REPTILES     RODENTS

 

an introduction to rabbits

Rabbits are intelligent and social companions. They benefit strongly from regular social interaction with their owners.

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Rabbit housing & Bedding

Getting the biggest house you can afford if possible is the best option in keep your Rabbit healthy and happy. It must be at least 4 times the length of the adult Rabbit.

It should be escape proof with a solid surface for sleeping. Rabbits are not designed to spend all day on wire mesh. It is wise to keep the hutch out of the position of draughts, direct sunlight and extreme temperatures. Rabbits can tolerate cold weather if properly acclimatised and sheltered but they must have access to shelter at all times. Rabbits cannot tolerate high temperatures.

Recommended bedding includes, hardwood shavings (cedar bases are not recommended) and hay. Your Rabbit will also need a nest box or hide-y hole. 

Rabbits can be taught to use a litter tray by placing the dropping into the tray over a period of a few days. They tend to naturally use corners as toilets so putting the litter tray in the chosen corner can help. Older Rabbits can be taught to use a litter box, they actually become better learners the older they get!

Spot checks will need to be done daily and the entire bedding should be cleaned on a week or more frequently as required. It is not recommended to clean the hutch while your Rabbit is in it as the hutch is his sanctuary and they need to feel safe in there.

Feeding

High quality Rabbit food will be a staple of your Rabbit's diet. Small amounts of fruit, vegetables should also be provided as part of the weekly diet. Hay should be in constant supply. We recommend brands such as Topflite which provides both pellets and grains and contains essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals. 

Grass hay is a staple of the Rabbit diet. Providing unlimited grass hay is one of the best things you can do for the health of your Rabbit. Unlimited hay:

  • Provides the necessary fiber required by herbivores' digestive systems
  • Keeps teeth properly ground.

Because the teeth are continually growing, Rabbits need to be constantly grazing and grinding to keep them a good length. Since hay is only a modest source of protein and nutrients it does not contribute significantly to obesity (with the exception of Alfalfa Hay).

Alfalfa hay is much higher in protein, calcium and carbohydrates and is primarily fed to young kits and pregnant or nursing Rabbits. A popular choice is Timothy Hay, as it is not too high in calcium for Rabbits. 

Foods such as Alfafa, Radish Sprouts, Basil, Beetroot Green Tops (sparingly), Bok Choy, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Carrots and Tops, Celery, Coriander, Dandelion greens and flowers, Green Peppers, Mint, Parsley, Pea Pods, Peppermint leave, Radish Tops, Raspberry Leaves, Spinach (small amounts), Watercress.

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If in doubt, do not feed!

Do not feed, chocolate, cabbage, sugary or junk food, peanuts, uncooked beans, onions, alcohol or caffeine as they will cause serious medical problems. Water should be provided in handing bottles rather than a shallow bowl as they can get very messy and are easily tipped over.

 

Normal behaviour

Rabbits are most active at dawn and dusk so these are great times for play and exercise. For playtime, arenas or harness' can be used to allow your Rabbit to explore safely. You will need to Rabbit proof your home before letting your Rabbit out to explore. Things such as electrical cords will be very appealing for them to chew on. Provide toys or a box on its side stuffed with hay are great ways to provide fun for your Rabbit.

Chew toys are a necessity as Rabbit teeth are constantly growing. Providing wooden chews and unlimited hay will help to keep the teeth at a manageable length. 

 

Grooming

Rabbits generally stay clean but can be bathed using appropriate small animal shampoo. Some Long Coated Rabbits will require regular grooming such as brushing and combing.

 

handling

Rabbits should be handled frequently to keep it tame and maintain a bond between Rabbit and owner. Lift the Rabbit with both hands and hold them close to your body always making sure to support the hind legs. Rabbits should never be lifted by their ears or by the scruff of the neck. Nor should they be allowed to jump down or held facing the ground as this may cause them to struggle and severely damage their legs. 

 

Health

Rabbits should be seen by a Vet at least once a year. Annual vaccinations may be recommended by your Vet.

 

signs of a healthy Rabbit

  • Active, alert and social
  • Healthy coat
  • Clear eyes
  • Eating and drinking regularly
  • Communicative
  • Walking normally
  • Normal Stools

 

Signs of an unhealthy rabbit

  • Diarrhoea or a dirty bottom
  • Overgrown Teeth
  • Heat Stroke