Caring for your rabbit

Danielle and Soya

Male: Buck
Female: Doe
Young: Kittens
Lifespan: 5-10 years
Litter size: 4-12 kittensAverage weight: Male 1-5kg Female 1-8kg
Vaccinations: Myxomatosis (every 6-12 months)/VHD (annually)

Housing

The minimum size for a good hutch is 4ft x 2ft x 2ft high for a single, medium breed. It should be about 4-5 times the length of the rabbit when the rabbit is stretched out and tall enough that the rabbit can sit upright with its ears pricked up.

The hutch should be placed somewhere sheltered, where there won’t be direct sunlight and it is protected from wind and rain. You will need to provide safe absorbent bedding. Hutches should be cleaned on a regular basis, as flies can be attracted to the hutch in warm weather and bedding can become damp and mouldy in wet weather.

Feeding

Rabbits need a high fibre diet to keep their continually growing teeth in trim and ensure that they stay healthy. We recommend giving your rabbit fresh hay, grass and a small bowl of excel or supreme science pellets. Rabbits should always have access to water and hay, as restrictions can cause digestive problems.

Exercise

Rabbit love to play in boxes, tubes and other hiding places. They generally feel nervous in large open spaces.

Training

Rabbits can be litter trained fairly easily as they like to go in the same area each time. You can also train them to do tricks.

Handling your rabbit

Crouch and talk to your rabbit as you approach it. Let it sniff the back of your hand. Gently pick it up, making sure to support the rump in one hand. Place the rabbit on your lap or hold it against your chest and slowly stand up.

Companionship

Rabbits are social. It is best to house them with littermates to avoid fighting. Single sex groups are normally fine; however males may fight in the presence of females and females may be more temperamental in breeding season. Males and females should be neutered if housed together.

Common illnesses:

Dental problems: Rabbits teeth continually grow and can become too long if the rabbit doesn’t have something to chew on.

Flystrike: Flies are attracted to rabbit droppings and lay eggs. The hatching maggots will then eat the rabbits flesh. Keep the hutch clean and groom your rabbit regularly. Visit your vet immediately if you see any signs of maggots.

Snuffles/Pasteurella: Caused by bacteria and can be related to stress. The rabbit will develop cold-like symptoms like a runny nose, discharge from the eyes and breathing problems. It can lead to pneumonia, head tilt and tooth root abscesses. Keep the hutch clean, at a constant temperature (around 16 degrees c) and keep stress to a minimum.

Gastro-intestinal disorders: Caused by inappropriate diet, stress, parasites, etc. See your vet immediately if your rabbit shows signs of bloat, constipation or diarrhoea.

Myxomatosis: Disease transmitted by fleas or contact with other infected rabbits. Symptoms include swollen eyelids and thick discharge from the eyes and nose. Most rabbits become subdued and stop eating. It is usually fatal. Contact your vet immediately if you notice any signs of myxomatosis. Vaccinations are recommended to reduce the liklihood of your rabbit getting Myxomatosis.

 

If you would like any more information then phone 01621 818282 (Tiptree Veterinary Centre) or 01206 561407 (Willows Veterinary Centre) to book an appointment with one of our vets. You can also visit our websites at www.tiptreevets.co.uk or www.willows-vets.co.uk

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