Our Rabbit page on this site is bursting with information on all aspects of rabbit ownership, from health and husbandry to behaviour and many other helpful trusted resources, click here
to be directed to the page.
We also like the PDSA's 'My Rabbit MOT'
- anyone can use this, to check their bunny is getting the most out of life and more! It addresses the 5 key welfare needs of environment, diet, behaviour, company and health:
Provide your rabbit with an optimal environment - a big house and run which is protected from predators (e.g. birds of prey, rats or cats); has a good cleaning routine in place, has sufficient ventilation (respiratory disease is common in rabbits and often goes undetected) and provide opportunities to keep warm in the colder weather and cool in the hot weather - shade is very important! Space and size does matter - your rabbit needs to be able to run around, jump and stretch right up or out and as rabbits are sociable animals that means space for 2!
Keeping an eye on your rabbit's weight is important - and that means its body condition score too. We routinely score them out of 5 the idea being 3/5 - that means he/she isn't overweight or underweight but just right. Optimum body weight is important for your rabbits health and will reduce the risk of fly strike. A good balanced diet is what we need for our rabbits that means 85% good quality hay and grass of variable types, supplemented with a very small amount of rabbit nuggets and greens (see our rabbit page for further details).
A rabbit's diet need to be low in carbohydrates and high in fibre - the latter also helps to increase fluid intake, all of which is important to keep the rabbit's gut moving!
Incorrectly fed rabbits are prone to a condition known as 'gut stasis' - a life threatening condition where the rabbit's gastrointestinal tract slows down, food becomes impacted and the gut is blocked. In some cases this condition can be treated medically, however surgery may be the only option to remove the impaction. Either way this is a life threatening and often painful condition.
A good healthy balanced diet is therefore important and don't forget rabbits are natural foragers and this should be encouraged every day - for further information click here
Rabbits are sociable creatures and need to be relaxed when handled. They are after all prey animals so being picked up off the ground doesn't come naturally to them! This takes time and patience and is a really rewarding bonding exercise for you and your rabbits. Being able to handle your rabbit also gives you the opportunity to check them over, something we would encourage you do every day. And don't forget their bottom - this should be clean and tidy. Dirty bottoms should not be ignored as can lead to flystrike very quickly in the warmer months - this can be life threatening. Pop to our resources section on our rabbit page for some great further reading suggestions and get really good at understanding your rabbits behaviour - your rabbit will grow in confidence with you once you understand why he does what he does and what signs he's showing when he does!!
Ever seen a field of rabbits when out walking in the countryside? Of course you have! Rabbits are sociable creatures and naturally live in groups. Your rabbit will be much happier if living with another bunny, but introducing two bunnies together takes patience and time for them to get used to each other, accept each other and live together. Lets face most of would appreciate a bit of time getting to know another human before we moved in together! Well its no different for rabbits. Again there are lots of resources to help - visit the Rabbit Welfare Association page on pairing up rabbits, click here
It goes without saying that overall good health is important. It is strongly advisable to have your rabbit neutered - spayed if a doe or castrated if a buck, but this is also the same advice if you keep same sex pairs. Daily checks are important - check their fur and ears for signs of parasites, check their front teeth are aligned and not starting to overgrow and there is no evidence of saliva staining on their chin, check their eyes are clean with no evidence of dried tears of tear staining, make sure they are routinely vaccinated (that's annual vaccinations against myxomatosis and both strains of viral haemorrhagic disease) and we may have mentioned this already a few times - but daily checks on their bottoms please! It's vital bottoms are clean especially in the warmer weather to help prevent fly strike. A dirty bottom is likely to be a sign of ill health which can include obesity, dental disease, arthritis and/or gastrointestinal problems so a vet health check is always advisable.
Download your own copy of the PDSA 'My Rabbit MOT'
sheet, click here
And why not download this handy daily checklist - especially useful if you have children involved in the care of your rabbits - its called the 'Better Bunnies Programme' click here
to download.We are here to help your rabbit have a long and healthy life, please contact us if you have questions about any aspect of your rabbits care.
To book your rabbit in for their free nurse nail clip and weight check book online, click here, use our online chat through this website or or ring us on 01376 325511.