4 Keys to a Happy, Healthy Bunny
Bunnies prefer to be clean, and they’re serious about it. But they also need your help — not only to stay as clean as possible, but to stay healthy and comfortable. The list below includes 1) what to do and 2) what to buy.
Bunny nails should be clipped, on average, about once a month. Nail growth rates can vary wildly, so you’ll need to check your bun’s nails periodically to see if it’s clippin’ time. You’ll need to invest in a good quality pair of clippers like this. Do not skimp. Seriously.
I also recommend buying a small container of styptic powder in case you cut the nail too short and it bleeds. If this happens, don’t panic; apply a small amount of the powder to the affected nail and be more careful next time.
If you’re not sure how to begin, check out How to Clip Your Bunny’s Nails.
You know that gunk in the corners of your eyes when you wake up? Bunnies get it too.
Check for gunk by … looking. Pick up your bun and place him or her on a stable surface covered with a towel (for traction) and look closely at the corners of the eyes. Bunny eye gunk is white. It can be crusty or gooey; either way, get it out. They probably sell a fancy tool for this, but I don’t own it. I just use my (clean) fingers or a paper towel to gently coax out the gunk.
I’ve heard from other bunny moms that the gunk is harmless, and it may be – I’m not a vet. But it’s far too close to the brain for my liking, and bunnies are plenty fragile already without leaving random chunks of gross in their eyes.
Note: You may have heard that bonded pairs will take care of this for each other, but that’s not necessarily true. Buns can be slackers just like humans.
Oh, how my buns hate this procedure. Before you get started, I recommend purchasing a tool like this so you can see what you’re doing in there.
Once you stick that tool in, most bunnies will kick, stomp, or try to scratch your hand away. Hold your bun firmly and keep the tool far enough away that a sudden movement won’t cause it to jam into the ear. If you don’t see anything but a clean bunny ear, great! All done.
In other cases, you’ll see wax or other buildup. Wax is not a big deal, though you don’t want to let it get out of hand. To remove it, use the ear pick (or a Q-tip) to gently scrape the wax up and out of the ear.
Other buildup is a different story. If you see dried blood or a whitish cotton-looking substance, a trip to the vet may be in order to check for mites or a bacterial infection. I strongly recommend keeping Zymox on hand for this purpose.
Cleaning Scent Glands
This chore is not fun for anyone involved. It’s also a more “advanced” grooming task, so if you’ve never done it before, ask your vet to demonstrate before giving it a shot at home.
Down in your bun’s nether regions, to either side of the genitals, are tiny, pink pockets out of which comes his or her own unique musky signature. Buildup happens there and it needs to be removed.
Carefully turn your bunny over (if you don’t know how to safely do this, watch this quick demo). Alternatively, if you have a friend or partner around, have him or her hold the bunny as shown in the photo.
Use a clean finger to gently move fur aside and apply mild downward pressure (toward the left on the left side, right on the right side). The scent gland should open kind of stickily. In some cases, buildup will emerge on its own without further action. (Hold your nose and have a paper towel ready for disposal.)
If the buildup remains, coat a Q-tip in olive oil or Vaseline and gently (again) probe the gland. The lubricant will moisten any dried-out buildup and make it easier to remove. Wipe it away and dispose.