We’ve been privileged to have looked after lots of rabbits over the years and they make great pets – but you’ve got to have lots of time. Here’s our top tips for looking after your pet Rabbit.
Rabbits can be quite a lot of work so please be sure that your lifestyle allows plenty of time for looking after them.
Rabbits live for around 6 to 8 years and both males and females make good pets.
It’s strongly recommended that you neuter and/or spay your rabbits. This generally makes them calmer and more loving.
Rabbits usually like to have another for company and a neutered male can be very happily placed with a spayed female.
Vets recommend that a female is spayed at around 6 months and a male neutered at around 5 months old.
It’s essential that rabbits are vaccinated against Myxomatosis and Viral Haemorrhagic Disease which can both be fatal.
Rabbits can be kept indoors or outdoors. If you keep them outdoors you should provide them with a large hutch that has a separate sleeping and living area. An outdoor hutch must be well made and properly weatherproof. It’s possible to buy covers for your hutch for extra protection and don’t forget to make sure it’s secure from foxes. In the winter rabbits should be given more protection and a garage or quality shed with good natural light and good ventilation is ideal. If you also store your car in your garage please be aware of harmful exhaust fumes!
The base of a hutch should be covered in absorbant wood shavings and the bedroom area filled with warm bedding material such as hay. A litter tray is a good idea to keep things more hygenic. Rabbits can get very bored, so it’s important to provide them with a few toys to play with. Wooden toys are highly recommended in order to help them grind their teeth and stop them growing to big.
To keep them exercised and healthy rabbits should be allowed out every day to play in a run.
If you’re going to keep your rabbit indoors you’ll need to purchase a dedicated indoor hutch along with a playpen. A litter tray is also essential to help keep their hutch as hygenic as possible.
Fibre plays a very big part in rabbit digestion and hay should always be made available which also helps to grind their teeth down. Rabbits should also be fed muesli and nuggets which are available from all good pet stores. Small amounts of fruit and vegetables can be given (over 16 weeks old) but ensure that these are introduced slowly to avoid upsetting young rabbits stomachs. Any change of food should also be done gradually over a period of 10 to 14 days.
Fresh water should be given daily via a bottle and their feeding bowls and bottles cleaned regularly. Hutches must be cleaned at least once a week and all soiled bedding and litter removed every day. Hygiene is extremely important and don’t forget to wash your hands before and after cleaning.
While cleaning out dirty bedding it’s also a good idea to check their bottoms for “flystrike” which can potentially be very serious for rabbits. Please check regularly for the signs of flystrike and seek veterinary help right away if you suspect they may be suffering from an attack.
Rabbits are a bit like cats in that they like to groom themselves, but it’s still sensible to groom them once a week and even daily if they’ve got long hair, which will keep their coats clean and healthy.
Rabbits are very hard not to fall in love with and do make for great pets. If you have any questions about keeping rabbits, please give me a call on (0131) 333 0640 or send me an email.