Rabbit Neutering

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Why you should neuter your rabbit and what to expect:

When adopting a pet rabbit, it is recommended to keep pairs or groups. Rabbits are social animals and much prefer the safety, security and warmth being with others. The most successful pair bonds are between a male and female so neutering and spaying are essential in order to not be overrun by a colony of bunnies (As cute as all those twitching noses and cotton tails could be, it would be a lot of work)…

Neutering also has many health benefits, especially for females, as cancer and womb infections are very common as they age. Neutering can also reduce aggression and territorial behaviour, such as spraying, and makes it easier to house train you rabbits.

When should you neuter your rabbit?

With males, this is recommended around three months, when the testicles have descended and with females, around six months. Once your rabbits have been neutered, males and females should still be kept apart for at least two weeks, as males retain some of their fertility for a short period of time after.

It is advisable to book a check-up for your rabbit with your vet before any surgery so they can assess their physical health before proceeding.

What to expect when your rabbit goes in for neutering?

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For routine neutering, your pet will typically be able to come home the same day and it should be noted that rabbits should never be starved the night before undergoing anaesthetic, unlike cats and dogs. Rabbits are unable to vomit so the risk of them doing so under anaesthetic is redundant. Give them their breakfast like normal before the trip to the vets.

When dropping your rabbit off at the veterinary clinic it is good practice to label your pet carrier with your name and name of your pet and bring along with you your rabbit’s favourite foods, as getting them eating after their operation is crucial. It is recommended to avoid lining your pet carrier with material like sawdust or straw, as particles could stick to your pet’s wounds on the return journey. Take the same approach with their bedding at home too.

How to care for your rabbit after they’ve been neutered:

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When you have collected your rabbit(s) from the vets, you may notice patches of shaved fur where they have performed the operation or administered the anaesthetic. This is perfectly normal, and the hair will grow back in a few weeks.

Your vet will most likely have administered pain medication and will give you some to take away with you. Ask any questions you need to at the vets to feel confident giving your rabbit.

Your rabbit may be very quiet, withdrawn and sleepy. Afterall, they have had a stressful day. Therefore, it is best to keep them in a familiar environment which is quiet and warm. Encourage them to eat by offering them more of their favourite foods and monitor if they pass droppings. It is so important to make sure the gut is working normally.

Males often recover quicker than females as their operation is shorter and less invasive but do contact your vet if you notice any bleeding or swelling around the wound or if your rabbit still hasn’t eaten after 24 hours.

With any pet and any operation there is risk, but the benefits far outweigh this, and it is the right thing to do for your rabbit as a responsible pet owner. Taking this step enhances the quality of an individual rabbit’s life and helps tackle the overwhelming number of unwanted and abandoned bunnies.

For more information, read ‘On the Hop’, the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund’s care guide.

Remember, remember… your rabbits this Bonfire Night!

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There may be less firework displays this year due the pandemic, but individuals may still let them off in their gardens - much to the dismay of wildlife and pets 

Fireworks are LOUD and many animals won’t understand what the threat is, where it is coming from and how to stay safe. This results in high levels of stress amongst many species. Birds, who would normally take to the sky for safety, find that the threat is coming from their safe space; wildlife that hunt and forage at night cower hungry in their dens and nests and our pet rabbits, normally content in their enclosures outside, may endure a state of panic spanning over hours.  

So, what can we do to keep our bunnies safe and as calm as possible through one of the loudest nights of the year? 

First of all, what are some of the signs that can tell you your rabbit is frightened or distressed? 

A rabbit thumping their foot is typically a behaviour carried out when they are agitated or feel threatened. In the wild, rabbits communicate this way with their warren members when a predator is spotted, alerting everyone to flee underground to safety.  

When a rabbit grinds their teeth it can mean they are in pain or extremely stressed (not to be confused with soft grinding of teeth when a rabbit is enjoying a nice head scratch for example – this is much like when a cat purrs in contentment). If this is occurring it may be best to move your pet inside to a dark, quiet place and if it continues for any length of time seek veterinary attention.  

