If you’ve decided that you wish to buy or adopt a new pet rabbit, then you’ve made an excellent choice for a family pet. These fury little babies are especially good with children and love to love and play. They do, however, require extra care and the responsibility should not be taken lightly. To understand how to care for your pet rabbit we have listed some helpful tips on how to care for them well so that they live a healthy and happy life.
Rabbits are sociable by nature and adore the companionship of other bunnies. It is known that rabbits like to live in pairs and often their behaviour will reflect this. You must ensure that you have free time for a pet and that your finances allow for the care for another being.
There are a various rabbit breeds to choose from, although with any breed of rabbit you can find just as much love and companionship from a mixed breed rabbit.
The best time to bring a new rabbit home is at the age of 6-8 weeks when they have been fully weaned off their mother. Majority of rabbits like to live indoors and outdoors. If you are choosing to keep your rabbit as an indoor pet, then you must ensure that their environment is safe. All house plants must be out of reach and non-toxic towards animals.
Rabbits that have long fur require more grooming maintenance as their hair is more likely to become matted if not cared for correctly. You should also wash them at least once every two weeks with special formulated shampoo for pets which will help maintain their gorgeous coat and keep it in wonderful condition.
It's vitally important that rabbits are able to live in their purest form and exhibit their natural behaviour. Their surroundings must allow them to move around freely and they're able to play and stretch.
Listed below are various ways in which you can care for your rabbit. Read on to find out more.
Looking after your rabbits well being
Caring for your rabbit is very important, as with any domestic pet. A rabbit that is healthy will be lively and very alert. You should check your rabbit daily for any slight changes to their mood, body and general well-being. Symptoms of bad health can include dirty ears that leak with discharge, this can also be from the eyes as well. Always check their teeth as dental problems are extremely common in rabbits. You must also weigh them from time to time to check that they are of a healthy weight.
They require protective bedding
Rabbits bedding should consist of clean, bagged straw, which you can buy from any reputable pet shop. You must check their bedding on a daily basis and remove any droppings and wet bedding. More attention must be paid during the warmer months as flies are prone to lay their eggs on bedding which is soiled. This results in maggots who then bury themselves into the rabbit’s fur. This can then be potentially fatal for your pet rabbit.
To prevent your rabbit from soiling in their bedding it is best to toilet train them. To do this you must place a litter tray in their hutch that is big enough for them to use and encourage them to use it.
Maintaining your rabbits diet
Grass or hay should make up the basis of your rabbit’s diet. Lots of fresh vegetables, cereals (that are low in sugar) and small quantities of fibre pellets are the best diets to provide your rabbit. They can also have complete foods which are available from all good pet stores. They love carrots, watercress, broccoli, apples and dandelion leaves. You must never feed your rabbit fresh grass as this can make them poorly Instead buy dried grass from a pet store. Fresh water should be provided on a daily basis.
Creating home comforts for your rabbit
If you decide to keep your rabbit outdoors then you will need to make sure their hutch has plenty of room for them to move around. It’s essential that they have a compartment that's private for them to relax in when they want some privacy.
Accommodation for your rabbit should resemble something of a small Wendy house with a wooden finish. It is recommended that they also have a large run that is attached, or you can fence off an area surrounding the Wendy house which provides ample room for them to run around. Providing them with enough room to run around will allow them to live freely and exhibit their most natural behaviours. A rabbit confined in small dwellings will become unhappy and bad tempered and most likely difficult to handle. Rabbits are also prone to skeletal pain if they're kept in a hutch that is too small.
Another important factor regarding their accommodation is the location in which it's kept. Their dwellings must be located away from direct sunlight, rain, and any strong winds. They must have extra bedding and the necessary protection from other elements during the colder months. Their accommodation should also have a strong locking system to deter predators from gaining entrance and potentially hurting the rabbit.
The importance of vaccinations
Your rabbit should be vaccinated against any fatal diseases, such as viral haemorrhagic disease and myxomatosis. It is paramount that caring for your rabbit involves regular health checks with your vets and vaccinating your rabbit is part of maintaining your rabbit’s health and well-being. You must check with your vet on the frequency and what vaccinations are suitable
Provide exercise and entertainment for your rabbit
Like all animals, rabbits require mental stimulation and physical exercise for their health and general well-being. You should actively encourage your rabbit to play in their most natural way and you can do this by providing them with safe objects to play with like willow, apple wood which you can buy from any safe pet store.
The best way to bond with your rabbit
Rabbits are all different. Some like to be stroked more than others and some like to be left alone. Rabbits love to be on the ground level as they are prey animals. This is where they feel at their safest.
If they are handled correctly from a young age then this will prevent them from developing any form of behavioural issues later in life. You must remember that they're not particularly fond of being picked up and lifted into the air. It very natural for a rabbit to no have its paws on the ground.
Rabbits should always be picked up by sliding one hand on their body and between their front legs with your other arm around their hindquarters to help support their body weight. Never pick your rabbit up by their neck or ears. When placing your rabbit down you must ensure you place them down gently with their hind legs first.