How to Take Care of Rabbits

How to Take Care of Rabbits, My Personal Experience

Do You have Rabbits at pet in your House ? Then here are few things you need to keep in your mind about “How to Take Care of Rabbits”.

The journey to Pokhara was very exciting. The whole day of boating, trekking to Sarangkot and viewing the mountain site was very adventurous. And, on my journey I met a foreign friend Anny who was from Austria. We made a very good friendship. For the sake of our friendship and a perfect bid to goodbye she gifted me a small rabbit whose name was Luca. Actually, she had brought three rabbits and as a huge pet lover I show interest in them. So, she handed me Luca aka a cute little rabbit.

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Luca was actually a ‘Panon’ rabbit. It was medium sized with the colour of white. It had beautiful red eyes, cute pinkish ears and asymmetrical head. It was so cute and beautiful. And, with my new pet i.e. my new friend Luca I headed to my home. At the beginning it was quite hard for Luca to adjust in our environment. But over time, I began to learn about its nature, environment, food habits and make it comfortable and happy.

How to Take Care of Rabbits
Image Source: Science.Org

So, firstly I study and learn some facts about rabbits. Some facts I learn about rabbit are:

  • Rabbits express their happiness through ‘binkies’.
  • There are around 1.1 million pet rabbits in the UK according to statista.
  • Rabbits can live for up to 12 years.
  • Rabbits can actually turn their ears 180 degrees. Thus rotation can pinpoint the exact location of sound 
  • Rabbits have almost 360 degree vision.
  • Rabbits communicate using a secret code like clenching their facial muscles or changing their body position.
  • Rabbits and Guinea pigs don’t make good friends.
  • Carrots aren’t the best food for them as carrots are high in sugar.
  • Rabbits are crepuscular; it means they are mostly active at dusk and dawn.
  • A single rabbit is not a happy rabbit.

As I got to know the fact that a single rabbit is a lonely rabbit. So, I realise a friend should be brought for Luca. So, I bought another rabbit aka Bunny so that Luca can get company and not feel sad and depressed.

Bunny was the Dutch rabbit. It had a well rounded body, with rounded head and short, stock and stand erect ears. Bunny’s hind legs were longer than the front legs. It was partially black and white in colour. I made a large home for Luca and Bunny. For keeping two rabbits, I realise I must learn about their food habit 

So, what types of food habits do rabbits have?

  • Rabbits are herbivores, so it is better if they get enough grazing as they can eat continuously in this way.
  • Rabbits have complex digestive systems so, if we feed them inappropriate food or some new food then it will disturb their normal digestive system and make the rabbit sick and weak.
  • The regular diet of rabbits must contain hay, a decent amount of fresh vegetables and a limited number of pellets. Hay is an important part of the rabbit diet as hay is high in fibre.
  • Timothy pellets are the most recommended ⅛ -¼  cup per 2-2.5 kg of the body weight of rabbit but over feeding pellets to adult rabbits causes obesity and soft stool as pellets are low in fibre and high in carbohydrate.
  • Green leaf vegetables should be fed but a high amount of carrot and potato shouldn’t be given as it may upset GI bacterial flora.
  • Vegetables like broccoli, green peppers, brussels sprouts, endive, wheat, grass, squash can be fed in certain amounts. But, head lettuce or iceberg should not be fed.
How to Take Care of Rabbits

Water requirements of rabbit

24 hours of fresh water should be available. Water can be offered in water bowls or sipper bottles. The bottle or utensils must be kept clean and washed daily. We should make sure the rabbit doesn’t spill it in a cage or soil it with faeces.

As keeping rabbits comes with huge responsibility. We should make sure that we are taking proper care of them.

The things to be concerned while taking care of rabbits are:

  • Environment

Rabbit should be kept at a cosy home as it requires a resting area and an exercise area. It should be away from noise and pollution. Its home should be well ventilated,dry and drought free as rabbits are highly sensitive so poor ventilation, dirt, and pollution can make rabbits sick. The rabbit home should be big enough for rabbits to lie down, walk and stretch and comfortably in all directions. It should be high enough for rabbits to stand without its ear touching to the top. It should have enough space to move around, feed and drink.

Since I had my two rabbits, I made a cage of 3 metre length and 1.5 metre height. I make safe hiding places where each rabbit can choose to be alone if they want to be. I also make a cage in an open area but make sure they are free from predators like dogs, fox. I let them free in open ground for grazing at least 5-6 hours a day. And make sure that my cage is well sanitised and my two rabbits are living comfortably.

  • Health

Rabbits need vaccination against calicivirus. Regular health checks should be done that may include flea, mite, worming control, teeth checks. Rabbit are sensitive to heat stroke in hot weather so, we should make sure to give shade and water 

Desexing rabbits is also very important to prevent unwanted kittens being born. So, a veterinarian should be consulted if we notice many changes in our rabbits’ feeding and drinking habits, sudden rise and fall in weight.

  • Companionship

Rabbits are very social and interactive pets. A single rabbit is a lonely rabbit and cannot be happy. So, it is always necessary to keep rabbits in pairs or more. However, rabbits of opposite sex should be separated if they aren’t desexed. According to RSPCA NSW, guinea pigs and rabbits should not be kept together as rabbits can pass on disease to guinea pig and also they fight with each other.

So, considering this fact I also brought a friend for my Luca i.e my bunny. And, as for companionship we owners should also interact with them, play and give attention and care to them.

  • Exercise

Rabbits are very outgoing and active pets. So, exercise is very important for rabbits. Exercises help young rabbits to develop a healthy bone structure and help adult rabbits to maintain healthy physique. If rabbits don’t get enough exercise they may cause them to be bored, overeat and obesity. Overweightness of rabbits may lead to various health problems like heart problems and arthritis.

For my Bunny and Luca, I used to make tunnels to run through, toys to play with. I also used to graze them around the grassland.

  • Balance diet and nutrients

As we have already discussed about the food habits, we should be well concerned about what to feed and which foods to not feed to rabbits. Food and vegetables with high nutrients should be fed but food with high carbohydrates, fats shouldn’t be fed as rabbits have complex digestive systems.

Every food should be served in a balanced way so that foods can be digested well without having any side effects on rabbits.

How to Take Care of Rabbits
  • Handling and grooming

As we know, rabbits are quite delicate and soft, so they should be handled carefully. While picking up or moving from one place to another, they should be carried with full support on the front and hind quarter. We should never pick up rabbits by their ears as it is cruel and painful to them.

Rabbits should be groomed in different ways. Their fur should be brushed and their nails should be trimmed carefully. We should make sure to check parasites and dust carrying bacteria especially under their tails as it may lead to a total condition called flystrike.

Luca and Bunny were my best friends to play with and spend time. I got to know about their nature, behaviour and other health issues. So, during the time period spent with them I got to learn about different rabbit diseases.

Some of the disease of rabbits are:

  • Swelling
  • Loss of balance and head tilt
  • Myxomatosis (a virus spread by biting insects including fleas and mosquitoes )
  • Rabbit viral haemorrhagic disease(RVHD) caused by direct and indirect contact such as contaminated food
  • Breathing difficult and loss of appetite
  • Paralysis of one or more limbs
  • Flystrike (caused by Lucilia sericata)

In the span of time with my rabbits I got a lot of experience. I get to learn and research rabbits. I had an emotional attachment with them as they were my best friends in my happy times as well as bad times. My day used to start by feeding them and continue with playing and grooming them. But, I could only spend about 1 year with them as I had to come to Kathmandu for my higher studies. But, I will say that 1 year with them was very worthy. It was full of joy, happiness and experience.

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