The domestic rabbit is a descendant of wild rabbits living in western Europe and northern Africa. They live an average of 5-10 years with a potential life span of 15 years. Males reach breeding age at 6-10 months of age, and females at 5-9 months of age. Pregnancy lasts 29-35 days and litters average 4-10 bunnies. There are nutritionally complete balanced diets on the market. These pellets should be available at all times with plenty of fresh water. Rabbits have a tendency to be overweight and therefore should be fed 1/4 cup of pellets per 5 pounds of body weight each day. Clean, raw vegetables can be offered 2-3 times weekly, but should not make up more than 20% of the rabbits diet. These foods such as lettuce and carrots have a high water content but are lacking in nutrition. A soft-spoken, relaxed approach works well with rabbits. They scare easily and may injure themselves with sudden movements. They should never be picked up by the ears. Rabbits can be housed indoors or outdoors. They should be kept in a large enough wire cage to allow room to move around. They should not be left to run free in the house without supervision because they are very destructive chewers. Also, they can be injured by chewing on telephone or electrical cords. They can be litter box trained just as cats are. It is recommended that both male and female rabbits be sterilized by about 5 months of age. This helps cut done on territorial aggression and in the female, cuts down on the chances of uterine cancer.
Rabbits need a good, sturdy, weatherproof hutch, with a separate enclosed area for sleeping and space to stand up, stretch out and turn around. Provide plenty of warm bedding -
They are very sociable and a lone rabbit will be lonely and unhappy. Two girls will live together if they are littermates, but two boys will fight and remember, a male and female will have babies! However, neutered rabbits will live happily together. Don’t be tempted to get a guinea pig as company for your rabbit as they can sometimes fight!
Feed your rabbit once or twice a day, at dawn and dusk. If your rabbit always leaves the same things, then reduce the amount of feed until he eats everything.
Rabbit foods are high in fibre, which is very important, and contain calcium to keep they teeth healthy.
To keep its teeth healthy it is important that as well as food, your rabbit always has plenty of hay. Sudden changes in diet will cause stomach upsets. Always make sure your rabbit has access to fresh, clean drinking water.
Outside your rabbit will need a large run in which he’s free to dig and mess around and safe from other animals, but make sure he can’t dig his way out! It’s important he has somewhere enclosed to hide and shelter from the sun. Make sure he’s kept away from grass which has been treated with chemicals and never feed grass cuttings.
Chewing is one of rabbits favourite hobbies. To avoid your rabbit getting into trouble, provide lots of toys he can safely chew, like cardboard tubes and boxes, old telephone directories or an old wicker wastebin.
Rabbits use theirs droppings to mark their territory and always use the same corner as a toilet area, so position the litter tray in a corner of the hutch, provide some hay and leave the rest to them!
Bunnyproof your house before your let your rabbit out to play, as they love to chew and find electrical wires irresistible! Some rabbits will mix well with other pets, but only after careful introduction. Never leave your rabbit alone with other pets unless you’re certain they get on.
Many owners ask if it’s best for rabbits to live in a hut or house. It doesn’t matter. The best home for any rabbit is where he has plenty of love, care, company and exercise, be it indoors or out.
Below is a list of all the jobs you need to do daily and weekly to make sure that your rabbit stays happy and healthy.
• Clean and refill the water bottle• Empty the food bowl and refill with food
• Remove any soiled bedding and replace with new bedding. Both cedar and pine bedding can be harmful to your pet's health? Every small animal owner should be aware of the following facts. that pine shavings, as well as cedar, causes liver disease in small animals.
• Check your rabbit over for any signs of ill health
• Let your rabbit out for plenty of exercise and a good run around
• Spend time with your rabbit. Isn’t that why you wanted him in the first place?
Once a Week
• Check the length of your rabbit’s teeth and nails - consult your vet if they’re too long
Handling your rabbit every day builds its trust in you and allows you to check for any ill health.
Its should be clean around the eyes, ears, nose and under the tail. Make sure its fur is clean and shiny and there aren’t any lumps or bumps. Also check that his teeth and nails aren’t too long.
If you’re at all concerned about your rabbit, contact your vet.
If you go away, you need to find someone who is prepared to look after your rabbit.
Leave them a list of jobs that need doing and the phone number of your vet.
See also Animal Care Center