Rabbit

Cara Vets support responsible pet ownership, so we have prepared these Pet Care Tips for your Rabbit to help you give your pet rabbit the best possible start in life.

Remember rabbits make good companions and smaller rabbits are easily handled by children. They are easier to handle than guinea pigs and live longer.

However, large rabbits need large hutches which are expensive to buy. Rabbits need plenty of space for exercise. Also hutches need regular cleaning and this is a big commitment. 

A Rabbit Needs 

  • A mixed diet of oats, wheat, rabbit pellets, apples and carrots, together with some good quality hay
  • A mineral lick
  • A supply of fresh water in a drinking bottle available at all times
  • A large hutch
  • A clean hutch - cleanliness is very important
  • A large enclosure in a garden for exercise. Rabbits burrow, so make sure the enclosure is escape-proof.
  • To be looked after at holiday times.
  • Your time and interest for the rest of its life.

Fact Sheet

Lifespan
6 - 8 years

Sexually mature
90 days (small breeds), 120 days (large breeds)

Breeding
You should not breed your rabbit as it is very difficult to find good homes for the young. Remember that does (female rabbits) can become pregnant several times each year so a doe should never live with a buck (male rabbit)

In season (When female rabbit is fertile and can be made pregnant)
Any time - in response to male

Gestation (Length of pregnancy)
Approx. 31 days

Handling
Lift the rabbit using both hands. Take the weight of the rabbit on one arm and steady it by gently holding the scruff of the neck (loose skin behind the neck) or the base of the ears. Once in the arms, the rabbit can be held against the body with its head over one shoulder. Never lift a rabbit by its ears or by the scruff of its neck. Put the rabbit down hind legs first to avoid being kicked or scratched.

Companionship
Rabbits naturally live in groups called colonies and so they need lots of companionship. If the rabbit has to live alone, you must make sure that you spend lots of time with it.

However, it is not a good idea to put a guinea pig in with a rabbit because of the following reasons:

  • They both have different diets, guinea pigs need a daily source of vitamin C, Whereas rabbits need extra vitamin D. The rabbit doesn’t need the vit c and the guinea pig doesn’t need vit D.
  • In the dry rabbit food there are antibiotics to prevent a common disease called coccidios, this antibiotic is fatal to guinea pigs.
  • It is a common mistake to mix these different species, but please don’t mix them.  

Ailments

Coccidiosis
Symptoms include a yellow look, diarrhoea, dullness and loss of appetite. This is highly infectious and the rabbit should be kept away from any others. Seek veterinary advice immediately.

Constipation and Diarrhoea
Caused by not enough green food or too much green food. If this carries on for more than 24 hours, seek veterinary advice.

Flystrike
A summer problem especially for the long-haired sorts of rabbit. The 'strike fly' lays its eggs in faeces-soiled fur. Within 12-14 hours the maggots hatch and eat into the rabbit, eventually killing it. It is essential to stop this by daily cleaning of the hutch, replacing the bedding, and checking the rabbit is clean under its tail. Seek veterinary advice immediately.

Obesity
Caused by too much food and not enough exercise

Overgrown teeth and claws
Teeth can become overgrown if there is a lack of gnawing material in the hutch. Lack of exercise causes claws to become overgrown and regular clipping may be necessary. Seek veterinary advice.

Parasites
Fleas, lice, mites and ticks. Treatment is available from your veterinary surgeon.

Snuffles
This is similar to a cold. This is easily passed on to other rabbits and can lead to pneumonia. Keep the rabbit away from any others and seek veterinary advice straight away.

Remember if your pet is showing unusual symptoms bring it to your local vet

Contact us to book an appointment.

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