RABBIT Pet Care
General Care Information
- Rabbits are social creatures and require love and regulary attention and play
- Rabbits frighten easily and should be provided a safe place to live with a hiding place in their living space
- Rabbits need plenty of food (pellets), fresh water, and regular exercise.
- Rabbits love to chew and therefore should be watched closely if allowed to roam freely in the home.
RABBIT Feeding Information
Because of the wide commercial availability of nutritionally rich pellets, properly nourishing rabbits is not difficult. Rabbits can remain perfectly healthy if provided a basic diet of pellets and fresh water. Plenty of food and water should always be made available.
When purchasing pellets from your local pet store, be sure to buy fresh pellets. Rabbit pellets should be stored in the refrigerator, and any food that will not be used within a two month period should be frozen for later use. To prevent waste, buy only what you know your pet rabbit can consume over two months.
Rabbits should have water made available to them at all times, especially during the hotter seasons of the year. A hanging drops-style water dispenser is a great solution for keeping water from spilling and keeping it free of contaminants. The water dispenser should be refilled with fresh water every two days and should be cleaned with a disinfectant soap and rinsed thoroughly each time it is filled.
Fresh Fruit and Vegetables
You may want to occasionally treat your rabbit to fresh fruits and vegetables as supplements to their diet. Rabbits especially love apples, carrots, lettuce, spinach, grass, clover and alfalfa. These foods helps regulate the rabbit’s digestive system and helps prevent intestinal problems. Fresh fruits and vegetables should NOT replace the nutritionally dense pellets, as these fresh dietary supplements are mostly water and do not contain the essential vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that the pellets provide.
If rabbits are provided a regular diet of pellets, fresh water, and occasional fruits and vegetables, additional vitamin supplements do not need to be part of their feeding routine.
Rabbits, like cats, are fastidious self groomers. With a little extra help, your rabbit can stay a clean and healthy part of your home. By keeping your rabbit in a clean habitation, the grooming process will be much easier
Rabbits need a good brushing about once a week – especially if your rabbit is a long haired species. During shedding seasons, your rabbit should be brushed daily. Keeping your rabbit’s fur clean and brushed will prevent the rabbit from ingesting hairballs – rabbits, unlike cats, cannot regurgitate hairballs causing dangerous and painful intestinal blockages. Long haired rabbits can be protected from hairballs by a regular trimming (about one inch off).
Brush your rabbit along the direction of the hair, removing any old or loose hair that pulls away with a moderately firm brushing. As you brush pay attention for any lumps, sores, rashes, cuts or pests that may be harming your rabbit. Any evidence of fleas should result in a visit to your veterinarian.
Rabbit nails should be trimmed every two weeks. To trim your rabbit’s nails, use standard cat clippers and cut the sharp ends off of the nails. Be careful not to cut too deeply causing the nails to bleed. Rabbits should never be declawed – rabbits need their nails for climbing, walking and escaping predators.
Rabbit ears should be checked daily for wax clogs or mites and cleaned every two weeks. Any black discharge or soreness in the ear could indicate mites of other infections that require the attention of a veterinarian. To clean your rabbit’s ears, use a soft cotton-tipped swab to clean all the visible areas of the ear – NEVER insert the swab into the ear canal or in anywhere that is not visible. Gently rub the swab to remove any wax or dirt that may have collected in the ear.
Caring for teeth
Rabbit teeth are generally maintained through daily gnawing and chewing activities. The teeth should be slightly worn down on the end and aligned with each other. If your rabbit’s teeth are sharp or otherwise out of alignment, you should seek the help of a veterinarian in trimming the rabbit’s teeth. Because rabbit’s teeth never actually stop growing, an occasional tooth checkup will keep their teeth healthy and allow them to eat regularly.
Rabbits are generally not bathed, but spot cleaned. Because bathing can cause extreme stress and because rabbits do not dry out quickly, bathing can cause rabbits to experience stress, chills and may induce shock. If your rabbit is diagnosed with fleas, check with your veterinarian on the best way to treat the fleas. If your rabbit is ever completely soaked with water, dry the rabbit as best you can with a towel and immediately move them to a warm, dry location – preferably in the sun.
Rabbits that are housed indoors should have a designated enclosure for sleeping, eating and “doing their business.” A simple wire frame rabbit box or some other enclosed living space should give the rabbit plenty of room to hop, hide and climb. By covering the floor with a smooth surface and washable towels, the rabbit will have a comfortable area to roam and sleep.
Inside of the enclosure, provide your rabbit with all the necessities for living, a food bowl, a water dispenser and a litter box. The food bowl should always be kept full with nutritionally rich pellets, and the water should be kept fresh – changed and dispenser cleaned every two days. Clean the litter box as needed to keep the living space clean and smelling fresh. When first introducing a rabbit to its new litter box, it may be helpful to drop a couple of the rabbits droppings into the litter box – this will signal to the rabbit that this litter box is the appropriate place for such activities.
As with indoor rabbits, outdoor rabbits need a safe place for sleeping, eating and relieving themselves. The best outdoor cages are wire cages that have half the floor covered with a smooth hard surface, and the other half of the cage with open wire so that fecal matter can fall out of the cage. Cages should be lifted up off the ground for sanitary and safety reasons – out of the reach of would be predators will make the rabbits feel safer. Inside the cage, the rabbit should be provided a hide away where they can retreat to for safety if they get spooked or stressed. If rabbits don’t have a safe place to hide, they may injure themselves trying to escape from the cage.
Outdoor cages should be equipped with plenty of food and fresh water as described above for Indoor rabbits. Adequate shade should be provided so that rabbits can escape the hot sun and cool themselves. Be sure to situate the cage so that it is an adequate shelter from excess heat, excess cold, rain, wind and snow.
While it seems that rabbits are quite content to sit quietly and nibble on toys and treats, rabbits, like all pet animals, need regular exercise. Regular exercise will help the rabbit maintain good health and normal behavior. Exercise deprived rabbits can become aggressive and withdrawn and exhibit signs of obesity and lethargy.
To exercise your rabbit, let the rabbit out of its cage in safe areas. During its exercise time out of the cage, it’s important to keep a close eye on the rabbit so that they don’t injure themselves by chewing on power cords, telephone cords, or household plants (some houseplants can be toxic to rabbits). In addition to the regular exploring, provide your rabbit with fun things to play with and chew on. Rabbits love to crawl in and out of boxes, play with slinkies, or chew on cardboard toilet paper rolls. If your rabbit likes to dig, you can provide it a small sandbox to play in. Provide your rabbit plenty of things that are OK to chew on – this will not only save your furniture, but help strengthen your rabbit’s teeth.