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8 Things to Consider Before Getting a Pet Rabbit

 by simone on 09 Jun 2014 |
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Seriously, who doesn’t love a rabbit? Their fluffiness, big ears, wiggly noses, bouncy feet, adorable faces and ultra-cute nature makes them irresistible. Rabbits are fantastic pets but as with any pet; they require time, care and commitment. Despite what many people think, rabbits are not pets suited to children under eight years unless you are prepared to supervise ALL of their play time together. 

On average rabbits live 7-10 years and smaller breeds are generally more active, skittish and flighty. Larger breeds are usually more placid and have temperaments better suited to children. 

Rabbits naturally form groups so are very social animals who require companionship. It’s preferable that you have at least two rabbits and remember to have them desexed - that saying about rabbits and breeding - it’s not a fallacy! 

1. Child’s Play 

Rabbits aren’t all that high in the food chain and frighten easily. Fear and flight is how they survive and as such they react strongly to noise and movement. When a rabbit feels frightened, it will kick, scratch, bite and squirm to get away. Not a great pairing with young excitable children. 

Mostly rabbits don’t like to be picked up but some will tolerate being handled for short periods. Your child will need to be taught to place one hand under the rabbit’s belly and another supporting its rump when lifting and to be gentle and calm when nursing. If you have a very young rabbit, gentle regular handling will assist their socialisation.

2. Housing

Rabbits as predominantly indoor pets is not out of the question. They can be trained to use a litter-box and leash. An indoor rabbit will need a designated, quiet, protected area away from direct sunlight and cold draughts. Ideally, this area should consist of two living spaces; a dark, enclosed space for sleeping and ‘burrowing’, and another that houses food, water and the litter box. 

The area needs to confine the rabbit when it is not supervised. Both living spaces must be large enough for the rabbit to lay down and stretch out, stand up on its hind legs and take several hops in each direction. The rabbit should have at least four hours daily to exericise, explore and hop throughout safe areas of your home. Make sure that any electrical cables and furniture are not chewed on. If you train your rabbit to be on a leash, then they’ll love any time outdoors on a grassy area andto enjoy some sunlight. 

Rabbits are naturally outdoor creatures who love to run and hop. An appropriately sized outdoor hutch for your rabbit/rabbits should sit within a larger enclosure or be linked to a run. The rabbit must be able to stand up on its hind legs and stretch within the hutch. 

The hutch is really for sleep, food and water. It needs to be undercover and protect the rabbit  from rain, wind, sun and predators such as cats, dogs and foxes. A complete flyscreen mesh cover will protect them from mosquitoes that carry disease. Rabbits are sensitive to extremes of weather. A wooden hutch is much better than a metal which will conduct and retain heat. Bedding of straw or sawdust also needs to be provided.

3. Exercise 

Rabbits need at least four hours per day of exercise where they can perform all their cute rabbity hops, leaps, climbing, runs and twists. The rabbit run or enclosure should be as large as possible and have some safe raised platforms, tunnels, boxes and access to grass. If you do allow your rabbit to roam freely in the garden (always supervised) then make sure the garden is escape-proof and has no poisonous plants. 

It may also surprise you to know that rabbits like toys. Give them a range of toys to play with but beware of small and soft rubber or plastic parts that can be ingested. Try providing a range of cardboard tubes and boxes, boxes with holes cut in them for your rabbit to climb in and out of, short cat perches and hard plastic rings, rattles and balls with a bell inside. 
 


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4. Food

Rabbits love to nibble and chew all day long on grass and anything else they can find. Their teeth don’t stop growing so chewing keeps their teeth to a good size. Rabbits will need a good supply of fresh grass or grass hay available at all times. This should make up 90% of their diet. Some fresh vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and celery should also be given daily and very occasionally fruit. Small amounts of protein pellets can be supplied. Always have fresh clean water available in a suspended drip or teat bottle. 

5. Veterinary Visits

Rabbits require sterilisation, regular vaccinations for the Calici virus, health and teeth checks, worming, ear mite and flea prevention. Fleas and mosquitoes carry the Calici virus and myxomatosis which is fatal to rabbits. 

6. Grooming 

Short-haired rabbits can be brushed weekly but long-haired breeds require daily brushing and shaving during hot weather. Long-haired breeds tend to get seeds caught in their hair which can lead to skin abscesses. Rabbits nails also grow continuously but are worn down by exercise and digging, still you may need to clip their nails occasionally. 

7. Cleaning

The hutch or living area should be cleaned daily. Any wet or dirty bedding must be replaced and uneaten food removed. The toilet area or litter-box will need emptying and drinking water levels checked.

8. Finding Flopsy

Sadly, you can find many unwanted and abandoned rabbits in shelters. You can help by welcoming one or two of these into your family. However, if you are after a pedigree rabbit, then make sure you buy from a registered breeder, ask for the breeding papers and check where they house rabbits to ensure it is safe and hygienic.


A bunny walking business will never work, they said.
HA! I said.
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Lauren McGinnis
Lauren McGinnis
Seattle, Washington, United States
18 Aug 2018
Fantastic service!!! This has saved me a trip to the vet with two cats that do NOT travel well, not to mention quite a bit of mone ... more
 
 
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