Rabbits may be small pets but they are still a big responsibility and require a lot of commitment.
They can live for as long as 12 years if cared for correctly. Our vets and nurses have plenty advice to help your rabbits live a healthy long life.
What Should I Be Feeding My Rabbit?
Rabbits have complex digestive systems and require a high amount of fibre in their diet.
85-90% of your rabbit’s diet should be high quality feeding hay, which should always be freely available and refreshed every day. This should amount to roughly the size of your rabbit’s body.
Fresh greens provide additional nutrition, and can include grass (not lawn clippings), dandelion leaves, fresh herbs and spring greens. AVOID lettuce and other pale green vegetables as they can cause diarrhoea.
Small amounts of fruit can be given occasionally as a treat.
Fresh water should always be available, and changed daily. Some rabbits prefer drinking from a bowl than from a bottle.
Nuggets are fed as a supplement and only make up 5% of your rabbits diet. A rough rule of thumb would see you giving your rabbit one egg cup of nuggets per 2.5kg of body weight per day.
Muesli diets should be avoided as it causes selective eating.
How Much Space Does My Rabbit Need?
Rabbits should always have the option to exercise freely, and so require constant access to a large run or secured garden.
Their house should be as big as possible, but at least two feet high, two feet wide and six feet long.
This should allow your rabbit to run and jump as they would in the wild.
Should I Have More Than One Rabbit?
Yes! In the wild, rabbits live in large groups, so one rabbit on its own will become lonely. Rabbits are companion animals and are best kept in neutered pairs.
Should I Neuter My Rabbit?
Neutering prevents life-threatening health problems and unwanted pregnancies. It also allows rabbits to live in groups or pairs.
We can neuter rabbits from four months of age, but recommend a health check prior to booking to check their weight and health status.
How Should I Handle My Rabbit?
Rabbits are individuals – some will enjoy being stroked while others prefer to be left alone.
As they are prey animals, rabbits always prefer to interact with you on ground level, where they will feel far happier and safer. If you sit quietly, most will happily come over and see you – especially for the occasional treat!
When you do need to pick up your rabbit, the safest way is to slide one hand underneath the body and in-between the front legs, with your other arm around its hindquarters, supporting its body weight.
Should My Rabbit Be Vaccinated?
Vaccination is the most important measure you should take to protect your rabbits. Rabbits can be vaccinated from five weeks of age. Boosters are needed every year.
Vaccinations are against myxomatosis and rabbit viral haemorrhagic disease one. Both are life-threatening diseases with low survival rates and so vaccination is vital in order to protect both indoor and outdoor rabbits.
When Should I Bring My Rabbit To The Vets?
Rabbits are a prey species so hide pain well, making it important they have regular health checks, to ensure they are healthy and that any problems are picked up at an earlier stage.
Alongside yearly vaccinations rabbits need:
- Parasite treatments – Rabbits can get parasites, just like cats and dogs. Having the condition of their fur and skin checked regular can indicate the need for any treatment. Rabbits can also be at risk of fly strike, which is where flies lay eggs within their fur. Ensuring they stay clean around their tails and matt free is important to prevent this.
- Weight checks – Maintaining a healthy weight is important as weight loss can indicate disease. It is also important for preventing obesity which in itself can cause diseases such as arthritis, liver disease, fly strike and skin problems.
- Dental checks – Your rabbit’s teeth continuously grow throughout its life and they need to be constantly worn down. To ensure this make sure that they are eating plenty of hay, as it is the most abrasive part of their diet. Sometimes, through bad diet or genetics, a rabbit's teeth can overgrow. If this does happen then the vet will need to burr the teeth down.
- Nail clips – Rabbits loving being on grass and this means their nails can sometimes get too long and uncomfortable. Rabbits paws are often very fluffy and so checking nails can be difficult, so we can help with this.
- Poo checks – Gut health is very important for rabbits, and checking their faeces is a good indicator of their health. We can advise you on this by you bringing samples or showing us photos.