Did you know that rabbits are the third most popular pet in the UK with around 1.7million rabbits kept as pets? Despite this though 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 17th to the 24th 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.
This is the most important thing to get right when looking after your pet rabbit as feeding the wrong diet commonly leads to dental disease and obesity.
Rabbits need a high fibre diet, hay should make up 85-90% of your rabbit’s diet and this should be feeding hay not bedding hay. In addition to this feeding them fresh vegetables, a bunch the size of their head daily is recommended and 25 grams per kg of high-fibre pellets. Good foods are spinach, broccoli, celery, and dandelion leaves. Never give rabbits grass cuttings as this will cause serious health problems. Fresh water must always be available and changed daily.
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 remember that most will never feel comfortable, as it is not natural for them to be lifted up with their paws off 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 rabbits 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:
A large dewlap
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
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 is also fatal causing sudden death. 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.
Vet visits are a must when your rabbit is:
Not passing faeces
Colour change in faeces
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.
Care plan: £4.99 per month. Includes:
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