CARE FOR THE DOMESTIC RABBIT


329755671_e15c04cae4_b.jpg

FOOD

  • Grass hay (timothy, orchard) should be available AT ALL TIMES
  • Fresh greens should be offered daily (1 cup/4 lbs of body weight)
    • Rabbits under 4 months of age should have unlimited access to pellets
  • Any greens are acceptable (except iceberg lettuce), but variety is a good idea
    • Great greens:  Leaf lettuce, Dandelion, Escarole, Beet greens, Cilantro, Kale Romaine, Carrot tops, Parsley
  • Limited Timothy hay based pellets can be given (1/4 cup for 4 lbs of body weight per day)
  • Treats should only make up a very small amount of the diet (1-2 tsp/day)
    • Acceptable treats: Slice of apple/banana/carrot, raisins or dried fruit
  • Rabbits eat cecatrophs ("night feces") which are nutrient rich digestive products

 

Water

  • Some rabbits drink a lot of water (up to 4x what other mammals drink)
  • Use a hanging water bottle or multiple open bowls
  • Change water daily and check that water sippers don't become clogged

 

Behavior

  • Rabbits are most active in the early morning and in the evening
  • Rabbits are social, but prefer minimal handling
  • A "binky" is a jump into the air with a twist= typical behavior in a healthy rabbit

 

Handling

  • Most rabbits do not like to be picked up and they can injure themselves if struggling
  • Always support a rabbit’s hind end when picking them up
  • Keeping a rabbit's face covered can help calm them when being handled
  • Wrapping a rabbit in a towel can aid in home examination and nail trims
  • Never pick a up a rabbit by its ears!

 

Toys

  • Cardboard boxes, wicker baskets and durable parrot toys make great toys
  • Make sure your rabbit has comfy places to hide

 

Housing

  • Rabbits thrive in large hutches/cages, rooms/penned areas or free roaming inside
  • Rabbits can be housed singly or in bonded pairs and trios
  • Solid flooring (no grates) is necessary for all living spaces
  • Rabbits need at least 1 hour of exercise out of the cage per day
  • Rabbits need a cage large enough for them to stand on their hind legs without hitting their ears on the ceiling and to stretch out in all directions
  • Cover all cords in the rabbit’s environment with thick plastic tubing
  • Generally, do not allow dogs and cats in contact with rabbits
  • Rabbits should not be housed with guinea pigs as they can spread disease to each other
  • Rabbits can experience heat stress at temperatures over 80-85 degrees F

 

 
 

Litter box

  • Most rabbits can be litter box trained, especially if spayed/neutered
  • Put some of the rabbits hay in the litter box to encourage use
  • Line litter box with Carefresh or Yesterdays News litter. DO NOT use cat litter!
  • Change litter box at least every other day


Grooming

  • Regular nail trims are needed for all rabbits
  • Long-haired rabbits require careful attention to prevent matting (especially Angoras)
  • Some rabbits require regular sanitary bathing (especially if old or overweight)


Medical

  • We recommend spaying and neutering at 5 months of age
  • Many female rabbits develop uterine carcinoma if not spayed
  • Pet insurance is available through "Veterinary Pet Insurance"
  • Rabbits are prey species and they will hide their illnesses, so bring them in promptly
  • A rabbit that does not eat or pass droppings for >12 hours needs emergency care!
  • Other common signs of illness include: heavy breathing, sneezing, eye/nose discharge, small/hard poops, tight abdomen, tooth grinding, drooling, bald patches, flaky skin, dribbling urine, bald sores on feet, unusual aggression