Additionally, if your pet is suddenly attempting to escape or hide from their home it could be an indicator they are not secure in that area. 

Any other changes in behaviour such as reduced or lack of appetite and a change in toilet habits can be a sign something is bothering your bun! Always keep a close eye on their routines and behaviours and be able to identify when your rabbit may need extra support and a bit of TLC!  

There are many ways to help pet bunnies through Bonfire Night, both who live inside and outside! 

If a rabbit’s enclosure is outside, use a cover such as a thick blanket or duvet, to muffle the noise, but always make sure there is room for air to circulate around their living quarters. If it can be done, moving the rabbit’s enclosure to face a fence or wall will help reduce the overwhelming visual stimulus of the fireworks by blocking their view.  

Create lots of hiding places with additional boxes and extra bedding in their home so the rabbit can feel that instinctive safety of being hidden underground away from threats.  

If your rabbit is housed inside keep curtains drawn, lights on and add background noise such as a TV or radio to drown out noises from outside. If you are using background noise to mask fireworks it is a good idea to expose them to this in advance so your pet habituates to the TV/radio and it doesn’t add to their stress.  

Rabbits are extremely social and during periods of stress they like to be in close proximity with those they trust, whether that be other bunnies, or you, their doting owner. Therefore, one of the best things you can do for them through the 5th of November is be a reassuring presence and keep them company.  

 

 

Rabbit Ear Infection: Captain Morgan

One of the most common issues rabbits can face is ear infections, especially in particular breeds of rabbits. Over the past few weeks in the charity, one of our foster placements suffered from a slightly less common type of ear infection in his outer ear.

This is more likely to be seen in rabbits like lops who tend to trail their ears and can often pick up infection.

Captain Morgan has been with us at the charity for just under a year. He is what we would commonly associate to be a French Lop breed. Similar to breeds like the English lop, they have long trailing ears that fall down the side of their face and in Captain Morgan's case trailed by the side of his front paws. This we believe may be the cause of the issues he's been facing recently...

 

Early Signs

Captain Morgan's foster carer reported to us very early on that he had a slightly wet bottom and a small patch of fur missing but aside from this his health, in general, seemed good. He was eating and pooping as we would expect for a healthy rabbit and was showing no immediate concerns. As a precaution, our team checked on him regularly and kept in communication about his current state and all seemed to be ok.

However, rabbits will quite often hide any major signs of illness due to the fact they're a prey species. This may have resulted in Captain appearing to be in good health and showing next to no signs of an ear infection in the early stages of his illness.

Rapid Deterioration

Captain Morgan was due to come back to the Hoppy Hub within about a week of first initial signs that he wasn't of full health and quite quickly in that space of time we saw him decline. Over the course of a week, Captain lost a large amount of weight and developed a strong smell - of which we weren't sure why at this point.

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On his arrival back to our Hoppy Hub, we provided an environment that encouraged his return to health - keeping him dry, clean and well fed. This allowed us to identify that there was a problem with his ears. One of our volunteers, who is also a registered vet nurse, temporarily bandaged his ears to prevent further damage and Captain was immediately referred to our vet partners who confirmed that he had unfortunately, like many lop rabbits, developed an ear infection that would require treatment.

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Ear Amputation *WARNING - GRAPHIC IMAGES BELOW*

Due to the spread of the infection and the rapid deterioration in his condition, we were advised by our vet that ear amputation should be considered at this stage to help stop the spread of infection, reduce his discomfort and to help improve his long-term quality of life.

As a charity, our main goal is to ensure that a rabbit always has the best quality of life ahead of them and we agreed with the vet that this would be the best next step. Captain bravely got through the amputation and came back to us once again with a full appetite and looking for lots of attention from our care assistants.

