Rabbits make adorable pets. They are ideal indoor pets and are great for families, couples and everyone in-between. However just like all pets, they have specific dietary, housing, exercise and health care requirements to ensure they are as happy and healthy as they possibility can be.
Read on below for some great tips for looking after rabbits:
A healthy rabbit’s diet consists of roughly 80% fresh hay and 20% fresh leafy green vegetables. The best hay for rabbits to eat include: pasture, paddock, wheaten or oaten. The best leafy greens include: cos and rocket lettuce, celery, carrot tops, spinach, basil parsley and mint.
You should avoid feeding your rabbit the following leafy foods as they can be harmful and make your rabbit ill:
- iceberg lettuce
- potato peelings
- raw beans
Always research any food or check with your veterinarian before introducing any new foods to your rabbit’s diet.
Rabbits require an escape-proof enclosure with sturdy (not wire!) flooring and an enclosed space or shelter to hide in. They like to arrange their own beds, so it is important you provide the right materials for them to arrange. Hay, straw and hardwood shavings are best.
Materials that are not suitable for rabbit bedding include pine and cedar shavings, as these woods contain chemicals that can harm your rabbit or reduce their lifespan.
While rabbits are social creatures and enjoy human interaction, it is important to be careful when handling your rabbit. A few things to remember include:
- Don’t pick them up too much, as rabbits have delicate spines
- Be mindful of children handling rabbits
- Always let your rabbit make the first move, coming to the human first!
Rabbits love to play coy. Wooden logs and hiding tunnels for them to play in are a great source of enrichment. They also enjoy food toys. You can play with your rabbit by rolling it food toys as a source of both exercise and social interaction.
Rabbits are notoriously secretive about their health. It is extremely important to always keep an eye on your rabbit’s health as visible signs of disease may mean it is too late. One of the major diseases rabbits are susceptible to is called Calcivirus. Calcivirus is transmitted through the bodily secretions of infected rabbits. It can also be transmitted through fleas and mosquitos. It’s important to be wary of your rabbit’s outdoor and intersocial interactions. Calcivirus can be fatal, so watch out for the following warning signs:
- Not eating
- Respiratory difficulties
Last but not least:
Rabbits prefer to live with other rabbits! They are naturally social creatures and rabbit loneliness can be an issue. A pair of two rabbits is ideal for owners who can care for two. Rabbits should also be checked on twice a day, and like all other pets need lots of time and attention.