Rabbit Care

Rabbits love attention and become very affectionate pets, often making small grunting noises and rubbing you with their chin.  They are very easy animals to look after properly, and as long as you pay them enough attention you should encounter few health problems.  Rabbits are fed daily and as they are grazing animals they should have access to quality hay at all times to nibble.  Feeding time is the best time to observe your rabbit - an animal that hops over to the front of its hutch and is eager to eat generally displays signs of good health.  However, a rabbit that sits listlessly at the back of it's hutch, often facing the back wall is of concern and you need to examine it to try and establish what might be wrong with it.  

The rabbit must be able to get a supply of water all the time, so make sure the spout of the bottle isn't blocked or has an airlock.  The amount of food a rabbit requires depends on the breed, a guide is to feed it a sufficient amount to maintain the ideal weight for it's breed (just over 1kg for a Netherland Dwarf) . Rabbit mix along with plenty of hay and frequent small amounts of fresh food is good, as the fresh food increases the amount of fibre in the diet and makes sure the teeth are used enough.  Rabbits' teeth and claws grow continuously and that's why it's important the rabbit eats food that enable it to wear the teeth down such as hay and grass.  The teeth grow continuously and rapidly to ensure there is always a fresh new tooth surface to grind food efficiently.  It will need to have its claws trimmed regularly as well, and this is easy with a good pair of nail clippers.

Your rabbit's breeder should provide you with enough of its diet to do through the period of readjustment to a new environment.  I wean my baby rabbits at 8 weeks, then let them go to their new homes from eleven weeks old.  The babies will have been receiving antibodies in their mother's milk which gives them an amount of defence against infection, but these only remain in the newly weaned baby for a short time, and the rabbit must make it's own antibodies.  The period when there are few antibodies from the mother's milk and before the baby's body makes enough of it's own is when the baby rabbit is most likely to get enteritis, so I keep my rabbits until they are through this vulnerable stage.

Provided you're observant and act on any symptoms immediately, rabbit keeping is enjoyable and easy.  Unfortunately, because rabbits are "prey" animals, they often don't show many obvious signs of being unwell until it's too late.  This is because in the wild an ill animal would attract predators to the rest of the colony.  Once symptoms become apparent, it's often too late to treat as the animal will have become dehydrated and lost too much heat.  Generally, so long as a rabbit is still interested in food you have a likely recovery.  Rabbits indicate pain by sitting hunched up and grinding their teeth.  If you can't get to a vet, phone the rabbits' breeder, or another knowledgeable rabbit owner.  For general questions about the rabbit, or for initial advice on symptoms you should phone the rabbits breeder.


Bloat     Enteritis    Myxomatosis     Vent Disease     E. Cuniculi     VHD



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