This was a high impact surgery and we knew recovery for this type of operation would take time and a lot of TLC to get him through. He was quite obviously in pain after

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Specialist Rabbit Veterinary Treatment

As time went on through his recovery, we did notice that his pain continued and that there was a possibility of a new infection occurring from the way his wounds were healing. This meant that we were now at a stage where we had the difficult decision on whether or not it would be kinder and more humane to euthanise him or if we should seek further advice. A decision we often come up against within the charity (and it doesn't get any easier...).

With agreement from our current vet we decided to seek specialist advice from a rabbit specialist vet so we reached out to Madonna at Ark Vets who was keen to help us investigate the issues further and look into further surgical treatment to prevent the new infection from getting worse.

Madonna skilfully took the time to neaten up his ears further and give him a new course of medication to help aid his recovery.

The Recovery

It's been over 2 weeks now since Captain Morgan's last surgery and we're very pleased to announce that he is starting to make waves in his recovery. We've seen the state of his ears improve (we love his new look) and he's continuing to gain weight steadily and through a healthy, supervised program with his foster carers.

Madonna was so pleased with his post-op check that he was even cheered at in the surgery by other vets in the practise for what has been a truly miracle recovery from what was a very fast acting infection.

It's important to remind ourselves how quickly rabbit health can deteriorate when we think they're healthy. Regular rabbit health checks are absolutely recommended and we need to spend time with our rabbits daily to monitor their behaviours closely and take note of any changes however small. We're glad we were able to act quickly and seek amazing advice from our vet partners to help him through.

Cost of Treatment

The total cost of treatment for this kind of surgery would typically cost in the region of £1,200 - £1,600!

We are privileged and very grateful to have a number of vet partners who offer significant reductions and donated services to allow us to continue to give all the rabbits in our care the treatment they require, but even with such discounts in place we are facing bills exceeding £800 for Captain Morgan's treatment alone.

If you would like to contribute to these costs, or to support the costs of treatment for other rabbits within our care, we would greatly appreciate any donations that can be made to support our charity through this.

Rabbit body language: what is your rabbit telling you?

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It's hard to tell exactly what our rabbits are thinking most of the time. As a prey animal, they're naturals when it comes to hiding how they really feel as a form of protecting themselves... especially when they're feeling unwell.

Rabbits have very subtle ways of telling us how they're feeling through their body language. It can help us determine if they stressed, unhappy, in pain or simply just relaxed in your company. So how can you tell?

 

Happiness

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When a rabbit feels relaxed in their environment, there are certain behaviours and body languages that tell us they're feeling happy and trust the company that they're in, these include:

  • Binky: when a rabbit does a binky, it's the most obvious way of knowing they're feeling very joyful and excited. A binky is an over-exaggerated hop where you rabbit sometimes twists and jerks their body while hopping. They might also run around the room really quickly while doing this too.
  • Loafed / Splooting: Loafing or splooting is when your rabbit is in relaxation mode. They're either bundled up and looking like a little loaf with their front legs tucked in to form a rounded shape or stretched out with their back legs stretched out behind them.
  • Grooming: Taking the time in their environment to sit down and groom themselves or their buddy shows that the rabbit feels safe and content in your company and are quite happy to focus their attention on getting clean.

Stress

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As we know, rabbits are naturally prey species meaning they are always going to be on guard and on the the lookout for predators. It's quite normal for rabbits to therefore experience fear and stress when they're uncomfortable in their environment and unsure of a situation.

Rabbits who are stressed are likely to to show behaviours including:

  • Hiding: some rabbits may choose to hide away. Although burrowing and hiding can be seen as a normal behaviour, if they're feeling stressed or upset they're more likely to hide for longer than normal.
  • Aggression: if a rabbit is stressed they may show signs of aggression such as growling and biting at either their owner or bonded buddy. This is a defence to a situation that's making them frightened or uncomfortable.
  • Physical changes: it can be apparent that your rabbit is stressed through changes in their body also. You may notice their eyes bulge more than normal and they're breathing heavily. A stressed rabbit will also hold its ears flat against its head alongside these other behaviours.

