Decide whether your rabbit will live inside or outside. Before bringing your new pet home you need to decide if you intend the bunny to be a house rabbit or live outdoors in a run in the yard. House rabbits are popular pets but there are a few factors to consider. While you will have to do more cleaning and training for a rabbit that lives indoors with you, you will not have as much social contact with a rabbit that lives outside.
Getting a new pet rabbit can be fun, but it's important to understand that a rabbit needs time to adjust to its new home. It's your job to make sure that your rabbit has everything it needs to make that adjustment as smooth as possible. The decisions you make at this early stage in your lives together can set the tone for the future relationship you have with your rabbit.
An outdoor hutch will need to have a run attached to it, so that
your rabbit can exercise. The run should be a minimum of 4 feet (1.2 m)
by 8 ft by 2ft tall, for a rabbit under 2kg.
Many indoor hutches are made of plastic with a wire roof. This has the advantage of being lightweight, so you can move it around the house easily.
If you can't find a hutch you like, make your own! It isn't as simple as buying one, but it can be much better for your rabbit.
Cover the bottom of the hutch with bedding. You must
provide bedding that is soft, warm and absorbent. Cover the entire base
to a minimum depth of 3–4 inches (7.6–10 cm). This cushions the backs of
the rabbit's hind legs, which are prone to pressure sores if not enough
padding is provided.
Commonly used substrates for bedding include wood chips, hay, or straw. Of these, straw is the warmest and softest and makes the best bedding material, hay is second best (and is more expensive than straw), and sawdust it third best.
Get a litter tray. You will need to litter train your rabbit
if you are keeping it inside. The litter tray will need to fit inside
the hutch and not take up more than a third of the floor space.
Transfer your rabbit carefully from its carrier to its hutch. Rabbits are a prey species, which means when they are stressed they want to hide. Moving home is a big deal for a bunny, and so when you bring them home leave them in the quiet to settle in.
Leave the rabbit undisturbed for 24 hours. This will
help it grow accustomed to the new sights, sounds, and smells of their
new home without the added challenge of strange people staring at them.
Start interacting with your rabbit after 24 hours. Take it slowly. Spend as long as time allows each day sitting beside the hutch talking to the rabbit. If the rabbit is already tame, then open the hutch door and stroke along the rabbit's back.
Avoid hovering your hand over the rabbit's head as this is what a predator would do.
Try picking up the rabbit carefully. If the rabbit
doesn't run away when you gently pet it, then sit on the ground and
gently lift rabbit out and onto your lap. Sitting on the ground is less
frightening to bunny, because they are ground dwelling and being high in
the air is unnerving for them.
To pick up your rabbit, place a hand on its chest and another on its bottom, and carefully lift it so that its side is parallel to your chest, and it is sitting on one of your arms while the other forms a barrier so it can't fall off. Then place it on your lap.
If the rabbit is not used to being picked up and runs away, do not forcibly remove the rabbit. Instead, take your time and tempt the rabbit out with an extra tasty treat. Once the rabbit gets used to your voice, and realises you are no threat, it will eventually go for the treat.
Once bunny is regularly staying out to receive the treat, you can start to stroke their back. Once they accept this, at that stage you can try to pick bunny up.
Remember, rabbits are prey animals. Unlike dogs or cats, their mothers
do not carry them, so the only situation in the wild in which they would
be picked up would be when a predator was carrying them. Some rabbits
just don't like being picked up, so if your rabbit won't let you pick it
up, leave it be.
Groom your rabbit. Grooming your rabbit is another great way to bond. Use a comb and a soft brush, and once bunny is happy being stroked, use the brush to groom it.
This is another good way to teach rabbit your company is a good thing, and perhaps try this first if the rabbit is still skittish about being picked up.
Ask the previous owner what the rabbit ate. In the short term, offer the rabbit that same food. Too many changes at once are likely to upset the rabbit and food is one thing you can keep constant (at least for a few days).
As the rabbit gets more confident, if its diet is not ideal, start to change its food.