Looking after Your Rabbit
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A rabbit will make a good pet for a family with a garden and enough time to give it daily care and attention. They are intelligent and friendly, and if looked after properly can make very rewarding company. Rabbits live, on average, for 8 years. The larger the breed, the shorter the life expectancy. Your rabbit should have a strong waterproof hutch with a solid floor and wire front. The hutch should not be kept in direct sunlight or in cold draughts. In winter the hutch should be covered with a sheet of plastic or an old piece of carpet overnight to protect it from early morning frost. It should be placed where you will regularly see your rabbit as they love attention and will become lonely if isolated.
Your rabbit make take 3-4 days to settle into it's new home. Rabbits enjoy company. Some rabbits love being picked up, others may prefer to sit beside you and be stroked. They love being rubbed gently on the nose and ears. When feeding your rabbit is best to keep it on the same rabbit food as changing the food could lead to problems such as diarrhoea and digestive disorders. Hay should be available at all times. Curly kale, celery, broccoli, parsley, carrots and apples etc can be given to your rabbit as they have been having fresh greens since they came out of the nest. 'Readigrass' is another good source of nourishment. Let them nibble at the grass while in the run but NEVER pull fresh grass and give it to them as it could cause upset their stomach.
Never give your rabbit lettuce as it causes diarrhoea. Apple branches are good for rabbits because they eat the leaves and gnaw on the branch to keep their teeth worn down.
The food bowl should be sturdy and preferably earthenware, as rabbits will chew plastic. Water should always be available for them to drink. Keep bedding clean and dry using wood shavings and straw or hay.
If you have any problems with your new rabbit please phone and we will be happy to give advice.
How to pick your rabbit up
|Rabbits should be held gently around the front legs and chest with one hand. Place the other hand under its bottom to take the weight of its body. Once you have lifted your rabbit you should hold it firmly but gently against your chest. Your rabbit will feel safer and be less likely to struggle. Never pick your rabbit up by its ears. If not handled correctly rabbits can struggle violently and hurt themselves and also cause injury to you. When putting your rabbit into its cage ALWAYS put it in bottom first. If you put your rabbit in head first it will leap out of your hands, hitting its teeth against the back of the cage.|
The time that a rabbit takes to bond with its new owner is dependent upon many factors, with it's previous experiences being crucial. To be realistic we feel that the new owner needs to expect bonding to take a minimum of 6 weeks - some bunnies may take longer, just as others may bond immediately. It is essential to put in time and effort at this early stage if you want to end up with a loveable, cuddly rabbit. Bonding means that the rabbit establishes a comfortable relationship with you, becoming happy and relaxed whilst it is being handled or petted. The rabbit that is left to run around freely with little human contact will become more independent and probably fearful at the owner's approach. Rabbits with these experiences are often the ones that come to us being described as 'wild', 'aggressive' or 'unhandleable'. Adults and children alike can find caring for this type of bunny a scary experience as it's reactions become unpredictable and of a territorial nature.
We recommend very regular handling periods lasting for around 20 minutes, with the owner wearing a jumper or fleece and trousers so that accidental scratches or possible nips at this stage are not a problem. Sitting in the run or an enclosed area is ideal as the rabbit can have a degree of freedom to investigate it's surroundings whilst having the owner ever present. Familiarity and a friendship can develop with the bunny dictating the speed with which it is comfortable. Having a bunny come up to you for treats and later strokes and cuddles is a rewarding experience and will establish confidence and a relaxed rabbit. As your new relationship develops you can begin to pick your rabbit up and give it a cuddle, then put it back down.
We recommend that when the bunny is allowed several hours at a stretch in its run the owner should regularly make contact and pick up the animal. This is so that your rabbit does not associate being picked up from the run with just being put back into its cage. Time in the run can gradually be increased to 3-4 hours. If left all day with no attention you will end up with a rabbit that just wants to run instead of being cuddled and you will have to start from the beginning with the bonding process.
Never leave your rabbit in the run all day or leave it unsupervised as it may dig its way out!
Do's and Don'ts
High quality rabbit feed - such as that manufactured by Supreme Petfoods (who also have a range of feed for special dietary needs and to cope with medical needs)
Plain bread sticks
Hay available at all times
Injections from 16 weeks
Health - digestive issues
If rabbit droppings become very loose give them strawberry or blackberry leaves.
If your rabbit has watery diarrhoea take it to your nearest veterinary surgeons immediately.
Always make sure that your rabbit's bottom is clean daily to avoid fly-strike.
If you decide to change from one rabbit food to another mix the same amount of each for about two weeks.
Did you know...?
Rabbits can get worms.
Check your rabbit's droppings regularly for little white worms. If you notice your rabbit has got worms consult your vet as it is simple to treat.
Rabbits can get fleas.
If you have a cat or dog that comes into contact with your rabbit, the fleas can pass to them. Little black specks of dirt can be seen on the skin. These are flea droppings and your rabbit should be taken to the vet to be treated.
Never pull grass and feed to your rabbit as this will cause a build up of gas in the stomach and cause bloat which can be fatal. Instead the rabbits should be allowed to nibble the grass itself.
Do not give the rabbit the leaves from peach or plum trees as they can be poisonous.
If at about 6 to 7 month+ your rabbit becomes snappy and grouchy it is advisable to have the males castrated and the does spayed. This should calm them down.
Looking for signs of illness
Ear: Are there any scabs or inflammation inside the ear?
These may be the telltale signs of ear mites.
Eyes: Is there any abnormal discharge or are they bloodshot?
Wash with mild salty water 2 to 3 times per day. If no better within 3 days consult your vet.
Nose: Is there any nasal discharge?
This may indicate respiratory infection. See your vet urgently.
Tail area; Is there any soiling of the fur under the tail? e.g. wet and very mucky?
This may indicate the start of diarrhoea and if the rabbit is not kept clean it could get fly strike. So get it checked by a vet.
Weight: Has your rabbit lost weight and got thinner?
This may be a sign of chronic infection or parasite infestation. Needs URGENT medical attention by your vet.
Teeth: Does your rabbit have overgrown teeth?
Causes of this are
poor rabbit mix which is too soft
the rabbit being dropped, jumping out of your arms, leaping and hitting its face on the back of the cage
pulling on the wire of its cage.
You need to consult your vet. Their teeth can be clipped but it is kinder for the rabbit if you have the teeth removed.
Lumps and bumps:
Can you feel any lumps under the rabbit's skin mainly around and underneath the jaw line.?
They may be abscesses so get it checked out.
Does your rabbit have flaky patches of skin like dandruff?
This could be fur mite and needs to be checked before it spreads all over its body.
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