Your rabbit should be kept in a cage or habitat which has
enough room for it to exercise, eat and sleep. This space should be at
least four times the size of the rabbit. It is of course best to
provide the largest space possible which is escape-proof and has an
area with a solid surface. If you decide to place your rabbit enclosure
in the garden, please ensure that your rabbit has proper shelter
against the weather (rain, direct sunlight and drafts) and protection
against stray animals.
Male rabbits (bucks) should not generally be housed together
as they are likely to fight.
In a cage, always provide sufficient clean bedding in the
form of straw or hay, aspen shavings or Kay Kob. You should avoid cedar
and pine shavings, as these may contain toxic phenols. It is best to
avoid shredded newspaper too as the newsprint may also be toxic to your
Bedding material absorbs wet waste and should be discarded on
a regular basis (especially when wet and soiled) in order to prevent a
build-up of faecal matter. It is best to remove wet spots daily and
change bedding material weekly or more often, if needed.
Do not forget to wash all other items within the habitat. If
necessary, the habitat can be scrubbed with mild soap and water,
rinsed, and allowed to completely dry before placing the rabbit back
Wrong diets are one of the greatest causes of illnesses in
rabbits. Commercial diets (pellets and mixes) which are high-energy,
high-protein, and low fibre may cause problems with the rabbit’s
digestive system. Rabbits are designed to survive on high fibre
vegetation like grass. They do not really require commercial pellets of
mixes. Fresh grass in unlimited amounts and hay are by far more
suitable for rabbits. Hay (eg alfalfal, Timothy), vegetables (cabbage,
broccoli, spinach, carrot), and the occasional fruit (apples, pears)
would do nicely. Be sure that the food and water provided are always
fresh and available. Any vegetables or fruit not eaten within 24 hours
should be discarded.
Ensure that you rabbit remains away from toxic house plants
as well as grass or plants treated with insecticides.
Never feed chocolate, alcohol or caffeine, as these are
dangerous to your rabbit.
Lastly, be sure that clean, fresh, or filtered water is
provided at all times. Water containers should be cleaned and fresh
water provided in them daily.
Signs of a Healthy Animal
A healthy rabbit is active, alert, and sociable. Its fur
should look soft and clean, and eyes clear. Not only should it be
eating and drinking regularly, but it should hop properly as well. Some
rabbits communicates by making soft noises.
Common Health Issues
Many health problems can arise in rabbits. Common ones
include diarrhea (loose stools caused by poor diet stress, unclean
housing, or other illness), heat stroke (which is an emergency
situation), mange, abscesses, tumors and malocclusion, just to name a
Malocclusion (where the upper and lower teeth do not meet) is
most common in rabbits. It leads to overgrown teeth. Overgrown incisors
can result in the rabbit starving because it cannot eat. Periodically,
the incisors may need to be trimmed by your veterinarian. Low fibre,
high carbohydrate diets also mean the rabbits chew a lot less, and this
may lead to overgrown incisors too. Rabbits have teeth that grow
continuously throughout their lives hence you can provide a piece of
chalk (calcium carbonate), cuttlefish bone or softwood for them to chew
on so that their incisors do not overgrow.
Most rabbits are easily frightened. If improperly handled,
they may struggle violently and because of the strength of their
hindlegs, cause serious injury to their vertebral column, resulting in
permanent posterior paralysis. For these reasons you should always be
gentle when handling your pet rabbit, remembering to place your hands
around the hindlegs when attempting to lift it. Never pick a rabbit up
by its ears, as this may lead to injury.
Life span: 6 to 11 years (depending on breed)
Average Weight 2-8kg
Length of Pregnancy (days) 30-33
Litter Size 8-12
Weaning Age 4 weeks
Heart rate 150-300 beats per min
Respiratory Rate 30-60 breaths per min
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