Illness

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It's not always an easy task to determine if your rabbit is unwell. As a prey animal they instinctive hide signs of pain in order to survive in the wild and this is seen in pet rabbits too. Some more obvious signs your rabbit is unwell or not themselves are:

  • Change in activity & posture: you might notice that your rabbit isn't as active as normal and seems lethargic. When you try to move your rabbit they might be reluctant to co-operate and go back to their resting position. Their posture may include being hunched up or pressing their stomach against the floor. They may shift between these two positions often.
  • Teeth grinding: sometimes teeth grinding can mean contentment however, when coupled with the changes in their posture and when the tooth grinding becomes particularly loud, this can indicate they're in pain.
  • Change in appetite: if you rabbit is showing no or little interest in their food, this is usually a sign that something isn't right. They naturally forage throughout the day so if long periods of time have went by without eating you should seek vet advice immediately.

For more information on rabbit behaviours, visit the Rabbit Welfare Association HERE.

The Importance of Rabbit Vaccinations

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For rabbits to live long, happy and healthy lives it is important for them to receive their annual boosters – just like  cats and dogs! Rabbits should be vaccinated against Myxomatosis and two strains of Rabbit Viral Haemorrhagic Disease (RVHD).  

Myxomatosis is a highly contagious viral disease, which in non-vaccinated European rabbits, is nearly always fatal. It decimated the wild rabbit population when it was introduced in Britain 50 years ago.   

Biting insects such as fleas, mites and mosquitoes are responsible for spreading the illness and depending on the strain of the virus, it can take up to 14 days for an infected rabbit to show symptoms. A rabbit’s eyes, nose and genitals are usually the first parts of the body to be affected. There is typically swelling, redness and ulcers which form as well as sinus discharge, blindness and respiratory problems.  

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Vaccinated buns are not completely immune to Myxomatosis; however, the disease is usually milder – a single skin lesion for example. If taken to a rabbit savvy vet and if the animal is in good health, most make a full recovery.  

With RVHD there are two strains known as RVHD1 and RVHD2 and just like the Myxomatosis vaccination, bunnies from as young as five weeks can be given a booster to help protect them from these diseases.  

RHVD2 is a relatively new strain (having been in the UK since 2014) and, again, is highly contagious, with more and more pet rabbits being affected in the UK (estimated that 1.3 million rabbits are at risk).  

Both viral haemorrhagic diseases show few to no symptoms and can lead to a rabbit dying very quickly and suddenly – usually within a day or two of contracting the disease. If there are symptoms present they tend to include fever, lethargy, loss of appetite and spasms. The disease is spread easily between rabbits sharing the same environment and can linger on surfaces, hay and down to the clothes you're wearing so even indoor rabbits can contract the virus when you have been outside in any environment and it's been passed onto you.  

There is currently no cure, so it is imperative for your rabbit’s safety and welfare that annual vaccinations are a priority as a pet owner.  

Like most drugs, vaccines can have side effects – although this has been rarely shown in rabbits administered with the Myxomatosis and RVHD vaccinations. Some pet owners have reported skin irritation around the site of injection and withdrawn and quiet behaviour for a day or two after, but ultimately, it is still the recommended course of treatment to protect them.  

In June 2020 RHVD2 was confirmed to have reached Northern Ireland affecting both wild rabbit and hare populations. With outbreaks of both viral diseases occurring throughout the UK we urge you to consider annual rabbit vaccinations.  

Let’s keep our bunnies safe and happy! Contact your vet now for more information.  

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Are harnesses safe for rabbits?

How to keep your rabbit active & safe

Some of us plan our days around that all important piece of exercise and getting some fresh air, and why not? It is a great feeling to move your body, clear your mind and make everyone else envious by posting on Instagram your personal best time for that 5K!

