Rabbit Information Sheet
- If you are getting a hutch, ensure it is tall enough for the rabbit to stand on its back legs and big enough to allow 3-4 hops in any direction. Make sure there is a separate litter area, and ideally there will an outdoor run attached.
- If your rabbit will live in the house, ensure you’ve rabbit-proofed any wires and laminate flooring to prevent injury to your pet and damage to your belongings.
- It is important that you provide mental stimulation for your rabbit. They need daily exercise in an outdoor run and you can provide toys for added interest.
- Rabbits are social creatures and need a friend, preferably a rabbit of a similar size.
- Take time to get to know your rabbit and don’t pick them up straight away. Talking to them softly and stroking them will help them gain confidence. It takes two hands to pick up your rabbit properly, one taking the majority of the weight under the bottom.
- Rabbits need a balanced diet high in fibre. There are some great rabbit diets on the market, which consist of small, dry grass-like nuggets which are all the same shape and size to avoid the rabbit picking out their favourite bits and not getting a balanced diet. Speak to a vet or nurse and they can recommend a diet for your rabbit.
- It is vital to provide your rabbit with a variety of snacks to help wear teeth down and alleviate boredom. Apple snacks, various chew sticks, mixed herb snack bags or small branches from an apple tree all make excellent additional gnaw sticks.
- Good fresh food includes: apples (pipless), asparagus, banana, basil, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower leaves, celery, chicory, dill, fennel, green pepper, kale, mint, oregano, parsley, red leaf lettuce, romaine lettuce, savoy cabbage, spinach, turnip and watercress.
- Bad fresh food includes: apple pips, avocado, carrot, potato, potato tops, rhubarb (leaves and stalks) and tomato leaves.
- It is recommended for all rabbits to be neutered. A neutered male rabbit will spray less and be less aggressive towards other rabbits. In females, neutering can also reduce aggression and also help prevent uterine cancer.
This is a major disease in rabbits, with 50% of the population infected. It can lead to ear disease, renal disease, heart disease, cataracts and a severe head tilt. Stress such as a surgical procedure may trigger the disease and your pet may then develop symptoms. If your rabbit requires a non-urgent surgical procedure we recommend that you treat your rabbit with rabbit panacur paste 9 days prior to surgery and ideally 9 days post procedure.
This is a new vaccine available that combines the vaccines for myxomatosis and viral haemorrhagic disease which we see in this area. This vaccine can also be started from 5 weeks of age and is repeated yearly.
In acute cases rabbits are lethargic, febrile and depressed. Oedema/swelling of the anus, ears, lips, eyes and genitalia is also common and sadly this disease usually ends with the rabbit dying. Along with the vaccine, hutch hygiene is also important in preventing your rabbit from contracting myxo. The disease is transmitted from insects, which have come into contact with infected rabbits in the wild. It is recommended that you keep the hutch as clean as possible and use an anti-fly spray (safe for use with rabbits) to control the insects.
Viral Haemorrhagic Disease (VHD)
Symptoms include: laboured breathing, seizures, bleeding from the nose and bottom and sudden death. Both indoor and outdoor rabbits are at risk from this disease as it can live in the environment for several months and is carried by birds, insects and even peoples’ clothing and shoes.
- Rabbits' teeth grow continuously and misaligned teeth can grow until curled around, not straight or have sharp spurs which will damage the rabbit’s mouth and affect how much your rabbit eats and eventually the overall condition of your pet.
- We recommend you bring your rabbit to the surgery every 6 months for the nurse or vet to check the condition of your rabbit's mouth.
- At our rabbit nurse clinics, we also regularly check and record your rabbit’s weight, as even a subtle change may indicate problems.
During the warmer months of the year, you should check the rear end of your rabbit to ensure that it is clean and dry. If the area is overly moist or there is diarrhoea then your rabbit is at risk from flies laying their eggs and maggots developing on your pet. You can treat your pet with Rear Guard, a product that is wiped over the back end of the rabbit. It then lasts for up to 10 weeks. Overfeeding of fresh greens isn’t recommended as this can cause diarrhoea.