Like the Easter Bunny, real live rabbits are cute and cuddly, however, they do require special care to look after them. Here are a few tips to keep your rabbit happy and healthy:
- Rabbits are social creatures. In the wild they live in groups, so they can get very lonely living alone. Consider getting a second rabbit or a guinea pig for company.
- Rabbits have continuously growing teeth so need to chew a lot to wear these down. Hay and grass are perfect for this and should constitute 80% of their diet. Concentrated food pellets fill rabbits up too quickly, so they don’t do extra chewing. You should only feed a maximum of 1/8 of a cup of pellets per kg of rabbit.
- Lettuce with high water content such as iceberg lettuce is not good for rabbits. Darker more fibrous lettuces like Romaine can be OK in small amounts.
- Foods such as root vegetables like carrots and fruits contain high levels of sugars so should only be fed in small amounts as a treat. It is better giving them leafy greens such as kale, spinach and silverbeet.
- Rabbits can get lice and fleas. Talk to your vet about suitable treatments from these as some flea treatments can be toxic to rabbits.
- Rabbits can get diarrhoea if the food they are eating has a high water content such as fresh spring grass. Rabbits should be checked daily for evidence of faecal build up and this cleaned off, so flies aren’t attracted to it.
- Vaccination of rabbits against calicivirus can be lifesaving so should be done annually.
- Rabbits should be desexed to prevent unwanted pregnancies and reduce the risk of reproductive cancers. It can also make the boys a bit quieter for handling.
- Rabbits can be litter box trained so they can be indoors but be careful of electrical cords as they do like to chew.