Rabbits

Rabbits are popular pets due to their social, quiet, and intelligent nature. There are many breeds and varieties. The average life span is 8-12 years.

 

DIET

A good rabbit diet should be made up of good quality pellets, fresh hay, water and fresh vegetables. Anything beyond this is a "treat" and should be given in limited quantities.

            • Hay is essential to a rabbit's good health

• Pellets should be fresh and high in fiber. NO SEEDS OR COLORED PIECES

• Offer a variety of vegetables including leafy greens and root vegetables. Add one vegetable to the diet at a time. See Rabbit Safe Food List for more information

Safe Food List

Apple (not seeds)              Artichoke (jers)                 Arugula                            Asparagus

Banana                               Basil                                   Beet tops                          Blackberry (leaves, stems, fruit)

Blueberry                          Broccoli                              Brussels Sprouts           Cantaloupe

Caraway                            Carrot(tops and root)      Celery                               Chard

Chives(occassional)          Cilantro                             Clover                              Collard Greens

Cucumber                          Dandelion                           Dill                                  Endive

Escarole                            Fennel                                  Grapes                            Green pepper

Honey Dew Melon          Kale                                      Lemon Balm                     Lettuce (romaine/red/green leaf)

Lilac                               Marigold                                 Marjoram                             Mint

Mustard greens           Papaya(no seeds)                Parsley                                  Peach

Pear                              Pineapple                               Radish tops                         Raspberry


Sage                             Savory                                     Spinach                              Strawberry

Tomato(fruit only;No Greens)   Watercress           Watermelon                         Zucchini

 

* Remember fruit should always be given in moderation as the high sugar content may cause diarrhea.

  * Introduce fruits and vegetables slowly over several weeks.

  * NO PESTICIDES!!!!

HOUSING

Rabbit habitats should include a water bottle or bowl, feed bowl, hay, and toys. Bowls need to be heavy enough not to be tipped over. Provide a litter box with paper based litter such as carefresh or pelleted paper. Solid flooring is recommended for the safety of your rabbit’s feet.  If your bunny starts to chew on or ingest any of the non-natural floor coverings, replace them with another item. A hooded litter box or a pet carrier may be placed in a room for privacy. Bunny-proofing your home is part of living with a house rabbit. It is important to keep your rabbit from chewing on furniture, rugs, drapes, and, most deadly of all, electrical cords. It is imperative that electrical cords be hidden or covered with tubing or hard plastic casing, since one bite by your bunny could be fatal. Give your rabbit enough attention, safe chewable items and toys, so that it is distracted from chewing furniture and rugs. To keep bunnies happy and relieve boredom, provide them with plenty of toys:

• Untreated wicker baskets and wood

• Willow bark balls

• Grass mats, jute and hemp doormats

• Cat balls or other cat toys that roll or can be tossed

• Hard plastic baby toys.

• Large tubs of hay, newspapers, or a towel may be used as an outlet for digging.

• Nudge and roll toys like large rubber balls, empty boxes and small tins

• Create a climbing area with baskets, boxes, and pillows

• Tunnels can be made from open-ended cardboard boxes and cat tunnels

• Paper bags and cardboard boxes for crawling inside, scratching, and chewing.

• Large books for shredding

 

TEMPERATURE

Rabbits need to be kept in a nice cool environment away from direct sunlight and heat.

 

HANDLING

Offering your hand for a rabbit to sniff, much as you would for a cat or dog, is generally not the best way to introduce yourself to rabbit. Most rabbits also do not like having the tips of their nose or chin touched either. Instead, begin by softly stroking the top of the head. Rabbits possess a relatively lightweight, delicate skeleton paired with extremely strong, well-developed back and leg muscles. With improper restraint, rabbits that struggle or kick run the risk of a broken back or leg. Veterinary staff can demonstrate the proper way to pick up a pet rabbit, however NEVER lift a rabbit by the ears or neck scruff.

 

HEALTH

It is normal for a rabbit to ingest their feces. Cecotropes (first pass/ night feces) contain vital nutrients that the rabbit must reingest. Cecotropes look like melted chocolate and are usually resemble black berries. Female rabbits should be spayed due to induced ovulation. They often endure pain from endometriosis for years if left intact. Spaying your rabbit will also eliminate future reproductive tumors. Rabbits can get hairballs and will stop eating. This leads to gut stasis if not treated immediately. Always monitor your rabbit for eating and pooping! Overgrown teeth, parasites, bacterial infections, and head tilts are just a few of the health issues rabbits can have. They should see their vet twice a year or more if issues present.

How to litter-box train your pet rabbit

 Rabbits naturally prefer to have a specific site for elimination and are usually easy to train to use a litter box.  If you plan to keep your rabbit in a large enclosure or cage, observe where your rabbit is eliminating, and place a litter box there.  Most rabbits will continue eliminating in the same place, even though the topography has changed by adding the litter box.

                                                          

If you plan to allow your rabbit to roam around the house, even part of the time, follow these steps:

·        When you first bring your rabbit home, confine it to the general area where you want it to eliminate.  This area can be its cage, a specific room, or another area

·        As soon as your rabbit picks a specific location in the area to eliminate, place a litter box there.

·        Once your rabbit has learned that the litter box is its toilet, it may move the litter box to different locations.  If you prefer that your rabbit not move the litter box, tie or clamp the box in place. Otherwise, let your rabbit put the box where it wants it.

·        If the rabbit is going to be allowed access to a large area of the house, it will probably be necessary to offer multiple boxes spread throughout the house.

·        You may also want to put your rabbit’s food in their litter box. They tend to go to the bathroom while they are eating.

 

Rabbits may spend a lot of time in their litter boxes, just lying or sitting in them---this is normal.

 

Rabbits may eat their litter, so the type of litter you provide is important. 

Avoid traditional cat litter, pine or cedar shavings, and clay litters with deodorant crystals since consumption of these litters could harm your rabbit. 

Instead use pelleted paper or paper litter such as carefresh

For more information on rabbit husbandry and products, please visit the Oxbow Animal Health Website