Rabbits, in that way, are not so different from us… Okay, so posting on social media might be a challenge without opposable thumbs, but the feeling of joy experienced from being outside, unrestricted and burning off energy is very similar across the species spectrum.

But how do you provide a safe environment for your bunny to be active? Time, location and money all play a role in what resources are available to you to do so. We will hopefully give you some ideas about how to keep your rabbit entertained and advice about what to avoid.

The recommended living space for a rabbit is 10ft x 6ft with a run height of 3ft which in theory gives them enough space to move around and explore their environment. However, with rabbits you really can’t have too much space.

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The more they can ‘zoom’ around and launch into the biggest ‘binky’, the happier they will be.

But what if your rabbit doesn’t have access to a safe outside space for enrichment? It may be tempting to use a harness and lead - after all they are readily available to purchase online.

Rabbits in their natural habitat

At Beloved Rabbits, and supported by many other rabbit welfare charities and organisations, we do not recommend using a harness or lead. As a prey species rabbits are excellent at concealing any weaknesses such as stress and injury. This is because they know predators will will spot their weakness and pursue them for an easy meal. Therefore, as rabbit owners we may not be able to recognise if a rabbit wearing a harness and lead for the first time is being causing unnecessary stress.

Additionally, in the wild rabbits will not stray too far from the safety of their burrow when foraging. It is vital for them to know they have the security of being able to dive into somewhere dark and enclosed to escape any threats. Taking your rabbit out on a lead into a new, open area without it having that reassurance of knowing where to go if danger appears may lead to a highly anxious little animal.

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Rabbit movements are unpredictable

Rabbits also move and exercise in unexpected ways. They could choose to run really fast and then STOP! What was that? Sniff. Ear twitch. Everything is good. Let’s GO! ZOOOOOOOOOM. Okay, STOP!

It’s very much stop start with lots of zigzagging and leaping in the air. They don’t tend to walk linear like a dog. Movements which are not suited to wearing a harness and a lead that may get tangled.

Additionally, in the wild rabbits will not stray too far from the safety of their burrow when foraging. It is vital for them to know they have the security of being able to dive into somewhere dark and enclosed to escape any threats. Taking your rabbit out on a lead into a new, open area without it having that reassurance of knowing where to go if danger appears may lead to a highly anxious little animal.

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Protection from disease

There is always a danger of contracting parasites or diseases such as Myxomatosis or Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease (RHD1&2) when taking your pet into a space where wild rabbits roam if they aren’t suitably vaccinated.

So, what are some ideas of what we can do to keep our rabbits fit and healthy in a safe environment? A bunny’s favourite activity besides running (and eating) has got to be digging. Providing a dig box filled with soil or shredded paper can get the same muscles working that would be used to do ‘zoomies’ around a garden.

How to exercise and entertain rabbits in their own environment

Providing toys such as willow balls to chase and nudge with their noses always go down well too. Toys can make a smaller environment a lot more interesting too. Here are some examples:

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Rabbits also love to chew. Providing chew toys or cardboard boxes means they can activate ‘destructive mode’ (their favourite mode) and break that box down into a million shredded pieces, burning energy and working the back, neck and leg muscles too.

Providing platforms for rabbits to leap on and off from also help with bone density and building muscle in their bodies. This can be done easily with sturdy boxes or upside down plant pots and your rabbit will really enjoy accessing the different levels of height. Creating obstacle courses of tunnels and platforms will not only be a joy for your bun, but also for you to watch them race around and interact with their new setup.

Space is very important for the happiness and welfare of a rabbit, but if restricted due to circumstance you can absolutely still provide a fun and loving home where your pet can fully express normal behaviour and maintain a healthy level of fitness.

If you have rabbits and are looking for ideas on how to create a more interesting environment, or if you are wondering if rabbits are the right pet for you, feel free to contact us and we would be happy to help.

5 Things A Rabbit Can Bring To Your Life

Mental Health Awareness Week takes place from 18th to 24th May this year and is hosted by the Mental Health Foundation.

