RABBITS

Rabbit with carrotsHello, rabbit lovers, wherever you are!
Rabbit eating carrotSo, you are thinking about getting a rabbit.

 
LIFE SPAN - A rabbit can live up to 12 years but the average life span is 6-7 years.

The first thing you need to consider is whether you are hoping for a house bunny or not. They can be litter-tray trained, as proved by one of my bunnies, Digger. However, do be warned that they are very inquisitive and will nibble lots of things in the house (skirting boards, wallpaper, electric wires, etc.) so make sure you supervise them whilst they are hopping around. Whatever you decide, wherever your rabbit will be spending the majority of its time needs to be large enough for it to sit up on its hind legs and lie down in comfortably. Obviously, the bigger an enclosure possible the better. Unfortunately, most hutches for sale are far too small to accommodate this active, inquisitive animal and it may be better to have a hutch built for you. A good investment for you and the rabbit if its going to be its main home for up to 7 years.

Digger on 'toilet'

Proof that they can be litter
trained!


ADVANTAGES
Rabbits rarely make an audible sound. Their body odour is minimum. They are fun to watch.
DISADVANTAGES
A house bunny can cause a lot of damage if not supervised when its hopping around your home.  An outside bunny should only be allowed to exercise in a secure garden or yard as it can move quickly and loves digging.
Even when litter box trained you still find droppings everywhere.
CARE
Rabbits should be cleaned out as often as required, usually at least twice a week. If a litter-tray is used this should be refreshed at least once a day (I line mine with newspapers and top it with recycled shredded paper which is a relatively cheap way of doing it). The surface areas should be thoroughly cleaned using a detergent after scrapping off and removing any impacted droppings, and floor covering (sawdust, hay, carpet (yes, mine have a piece of carpet to lie on. They use to have hay for their bed but treated it like an extended litter-tray) should be replaced. The real cleaning measure is whether it is clean and comfortable for the rabbit.
COMPANION
The main disadvantage in getting your pet a companion is that it will not rely on your attention as much as you may want it to. However, you cannot spend 24 hours a day with your pet and there are times when it will get lonely and depressed. The advantages in getting your pet a companion is in watching the interaction between them and seeing them behaving naturally.  My two bunnies, Bugsey and Digger, spend hours grooming each other.
The rule for rabbits is:-
  • Two females
  • Two neutered males
  • One female and one neutered male.

  • It is worth noting that female rabbits who have not been neutered are at risk of dying young through ovary cancer.
VACCINATIONS
Recommended vaccinations:-
  • Myxomatosis
  • Viral Haemorrhagic Disease - VHD
FEEDING
Rabbits are entirely herbivorous, living only on plant food. Their diet should consist of a dried rabbit food mix, green vegetables, root vegetables such as carrots and hay, all of which should be of good quality. They also enjoy some fruits such as apple. Digger has just discovered yummy pecan nuts and is given a couple at bed-time each night as a treat.
Do not forget to give it fresh water each day. It may be prudent to invest in a rabbit water bottle as they are prone to soiling or knocking over a water dish.
AILMENTS
A caring owner will always notice a difference in their pet's well being, whether it be in it's personality, eating habits or toilet duties. Never ignore changes. Rabbits have very poor recuperative powers, and failure to seek prompt veterinary advice whey they display symptoms of disease can often be fatal.
MYXOMATOSIS
This is a severe viral infection spread quickly amongst wild rabbit populations by the rabbit flea. The virus multiples in the skin around the eyes, nose, face, soft skin inside the ears and also the skin around the anus and genitals of the rabbit. The rabbit looks like it's got flu and is very docile. If you live near wild rabbits or if your rabbit goes out into the garden for a hop around, it will be worth talking to your vet regarding vaccination and flea control generally.

VHD - VIRAL HAEMORRHAGIC DISEASE
The virus is spread between rabbits or via contaminated hutches, bedding or food and it can also be carried by people or birds and can survive for at least 3 months on clothing. Symptoms include loss of appetite and nose bleeding. Blood clots develop on the lungs and the rabbit is unable to breathe. Over 60% of recorded deaths have been in pet rabbits. Once a rabbit is infected, there is no cure and many die within 2 days. See your vet about vaccination.

EAR MANGE
Ear Mange, or ear canker, is an infection caused by a small mite. The early symptom is an irritation that causes the rabbit to scratch its ears and shake its head. A powdery brown matter may be visible in the ear. Pet shops sell anti-mange preparations. However, if the condition is untreated it will cause considerable pain to the rabbit causing inflammation and even ulceration when a vets treatment will be vital.
SNUFFLES
This is similar to the human cold and its symptoms. It is very infectious and can develop into pneumonia. Isolate it from other rabbits and consult your vet.
DIARRHEA
Droppings are soft to runny and smell sour. Anus and abdomen soiled with feces. Usually due to change in diet. Reduce fresh food and give it rabbit mix and hay. If condition does not clear within 2 days, consult a vet.
COCCIDIOSIS
This is the result of an infestation of internal parasites that affect the intestine and liver. Young rabbits are particularly at risk. Symptoms include diarrhea and weight loss with the development of a pot-bellied appearance. The rabbit may be cured with a prompt visit to the vet.
CONSTIPATION
Rabbit appears to have lost its appetite, droppings are tiny and hard. Usually due to change in diet or lack of exercise. Increase fresh food and let your rabbit have a good hop around. If condition does not clear within 2 days, consult a vet.
SCHMORLS DISEASE
A disease of the skin and mucous membranes gain entry via injuries to the skin. Always bath wounds with a mild antiseptic. Should wounds start to look nasty, consult your vet.
OVERGROWN INCISORS
If a rabbits incisors, front teeth, overgrow, it will prevent it from feeding. Unfortunately, these teeth continue to grow throughout its life and should wear down naturally when gnawing its food, etc. However, if they don't, they will have to be clipped by a vet.
CLAWS
These should wear down if the rabbit's outdoor run has an abrasive surface in it. However, should they become overgrown, a vet can clip them.

TIP
A Rabbit loves having its head tickled (ears, eyes, etc.), they go into ectasy!
LINKS
Worth visiting this site before purchasing a Bunny.
Before buying a rabbit-look at this site and rehome one.