Welfare

Rabbit welfare

This Rabbit welfare and caring page acts as an overview guide to the basics of looking after your rabbit, general care, housing and feeding. You will need to do your own research and seek further advice if you wish to adopt a rabbit or guinea pig.

Caring for your rabbit

Rabbits are sociable animals and are best kept in pairs, a neutered male and female is a good combination. If you plan on having one rabbit, be prepared to give it lots of attention as they can easily become bored and lonely. Whether your rabbit is alone or part of a pair (or more) he/she will need stimulation, which can come in the form of toys for them to play with. An idea is to mix their toys about each week so they are not presented with the same things all the time.

Your rabbits health is of primary importance, it is important that you get them vaccinated and keep these up to date. Your rabbit (whether it lives inside or outside) will need vaccinations against Myxomatosis and Viral Haemorrhagic Disease VHD1 there is a second vaccination that must be done a couple of weeks later VHD2

Keep an eye on your rabbits teeth as these continually grow so weekly monitoring is important to check they are not over grown or causing your rabbit pain.

Rabbits do not like being picked up as they are prey animals so only do this when necessary. When picking your rabbit up make sure to support their bottoms, and be aware of their back legs, which are very powerful when they kick. Rabbits will enjoy fuss more if you are down at their level and sit by them.

Rabbits with long fur (for example lion heads) could benefit from a little grooming, to stop their fur from tangling and matting! Be aware your rabbit may not enjoy this so keep it to a minimum!

It is important that rabbits have daily exercise so that they can stretch their legs and have a good run. If you’re lucky your rabbit may treat you to a running jump and kick of their back legs to show how happy they are. Be mindful that your garden is secure as rabbits can squeeze through gaps under the fence you didn’t realize were there.

Housing your rabbit

When housing your rabbit, it is tempting to go for the cheapest hutch available, but it is important that your rabbit/s have enough room for a sleeping area, an eating area, a toilet area and space to move around. If you have a hutch with a run attached your rabbit should be able to comfortably stand on their back legs without their ears touching the roof, they should be able to make 3 or so hops in all directions.

When placing a run on grass be careful that your rabbits do not dig their way under the run and escape, it is advised that they are supervised when on the grass. You can always place the run on a patio when you are out.

It is important that the rabbits sleeping area is enclosed and draft free so that your rabbit has somewhere warm and safe to snuggle. For bedding you can use, straw, hay or sawdust and be generous so that it is nice and soft for them. This area can also act as a place of safety if they become scared.

Your rabbit like any animal will create mess and it is your job to clean it up! Rabbits can be toilet trained, and a litter tray is a great way of keeping mess under slight control. Your rabbit will naturally go to the toilet in a preferred corner, so it is advisable to put your litter tray in that corner. Simply place some of their droppings into a litter tray, lined with newspaper and wood pellets or saw dust and they should learn this is where to go! However this does not mean they go there exclusively! Regular emptying of the toilet and cleaning of the hutch is important, as rabbits are clean animals! Also imagine how you would feel if you couldn’t change your bedding or flush your toilet… not nice!

Feeding your rabbit

Your rabbit should always have access to fresh clean water and grass or good quality hay so that they can graze on these. Hay makes up a major part of a bunny’s diet. Along with this you rabbit can have a mix of vegetables from carrot tops to apple, a varied diet of suitable vegetables will give your rabbit great pleasure. Rabbits can also have a handful of prepared nuggets or muesli (available at pet stores), however rabbits may just eat the bits of muesli they like so a prepared nugget may be better. It is important not to overfeed your rabbit because as with humans obesity can bring its own problems! However the occasional treat for your rabbit would not go a miss!

You can find more information on our useful links page.

The information found on this page is intended as a guide only, and is not a substitute to your vets advice.