Rabbits As Pets
Rabbits: Friendly, intelligent and clean,
Rabbits make great family pets. With space to
exercise, suitable accommodation, food and bedding
most Rabbits are happy living indoors or outside.
However, you will need to devote some time every day
to their care. Rabbits generally need more
attention than most smaller pets and can
occasionally scratch and bite. For this reason they
are considered unsuitable pets for younger children.
However they make ideal pets for older children
under supervision of an adult.
Your Rabbit hutch must be weatherproof with a
separate nest area and plenty of dry bedding (clean
straw is ideal). Ideally a hutch for two medium
sized Rabbits should measure 150 x 60 x 60cm. But if
your hutch is smaller, consider adding a separate
run in the garden or allowing some daily supervised
exercise for your pets outside the cage. The hutch
should allow shade during the heat of the day and
shelter from strong winds. A grass run can be built
into the hutch or located elsewhere in your garden –
again with a nest area protected from the sun. A
litter tray can be emptied daily and makes the hutch
easier to clean.
Rabbits love company, making them great house pets.
A quiet area for sleep, a straw-filled nest box and
a clean litter tray are all you need for a happy
indoor Rabbit. Some ‘Rabbit-proofing’ may be
necessary (cables and houseplants are very
‘chewable’) and you’ll need to ensure your Rabbit
has an outdoor run in the garden – Rabbits need
natural light to obtain vitamin D. Rabbits can mix
well with other domestic pets but careful
introduction and supervision is required.
Types of Rabbit
There are many varieties, each with their own
characteristics. Here’s some general tips:
- Male Rabbits tend to be more predictable and
- Giant breeds require more space and more
- Some dwarf varieties can be temperamental so
are less suitable for children
- Longhaired Rabbits will require daily
grooming and care
- Common breeds such as Dutch, English,
Netherland Dwarf and Dwarf Lop Eared are more
docile. Despite their names some breeds can grow
quite large so always ask for advice first
A typical Rabbit diet should be 75% hay with
plenty of fresh water. A good quality pellet will
provide any additional nutrients and vitamins they
need. They also enjoy fresh vegetation – carrots,
spinach, watercress, broccoli, apples, and dandelion
leaves – but care should be taken not to overfeed.
Never feed your Rabbit grass clippings, potatoes, or
lettuce as these can cause health problems.
Looking after your Rabbit
Exercise & Entertainment:
All Rabbits need daily exercise so encourage your
Rabbit to practise its natural behaviour. A pipe in
its hutch can act as a burrow, or a box filled with
shredded paper can encourage digging – include some
root vegetables to nibble on as a treat.
Young Rabbits can be nervous and should be allowed
to gradually get used to their surroundings – and to
you. For the first few days, talk gently to your
Rabbit to build up trust, then slowly introduce your
hand into the hutch. Your Rabbit will become
inquisitive and more confident around you. After a
week or two, try picking up your pet using both
hands. Place your thumb across its shoulders with
your fingers wrapped gently around the ribs; place
your other hand beneath the hindquarters for
support. This is a good time to start grooming your
Rabbit – something which should be done daily.
Rabbits can breed very quickly from 4 months old.
Pregnancy lasts 30-32 days and litter sizes vary
from 4-12 Rabbits. Baby Rabbits must not be touched
for the first 4 days and will open their eyes after
8-10 days. Babies can be removed from their mother
at 5-6 weeks.
for a happy healthy Rabbit
One Rabbit will become very lonely on its own so
it’s best to keep a compatible pair or group.
Neutering and spaying will prevent unwanted litters
and fighting. Generally two neutered males or two
un-neutered females will live together, or a
neutered male and an un-neutered female. We do not
recommend keeping Rabbits and Guinea Pigs together
as their requirements are very different.
A healthy Rabbit will be alert, have discharge-free
eyes and nose and a shiny coat. Breathing should be
quiet and regular. If you are worried about any
aspect of your Rabbit’s health, seek veterinary
advice. For a healthy life, your Rabbit needs the
- Your time and attention - they should be
checked twice a day
- A good balanced diet with no sudden changes
- Clean dry housing, cleaned once a week with
a mild disinfectant
- No extreme or sudden changes in temperature
- Water bottle and feed bowls cleaned daily
- Gnawing blocks and chew toys to help wear
their continually growing teeth
- Daily grooming for longhaired Rabbits
- Weekly grooming for short-coated Rabbits
- Your rabbit will pass 2 types of faeces:
During normal daytime they will pass a hard
pellet, which is normally what you will find. At
night they pass faeces known as "Caecotrophs" -
soft, mucousy pellets which will be directly
eaten from the anus. This is normal behaviour.
However obese rabbits will have problems with
this, so do not allow a rabbit to become obese.
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