Rabbits are great pets that are highly sociable and enjoy the company of humans. They are quiet, clean and are easily toilet trained. Rabbits can be safely housed indoors or outdoors. A predator-proof enclosure to ensure their safety is essential.
Check that the hutch you are purchasing provides sufficient space and shelter, if a hutch is too small it could restrict your rabbit’s movement. Rabbits should be able to stand fully on their hind limbs and take at least three hops in their enclosure. A hutch should be as large as possible to accommodate active and inquisitive bunnies, with an area to provide protection against weather and a secure sleeping place. Hutches ideally should only serve as an intermittent shelter, your rabbits need a few hours a day of exercise outside of their hutch.
All hutches should be well ventilated. Rabbits are extremely sensitive to the hot summer temperatures we experience in Australia and may die of heat stroke if their hutch is not in a cool, shady position. Enclosures with wire floors may damage their feet - the floor of your rabbit's hutch should be covered with newspaper, with a layer of bedding material like straw, grass, hay or shredded paper for warmth, comfort and to prevent pressure sores on your bunny’s feet.
Rabbits can be kept indoors, giving you more time to bond and interact with your rabbit companions. Ensure your home is rabbit-proofed as they do have a tendency to chew on objects including power cords.
Rabbit play and well-being
Providing your bunny with a rabbit companion is of great benefit to their well-being. Desexing rabbits that are to be housed together is recommended. Ensuring one rabbit is compatible with another takes time and patience; rabbits are territorial so when introducing rabbits do so in a neutral space first.
Rabbits enjoy investigating new areas and supervised out of cage or outdoor playtime should be offered. Adding hiding places (e.g. cardboard boxes) stimulates play behaviours and provides your rabbit with lots of opportunities to burrow, chew and explore. Food-stuffed toys, apple branches and hay stuffed inside toilet rolls are some ideas to provide environmental enrichment for your rabbit.
Feeding and nutrition is the most important factor in making sure your rabbit stays healthy. Many commercial rabbit foods don't contain enough fibre (18 - 20% is required) and are too high in fats and sugars. Rabbits are herbivores so their diet should consist almost entirely of vegetable matter. Pellets and mixes should not form a main part of the diet. Grass or hay (not legume hay) is an essential dietary component to ensure your rabbit’s health. Apart from providing a high fibre diet, chewing hay wears down their continuously growing teeth and keeps them occupied, preventing boredom. Your bunny’s diet should be70-80% hay, supplemented with at least three different types of leafy vegetables daily such as Asian greens, herbs or broccoli (lettuce and cabbage can cause diarrhoea). Treats such as fruits, root veggies(carrots), capsicum and pellets should only be offered in small amounts (1 - 2 tablespoons per day per rabbit). Fresh water should always be available using both a drip feed bottle and an open container.
Using a firm brush to remove dead hairs, tangles and pieces of garden matter should form part of your daily routine. Grass seeds can commonly become stuck in their eyes, ears and nose, causing irritation or even infection. Check your rabbit’s rear end daily to make sure it is clean and dry as being soiled puts them at risk of fly strike.
Routine veterinary care for rabbits includes vaccination (against calicivirus) and desexing (male and female rabbits can exhibit aggression when mature and females are very prone to reproductive cancers). Please speak to our veterinary staff regarding ectoparasite control for rabbits. Like all animals, rabbits should have regular veterinary checks, especially to check their teeth and nails.
We welcome you to book an appointment with us to discuss how to keep your rabbit in optimal health.