Taking care of your mental health is vital to leading a full life and it is widely known that spending time around animals can help boost endorphins in your brain that help promote a positive mental state.

The companionship that a pet offers is a great way to reduce anxiety and stress.

Pets such as rabbits can be a great source of comfort, companionship and motivation for their owners. In many ways they can help us to live mentally healthier lives.

We have made a list of the top five reasons why rabbits help improve mental health.

1. Companionship

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Rabbits are fluffy little balls of happiness who love nothing more than to follow you around in the hope of extra treats, sit for hours demanding extra head pets and absolutely love snuggling with you someplace warm and quiet for that all important daily nap.

You'll be hard pressed to feel lonely sharing your space with a bunny! They just love your attention.

2. Socialising

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As well as socialising with your rabbits, there are so many people out there who want nothing more than to make friends with other rabbit pet owners!

Joining groups on social media to discuss tips on getting your bunny to eat more hay or volunteering at a rabbit charity are great ways to get you meeting like minded people who want nothing more than to hear about you and your furry friends!

Talking and making friends makes a massive positive impact on mental health.

3. Motivation

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Sometimes it can be difficult when you feel low to push yourself into your normal daily routine. With a bunny, getting into a routine is essential for their wellbeing.

Rabbits love routine and will be demanding their breakfast nuggets and hay just the same as the day before. If you don't feel like getting up for you, you'll want to push yourself for your bunnies. They are your biggest cheerleaders and will be waiting happily for you in the morning. It will be worth getting up for... We promise!

4. Exercise

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Keeping bunnies are a lot of work, but very rewarding. Making time to keep their home clean and tidy is a daily job and it will certainly get you moving.

Exercise has been linked to improved positive mental health. Bond and play with your bunny whilst being active and you and your pet will feel the positive results.

5. Unconditional Love

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No one will love you like your bunny. You are their whole world. All their needs are fulfilled by you. No one else knows exactly that spot on their ears to scratch. No one else knows their favourite food. That is all you. And they love you for it.

Our volunteers are not trained, mental health practitioners or advisors so if you're struggling with mental health, then please seek the professional advice and support of your GP or call an external, free advice service from The Samaritans on 116 123.

Caring For Rabbits During COVID-19

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At Beloved Rabbits we hope everyone remains safe and healthy through this challenging time with the risk of Coronavirus. However, if you do have to self-isolate or unfortunately become ill, we have put together a basic guide to looking after a rabbit which we hope can help your family and friends if needed. 

 

Understanding a Rabbit

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Rabbits are social animals and typically like to rest for a few hours during the daytime, becoming more active and energetic in the mornings and evenings. They tend to do their business in just one or two places and feel instinctively at home in a place that resembles a dark tunnel or burrow.  

Rabbit Noises To Listen Out For

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Many people think rabbits are pretty silent, but when you spend time with one you learn this isn’t the case. Here is a list of noises rabbits typically make:  

  • Gentle grinding of teeth – it is like the equivalent of a cat purring. A rabbit will be feeling content and happy.  
  • Loud, continuous grinding of teeth/chattering – your bunny may be in pain and you should seek immediate medical advice. 
  • Cooing/grunting/honking – rabbits may make a soft noise such as this when happy or wanting attention from their mate or owner. 
  • Thumping with back feet – rabbits will thump their back feet if they feel they are in danger. Some also may do it if they feel irritated or simply want attention! 
  • Hissing/Growling – this is an aggressive sound and usually precedes an attack such as biting or boxing with their front paws. 
  • Loud squealing – your bunny is in extreme pain or danger.  

What You Should Feed A Rabbit

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Rabbits spend a lot of time nibbling and eating and must have access to hay 24 hours a day. Their incisors continue to grow throughout their life so munching regularly on hay keeps the teeth in check. It is recommended to keep hay in a hay rack and typically keep it placed beside where a rabbit goes to do its business. This keeps the hay clean and unspoiled and encourages rabbits to eat more of it as they enjoy nibbling on things whilst pooing. 

