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  • Writer's pictureAmy Richburg

Tips To Help Your Bunny Smoothly Transition To A New Home

Updated: Apr 22, 2023

Disclaimer: I am not a veterinarian. Any advice given on Fairy Trail Rabbitry is not meant to be used in place of professional consultation, especially in the treatment and diagnosis of illness. I always recommend doing your own research and learn new things myself everyday. This post contains affiliate links. We are affiliates and may receive a small commission (at no additional cost to you) if you make a purchase after clicking on our affiliate links. Thank you!

Are you bringing home a bunny soon? While this can be a very exciting time for bun parents, it can also be stressful for rabbits since they are prey animals and they may feel scared or unsafe in new surroundings. We all want our bunnies to be as happy as possible, and luckily there are several steps you can take to reduce the stress of transitioning to a new home for your bunny and make sure everything goes smoothly. Keep reading for our 6 tips to on how to help settle a rabbit into a new home! Some of these tips could also apply if you are needing to move to a new house with your rabbit. Hopefully they will be helpful to you and your bun buns!

Blue Eyed Sable Point VM Holland Lop Baby Bunny Flopped

Set Up A Homebase

The first step is to set up a comfortable homebase for your bunny! I highly recommend getting a x-pen or building a custom pen from cube shelf panels zip-tied together, since these options give your bun enough space to be able to binky and play, are easy to setup and clean, and are often more affordable than small cages marketed for bunnies. If protecting your floor is a concern, you can purchase waterproof rolls of vinyl from Home Depot, Lowe's, Ollies, etc. to put under the pen (make sure the edges are outside the pen so your bun can't chew them) and then add something on top to provide traction such as washable rugs/carpet, fleece blankets, or reusable dog pee pads. Check out our bunny supply checklist to get inspiration on setting up a comfy space for your rabbit! Even if you plan on bunny proofing your home and free-roaming your bunny (which I highly recommend if possible!), it is still a good idea to start your bun out in a smaller space to help them adjust to their new home. A smaller space can also help with litter box training in a new environment. As your bun settles in, you can also zip-tie several pens together to expand his/her space, and start letting your bun free-roam!

Provide Hideouts

Bunnies are prey animals, so it is very important for them to have somewhere to hide where they can feel safe and comfortable. This is especially true when they are stressed or scared, which is common when bunnies first get to a new home. Hideouts with at least two entrances/exits are the best since your bun will feel safer in them! Some good options include bunny castles (there are tons of options on Amazon and Etsy) or tunnels! You can also make diy hidey houses from cutting holes in cardboard boxes or zip-tied cube shelf panel hidey huts with fleece blankets to cover them and make a comfortable spot for your bun to lay (our buns LOVE these, I plan on making a guide for this soon). Giving your bun hidey houses will help them feel safer and make the transition to a new home less stressful!

Give Your Bun Familiar Objects

Familiar items that have the scent of your bunny's previous home on them can also be helpful to make them feel safer in a new place. If you can, consider asking the person you are adopting your bunny from if they could send them home with something familiar to help them with the transition. Blankets, toys and other items that have the scent of their home are good options. We always send our babies home with their snuggle teddy which has the scent of their mother and siblings on it so they will be more comfortable with the transition. If you aren't able to get something from their original home, you can put a fleece blanket in your bun's carrier when you pick them up and then put that in their homebase when you get home as an alternative. You can also try to get some of the same types of items (litter box, toys, bowls, etc.) that your bun is used to and use those when setting up their homebase.

Black VM Holland Lop Bunny with Teddy Bear

Transition To New Foods Slowly

Bunnies have very sensitive digestive systems, especially when they are younger, so it is very important to transition them to any new foods slowly and carefully to minimize the risk of upsetting their digestion. We always send our babies home with a gallon ziploc of transition pellets so our new bunny homes will have plenty to transition them. The following is a general guideline for transitioning your bunny to a new kind of pellets:

Week 1 75% old pellets and 25% new pellets

Week 2 50% old pellets and 50% new pellets

Week 3 25% old pellets and 75% new pellets

Week 4+ 100% new pellets

Your bunny might try to pick out the old pellets at first and this is completely normal, just be consistent and continue mixing them together and your bun should start eating the new kind as well. Consider asking the person you are getting your bun from if they will send them home with a bag of their pellets or the brand they are currently feeding so you can purchase some. If you can't get pellets to transition them, then I recommend feeding only quality hay and fresh water for a couple of days and then slowly introducing the brand you purchased (Oxbow and Sherwood are great options).

Ensure Your Bun Is Eating & Drinking

Keep a close eye on your bun the first few days home to make sure that he/she is eating, drinking, and pooing regularly. Your bunny should be doing all this within the first 24 hours home. Bunnies are very sensitive and need to keep their gut moving constantly to prevent gi stasis, this is primarily done by eating hay (which is why it is so important that your bun has 24/7 access to nibble on hay). Offer a large bundle of hay on one side of the litter box to encourage your rabbit to eat it. Rabbits can sometimes become dehydrated when drinking from water bottles, so I highly recommend using a large heavy non-tip bowl or gravity waterer, and refreshing the water regularly. You may need to show them where their food and water is at first.

It is also a good idea to have an exotic vet (normal vets don't treat rabbits so it is very important to find one that is rabbit-savvy) that you can take your bun to since the stress of moving to a new home can sometimes cause health issues to arise. Check out The House Rabbit Society Rabbit Vet List to get started finding a vet near you, you can also call and google around to find more vets that aren't on the list yet. I also recommend having having critical care, syringes (these 60ml syringes are great for feeding critical care), simethicone (baby gas drops), and other emergency supplies on hand.

Respect Your Bunny's Comfort Level

It is very important to be patient with your bun while they are settling into their new home and bonding with your family. Depending on the bunny, it can take from a couple weeks or months (and even longer for some buns) to fully settle into a new home. As your bun gets more comfortable, you can slowly expand their space, start letting them free roam, and spend more time actively bonding with them! Positive signs include flopping (where they lay out on their side, this means your bun is relaxed and comfortable), binkies (jumping up in the air and twisting, this means that your bun is very happy), curiosity and wanting to explore, and zoomies (when your bun runs around really fast, also a sign of a happy bun).

Bunnies are prey animals so you need to show them that you are someone they can trust to develop a bond. It can take time for your bunny to bond with you, but it is 100% worth it when they do! Spend time on their level talking softly to them or just working on something in the same space as them, and let your bunny come to you. You can also lay on the floor with your bunny to get even more on their level. This will help you seem less intimidating to your bun and they will be more likely to feel comfortable approaching you. Hand feed age-appropriate treats, veggies (6+ months), or pellets to help your bun associate you and your hands with positive things. If your bun is comfortable with it you can start gently petting them while they eat out of your hand. Most bunnies love head pets! Avoid chasing your bun, since they are prey animals this can be very scary for them and can make it harder for them to trust and bond with you. If you need to get your bun to go back in their pen, try placing a treat (pellets or plain rolled oats will work for baby buns) in their pen so they will go back in by themselves. You get what you put in. Be consistent spending time on the ground with your bun and hand feeding them, and eventually you will form a bond! ♡

Fairy Trail Rabbitry is a very small family-run indoor Holland Lop Rabbitry in Kentucky focused on raising loving companions and providing bunny care info and tips to both new and experienced bunny parents! All of our buns are also our beloved pets and are very loved and spoiled. We are dedicated to helping bunnies around the world live happy, healthy, binky full lives!

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