trim your bunny's nails. If your bunny just won't cooperate or hold still, consider making a bunny burrito by wrapping your bun in a towel and trimming her nails while someone holds her. Your bunny vet can also trim your bunny's nails, typically for around $10.
Brushing your bunny helps reduce shedding. Rabbits have very thin and sensitive skin, so it's important to get a comb that is gentle on your rabbit. Long-haired rabbits should be combed every 3-4 days to prevent matting. See a recommended gentle comb to the right. Use light pressure whenever combing a bun.
Sometimes bunnies get messy butts because it is difficult for them to reach and clean that far back (especially if they are particularly robust). Once in a while, a gentle butt bath or trim might be necessary to take care of 'clingers' or matting. Use small scissors for cutting hair to cut any mattes or clingers from your bunny's bum (see recommended scissors to the right). You can also use a warm, damp rag to gently wipe the backend to tidy things up. It is important to keep that area clean to avoid sickness, infection or maggots.
Healthy ears are paramount for a rabbit! If a rabbit gets an ear infection, it can result in a severe head tilt which can sometimes become permanent and lead to unintentional rolling. Even though a good bunny vet will scope your bunny's ears to make sure there's not wax buildup or any signs of infection, a good maintenance practice is to give your bunny ear cleaning solution once a week or bi-weekly. You can get this solution from your bunny vet. Administer the solution by sitting on your knees with your bunny gently held between your legs, put one drop in one ear and massage gently at the base of the ear (you should hear the liquid moving around in there a little), then repeat on the other ear. Never try to stick anything in your rabbit's ears to clean them, leave that to the vet.
Another important aspect of bunny health and maintenance is making sure that your bunny's teeth wear down properly. Rabbit teeth constantly grow, so it's important that they get checked with a scope once or twice a year by your bunny vet to ensure your bun's teeth are wearing down evenly. In some cases, a back tooth might wear down to a point and cut into your bunny's cheek. In this case, the vet will file the tooth down. One way to help ensure your bun's teeth wear down properly is to provide your bunny with toys to chew on and make sure plenty of hay is always available for him to munch on.
Most rabbits don't like to be held. You might be thinking, "Well, if I can't hold and squeeze my bunny all the time, how do I bond with him?" The best way to interact with your rabbit is by getting down on the floor with him where he is most comfortable. This gives him the opportunity to interact with you by hopping all over you, laying by you or even licking you. If your rabbit is free-roaming either part-time or full-time, don't be surprised if he follows you around the house or jumps up on the couch to lay by you while you watch TV or read.