A rabbit’s diet will typically consist of rabbit nuggets, hay and fresh foods. There is a lot of confliction over exactly how many nuggets a rabbit should get daily, but a rough guide is about 25g per kilogram of weight. Feeding your rabbit nuggets rather than muesli is the healthier option for your pet and it stops them picking out just the parts they like the most. 

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Rabbits will enjoy fresh foods including vegetables, herbs and fruits, but these should not be given in large amounts. An adult size handful is enough herbs and veg to feed your rabbit in a day and only around 2 tablespoons of fruit is recommended due to sugar content. Here is a very basic guide to safe foods for rabbits: 

 

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All food should be removed and replaced every 24 hours as well as fresh water been given at the same time.  

Keeping Rabbits Clean And Healthy

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As mentioned previously rabbits tend to do the toilet in one or two places which makes it easier to keep on top of cleaning! A rabbit should have a suitable area or litter tray to use and typically filled with litter to absorb urine and reduce smell.  Avoid using scented shavings or clumping cat litter as a base, but instead opt for wood pellet cat litter with straw or hay on top.  

It is recommended to clean this area as regular as possible. Rabbits can poop up to 300 times a day and urinate often. Dirty bedding that remains for a long time can lead to health complications such as urine scaldwhere their pee soaks a rabbit’s fur and irritates the delicate skin around their bottom and inside of their legs.  

Handling Rabbits

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Rabbits tend not to like being cuddled too tightly or picked up as their natural instinct is to be free to run away from dangerIf you do have to move a rabbit and it isn’t safe to lead them to the area with a treat, then below is a guide to holding a bunny correctly: 

  • First of all be confident! If you are nervous and jumpy then the rabbit will sense this and immediately feel unsafe.  
  • Do not chase the rabbit. Before picking up try to spend a few minutes calming them down with a good head scratch.  
  • The key is to pick up the bunny in one smooth action. Place your hand under and behind the animal’s front legs and use your other hand to support their bottom. Lift off the ground supporting their weight at the front and at the back equally.  
  • Turn the rabbit into your chest and secure them there with a hand underneath their tail and on their back.  
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If the rabbit begins to furiously struggle, drop to your knees to reduce the height from the ground and slowly release the pressure of the hold so they can slip down into your lap and then safely jump to the floor. This will reduce the risk of injury to you and the rabbit.

How To Tell If The Rabbit Is Sick?

As prey animals, rabbits in the wild will try to hide their illness and pain to reduce the risk of being targeted by predators. Our own pet bunnies also have that instinct so it can be very hard to detect when a rabbit needs to go to the vet. 

It is crucial to be able to spot a sick rabbit, however, as they can decline in health very quickly and if they don’t eat regularly, they can have serious digestion issues that can be fatal. 

One way to help notice a poorly bun is to get into a good feeding and exercising routine. That way if a rabbit suddenly isn’t interested in their breakfast of nuggets or dinner of kale you will be alerted that something might not be right with them. 

If the rabbit is also very lethargic or lying stretched out more than normal this could be a sign of a build-up of gas inside their sensitive digestive tract. If their eyes are half shut and they are grinding their teeth loudly or breathing heavily it may indicate they are in pain.  

If in doubt it is advisable to seek some veterinary advice. For rabbit care it is better to be safe than sorry. 

This is just a basic guide for feeding, cleaning and handling a bunny, but for more information on taking care of rabbit click here 

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For any further advice or help on rabbit care, please contact our volunteer team here. Please be aware this is a voluntary organisation and our response time can vary. For all urgent enquiries please contact your local vet.

7 Facts About Rabbits

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1. Rabbits are NOT rodents! 

Many people think that mice, rats, guinea pigs and rabbits are all very similar, but the truth is they have quite a few differences which separate them.  

