Rabbit Awareness & Care Plan
Did you know that rabbits are the third most popular pet in the UK with around 1.7million rabbits kept as pets. Despite this most rabbit owners don’t understand the high levels of care and attention rabbits need to live a long, healthy and happy life.
This year rabbit awareness week runs from the 2nd to the 10th of June. During rabbit awareness week the veterinary community aims to raise awareness of rabbit health and welfare and to educate owners. Therefore, throughout the rest of June we are offering free veterinary health checks to enable us to ensure your rabbit is happy and healthy!
Below are some fun rabbit facts and useful tips on caring for your bunny!
- A female rabbit is called a doe.
- A male rabbit is called a buck.
- A young rabbit is called a kit (or kitten).
- Rabbits live in groups and are very social animals.
- The European rabbit lives underground, in burrows. A group of burrows is known as a warren.
- More than half of the world’s rabbits live in North America.
- Rabbits have a lifespan of around 10 years.
- Rabbits are born with their eyes closed and without fur.
Rabbits need extremely high levels of fibre in their diet.
Rabbits will selectively feed if possible therefore a nutritionally balanced high fibre nugget or pellet is best instead of muesli.
A good quality hay should make up 85% - 90% of your rabbit’s diet, a balanced nugget can supplement this.
Fresh greens such as grass and dandelions can be fed daily with apples and carrots being fed occasionally.
Rabbit’s nails are long and curving, you can trim them but avoid the pink section (called the quick) in the middle. This hurts and will bleed if it is cut. Ask the vet to show you how to do it if you are unsure.
Rabbits that are regularly and correctly handled from an early age can learn to tolerate the experience, but they like being put down on the ground.
When you do need to pick up your rabbit, the safest way is to slide one hand underneath the body and in-between the front legs, with your other arm around its hindquarters, supporting its body weight. Place the rabbit against your body with its head towards your arm. Never pick a rabbit up by its ears or by the scruff of its neck. Always put a rabbit down gently, hind legs first, on a non-slip surface.
Rabbits moult twice and year and sometimes more. Your rabbit requires frequent grooming during moulting because they can swallow lots of fur which can cause a blockage of the bowel. Pluck loose fur with your fingers or dampen your hands and massage to remove the loose coat.
Naturally sociable, rabbits like companionship and prefer to live in pairs or compatible groups and their behaviour will reflect this. The ideal pairing is a neutered female with a neutered male. Rabbits of the same sex can fight especially if not neutered.
Provide them with space to run, hop and play. The more space they have the happier and healthier they will be.
All rabbits are at risk from maggots as flies are attracted to faeces around a rabbit’s bottom. Maggots eat into the flesh, causing severe damage and releasing toxins, which may produce shock, severe illness and death.
Maggots on your rabbit are an emergency, so contact the practice immediately.
Factors that increase Fly strike:
- Dirty fur
- Poor balance
- A large dewlap
- Dental disease
- Old age
How to help prevent Fly strike:
- Check your rabbit twice daily underneath and around the bottom for faecal soiling, sore places and matted fur
- Use fly screens on hutches and runs
- Use Rearguard – available from Bellevue; used every ten weeks.
What do they prevent?
- Viral haemorrhagic disease 1 & 2
Myxomatosis is a viral disease that is usually fatal. It is spread by biting insects such as fleas and mosquitoes, and by contact with an infected rabbit.
Viral haemorrhagic disease (VHD) is also fatal causing sudden death, there are two strains of the virus.
The virus is easily spread between rabbits, by other animals and wild birds, or by foods, such as hay or vegetables, which have been contaminated by infected wild rabbits, or even by the wind.
Keep wild rabbits away with rabbit-proof fencing. Keep the areas round the hutch clean to avoid attracting wild birds and rodents and prevent them from getting into hutches and runs. Do not pick green foods from areas where there are wild rabbits
Vaccination boosters should be given annually.
There is a combined vaccination of VHD and Myxomatosis (NOBIVAC MYXO-RHD) that can be given from 5 weeks of age.
We recommend we give Filavac for VHD2 (second strain) 2 weeks later.
Vet visits are a must when your rabbit is:
- Not eating
- Not passing faeces
- Colour change in faeces
- Has diarrhoea
- Runny nose
- Runny eyes
- Breathing difficulties
To help you give your rabbit the best care possible we have set up a rabbit care plan which covers all the routine preventative healthcare for your rabbit.
£4.99 per month
- Annual vaccination
- 6-month veterinary health check
- Fly strike prevention
- 4 Nail clippings (per year)
- 20% off neutering
- 10% off any other parasite treatment
- 10% off all dental procedures
- 10% off long-term medication
Category: Small Animals