Caring for Rabbits

Who doesn’t love a bunny? These cute, fluffy little creatures will worm their way into your heart. Bunnies need lots of love and care and a safe place to live.Rabbits, will grow to about 20 – 30cm in length and will live for up to 10 years.

Upon getting your fluffy friend, give them some time to get used to their environment. Once they are used to their surroundings, open their cage and let them approach you. You may then very gently pick them up using both hands and make sure that their rear legs are secure at all times. Hold them close to your body. DO NOT EVER let them jump down as this will lead to leg injury. DO NOT pick them up by the scruff of the neck or by their ears. In order to bond with your bunny, it is important to play with them frequently, this way they will gain trust and be more amiable in coming out of their cage. When putting them back in their cage, you need to herd them in, as you do not wish them to believe that their cage is a bad place to be. In fact they will respond to verbal commands, so you can train them to go back into their cage by telling them its time to sleep or rest. Make use of treats to train your bunny.

Dawn and dusk are your rabbits’ active times and these are the best times for them for play and interaction. When out playing, you should give them a safe, secure place to run and hop. They also love a box of hay that is turned on its side to play around in whilst out. Like all other animals though, they need time alone and you should make sure that you have a large cage or enclosure for them to rest, preferably 4 times their length. The hutch should have a solid floor, be kept out of extreme temperature changes and from direct sunlight (they cannot handle high temperatures), rain, wind and draught. Although they can be kept outside it is best to shelter them in winter. Hay can be used for bedding and for eating, but please make sure it is chemical free and safe for your bunny. Your little friend also needs a nest box or hidey-hole in their hutch. Make sure to clean out wet spots in the hutch daily and top with hay. Clean and replace the entire bedding at least once a week.

Keep your rabbits teeth healthy by leaving chew toys around their enclosure; their teeth never stop growing and it is imperative that they have safe, hard objects to chew on, to keep their teeth at a reasonable length. Overgrown teeth can lead to serious health problems.

Rabbits generally stay clean themselves, however you can bath them with a small animal shampoo if necessary, and some long haired rabbits need to be brushed regularly.

Rabbits can be trained to use a litter box, you can get them used to the litter box by adding the bunny droppings into the litter box gradually over a few days. Most rabbits use a corner of their enclosure for toilet purposes, so place your litter tray there. Use a rabbit litter specifically designed for rabbits and remember to clean it daily.

It is a good idea to spay or neuter your rabbit, PLEASE discuss this with your vet. It is best to keep rabbits separate unless they are spayed or neutered. Your rabbit needs to have an annual vet visit, to check their body condition, to check for ear and fur mites, and to check the condition of their teeth and nails.

Feeding

Always feed your rabbit high quality pellets specifically designed for them (ask our in-store assistants for assistance). Their diet should consist of 90% pellets and 10% fruit and vegetables. Make sure that they have at least 3 fruits or vegetables daily. Their fresh food should be of the following:

  • Hay (as it is good for digestive health)
  • Fresh cut grass (chemical free) – never lawn cuttings
  • Alfalfa and clover sprouts
  • Coriander, mint, basil and parsley
  • Flowers (no pesticides)
  • Broccoli leaves and stems
  • Celery
  • Pea pods
  • Dandelion greens
  • Carrots (all parts of the carrot)
  • Spinach (only in small quantities)
  • Radish tops
  • Watercress
  • Wheatgrass
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Green peppers
  • Peppermint leaves
  • Bok choy

Please DO NOT feed them ANYTHING that you are not sure about

** Do not feed lettuce as the high water content can lead to diarrhoea

ALWAYS check the health of your pets on a daily basis. These are both the good and bad health signs in a rabbit:

GOOD HEALTH

  • Active
  • Alert
  • They will make soft noises to communicate
  • Alert
  • Normal hopping
  • Healthy looking coat
  • Good appetite
  • Drinks water
  • Bright eyes
  • Normal stools
  • Sociable

BAD HEALTH

  • Subdued
  • Lethargic
  • Loss of appetite
  • Drinks less
  • Weight loss
  • Hair loss or bad coat
  • Diarrhoea or unclean posterior
  • Sores on the skin
  • Any eye or nasal discharges
  • Over-grown teeth
  • Heat stroke
  • Trouble breathing or panting
  • Unconsciousness
  • Seizures

Consult your vet immediately if your rabbit is experiencing any of these symptoms

Their fresh food should not stay in their cage for longer than 24 hours.

ALWAYS make sure that they have clean and fresh water every day, which should be available to them throughout the day. It is recommended to give rabbits a heavy water bowl or a water bottle to reduce spillage in the hutch.