Rabbits make great pets as they are clean intelligent and friendly. Rabbits make great family pets, but do need a little more attention and care than most other small animals. Most rabbits are happy to live indoors or outside just as long as they have enough space to exercise, suitable accommodation, food and bedding.
Housing your rabbit
Obtaining a weatherproof rabbit hutch that has separate nesting area and plenty of dry bedding (preferable dry straw) is a must. The size of your rabbit hutch obviously depends on the number of rabbits you plan to have. Typically two medium sized rabbits should be housed in a rabbit hutch measuring approximately 150 x 60 x 60cms. We always recommend that it is better to get a hutch that is too big rather than too small. It’s well worth remembering this when choosing your rabbit hutches.
If you decide to get a smaller hutch it’s recommended that you consider getting an additional rabbit run for your hutch. You could get a hutch that allows a run to be attached or sometime a cheaper option is to get a separate rabbit run or rabbit pen. This will allow your rabbits to get their daily exercise without the need for you to watch over them.
A good rabbit hutch will allow shade from the sun during the summer months and the wind and rain during the winter time. If you do put your rabbit in a separate run without shelter make sure you remember to not leave them exposed to extreme elements for too long.
Rabbits make great house pets and they love the company of humans, just as we love their company. Getting and indoor rabbit cage or a straw filled pen is ideal. Ensure you house the rabbit in a quiet area and you provide a clean litter tray.
Remember if you allow your rabbit to run freely around the room then you may need to carry out some rabbit proofing. Cables and house plants are a firm favourite and won’t do your rabbit any good.
It’s important that rabbits get plenty of natural light as this is allows the rabbit to obtain vitamin D. Getting a separate outdoor exercise run (as mentioned above) will be a worth while investment.
Finally if you have other pets then rabbits tend to mix very well with other domestic animals although it is recommended you supervise the little pet parties the first couple of times to ensure they all get on happily.
Types of Rabbit
Choosing a rabbit can be difficult, with so many breeds around and all with their own characteristics. Here are some general guidelines.
- Male rabbits are usually more even-tempered and predictable
- Some dwarf varieties can be unsuitable for children as they can be temperamental.
- Longhaired rabbits require more daily care for grooming.
- More docile breeds tend to be the Dutch, English, Netherland dwarf and Dwarf Lop eared.
- Remember giant breeds will require more space and food.
- It’s always worth taking the advice on how big a rabbit will grow. Despite the names some breeds can grow quite big.
Typically a rabbit’s diet should be around 75% hay with plenty of fresh water. Good quality rabbit food will provide any additional nutrients and vitamins they need. Fresh vegetables are also enjoyed by most rabbits; carrots, broccoli, watercress, spinach, dandelion leaves and apples will wet the apatite of your rabbit, but remember not to overfeed. It’s worth remembering that you should not feed your rabbit grass clippings, potatoes or lettuce as these can cause health issues.
Looking after your rabbit
Rabbits can be nervous in new surroundings, especially young rabbits, so its good practice allow you rabbit to gradually get use to it’s new environment. Building up trust with your rabbit can be a slow process. Talking gently in a quiet environment will help build up trust between you and your rabbit. Gently putting your hand in the hutch will make your rabbit inquisitive and more confident around you. You should wait around 2 weeks before picking up your rabbit, using 2 hands when you do. Gently wrap you fingers around his rib and your thumb across his shoulders. Place your other hand under his hindquarters for support. You should take this opportunity to start grooming your rabbit. It’s good to get into the habit early as it should be carried out daily.
Exercise and Entertaining Rabbits
Like with all pets (and humans) exercise is an important part of a rabbit’s day. Adding a pipe to the rabbits run can act like a burrow. A box filled with shredded paper is good for encouraging your rabbit to dig. This all helps to encourage your rabbit to practice its natural behaviour. Remember to include some root vegetables to feast on as a treat.
Yorkshire Pet Shops top tips for a happy and healthy rabbit
If you have just one rabbit it can become very lonely if not given a lot of attention. Consider buying a compatible pair or group to help minimise this problem.
To prevent unwanted litters and fighting is recommended you get the rabbits neutered and spayed.
Usually two neutered males or two un-neutered females will live together, or even a neutered male and an un-neutered female. It’s not recommend that you keep rabbits and guinea pigs together. This is mainly because their requirements differ.
You will get a good idea that your rabbit is healthy as they will be alert a shiny coat and be free of discharge from their eyes and nose.
Rabbits also breathe quietly and regular, but if you have any concerns about your rabbit you should consult your vet.
8 needs of a healthy rabbit
- A balanced diet with no sudden changes
- A constant environment, with no sudden changes in temperature.
- The water bottle and feeding bowls cleaned on a daily basis.
- Daily grooming for longhaired rabbits.
- Weekly grooming for short-haired rabbits.
- Plenty of time and attention from you. Check your rabbit at lease 2 or 3 times a day.
- Dry and clean living area. Cleaning of a rabbits living area should be carried out once a week with a mild disinfectant.
- To aid with healthy teeth provide your rabbit with Gnawing blocks and chew toys. This will help wear their continual growing teeth.