Top Tips For Caring For Your Rabbits
Tuesday 13th May 2014
Your rabbit’s environment
The following information will help you provide your rabbits with a happy living environment that caters for all of their needs. In the wild, a rabbit could have a territory the size of 30 tennis courts so a simple hutch is not enough! You should attach your hutch to a much larger run or exercise area so rabbits can decide when they would like to go out and hop around. You should provide plenty of dust free hay bedding for them to eat and to keep them warm. The hutch should also be lined with newspapers and cleaned out regularly. The area where your rabbits go to the toilet should be cleaned out daily. Rabbits like to be clean so they will groom themselves every day.
The rabbit hutch should be roomy enough for all the rabbits to be able to lie down, stretch and hop three time across from one end to the other. They should also be nice and tall so that the rabbits can sit up on their back legs if they want to!
Rabbits love to run, leap, dig, frolic and graze so it’s important that they have enough space in their run. It should also provide shelter from sun and rain, and should be escape-proof and secure. A secure exercise run or enclosure will allow your rabbits to exercise, graze and play safely. Tunnels, tree stumps, toys, platforms, games and hidden food keep rabbits mentally and physically active. Digging is a favourite pastime for rabbits and they will always appreciate a sand pit or wide flower pot filled with soil where they can dig to their hearts content.
There are many plants that are poisonous for rabbits. We would recommend that you follow the link and familiarise yourself with them so that you can ensure your rabbits environment is free from them all.
Feeding your rabbit
Rabbits are fibrevores. This means that fibre is absolutely essential for their general health. They can get their fibre from hay and grass which should be available for them at all times. Rabbits should eat at least their body size in hay every day! Chewing on grass and hay also keeps their continuously growing teeth worn. Rabbits would spend 70% of their time in the wild searching for grass, hay, plants, herbs and bark to eat and foraging like this keeps them busy, stimulated and exercised. Read more about diet on the Rabbit Awareness Week website.
Interacting with your rabbit
Although rabbits love interacting with humans, they are a prey animal so sometimes they will run and hide. Keeping tunnels and places to hide in their run will help them feel comfortable. To build a special relationship with your rabbits, handle them gently from an early age. As ground living animals, rabbits can get distressed when they are lifted and carried. To help your rabbits feel comfortable, approach them from ground level, and never from above. When you do pick your rabbits up ensure that all four legs and the bottom are securely supported at all times. Rabbits can be trained and can respond really well to clicker training. You may be able to teach them to rear up for a treat or to use their litter tray.
Rabbits need friends!
Don’t forget that your rabbit is a social animal and would hate to be left alone! They are happiest with another rabbit or in a group of rabbits. You do need to be careful that the pairing is right to avoid fighting and/or kittens (baby rabbits). We would always recommend neutering your rabbit. A good combination is a neutered male and a neutered female. Not only does neutering prevent unwanted pregnancies, but it can also reduce fighting and prevent some health problems in female rabbits. Rabbits need to be introduced very carefully. Guinea pigs should not be kept as companions for rabbits. They have different dietary requirements and communicate differently too. Furthermore, rabbits can sometimes bully guinea pigs and can pass a bacteria onto them, which can cause respiratory disease. If you would like advice on neutering your rabbit, or if you are thinking of introducing your rabbit to a new companion, we would recommend that you speak to your vet for advice.
Your rabbit’s health
There are some health issues which can affect rabbits so keeping them fit and healthy is really important. The key things to remember are appropriate feeding, care and vaccinations. For more information about health problems that may affect your rabbit, speak to your vet or visit the Rabbit Awareness Week website.
For more information about caring for rabbits get involved with Rabbit Awareness Week (RAW) by visiting their website. Alternatively, you can call us on 01929 480474 or speak to your vet.