 Rabbits, hares and an animal called a ‘pika’ make up the order known as ‘Lagomorpha’ separate from the order ‘Rodentia’. Where some rodents will typically feast on meat and vegetables, lagomorphs are strictly herbivores. Both groups of animals’ teeth continuously grow throughout their life, but lagomorphs have four incisors in their upper jaw, compared with rodents - who only have two!  

As if we didn’t need this information to already know – rabbits are a very special group of animals indeed!  

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2. Carrots are NOT good for rabbits! 

What’s this? Surely not?! But Bugs Bunny was always chewing on a carrot!  

Carrots and bunnies go together like dogs with bones! It’s time to end that myth. In the wild rabbits wouldn’t naturally eat root vegetables or fruit, but instead the bulk of their diet would consist of grass.  

Carrots are very high in sugar and if fed to a rabbit regularly it can lead to serious health problems such as obesity, digestive issues and tooth decay. Instead, aim to feed your bunny with endless amounts of hay (seriously the more the better!), some leafy greens (kale, spinach etc.), herbs (parsley, coriander etc.) and a small amount of pellets.  

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3. Rabbits live longer than you think! 

Domestic rabbits live on average between 8 and 12 years! Similar to dogs, miniature or dwarf breeds tend to live longer than giant breeds. Taking on a new pet rabbit is a huge commitment and one not to be taken lightly.  

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4. Rabbits love company!  

Bunnies are social animals who love to live in a pair or a group with their own kind. Research shows rabbits are more content and less stressed when they are kept in a bonded group. Pairs between spayed and neutered females and males typically get on the best, but it isn’t unusual for friendships to form between two males and two females too.  

The benefits of taking on bonded rabbits mean that they won’t be as lonely, will have someone to help groom those difficult to reach spots and have someone to snuggle with when the temperature drops.  

 Always make sure your bunnies are bonded before leaving them alone and never introduce two strangers together without feeling confident you can break up a fight! For more advice on bunny bonding click here. 

A common misconception though it that it’s ok to keep rabbits and guinea pigs together. Despite this being a popular thing to do years ago, it is now understood this is detrimental to the health of both animals. Guinea pigs and rabbits have different dietary requirements too and with rabbits typically being bigger and stronger than the ‘piggies’ injuries commonly occur.   

One of our foster sheds - combined 10ft x 6ft space.

5. Rabbits need lots of space! 

A pet rabbit’s living space should consist of an enclosed sleeping area, litter tray, food and water bowls and plenty of room to move around. It is essential a rabbit can stretch out in all directions as a living space which restricts this movement can cause major health problems including spinal injuries, muscle wastage and obesity.  

The minimum living requirements for a rabbit are an overall environment measuring at least 10ft x 6ft, recommended by The Rabbit Welfare Association & Fund. This should incorporate a living space and exercise run.  

The more room you can provide for your rabbits the happier and healthier they will be! For more information about rabbit enclosures click here 

Indoor foster environment.
Outdoor Shed & Run Environment exceeds RWAF recommendations.

6. Rabbits benefit from neutering

Rabbits love to have babies and will reach sexual maturity by 3-6 months, so it is important to make sure a male and female are neutered and fully recovered before introducing them.

The female rabbit (doe) has a gestation period of between 28-31 days and can give birth to between 1 and 12 kits, depending on the breed. Within hours of giving birth she will be able to fall pregnant again, so in a short time, if you are not careful, you could end up looking after a LOT of bunnies!  

Additionally, neutering and spaying your rabbits have many health benefits for the animal including reduced risk of cancer (especially in females) and urinary tract infections. Research shows aggressive and territorial behaviour is also reduced in fixed bunnies!  

 

7. Rabbits come in all shapes and sizes 

It is up for dispute, but most people recognise there are over 300 rabbit breeds – this has occurred either through natural selection or, more typically, selective breeding. Rabbits are usually bred for their size, coat or temperament. Some of the most common breeds in the UK are the Lionhead, Flemish Giant, Holland Lop and Netherland Dwarf.  

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