If you are looking to book a cat vaccination, please be aware that there is an ongoing shortage of some cat vaccines affecting all UK Veterinary practices. Find out more here.

Rabbit Care

We can help keep your rabbit happy and healthy

Our vets and nurses at Richmond House Vets are always happy to talk you through rabbit care advice or see your rabbits for a check-up.

Rabbits are very playful, entertaining, rewarding pets but they require specific care and conditions.

The following advice will help you to keep your rabbit happy and healthy.

  • Entertainment for your Rabbit
  • Exercise and Space
  • Feeding
  • Flystrike
  • Handling
  • Housing
  • Neutering
  • Vaccinations

Entertainment for your Rabbit

Like dogs and cats, rabbits need to be kept active and entertained. They love to throw things around, run madly around the room and to chew on things.

Some ideas for rabbit toys include:

  • Old cardboard boxes
  • Cardboard toilet roll inners
  • Large paper bags
  • Cat toys, especially those with bells
  • Tunnels (ones made for cats, or something you have made yourself at home)
  • Dried out pinecones
  • Treats hidden in hay

Exercise and Space

Inside, rabbits will need a cage they can feel safe in and where they can be enclosed when you are not home to supervise them. Outside, their housing needs to be big enough and should have a weatherproof area. They must also be secure from predators such as foxes, dogs and cats.

Your rabbit’s cage should allow them to leap along it three times and stand up at full stretch. All rabbits need four hours minimum of free range exercise each day.

Feeding

The majority of rabbit vet visits are related to improper diet, so the importance of a good diet cannot be over-emphasised.

Rabbits are herbivores (vegans) and their digestive tracts are not equipped to handle anything but a plant based diet. Their digestive systems are also designed to eat low energy food. Somehow they can turn dry grass and weeds into enough energy to be the vibrant active little beasts they are!

Rabbit's staple diet

The main food source for your rabbits should be good quality grass or hay. Your rabbit should be allowed to eat as much of this hay as they like.

Leafy green vegetables and grass are also important and should be given daily: approximately one cup of veggies per kilo of rabbit a day.

Remember to start new foods slowly, and for leafy green veggies start from around 12 weeks of age. Hay can be provided as bedding and many owners find that using hay in the litter box helps with toilet training as bunnies often poo where they are eating. Clean fresh hay needs to be provided daily.

Some suggested vegetables include:

  • Beet tops
  • Bok choy
  • Broccoli (mostly the leaves)
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Chickweed
  • Carrot tops
  • Kale
  • Silverbeet
  • Endive radicchio
  • Strawberry and raspberry leaves. (i.e. a small handful of the strawberry hulls)
  • Radish tops
  • Peppermint and other herb leaves such as parsley, mint and basil
  • Spinach
  • Many grasses and weeds. (i.e. Dandelions, most lawn grasses, dock leaves)
  • Dandelion flowers and leaves
  • Swiss chard
  • Watercress
  • Wheat grass

Never give iceberg lettuce, beans, corn, rhubarb, cauliflower or potato peels to your rabbit.

Sweet treats for your rabbit

The majority of your rabbit’s diet should be made up of hay and the vegetables listed above. However, some healthy things are great for training or just for a treat.

Some examples are apple, banana, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, grapes, carrots, mango, peach or pear. All of these should only be fed in SMALL amounts.

A rabbit’s low energy food diet makes them very easy and cheap to feed, but also makes them very easy to spoil. Rabbits have a sweet tooth and will actively seek out sweet foods, including chocolate and sweet drinks. Do not feed them these!

Rabbit pellets

There are lots of rabbit pellets and rabbit mixes on the market but many of these are very unhealthy, especially when fed in large amounts. Pellets help to prevent selective feeding. Even these need to be fed in limited amounts.

All diet changes MUST be done SLOWLY and we strongly recommend discussing this with one of our vets or nurses first. Contact Us for more details.

Flystrike

Some rabbits get faeces stuck to their bottom, which in summer can attract flies. Fly strike is a condition where the flies lay eggs in the fur and maggots develop and this can be life-threatening for rabbits.

Twice daily inspection of the underside and bottom area of your rabbit, especially between April and October, appropriate diet and good basic hygiene will reduce the risk of this.

Please contact your vet or nurse if you are concerned about your rabbit. We can provide advice on products to apply to reduce the risk, though these should never be seen as a substitute for visual inspection.

Handling

Children should be supervised when handling their pet rabbit. Rabbits have sharp teeth and can bite quite hard. When lifting rabbits care must be taken to support their back and hindlegs.

Housing

Rabbits can live happily indoors or outside. They make wonderful indoor pets and can be toilet trained. However, rabbits do love to chew things. So before letting your rabbit roam indoors, you will need to rabbit-proof your home.

Cages need to be cleaned regularly. Rabbits should never be left in a situation where their feet and underneath are getting wet because of a dirty cage.

Guinea pigs are not good housemates for rabbits as they have quite different food requirements and can pass diseases between them.

 

Neutering

All rabbits should be neutered to prevent unwanted baby bunnies, and to minimise behavioural problems. Neutering also stops some extremely common cancers in female rabbits.

Bunnies are much happier with friends, and a bonded pair of neutered rabbits is a delight to see spending time playing and grooming each other. But rabbits do “breed like rabbits”, and from a very young age. So make sure you know what sex they are!

Please contact us if you have questions about when to neuter your rabbit.

Vaccinations

There are two main viruses that affect pet rabbits: myxomatosis and viral haemorrhagic disease (calicivirus). Vaccinations are essential to prevent these viruses, as there is generally no cure for them. Contact Us for advice on the best combination for your rabbit and details on the cost of rabbit vaccinations.

When to bring your rabbit to the vet

It is very important for your rabbit to see a vet if your rabbit:

  • Stops or slows down its eating
  • Has any obvious injury
  • Has difficulty breathing
  • Has any lumps on its face or jaw
  • Has swollen or runny eyes
  • If you are worried it is unwell
  • If you are unable to keep it clean around the rear end

For further information please contact the practice.

Pet insurance

Just knowing that your rabbit is insured can be a great comfort to owners and ensure you don’t find yourself facing a hefty bill if your rabbit is injured or needs treatment.

For more information about Pet Insurance, click here.

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