Looking After Your Rabbit
It is important to remember that rabbits are highly social, burrowing herbivores. They have adapted to digest a low-quality, high-fibre diet which consists mainly of grass. They spend most of the time eating and it is best to feed a diet of vegetable matter, a selection of grasses leaves and roots. Hay should be given if they are not outside on grass. Pellet foods should only be used as a supplement to fresh foods.
Rabbits need to be checked daily and handled as often as possible to keep them tame. They need to be kept in a safe and secure environment and allowed out of their hutch for exercise, grooming and feeding. Outside runs should either have a wire base or the fence should go down into the ground so the rabbit cannot burrow out.
Rabbits need a stress-free life, which will help to keep them healthy. The hutch should be kept clean, with plenty of hay, food and water available.
Signs to look for that indicate illness:
- Not passing faeces
- Loss of weight
- Depression – your rabbit is more subdued than normal
- Diarrhoea/urine soaking into back legs
- Skin problems – these can be best identified as the rabbit is handled and groomed
- Loss of appetite – your rabbit should immediately be examined by a vet, as this could indicate a potentially life-threatening blockage in the guts
Rabbit owners are also advised to regularly check their pet’s nails and teeth, as clipping may be required. Please contact the surgery for advice or if you have any concerns whatsoever about your rabbit.
Rabbits should have vaccinations against Myxomatosis and Viral Haemorrhagic Disease (VHD). These vaccinations are given two weeks apart and can be started at any time after six weeks of age. The VHD vaccine requires a booster annually, whilst the Myxomatosis vaccine should be given every 6 months.